2017 Best EMBAs: Raymond Ip, University of Michigan (Ross)

Raymond Ip

University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

“A driven and well-rounded professional who “works hard, plays hard” and loves exploring the world.”

Age: 38

Hometown: Hong Kong & Memphis TN

Family Members: Parents (Antony & Ada Ip); Grandmother (Sing-Lin Sung)

Fun fact about yourself: I was once pursued by a leopard seal for close to half an hour while kayaking in Antarctica. 

Undergraduate School and Degree: Carnegie Mellon University (B.S. Chemical Engineering & B.S. Psychology)

Where are you currently working? Allergan (Director – Product Development & External Scientific Innovation)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

Food & Culture:

  • Founder and organizer of a multi-cultural dining club in New York City with over 100 members, hosting quarterly dinner events to explore and promote cuisines and culture from different regions of the world.

Travel & Adventure:

  • Avid traveler who has explored 60 countries and crossed both polar circles, and has once traveled through all 7 Continents within 100 days.
  • Kayaker who learned how to paddle on the Hudson River in NYC and has since gone on excursions in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, etc.

Faith & Spirituality:

  • Secular member of the Carmelite religious order (with a spirituality and charism rooted in contemplation, service and prayer).
  • Member of the Young Catholic Professionals of Orange County.

Professional Awards & Honors:

  • Winner of the Johnson & Johnson Standard of Leadership Award.
  • Winner of the Johnson & Johnson Platinum Eagle Award (highest honors for a cross-functional team in recognition of outstanding outcomes on North America business priorities).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest academic achievement during business school is actually being able to immediately apply the new learnings from my courses to my daily work. I entered the EMBA program with no formal training in any of the business disciplines. Now I am able to understand and critically evaluate financial statements, conduct valuations of new projects or acquisition opportunities, and systematically formulate and execute strategies – just to name a few examples. These new skills have truly allowed me to elevate my professional output to a new level.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The proudest achievement in my career is being able to lead and help commercialize over 70 innovative skin care products across the globe, working on iconic beauty brands from both Johnson & Johnson and Allergan (such as NEUTROGENA®, AVEENO®, CLEAN & CLEAR®, LUBRIDERM®, SKINMEDICA®). As a product developer, nothing compares to seeing one’s work and creation on the store-shelves and being well loved by the consumers.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite class is ExecMAP (Multidisciplinary Action Projects). This project-based capstone course gave me the hands-on experience to apply and synthesize all the learnings I had acquired in my various coursework throughout the EMBA program. The project took our team deep into the Amazon Rainforest to conduct background research and required us to develop an actionable business plan for our sponsor who was looking to target a new customer segment. The course also gave me the invaluable experience to conduct business in a cross-cultural context.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose the Ross EMBA program for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it is a top-ranked program with high-caliber faculty and peers who are the best in their corresponding fields. Secondly, given my heavy travel schedule, the once-a-month residency format allows me a great degree of flexibility on how to efficiently manage my coursework and assignments. Another draw for me was the ExecMAP program which I mentioned above (Ross provides a large, diverse portfolio of capstone projects which students could bid for; there is also the opportunity for students or their companies to sponsor their own project if they so choose). Last but not least, an additional key driver for me is the ability to tap into the vast global alumni network that University of Michigan possesses.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The wealth of knowledge and quality of the exceptional faculty and of my fellow classmates.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Over the course of the program, I learned that the best way to juggle work/personal life/education and to strike a good balance is by “integrating” these three aspects of my life rather than “segregating” them. For example, a month ago, I had to travel for business to Asia and Australia for two weeks for conferences and partner meetings. I took advantage of the couple free days in between to spend quality time with my family living in Asia. I also tried to capitalize on all my train and plane rides or wait times at the airport and turn them into productive, uninterrupted study sessions. With efficient and creative planning (and good discipline), I was amazed by how much “extra” time I was able to find that I did not realize I had.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s executive MBA program? With the compactness of the Ross EMBA program, it is imperative to manage time well and stay on top of your deliverables. But it is equally important to regularly set aside time to relax and slow down (however difficult it might seem). Your productivity and performance will be much higher when you maintain a good balance of work and rest.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Before going back to school, I knew that the EMBA program would be a great learning experience. But what I did not expect was how immediately applicable the new knowledge would be to my daily work. The chance to utilize and experiment with these new skills in the real-world setting further speeds up my learning process.

