Bob Chapman

Bob Chapman (MBA ‘68) was recently named the #3 CEO in the world by Inc. and a Top Social Capital CEO by the International Business Times.  As Chairman and CEO of $3.5 billion global capital equipment and consulting firm Barry-Wehmiller, Chapman is showing what’s possible at the intersection of great business strategy and profound care for people.  It’s the message of his 2015 Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Matters, his “Truly Human Leadership” TEDxTalk and a Harvard Business School case study that is used by 70 universities around the world. We caught up with Bob around the end of August 2022 and asked him questions, not only about leadership, but navigating through tough times.

For our readers, can you describe generally what the Barry-Wehmiller companies are involved in.

Barry-Wehmiller is a $3.5 Billion global organization with 12,000 team members in our span of care. Our business is an intentional design of capital equipment and consulting with a healthy “balance” of products, markets and customers. I began my business journey with a tradition business education in accounting from IU and then my MBA from U-M and entered the business world with Price Waterhouse. I was asked by my father to join Barry-Wehmiller in 1969 after two years in public accounting, and I had the opportunity to work with my father in Barry-Wehmiller — a business he was President of and owned controlling interest — before he suddenly died in 1975. Our company had been around for almost 100 years at that time, and our business was concentrated in products with a limited future, and we were in a very fragile financial condition. The challenge to transform the business to one with a future had some real challenging moments over the first 15 years, but it survived my mistakes; those learnings shaped my skills and resulted in a vision of a business with a ‘balance’ of markets and products. After many challenging years, we had the opportunity in 1988, after spinning off 2/3’s of the company on a very successful London IPO, to begin again as a $20 million business, with our historic product lines struggling and therefore, not part of the IPO.

We are who we are today through disciplined acquisitions of 120 companies, combined with organic growth. While private, our market-simulated share price has risen 15% in compounded growth since executing our new business vision, far exceeding our original vision of $100 million. Today, Barry-Wehmiller is well positioned with talent, technology, and a proven robust business model to grow with less dependence on acquisitions and more confidence in focused, organic growth opportunities.

One might not expect a manufacturing company to be the source of a kinder, gentler leadership style. What was the spark that led you to move this company to a “truly human” approach to workers and your community at large?

The “spark,” or as I say the “revelation,” was at a wedding about 20 years ago. In the midst of the joy of a young couple’s wedding, I experienced a transformative vision that our global team were not functions for my success, but they were all someone’s precious child. I realized that the way we lead them would have a profound impact on their health, marriage and relationship with their kids. It was a complete reversal of the way my business education and experience had taught me.  When you see your people as your purpose rather than just as skills used to raise the share price or create your own wealth, it changes everything. Our people are our product. I will not leave this Earth proud of the equipment we built but proud of the people that designed and built it. Through this revelation and others, I realized that business could be the most powerful force for good in the world — given that we have people in our care for 40 hours a week — if we simply have the courage and skills to care for those we have the privilege to lead. I realized that my primary responsibility was to give those stakeholders in our span of care a grounded sense of hope for the future, so they could feel safe and valued. This transformation became the subject of my TedX talk at Scott Air Force Base and the message of my book, Everybody Matters. It also became a Harvard University case study that has become a best seller, used by 70 universities today around the world. If Truly Human Leadership can happen in an industrial manufacturing company, it can work in any company. 

What is your main purpose in writing the book Everybody Matters?

Well, we want to spread our message that business can be a powerful force for good if we simply learn the skills of caring for others. We want people to see that if Truly Human Leadership can happen in an industrial manufacturing company, it can work in any company. Several years ago, I had lunch with Simon Sinek (speaker, author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last) where I told him about what we were doing in our companies and he didn’t believe what he heard. I invited him to visit with our people and he was shocked. He then said he was no longer a “nutty idealist” because if it exists it must be possible. He stated it is the world ‘he imagines’.  He started bringing in powerful thought leaders to experience what he had experienced to further validate the principles of ‘truly human leadership.  Finally, one of our guests who had been a contributing editor to a major business magazine said to me that he had interviewed hundreds of CEOs but had never seen anything like what he experienced when he met with our people. He told me, “You have to share this with the world.” We were approached by Penguin/ Random House to write a book and I was fortunate that Raj Sisodia, the co-author of Conscious Capitalism, also said that this was a message the world needed to hear. Raj decided to co-author our book as well. A typical business book sells 5,000 to 10,000, but Everybody Matters has now sold over 80,000 copies sold around the world and has been translated into seven languages.

