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Working for the Weekend

7/15/2010 --

Part-time MBA Program casts wide net for new Weekend format.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Weekends are a bit livelier at Ross ever since the Part-time MBA Program launched its two-year Weekend format in May. The incoming class counts 63 candidates from around the country. Nearly 50 percent live outside Southeast Michigan.

"We are thrilled to see that the Weekend format piqued a great deal of interest from all around the Midwest, as well as the coasts of the U.S. and beyond," says Claire Hogikyan, managing director of the Part-time MBA Program. One student even relocated from Spain. "Looking ahead, we are reaching out well beyond Southeast Michigan to continue to attract a diverse student population that serves to enhance the richness of the program for the students and faculty alike."

The Part-time MBA Program's traditional Evening format continues to offer maximum flexibility regarding schedule and electives. Evening students often complete the degree in three to four years. The Weekend format allows students to complete the part-time MBA in a shorter time — and with one unified cohort of students. In lieu of second-year electives, the new format delivers a unique, themed approach in which Weekend students will examine a common case from several different disciplines. For the Class of 2012, those themes are strategies for growth, executing the strategy, and competing globally.

"This trains students to synthesize many perspectives so they can assess different kinds of risks and opportunities," says Paul Clyde, academic director of the Part-time MBA Program. "The integrated, multidisciplinary approach is designed to give graduates the broad perspective they'll need when they get involved in key decision-making that requires cross-functional collaboration and communication. That's a quality many companies have told us they want in their managers and leaders."

For New York-based consultant Robby Rajan, Ross offered the credibility he sought in a format he could meld with his demanding work and travel schedule. Courses begin on Fridays at 4 p.m. and end by 5:10 p.m. each Saturday. "Ross has a world-class program that's also flexible to my career model," Rajan says. "I think that's why people from all over are drawn to it."

Chicago resident Vijay Proddhutur chose Ross for its campus appeal and Big Ten energy, something he found lacking among the part-time MBA programs in his own backyard. "I wanted the university experience," he says. "I wanted to feel like I was in a classroom community, not going to work in a corporate boardroom."

Proddhutur also was drawn to the fact that Weekend students go through the entire program together. The diversity among his cohort has proven to be an added bonus. Students represent more than 15 industries, including biotech, consulting, engineering, finance, energy, marketing, education, and operations.

"Since we all come from different backgrounds, we all look at problems differently," Proddhutur says. "We learn different working styles, and it emulates how the real world is. And because we move through our classes together, we're able to build stronger relationships and a richer network."

All Weekend students will participate in Ross' signature Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) course, in which they consult with organizations to solve actual business challenges. In-company projects may ask teams to create a business strategy, solve a market-entry problem, or propose operations improvements. Other action-based experiences come in the form of the Ross Leadership Initiative (RLI), a series of activities that develops students' capabilities through simulations, self-reflection, and other exercises.

"Thinking about my leadership style has allowed me to reflect on how I want it to evolve," says Shiva Dadfarmay, who commutes from Chicago. "I'm learning a lot about my own management style and other management styles I might want to emulate or avoid."

Two months into the program, Kireeti Valicherla says he is already eager to take advantage of career counseling and other services available through the Office of Career Development. "I'm planning to make a switch," he says. “And I know Ross is going to help me throughout my career." Proddhutur, meanwhile, credits the Weekend format with helping him manage his time better. Rajan has since relocated from New York to Ann Arbor to capitalize on campus resources. And Dadfarmay describes Ross is an "element-changer in my life and career."

Introducing the Weekend format appears to be an element-changer for the school as well, says Dean Robert Dolan. “We're pleased to be able to offer two part-time formats now so students can choose how best to integrate their studies with their other commitments and responsibilities."

Leah Sipher-Mann



For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847, bernied@umich.edu