What was your biggest regret in business school? In all sincerity, my biggest regret would be that I cannot stay in business school longer. There are simply so much exciting new knowledge and skills to be acquired. I would love to continue taking all that in.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It would have to be my classmates in the military – for juggling their academic, professional and family lives, but most importantly for their courage and dedication in serving our country!

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was working on my first Brand R&D leadership role at Johnson & Johnson – with responsibilities for the AVEENO® and LUBRIDERM® body care businesses. The opportunity to partner closely with my Marketing colleagues (in developing the innovation pipeline and defining our new product propositions) sparked an initial interest in me to learn more about the business side of things. Over time, that interest continued to intensify as I realized how important it was for me and for my career to cultivate an in-depth understanding of the various core business disciplines (from marketing to finance to strategy, etc.).”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…missing out on a great opportunity to be a more effective and well-rounded leader. Business school has infused in me the skills and tools necessary to be a successful general manager – whether I remain on the technical and research track or decide to transition to a different discipline like operations, marketing or sales.” 

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? My favorite company is actually my current firm – Allergan. One of our key differentiators is a strong dedication to the Open Science model (where we seek to complement our internal R&D programs via extensive, external partnerships with other pharmaceutical/biotech companies and academic institutions). This allows us to rapidly build a robust pipeline of 65+ programs to target unmet patient needs across 7 therapeutic areas.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience? Creating networking opportunities across EMBA programs at different universities

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My EMBA experience has really broadened my horizons to new disciplines and areas that I can explore professionally. I can envision multiple long-term paths which I can pursue: anywhere from serving as the chief technology or scientific officer of a consumer product company to being a senior leader in marketing or business development in the pharmaceutical industry. After graduation, I also plan to start my own travel/culinary blog and get involved in a healthcare-related non-profit organization, both of which might also lead to new potential career paths for me.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I cannot thank my parents enough for being there for me unwaveringly through good and bad times, for passing onto me a set of values and a sense of work ethic that will always remain with me, and for instilling in me a passion for exploring and learning about the cultures of the world. Even though we live thousands of miles apart, I can always be assured of their loving support, which is a great source of motivation for me.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A peer who has contributed positively to their learning experience during the EMBA program and whom they now consider a lifelong friend.

Favorite book: The Interior Castle (by Teresa of Avila); Switch (by Chip & Dan Heath)

Favorite movie or television show: The Shawshank Redemption; Infernal Affairs (Cantonese)

Favorite musical performer: MercyMe

Favorite vacation spot: Cinque Terre (Italy); Milford Sound (New Zealand); Iceland

Hobbies? Photography, Culinary Excursions, Hiking, Kayaking, (Choral) Singing, “Escape Room”

What made Raymond such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“It was clear from the beginning that Ray Ip was the type of person who would excel in a rigorous MBA program like Ross. Ray gives 150% to everything he does, but what makes Ray so unique is that while giving his best he motivates others around him to be their best selves by his example, and by the way he encourages others. It’s amazing just to witness the way Ray thinks and works.

Ray is the “cream of the crop” in his graduating cohort. In peer reviews, others said Ray is focused, conscientious, and wicked smart, while setting the bar for being respectful and considerate toward all he encountered. In addition, one peer said, “Ray is the consummate professional, the best of our class. If I were working to assemble a sharp, reliable, results-oriented leadership team for my firm, Ray Ip would be my first, foundational choice.”

Ray is an extraordinary individual, and a source of light for those who know and work with him. He has earned the deepest admiration from the Ross staff, professors, and students.”

Sue Gonis
Executive Coach and Career Consultant