You have said that your business school education back in the 70s was all about shareholder value and personal career path. Where did you pick up your inventive leadership ideas? 

Upon reflection, I always thought it was about my success, which was defined as money, power and position. I didn’t feel the profound sense of commitment to the people that I would have the privilege to lead. And I don’t remember being taught the importance of a good and balanced business model design that could support and foster care for the people within the business. When I experienced the revelations described above and knew that my purpose was giving those in my care a future and sense of fulfillment, my head and heart were aligned. My transformation from management which is me-focused to leadership which is about a we-focus clearly has created a message that is resonating around the world. I have talked to groups in global business, education, nonprofits, health care and the military.  

What are the challenges your approach to people-centric leadership has faced during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been as much of a test for our company as the 2008-2009 global economic crisis was, when traditional business models failed and resulted in layoffs and share price decline. Our business model performed with a 11% increase in share price without letting anyone go.

During this extended COVID pandemic, we were able to care for our stakeholders — physically and financially — and, in fact, we saw considerable organic growth because of the diverse markets we serve. Again, the foundation of Truly Human Leadership is a well-designed business model that gives your stakeholders a grounded sense of hope for the future. I always say it is not about getting the right people on the bus as it is to design a safe bus (which is the business model) and then having drivers (leaders) who know where they are going and how to drive the bus safely. Then anyone who gets on the bus will be safe!

Your company’s Guiding Principles of Leadership took lean leadership and moved it from some of its negative connotations toward an affirmative approach. What was the key difference in thinking?

I met with a number of the early Lean adopters, and it quickly became evident that for many the application of Lean tools was primarily about the “elimination of waste” or profit improvement and not about human flourishing, as we had been told. We quickly adjusted and adapted the purpose of Lean to something that empowered our people, with the hope of reducing frustration in their day to day. The foundation of that was to simply listen to our team members. We asked our people to contribute their ideas and gave them the ability to affect their everyday experience and go home at night feeling valued or heard. Then when we asked them how it made them feel. They told us it was the first time anyone had ever asked them what they thought. And the amazing response was that they said it improved their family life, as they felt respected and valued for the first time rather than used for financial or organizational purposes. I suggested at my talks to Lean audiences that they should have named it LISTEN, for the cultural impact of asking our team members to embrace continuous improvement to create a better future for their colleagues.  

Listening seems to be an important component in what you’ve done at Barry-Wehmiller.

Listening to understand and validate, not to judge and argue. This is the greatest of all leadership skills in our business, home and communities. Think about most educational curricula. They teach speech and debate, but the most important of all communication skills is empathetic listening. This is very rarely taught or even considered. Therefore, we have a society where we debate, argue and judge, but we don’t know how to understand or validate others’ views. Listening isn’t doing nothing; it’s doing something — and it’s something very active and specific — in service to others.

Many years ago, we instituted a communications skills class we call “Listen Like a Leader” in our company’s internal university. It is a human skill that that is critically needed in all aspects of leadership. And in our experience at Barry-Wehmiller, it is the one skill that has truly changed the lives of the people within our span of care. Everyone wants to know that who they are and what they do matters, and empathetic listening helps to validate that.

The evolution of our thinking that created what we now call “Truly Human Leadership” was also shaped by my wife Cynthia and me, raising our six children. We learned that you need to compliment your kids five times more than you suggest things they could do better. So, in addition to the foundational skills of empathetic listening, we also place emphasis on teaching the skills of recognition and celebration throughout Barry-Wehmiller, which are skills that let people know they matter in timely and appropriate ways. We found that adults are exactly the same as our youth —  they simply want to know they matter — and that when thoughtful recognition is part of your leadership DNA, you dramatically impact caring in the organization, and we have found that caring is contagious. 95% of the feedback we get from our internal university teaching is how it improves our team members’ marriages and relationships with their children. On the other hand, if we send people home feeling used, then it is hard for them to put those feelings aside and be loving spouses and parents.

Do you see potential ideological connections between your Chapman Leadership Institute and the Center for Positive Organizations, founded at Ross?

The Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute was created to share our message to help companies understand and incorporate Truly Human Leadership in their own businesses. We want to create a movement to heal the poverty of dignity that is created when the vast majority of people working feel they work for an organization that does not care about them. But you can’t just tell leaders to care, you have to teach them the skills of caring.  Chapman & Co. is focused on going into organizations that believe what we believe,  to help them embrace these leadership lessons. Our hope is that educational institutions like the Center for Positive Organizations help teach leaders to care before they enter the workplace. We are currently involved in an initiative with Fordham University to establish an educational certification process for caring, or humanistic, leaders. So, students go into the workplace already having been taught the skills to care for those they will have the privilege to lead. The nonprofit my wife and I started, Chapman Foundation for Caring Communities, is working in community organizations — fire and police departments, primary education — to teach these same skills.

You’ve used the phrase “poverty of dignity” in your recent speeches and writings. What do you mean by that?

That was a phrase that Thomas Friedman of the New York Times once used in an editorial. He said, “Humiliation, in my view, is the most underestimated force in politics and international relations. The poverty of dignity explains so much more behavior than the poverty of money. People will absorb hardship, hunger and pain. They will be grateful for jobs, cars and benefits. But if you make people feel humiliated, they will respond with a ferocity unlike any other emotion, or just refuse to lift a finger for you.” As I have grown increasingly aware of the issues we face in all parts of our society, it has become apparent to me that Tom’s ‘poverty of dignity’ is what I am seeing, and the vaccine for this issue is teaching our future and current leaders the skills and courage to care for those they have the privilege to lead.

In 2016, you won Industry Week‘s Industry Excellence Award for leadership. What did that award signify to you?

The external recognitions we have received from an award such as that and other recognitions from publications such as Inc., CEO Magazine, Forbes and other magazines as well as the HBR case study, show that what we are doing is not the norm and there is a hunger for our message. We have been on this journey and the validation of our message of ‘caring’ in the views of the TedX talk, the 80,000 book sales and the engagements of Chapman & CO have transformed this into a ‘calling’ to address this ‘poverty of dignity’ that we see in every part of the world where we share our message.

Do you have any advice for current students aiming to make a career in business management? 

First, let’s call it “business leadership.” Name one person in your life that wants to be managed.  People want leaders, coaches and mentors that genuinely care for them.  When I have had the opportunity to present our message to business students, it has been extremely well received. It brings a higher calling to today’s students who came from homes and parents, came home from their jobs, not feeling valued. What our business schools need is to refresh their vision for the time they have these students in their care. They should look at the transformation journey they are inviting these students to experience, and share with them a curriculum that weaves human skills with professional skills to create tomorrow’s leaders.  

The way in which we lead impacts that way people live. Moving from “management” to “leadership” is the key to bring about a world where people feel valued, cared for, and therefore care for others. As I said earlier, when we use people for our organizational goals, we are destroying their dignity and sending them home broken. Yet, most organizations feel that by giving people good wages or a good salary and benefits, we are meeting the goals of society, which seems to have a foundation of wealth equals happiness. Until our leaders are taught how to care for those they have the privilege to lead, we are going to continue to see the brokenness in our families, communities and country caused not by the poverty of money, but the poverty of dignity!

Management as Calling Program

This is an immersive retreat experience to help you look deep inside yourself to consider management as a calling—moving away from the simple pursuit of a career for private personal gain and towards a vocation that is based on a higher and more internally derived set of values about leading commerce and serving society. 

The core of the program is a sequence of weekend retreats where you will be put in the company of others who think and feel deeply about similar aspirations that you do and help you examine and discern your idea of what kind of a manager you are meant to be, what kind of career you aspire to have, and what kind of legacy you hope to leave.

This program is available to business students in their final year of study: senior undergraduates, second-year graduates, and third-year dual degree students in the 2022-23 academic year. Only 48 total slots are available, divided evenly between undergraduate and graduate students, and broken into 5 sub-cohorts (each with an assigned teaching assistant). Admission will be selective, based on a written essay explaining the drive and seriousness that you bring to the pursuit of a personal calling.  All expenses are covered.

Interested senior undergraduates, second-year graduates, and third-year dual degree students in the 2022-23 academic year can apply by June 5th for a special weekend co-curricular program that will occur during the 2022-23 academic year, called “Management As Calling” and taught by Andy Hoffman.


