Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Michigan Back to #1: WSJ

Note: Instead of writing notes, I'll make a post on this topic later.

On Top Again

Michigan regained its No. 1 spot in the National ranking, as recruiters praised its graduates' work ethic and professional experience
September 20, 2006
Can Rwanda produce infant formula as an alternative to breast milk for HIV-positive mothers?
That was the question Mark Bailey, a second-year M.B.A. student at the University of Michigan, and his team members tackled last spring. For the group's multidisciplinary action project, Mr. Bailey spent about a month in Rwanda investigating the supply of milk, soy, vitamins and other raw materials and found that at this point the African nation would have to import most of them. But he and his classmates concluded that an infant-formula plant is still possible and that it could both improve the infant-mortality rate and promote new business development. Sponsored by the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, the assignment addressed Mr. Bailey's interest in both nonprofit and international management. "With the Rwanda project during the school year and my summer internship working on strategies for Moroccan textile firms to enter the U.S. market," Mr. Bailey says, "I gained double the experience that many M.B.A.s get at other schools."
Looking Abroad

The Rwanda project represents a continuation of Michigan's commitment to practical experience in its M.B.A. program, as well as a recognition that it needs to provide students with more international opportunities. Indeed, in The Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive survey, recruiters gave Michigan its lowest ratings for students' international knowledge and experience. Its highest scores were for students' teamwork and analytical and problem-solving skills. "We have succeeded in making about half of our action projects international, and we intend to continue to inject more international content into the curriculum," says Gene Anderson, associate dean for degree programs at Michigan's Ross School of Business. There will be more "in-country experiences" beyond the action projects, he adds, noting that students in a course on emerging markets recently traveled to Cuba.
The Ann Arbor school bounced back to No. 1 in the National ranking after a one-year absence, as survey respondents once again praised its graduates' work ethic and professional experience.
Michigan ranked second, behind Harvard Business School, when recruiters were asked to name M.B.A. programs that successfully incorporate practical learning. But based on his experiences at both schools, Robert Dolan, dean of the Ross School, would no doubt put Michigan first. A former marketing professor at Harvard, he says, "You see the limitations of its case-method approach when you move out of that culture." With Michigan's action projects, "we teach not just problem solving, but also opportunity, innovation and creativity by giving students projects that aren't clearly defined," Dr. Dolan says. "Some students get frustrated and say their project isn't well-defined, and we say, 'Yeah, that's sort of the point.' "

Although Michigan tries to avoid being pigeonholed as an automotive school, its connections to the state's auto industry clearly account for some of its appeal to recruiters. Andrew Chien, a survey respondent and president of Ricardo Strategic Consulting, North America, is pleased to find M.B.A.s at Michigan with prior experience in the auto business because they bring more credibility as consultants. "Talking the talk is especially important," he says, "as automotive clients move away from the generalist consulting model and seek specialists to assist them during this transformational period for the industry."
Jeffrey Uller, another survey respondent and a manager at General Motors Corp., also finds Michigan M.B.A.s "able to speak intelligently on all sorts of issues facing the industry, including health-care expenses, hybrid-vehicle strategy and new vehicle product development issues." Like many of the top-rated schools in the rankings, Michigan is considered more collegial than competitive. Wolverine M.B.A.s are "well-prepared for the interpersonal nature of business today," as one recruiter put it in this year's survey.
Alison Leff chose Michigan over other M.B.A. programs because she sensed a distinctive "community feeling." She says she "wasn't sure if that was just for show" during the application process. But she hasn't been disappointed. Because she came from the nonprofit world and lacked a strong grounding in finance, fellow students gladly spent an extra hour guiding her through thorny math problems and explaining their applicability in the real world. "There's a lot of kindness at Michigan," she says. "We often talk about collaboration and co-creating our educational experience here."

Although Michigan is a public university, its tuition rivals what the most elite private business schools charge. That keeps it competitive in the pursuit of top-flight, top-paid professors. In this year's recruiter survey, Michigan ranked among the top 10 business schools for excellence in teaching marketing, operations management, general management, corporate social responsibility, strategy, accounting and finance. John Shea, a survey respondent and marketing manager in PepsiCo Inc.'s sports group, finds that Michigan graduates fit well in the company's "cross-functional and networked" workplace because of their balance of marketing and general management skills. "Students are experienced, well-rounded and personable," he says. "The quality and depth of candidates at Michigan is amazing."
New Program
Michigan doesn't make the top 10 in the Journal survey for entrepreneurship, an area the school is taking steps to strengthen. "We're trying to put together a full portfolio of courses that take the students from identifying early-stage business opportunities to raising venture capital," says Dean Dolan. One new program is the Frankel Commercialization Fund, which allows M.B.A. teams to award seed money to students, faculty and researchers with health-care and technology inventions. Michigan is just two years away from realizing its dream of a new business-school building. The $145 million project, which got under way this summer after three old buildings were razed, will feature new technology and more group study rooms and communal space that fit the school's team project focus.
School officials were concerned that applications might drop during the construction phase, but they actually rose 11% for this fall's entering class. "When we were on the road meeting prospective students, we told them they would still have a great experience," Dr. Dolan says. "We wanted to be sure to protect the M.B.A. program and give it the best available space." For now, the M.B.A. program has relocated to several other buildings, including the school's executive-education center and hotel. "The faculty offices in the hotel are quite nice and even have their own private bathrooms," says Dr. Anderson, the associate dean. "Now, I don't know if we'll ever get professors to move to the new building."
URL for this article:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115860786137566555.html


See snapshots of top schools2 and highlights from the rankings3. Plus see profiles on the top schools:

National picks:

Regional picks:
International picks:


Jinguchakka said...

The WSJ links are subscriber only links. Is there any other page for the rest of us containing the same data?

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

You might want to have a look at this:http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2006/09/engineering_sti.html

Background - the blogger is an expert in manufacturing and is lean manufacturing bigot.