Alison Levy

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Alison Levy (MBA '17) is the Program Manager for a bay-area start-up developing a completely new class of electrical energy storage devices.

What drew you to the University of Michigan?
When I decided to go to business school, I targeted programs that offered the opportunity to blend operations, sustainability, and energy courses into the typical MBA curriculum. My previous experience was in conventional energy and manufacturing, and I hoped to use my time in school to prepare for a role in the cleantech sector. In order to strengthen my skills in some of those clean and green areas, I took the opportunity to take several classes outside of Ross, which is something that seemed totally reasonable when planning out my two years at Michigan. The strength of the Tauber program, the Energy Club at Ross, and the collaborative, positive Ross working environment all really tipped the scales for me when I made my decision to attend.

When you think back on your time with the Tauber Program, what stands out?
The lead up to the interviews for the team projects was stressful for a lot of people, and it was a fairly intense few weeks. I saw many of my peers anxious and laser-focused on specific companies where they hoped to work after graduation. I decided to go at the experience from what I saw as a different direction, by focusing on the projects, what I felt I could bring to each of them, and how each one may round out some of my experience. I felt that this strategy would help lead me in the general direction of the career I hoped to have after graduation. I almost felt like I was "doing it wrong" along the way, since I wasn't interested in any of the firms that were drawing a lot of attention from my peers, but in the end, my strategy was right for me - and for my project sponsor!
Read more about Alison's team project.
 
What is the most challenging aspect of your work life today?
As the supply chain manager in a start-up environment, I have to create from scratch many things that I might have taken for granted at a more well-established firm, but I really love the challenge. The data to perform an analysis or make a decision may simply not exist, so it often falls on my shoulders to learn and gather that information, which can automatically turn me into an expert on that topic, allowing me to bring even greater value to the organization. In addition, things move so quickly that maintaining open communications across the many different teams is crucial for understanding where within the business I can focus my energy in order to reduce a team's workload or improve their workflow. 
 
What recurring principles do you see showing up in your career?
Be as collaborative as you possibly can, bring a sense of humor to the conversation, and always ask questions. As Michigan alumni, we all have strong technical skills, but sometimes the toughest stuff ends up being how we manage people and their expectations. Learning to stay calm during tense or high-stress situations has been incredibly important throughout my career. When a "crisis" occurs, your colleagues feel more confident in your ability to manage it if you are able to maintain a level head. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you can handle it. Everyone will see that, know you have it covered (even if you still have to figure it out!) and you'll even feel more confident as well.
 
What has been your biggest challenge?
As graduation approached, I focused most of my recruiting efforts off-campus due to geographic constraints. While I do not regret that strategy, it was a very difficult and draining experience. I often questioned whether I wanted to stay on the path I'd chosen (since it would have been easier to go another direction), and I felt my confidence shift as time passed and finding the right role seemed to be impossible. Ultimately it taught me the importance of the Michigan network, and that it goes well beyond Tauber and Ross. Alumni's shared love for the school and Ann Arbor initiates an incredible bond that can create a basis of trust from the get-go.

What would fellow alums be surprised to know about you?
I met my now-husband (Bradford Lynch, MBA '17) in the Tauber program, where we connected through our shared love of engineering and cycling. We eloped in 2018 after biking to the top of a mountain pass in the North Cascades in Washington. 
 
Alison Levy
Alison Levy and Bradford Lynch