DEI Research Awards Applications Open

April 5, 2021  ANN ARBOR – Carolyn Yoon, Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, announced that the Business +Impact initiative at Ross, in collaboration with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and the Dean’s office, is pleased to announce the second annual research awards to celebrate and honor research related to diversity, equity and inclusion conducted at the Ross School of Business, at every stage of the academic journey. These awards include up to two awards for faculty, and an award each for PhD and undergraduate senior thesis students. Details for each of these, including eligibility and application/nomination process, are described below. 

The awards will be presented at the Annual DEI Awards event on April 25, 3-4 pm. The awardees will be asked to present brief presentations of their work.

Applications are now open until February 28. Please send your submissions to

Award Award Stipend* Eligibility Application/ Nomination** Selection Process
Faculty research award (up to two) $5000 Research active faculty at Ross** Self-nomination, with a specific research paper (complete working paper or recent publication) DEI Committee, Executive Committee, based on fit and quality
PhD research award $3000 All current PhD students at Ross Nomination by PhD advisor, with a specific research paper (complete working paper or recent publication) DEI Faculty Committee, PhD Committee, based on fit and quality
BBA senior thesis award $1000 All students in senior thesis course at Ross n/a

Senior thesis course faculty, DEI Faculty Committee, based on fit and quality

* The stipend for the faculty award will be split if Ross faculty co-authored the paper. For the PhD and BBA awards, only students are eligible to receive the stipend (i.e., faculty co-authors, if any, will not share in the stipend).

** Excluding all deans, and faculty involved in the decision process, namely Executive Committee and DEI Faculty Committee members.

DEI Research Awards Introduced

April 5, 2021  ANN ARBOR – Francine Lafontaine, Associate Dean for Business + Impact & William Davidson Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, announced that the Business +Impact initiative at Ross in collaboration with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion faculty committee and the Dean’s office, has created of a set of new yearly research awards to celebrate and honor research related to diversity, equity and inclusion conducted at the Ross School of Business, at every stage of the academic journey. These new awards include up to two awards for faculty, and an award each for PhD students and undergraduate senior thesis students. Details for each of these, including eligibility and application/nomination process, are described below. 

The new awards will be given for the first time in 2021, and applications are now open, until April 20th. Please send your submissions to

Award Award Stipend* Eligibility Application/ Nomination Selection Process
Faculty research award (up to two) $5000 Research active faculty at Ross** Self-nomination, with a specific research paper (complete working paper or recent publication) DEI Faculty Committee, Executive Committee, based on fit and quality
PhD research award $3000 All current PhD students at Ross Nomination by PhD advisor, with a specific research paper (complete working paper or recent publication) DEI Faculty Committee, PhD Committee, based on fit and quality
BBA senior thesis award $1000 All students in senior thesis course at Ross n/a Senior thesis course faculty, DEI Faculty Committee, based on fit and quality

COVID-19 era offers proving ground for new business models—for better or worse

May 6, 2020 – B+I’s Jerry Davis explores parallels between the Great Recession of ’08 and the COVID-19 pandemic, and how entrepreneurial trends could be catalysts for significant change on the other side of the current crisis.  This article is reprinted from UM’s Michigan News.

Faculty Q&A

Jerry Davis is a professor at the Ross School of Business, where he also serves as associate dean for Business + Impact. He has studied the effect of crises on business for years, and the ways in which commerce has fallen into but fought its way out of crushing events like the Great Recession.

He sees parallels between that crisis and the one caused by COVID-19. In the following discussion, he explores some of them, as well as how entrepreneurial and technological trends that bubbled up in the intervening years could be catalysts for significant change on the other side of the latest economic upheaval. In other words, are we headed for an era of “Uber-ization”?

You wrote about the Great Recession in your 2009 book, “Managed by the Markets.” It detailed how tied to financial markets society had become. I realize the crisis today has different causes but what parallels can you draw?

I started writing that book in 2006, before the financial crisis, and I had been monitoring how finance and financial transactions were pervading all of society. All these crazy things were being turned into financial instruments that could be traded on markets, including the payoffs of life insurance policies on the elderly and terminally ill. The financial logic behind it made perfect sense: Any one life insurance policy’s payoff is hard to predict, but if you buy 1,000 of them the yields become much more regular. Why not pool them together and turn them into a bond? This kind of thing was happening all over the economy.

