Forget the Marketing Jargon, Here’s The Real Way Ross Changed Me


By Gopal Chakrabarti, MBA ‘15

I initially found it difficult to identify the most important aspects of my experience here at Ross. 

At first, my thoughts drifted to the normal MBA marketing jargon we’ve all heard before. Concepts such as the network, exit opportunities, resetting one’s career, etc. These all pale in comparison to the things at Ross that really stand out for me: a single class that changed my life and helped redefine my “baseline for success.”

Becoming a Transformational Leader, a course offered through our MO department, changed me from a goal-oriented person to someone striving to be purpose-driven. The course taught me how the road ends the day you achieve a goal, but the battle continues if you are internally driven by a greater sense of purpose. 

During the course, I happened to listen to a Ted Talk from an African political leader who talked about no longer fearing death, because he felt so passionately that he was fulfilling his life’s purpose in opposing his country’s regime. I had never felt that sense of commitment to what I was doing, and while I still haven’t discovered that, I now understand how much happier one can be when they are internally driven. 

A prime example of this difference is highlighted by the way I have approached my academics since that class. 

Growing up, I always made grades that were good enough, but not great. It was always a teacher’s fault or a wisely chosen trade-off when I didn’t make an A, or earn an Excellent. My justification was always that I was in class to learn, and ultimately grades don’t matter as long as they’re good enough. 

Since that class, those justifications have gone out the window. I see how ridiculous it is for me to claim that learning is my objective yet have others “out-learn” me by the only measurable metric. Not only have my academics improved, but my ability to make healthy choices and derive energy from my daily activities has improved.

The second way that Ross has changed me is in redefining my “baseline of success.” 

I truly believe, that through some nature, but a lot of nurture, humans fear failure, and respond to the need to achieve at an environmentally established baseline for success. The primary caveat being that a human’s ability to self-rationalize will generally set that baseline low.  

When I entered Ross, I thought a lengthy, stable career with some upward mobility was ideal. It is what I had seen professionally, and what I considered achievable. 

Across my time at Ross, I met students and alumni that were achieving so much more. One classmate was leading a grocery chain. Another had helped invent and commercialize a technique to reduce nerve damage during spinal surgeries. Yet others were taking on roles in industries I had never considered to be an option five years ago. Friends spun-off into non-profit, education, consulting, private equity, and numerous other industries I did not consider options prior to business school. These people are leading businesses, impacting product development, and changing lives TODAY. 

It is important to mention that these two takeaways for me are not exclusive of the normal MBA benefits. I do leave school with incredible future opportunities, lifelong friends, and have transitioned my career from a technical focus to an increasingly commercial focus. 

The way my classmates and the Ross faculty have challenged me has forced me to grow and change forever. Simply put, I have generally achieved throughout my life, but Ross has now given me the experience, the role models, and the toolset to no longer fear failure. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am excited for it.

Gopal Chakrabarti is a 2015 Graduate of the Michigan Ross Evening MBA Program.

This is just one in a series of #RossGrad posts from students graduating this Spring.

Click here to see the entire collection