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Small groups lead to big successes

By Christopher Millen, MBA class of 2024
Saturday, February 10, 2024
Headshot of Christopher Millen

Christopher Millen, MBA ’24

The power of teamwork is pooling your resources and your strengths together to achieve common goals — things that would be nearly impossible to accomplish alone. In the business world, you will find working in teams to be commonplace, and while it’s sometimes challenging, learning to be a dependable and trustworthy teammate is a crucial and indispensable skill. There’s no better place to learn this skill than here at Broad in the Full-Time MBA program.

Something that makes the Broad MBA special is that it is fundamentally built around international teamwork, with students placed into teams of five for one semester and then reshuffled for the second semester of the first year. This is reflective of a work environment where you will be part of small teams assigned for different projects, work with them for a time and then move along to a new project with a new team. Both of my team circumstances in the Full-Time MBA program gave me opportunities to leverage what I knew and to learn from my teammates. After spending a lot of time together and adding humor to the situation, our teams began to feel like a little home away from home.

Home means something different to each of us. Our definitions of home include traditions, histories, languages and delicious foods. All these backgrounds shine through us in different ways, manifesting as different passions and personalities, skillsets and knowledge. While I may have only picked up a tiny bit of Mandarin, Hindi and Telugu, I have learned so much about the world and about my friends that I may never have had the chance to learn without this program. This has certainly helped me to grow as a prospective businessperson, but it has also helped me to grow as an individual. I have learned invaluable things from my friends — we are so much more than our flags, than our countries, than our languages. We are all human.

“When an individual feels valued, trusted, supported and appreciated, they will flourish and provide so much more to a firm than just raw productivity.”

My teams were composed of people who always found ways to support each other and to lift each other up. I was so fortunate to welcome a new child into my life last year (right around mid-terms), but the coursework never really slows down. Although my team didn’t quite kick me out of meetings (not for lack of trying), my teammates shouldered more of the work to give me the time and space to bond with my daughter and adjust to a new life. The whole class even secretly colluded with my wife to organize a baby shower for us on campus. I’ve worked in places where no such special treatment would be offered, and I cannot thank my friends enough for helping me when I needed it most.

A team member of mine needed to go back home for a wedding and we took care of her in a similar way, making sure she was included in conversations but otherwise doing the work that needed to be done so that she could focus on celebrating with her family. Another member was a student-athlete who spent time away representing the school. Other times, there were important job interviews. No matter the circumstance or how short-notice some things were, we were always there to support each other.

Many companies unfortunately fall short of an ideal workplace culture. When an individual feels valued, trusted, supported and appreciated, they will flourish and provide so much more to a firm than just raw productivity. They will provide insight, creativity, tenacity and innovative solutions in a way that no one could if they felt they were just a number. Getting to know the people you work with brings out the most in them and brings out the most for the team. Importantly, it will bring out the most in you, too.

In Other News:

Second-year MBA student Amy Brothers reflects on the importance of community in an international MBA program.
The Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business
First-year MBA student Lucas Ferro reflects on his experiences in entrepreneurship and the journey that led him to MSU.
Michael Lamach is the retired chair and CEO of Trane Technologies, with a BS. in Applied Engineering Sciences from MSU.
International MBA student Rishabh Singhal recounts his application and admissions process at the Broad College.