I thought financialization—relying on financial markets to channel capital—was a peculiar, one-time shift that had happened to our economy. But financialization is actually an information technology problem. It became possible on a grand scale because it got much cheaper to turn things into financial instruments and trade them on markets, such as bundles of mortgages. Information and communication technologies enabled finance to metastasize in the way that it did.

But it’s not just finance—now this is happening to labor markets. Think of this as “Uber-ization.” That’s information technology applied to labor markets: Instead of hiring someone for a job, you pay them for a specific task. That is a pretty big shift. That is the labor market version of financialization.

The financial crisis showed us the limits of financial markets: Where can things go wrong? The current crisis is showing what happens when people can’t show up in a common place to do their work together. We’ve created this technology that allows us to pay people by the task to work remotely. That is the essence of Uber: Drivers never set foot in the Uber office. They don’t have an Uber boss—they just connect to an app and complete their tasks. We’re now stress-testing the idea that people can work from remote locations and still get things done. It’s almost like a trial run for rampant Uber-ization.

If the pandemic shows that there’s an awful lot of business that can get done by people working in dispersed locations, managed by software, it is not much of a next step to say, “Why do they need to be employees? Why not just hire them as contractors?” This is going to prove which jobs can be done by folks wherever they happen to be, and which really need to be done on-site. It also provides in a sense proof of concept that you can have companies with almost no actual employees. Instead, you can basically “Uberize” the whole labor force.

Think of the Instant Pot. You can cook a rock-solid frozen chicken breast into edible food in 20 minutes. It’s also very inexpensive and a very well-made appliance. Here’s what’s amazing about the Instant Pot: The guy that created the company was a Ph.D. in computer science. He wanted to start his own business after the financial crisis. He thought, “What the world needs now is a quick way to make healthy food.” So he devised a pressure cooker with computer technology built into it.

He used $350,000 of his own money to start the company. After perfecting the design and finding a vendor to produce it, he listed the Instant Pot on Amazon and used the “Fulfillment by Amazon” service for storage and distribution. He read all the customer reviews on Amazon for his product research to improve the design. His marketing was that he sent 200 Instant Pots to influential food bloggers and cookbook writers. He used a vendor in China to manufacture it. It became a $300 million a year product category with just 50 employees in Ontario, which is insane. He’s created an entirely new category of indispensable appliance that dominates its industry. He didn’t need to go to Wall Street to fund it. He didn’t build any factories. He didn’t have to build a distribution channel or warehouse. He just hired Amazon.

That to me is proof of concept that you can have styles of business that look a lot more like a pop-up. That also in some sense feels like the apotheosis of our current situation—I think what the virus is doing is demonstrating in a fairly dramatic way that an awful lot of what we needed to show up to the office to do can be done remotely. If you don’t need an office, why not just rely on all contractors all the time like an Instant Pot?

Just to be clear, I’m not saying this is a good thing. It’s likely to be a disaster for labor, at least in the U.S., where people get health insurance and pension savings from their employer. But in some cases, it is likely to be the cheaper thing. In capitalism, cheap usually wins.

Speaking of test runs, auto and apparel makers, who have retooled their lines to make personal protective equipment, could similarly evaluate new lines of business or manufacturing approaches after the pandemic passes.

You could visualize “reshoring”—bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.—but there’s another trend that’s really interesting: Capital equipment has gotten really cheap and really flexible. It can be programmed to do lots of different stuff. It used to be the advantage of China was cheap labor. Because capital equipment has gotten so good and so cheap, you can replicate that ability in the U.S. Next door to every Amazon warehouse you could build a universal manufacturing facility.

I think about Ford Motor Co., where both my grandfathers were welders. Could Ford be a universal manufacturer? It’s consistent with their heritage—the idea of converting to wartime production as part of the Arsenal of Democracy. Shifting to producing ventilators is the same kind of transformation. These days designs are often fungible—it can be done in a dispersed, online way, like Wikipedia, or crowd-sourced designs for ventilators. Design globally, manufacture locally.

We’re hearing about big companies being called out or shamed into returning public money that was intended for small business. Is the pandemic lens distorting or enhancing the behavior? Are most businesses doing right amid the pandemic?

We’re at one of those moments where leaders in business are being told that what you do now is what is going to end up in your obituary. Do I lay a bunch of people off or do I find some way to maintain them and repurpose them? This is one of those moments that is going to define people and their legacy. I think a lot of folks are feeling that.

