I Used To Believe That Risks Weren’t For Me


By Miranda Spradlin, MBA ‘15

Recently, 11 of my classmates braved the stage to tell personal stories on the topic of “I used to believe…” during an event called StoryLab. The stories were diverse and engaging, and they got me thinking: What are some of the things I used to believe in, and how have two years at Ross altered some of those beliefs?

So, I’ve gathered the courage, and I’d like to share that story with you here (albeit from safely behind my computer screen, instead of onstage with 150 of my fellow Rossers watching...).

I used to believe that risks weren’t for me.

Clichés about risks are prolific, of course – “with great risk comes great reward,” “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and so on – so I always figured I must be missing something. But it wasn’t until sometime last year – I think at a MAP reflection event – that a wise classmate finally put the concept of risk into terms that resonated with me.

The importance, she said, is not in simply taking the risk; it is in being open to the outcomes, whatever they may be. The real benefit in taking risks is honestly reflecting and, as she so beautifully put it, “allowing for surprises.”

Coming to Ross has been one big risk in and of itself, from quitting a stable job and moving across the country (and subsequently learning what an ice scraper is), to developing an entirely new circle of friends. The experience as a whole has been a fast-paced adventure, riddled with tough decisions and incredible excitement.

This concept of taking new (and oftentimes scary) steps and allowing for surprises was a game-changer for me. I knew that embracing this higher level of open-mindedness would result in untold and uncertain outcomes - but I was finally emboldened and free. Free to try new things. Free to experiment.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is where I’m heading next. I showed up to Ross with two major goals:

  1. find a job in corporate social responsibility, and;
  2. get back to Los Angeles.

I’m doing neither.

Turns out, I like marketing within the automotive industry, and the Midwest isn’t such a bad place to be after all! So, I’ll be packing my things and making the big move from Ann Arbor to Detroit in July. I’ll be working for GM’s Global Marketing and Strategy division. And, I’m excited about and open to the fact that my journey is going down a different path than I had expected when I came to Ross.

All of this is happening because I decided to take a risk in accepting an internship with GM last summer.  Allowing for the risk, I was delighted by the surprise of discovering that both the city of Detroit and this job are a fit for me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t end this confession by giving a lot of the credit for feeling more open to taking risks to the wonderfully supportive Ross students I have had the privilege of being next to every day for the last two years.

While my colleague’s nugget of wisdom initially opened my eyes, the warm embrace and support of the Ross community has been a key driver in this newfound self-awareness and willingness to experiment.

My fellow Rossers have allowed me to keep taking risks and to try new things, from co-chairing one of the biggest conferences at Ross to reliving my musical theater glory days at Follies. For that, I am eternally grateful.

I look forward to all the surprises and risks that will come my way in the future, and I know the support of my Ross community will remain strong through all of it.

Miranda Spradlin is a 2015 Graduate of the Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA Program. She begins work with General Motors in July.

This is just one in a series of #RossGrad posts from 2015 Michigan Ross Graduates.

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