Breaking the Ice for Ross Global MBA Students

One of the greatest advantages of completing an MBA program is the accumulation of social capital: the chance to learn from and connect with the movers and shakers of the business world, and to network with your fellow classmates. This is especially true if you’re at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, which has consistently ranked as one of the top programs in the world.

But what if you have all the credentials and experience to get into a coveted top MBA program, but cultural and linguistic barriers prevent you from reaping all the important social benefits of participating in the program? 

This is the situation that many accepted into the Ross School of Business’ Global MBA program find themselves in. These students are already successful professionals working at top global companies with years of managerial experience under their belt. Because of this background, they enter the MBA program for more than just classroom knowledge. They’re really looking for a chance to build a wider, global network of relationships and gain real-life skills to pivot into their next career move.

Ross’ Global MBA program already has a lot of built-in features and curriculum to help students accomplish their goals. It includes a global cohort with students from all over Asia, options to study abroad and learn about global business and management from another culture, and a 7-week Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) that provides real-world experience in solving critical organizational challenges. To ensure these students walk away from the Global MBA program with a well-rounded experience, the Ross Business School has partnered with the Michigan Language Center to help them develop the soft skills needed to get the most out of the program.  


Academic Directors Michael Diaz and Claire Molling introduce students to
new American idioms and practical tools for engaging in small talk

In February, during Orientation Week, MLC and the Ross School of Business partnered together to host an interactive session titled “Break the Ice: Building Authentic Relationships in the U.S.” Through this session, Global MBA students were equipped with techniques for engaging confidently in small-talk as well as activities designed to get them up to speed on American idioms, humor, and pop-culture. To complete the session, students tossed around a football as they learned the basics of American football, America’s much-beloved sport.


CEO Moses Lee introducing students to the world of Michigan Football

“MLC’s workshop in the Ross GMBA Orientation was fun, useful and a great opportunity to learn about US culture,” says Sangyup Yoon, an incoming Global MBA student from Korea, “The section on self-introductions will be very useful for me when I meet new people while completing my GMBA program.”

With practical tools in their back pocket, these global MBA students now have the confidence to begin engaging their fellow American MBA students in meaningful conversations, and to get the most out of their MBA program. “International students are always eager to contribute to their new communities, and often more than prepared to express their ideas in English, but really expressing themselves – sharing enthusiasms and making connections – is a challenge because adapting to a different culture is hard work,” says Michael Diaz, an Academic Director at MLC. “It’s so rewarding to help students tackle that cultural challenge with a new toolkit. By the end of the workshop, you can sense the boost in confidence, the readiness to authentically engage with others.”

We’re confident that this motivated and enthusiastic cohort of global students will be able to leverage the Michigan Difference to do great things in the future.



About MLC

Founded in 1978, Michigan Language Center (MLC) is an accredited communications training institution that partners with corporate and public-sector clients to help leaders and staff improve cultural competency and overall verbal and written communication skills in a variety of contexts. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, universities, and government subcontractors.  

About the Global MBA program at the Stephen M Ross School of Business

The Ross Global MBA is a full-time cohort-based MBA that provides an immersive MBA experience. Students benefit from the Ross MBA curriculum plus three global leadership experiences and a semester abroad. The Global MBA schedule is tailored for mid-career professionals who want to garner business fundamentals, enhance their leadership skills, and quickly return to the workforce. By eliminating the internship typically offered to those who are pursuing an MBA with the intent to change companies or industries, the program completes in just 15 months. Participants in the Ross Global MBA Program have an average of 9 years of work experience before joining, the program falls between an Executive MBA and a traditional 2-year MBA.

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