One of the best things about University of Michigan is its passionate and robust alumni network. This past weekend, three other students and I welcomed the incoming class for the Ross MBA in Los Angeles. I love that the school asked for volunteers to connect my class year with the following year and that so many people were interested in taking the time. So, in response to the questions I was most commonly asked, here are some tips for how to maximize the value of your experience.
Academically, two of the three initial courses in the lockstep Ross curriculum are core fundamentals. If you really learn the accounting in Dr. Dave’s class and the finance in MP’s class, you will have a good foundation to build on for subsequent coursework. A lot of new matriculants asked me about MP’s final exam, which they had heard rumored to be terrifyingly difficult. As the Ross program is intended to train top general managers, it is not enough to be able to rock a spreadsheet personally; Ross graduates need to be able to make decisions involving a more high level managerial analysis of spreadsheets someone else has put in from of them. My advice is to read MP’s book Finance for Strategic Decision Making: What Non-Financial Managers Need to Know in its entirety, not just what is on the syllabus, and you’ll be well prepped for both the test and, more importantly, your actual work.
The Beverly Wilshire is, by far, the swankiest hotel any MBA program for executives is held at. The front entryway is gorgeous and features a rotation of incredible floral displays. The front desk people are super pleasant and they track your preferences. For example, if you like to get the Wall Street Journal in the morning, they will keep that on file and make sure it is delivered before breakfast. The Beverly Wilshire has flawless wakeup call service; you can request three calls at fifteen minute intervals and an actual human will greet you with a sunny good morning on time every time. There are alarm clocks in the rooms as well. When it is time for the Emmys or the Grammys or similar events, your room priority will slide to the back of the list, as many celebrities like to stay at the Beverly Wilshire. All other weeks, however, the Beverly Wilshire will often give Ross students upgrades to various really remarkably impressive suites.
The school provides each class year with an email to contact the entirety of our class. Don’t overuse it, but, if you get a really great suite upgrade to something with a lot of rooms and a perfect party terrace with a view of all of Los Angeles, you can easily contact everyone in your cohort to invite them to a shindig in your suite. I frequently get room upgrades to suites with a nice view of Rodeo Drive.
The proximity of Rodeo Drive means that you can always pick up some extra clothing, if you can’t make it to the dry cleaners during a hectic work week. Sure the hotel has dry-cleaning, but you might prefer shopping. There are also tons of restaurants, at varied price ranges, and lots of bars and cafes. If you need a courtesy transport to one of the nearby attractions, the Beverly Wilshire offers complimentary limo service in their Rolls Royce.
If you are a successful executive, you are generally not going to want to eat the catered food at the Beverly Wilshire. You don’t get successful drinking warm soda and eating processed sugar pastries. The little desserts the catering serves are delicious and the temptation is to just eat those, as the main courses tend towards undesirable and often fail to accommodate the needs of people who are vegetarian or lactose intolerant or body-builders. In Los Angeles, successful people just expect a higher level of service on such factors.
The Beverly Wilshire, however, contains multiple award-winning restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck’s celebrated CUT steakhouse. Sometimes, the hotel food folks make a big drama out of it if you buy from the restaurants, when there is a meal already being catered, even if the catered food is frozen pizza and what you really want is an exceptionally prepared salmon from their Blvd restaurant. Fortunately, it is also super easy to walk to various fabulous spots nearby. Mastro’s is a happening steakhouse and Scarpetta at The Montage is especially nice California cuisine, if you are not on a budget. Shanghai Grill is moderately priced delicious Chinese food. Chipotle is on a side street only one block away. There is a Whole Foods a few blocks away at 239 North Crescent Dr, Beverly Hills, California 90210 and the hotel is excellent about sending a free refrigerator up to your room. I’ve never done this, but one body-builder in my class even has them send up a microwave.