01 Dec 2015

3-Minute Briefing: Michelle Ross (MBA 2011)

Manager, Sales and Operations, Goodyear
by Julia Hanna


Photo by Billy Delfs

Math and science were always a part of me. And I’m the oldest child in my family, too, so I don’t want to say that I like to boss people around—but it came more naturally to me to delegate.

Kettering University had a co-op program, so as I earned my degree in industrial engineering, I also worked in different manufacturing facilities. I loved being able to see how something came together from the nuts and bolts into a very tangible product.

Learning how to relate to people who are resistant to change is definitely a lifelong, valuable skill. While I was working in Wooster [Ohio] at LuK USA—a German-based transmission manufacturer—I implemented a big project where we were essentially moving around pieces of equipment to create a more optimized workflow. It seemed to make so much sense to me, but some people were really not in favor of it.

I interacted with everybody, from the associates running the equipment to the plant manager, and there were definitely some heated conversations. I had moments of frustration, but managed to keep those feelings to myself. I had to understand that people in general, myself included, sometimes don’t like change.

When design is divorced from local manufacturing, some of the synergy, feedback, and integration that can provide a competitive advantage is lost. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s important to have a manufacturing base in any healthy economy.

Goodyear didn’t come to recruit at HBS, so I reached out to them. The advice I got when I arrived was essentially, “Your MBA doesn’t matter as much to your coworkers as it does to you.”

It’s unfortunate that more women don’t go into engineering. There’s so much opportunity, and women tend to bring a different perspective. Sometimes they listen a bit more and can empathize with the customer’s problem a little better. Not that men don’t, but women do a very good job of managing different stakeholders, facilitating processes, and making sure everyone’s needs are met.

At HBS we talked quite a bit about the difference between managing and leading, and I’m aspiring to be more of a leader than a manager with my team. My goal in the end is to be a general manager at a manufacturing company.

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2011, Section B

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