This is a situation where you don’t want to be the one who says, “Shareholders first.” It feels like that pressure, that scrutiny is out there—because of social media, one wrong step and it will go viral instantly. There’s a lot more at stake in making a morally defensible choice. From what I’ve seen, it feels that a lot of businesses are stepping up the best way they can.

This has also enabled workers in an interesting way. For example, GE workers at an idled aviation factory organized this protest and said, “This factory could be making ventilators. We’ve got the equipment to do that. Why is this factory idled?” That was genius. They weren’t protesting about hours or conditions, exactly. They were saying, “We can do some good here.” The companies that enable their workforce to identify those opportunities—it feels like they are going to win coming out of this. You’d rather work for a place where those values get built into the culture. Repurposing a manufacturing line to make ventilators and save lives is a story that will be told years from now.

What else is important to know or ponder about the culture of business as we emerge from the pandemic?

Where we end up on the other side of this is going to be a political choice and not purely an economic or business decision. I tweeted the other day: “How about we shift to a 30-hour workweek, where people show up in staggered shifts. That could give us more leisure, a little less income, less unemployment and a safer workplace. Thirty million unemployed in the last month is a lot. Can we return to work in a way that accomplishes some sort of social goals that would make us all better off?”

During the Second World War, in the darkest period in the United Kingdom, they formed the Beveridge Committee. The committee essentially asked, “What can we do when the war is over to make these sacrifices worth it? What kind of vision can we provide about the world we’re fighting for that will get us to the other end of this?” They came up with this set of ideas: A universal health care system, which became the NHS, universal education, pensions for the elderly. They came up with a set of core values and welfare policies for a civilized society. This is kind of our reward at the end of all this trauma.

What can we offer as a vision for the future at the other end of this that would make people say that was horrible but now we’re better off? I don’t know what that would look like, but it’s intriguing to think about.

B+I COVID-19 Response Page

For Students:

For Impact Organizations:

News about COVID-19:

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Poverty Solutions releases Michigan COVID-19 Pandemic Resource Guide

Michigan’s African American community hit hardest by coronavirus pandemic

Grocery shopping during a pandemic: U-M sustainability expert discusses

The new coronavirus emerged from the global wildlife trade – and may be devastating enough to end it


Sarah Miller in Huffington Post, discussing unemployment

COVID-19 Stories: The Michigan Ross Community Steps Up to Make a Positive Impact and Help Others Through the Pandemic

Coronavirus and Inequities

U-M Coronavirus News, Research, Experts

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Scientific Method Can’t Save Us from Coronavirus

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COVID-19 Stories: Michigan Ross Alum’s Innovative Program Is Targeting Food and Financial Insecurity Across the U.S.

COVID-19 Stories: Michigan Ross Alum’s Innovative Program Is Targeting Food and Financial Insecurity Across the U.S.

Community and Civic Engagement During COVID-19

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Zara Ahmed (MPP/MPH ’09) advocates to preserve reproductive rights during global pandemic

Voting by mail, open meetings, banking & cultural participation: students help communities with COVID-19 challenges

Student-run nonprofit provides hundreds of excess medical supplies to Ann Arbor hospitals, with plans to send more

Hunger and COVID: Fighting pandemic-related food insecurity in Detroit

Coronavirus Pandemic Worsens Food Insecurity for Low-Income Adults

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One-Third Of Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Class Of 2020 Donates To The Give-A-Day Fund, Receives $10,000 Match On Giving Blueday

During the University of Michigan’s Giving Blueday, the student-run Give-A-Day Fund at the Ross School of Business received thousands of dollars in donations from nearly 100 students, faculty, and staff, which unlocked a $10,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor.

So far in 2019, more than one-third of the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Class of 2020 have donated to the Give-A-Day Fund, which supports full-time MBA impact interns with funding from their fellow students. 

Read more on Michigan Ross Website

Now Open: The +Impact Studio At Michigan Ross Is Taking On Society’s Greatest Challenges

This article was original written by Michigan Ross News

OCTOBER 15, 2019  ANN ARBOR — It’s official, the new +Impact Studio is up and running at the Ross School of Business, and MBAs and other graduate students from across the University of Michigan are already at work figuring out how to translate faculty insights into tangible business solutions to the world’s challenges. 

