Ray Gonzalez (MBA '16) came to Michigan to pursue his graduate studies after serving 12 years as an officer of the US Navy. After graduation, he joined his Tauber team project sponsor, the SHAPE Technologies Group (an AIP Company), where he is now General Manager of the Material Removal Division. We caught up with Ray on a recent visit back to campus.
Q: What drew you to the University of Michigan?
I was interested in the action-based learning aspect of Ross’ curriculum. It was important to see how the concepts we learned in the classroom manifested in the real world, especially because I was transitioning from the military and had limited exposure to business principles. Being able to test out what I’d learned during MAP, and in the Action-Based Projects class as an MBA2, helped me demonstrate what I could bring to future employers.
Q: In what ways did your Tauber experience shape the professional that you are now?
For starters, I signed with my Tauber project sponsor company after graduation. