In the summer of 2019, I was brimming with existential dread related to my role (or lack of role) in helping to solve the climate crisis. I was working for an automaker with an advanced electric vehicle program, but my work was focused on automated driving software that stopped drivers from reversing into people or trees. I felt like I could be doing more. When a colleague took initiative to create a software component that could save 10% of fuel in certain situations, they met resistance for going outside of the normal process. I decided to change course.
I hoped to go to business school and build my repertoire of skills so that I could be in the room when decisions would be made—decisions that I hoped to sway toward a sustainable, Earth-positive framework.
When I first thought about applying to school, I was already living in Ann Arbor. I took advantage of my proximity to the University of Michigan to reach out to every current Erb Institute student who somewhat matched my intended career path. I ended up speaking with six different Erbers, all with unique backgrounds, so that I could understand whether the path I wanted would be reachable if I enrolled in the Erb Institute. My fears were assuaged. The Erb students not only affirmed that Michigan was a great graduate school with a magnificent alumni network, which would enable me to find the right company to make a difference—but they also shared their personal experiences. Their openness, honesty and integrity struck a chord with me. I figured that if six out of six Erbers I had met were on par with what I hoped, everyone involved in the program had to be as well.
Once I joined Erb and started my three-year journey at the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), I immersed myself (as much as I could in Zoom world) in opportunities presented through both SEAS and the Ross School of Business. I joined club leadership in the Energy Club, where I gained confidence in communicating and disseminating information for club events. In the first two months, I consulted for a venture capital firm, providing valuable insights that helped the firm build out its investment thesis. I participated in a venture capital (VC) challenge through the Zell Lurie Institute with three fellow Erbers. Both of these venture capital opportunities were shared with me through the Erb community because my peers, caring as they are, remembered that I had talked about an interest in VC. This community is collaborative by nature, even though some of us are competing for the same opportunities.
The Erb Institute and everyone involved—students, staff, associated professors—have shown me unbelievable kindness and respect. I plan to pass it forward by being as gracious toward others as the community has been to me. Go Blue!