The +Impact Studio, which is part of the Business+Impact initiative at Ross, encompasses an interdisciplinary action-based learning course; a collaboration space; and a campus hub for programming and events. In addition to translating academic research into real-world impact, the studio also seeks to train students on how to be architects to create new kinds of enterprises.

By design, the interdisciplinary +Impact Studio course brings together the diverse talent and expertise of U-M’s top-ranked graduate schools to take on society’s greatest challenges. This year, the students in the class are divided into two different groups: one focused on using the latest fintech research by Michigan Ross finance professor Bob Dittmar to improve financial inclusion, and the other on scaling a technology developed by Ross marketing professor Eric Schwartz on how to identify lead in Flint water pipes so that it can have a greater impact in Flint and beyond. 

“In this course, it is incredibly rewarding to bring together graduate students from five different schools on campus to learn design methodologies and immediately apply them to pressing challenges in society,” said Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, faculty director of the +Impact Studio and instructor of the course. “The +Impact Studio course provides rare and valuable skills and a set of experiences employers across sectors are asking for.”

With long-term interests in making an impact in healthcare, Gautam Kandlikar, MBA ’20, enrolled in the +Impact Studio course because he said there hasn’t been a good way to define and address larger healthcare problems beyond simply providing care and how to go about tackling them. 

“What I like about this course is that professor Sanchez-Burks is taking really big and difficult-to-solve societal problems like poverty, and forcing us to think about them in different ways so that we can develop solutions by incorporating tools from business, design thinking, and new ideas we are being introduced to,” said Kandlikar. “I’m excited to explore those methods in the class so that I can apply them to healthcare and in my future career.” 

To celebrate the grand opening of the space, an open house was recently held at the +Impact Studio. At the event, Michigan Ross students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the business community were able to get a firsthand look at how the space was designed to facilitate collaboration and idea generation. 

“The physical space itself was designed around ‘users’ (students), based on observation of how they work together as teams,” said Jerry Davis, associate dean of Business+Impact at Michigan Ross. “Each part of the +Impact Studio provides a functional space for different ways of working and creating, from small group discussion work to quiet contemplation to interviewing to big presentations of work in progress. The space and the work and the course are all perfectly aligned.”

Kandlikar agreed the space was fulfilling on its promise, providing a great space to step back and think about problems, a place to have insightful conservations, and a source of creative inspiration with its bright pops of color. 

“It’s nice to be able to come into this sacred atmosphere where I’m only thinking about the problems in the class and having access to resources that I need,” he said. “Since my like-minded classmates and I are looking to make social impact a big part of our careers, this course and this space provide us with the perfect platform to explore achieving something really meaningful in a safe environment.” 

Read original article at Michigan Ross

Michigan Ross Dean signs open letter on immigration

October 15, 2019 – Michigan Ross Dean Scott De Rue joined 62 other business school deans and US CEOs in authoring a letter to administration and congressional leadership today about the effects of restrictive immigration on business school enrollment and the future of the US economy. The message appears as an open letter in the Wall Street Journal DC edition today.

Maintaining that Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” description for the US welcomes immigrants, the signatories asked that leaders work to change a “dangerous negative trend” that turns away “hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled immigrants for no other reason than that they failed to win the H-1B lottery.” The letter suggested that lower-than-normal foreign student numbers in America’s universities are adversely affecting America’s crisis in filling STEM jobs.

In addition to this open letter, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) will be releasing an evidence-based white paper today on the same topic. 

Read a full copy of the open letter here.


Ted London Wins Book Award for “The Base of the Pyramid Promise”

AUGUST 2019 – The International Humanistic Management Association (IHMA) awarded Ted London the 2019 Humanistic Management Book Award for Practice for his book, The Base of the Pyramid Promise.

The book draws on over 25 years of experience across some eighty countries, and offers concrete guidelines for how to build better enterprises while simultaneously alleviating poverty. London outlines three key components that must be integrated to achieve results: the lived experiences of enterprises to date—both successes and failures; the development of an ecosystem that is conducive to market creation; and the voices of the poor, so that entrants can truly understand what poverty alleviation is about. London provides aspiring market leaders and their stakeholders with the tools and techniques needed to succeed in the unique, opportunity-rich BoP.

Ted London is an internationally-recognized expert on enterprise strategy and poverty alleviation. He is Vice President of the William Davidson Institute and a faculty member at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

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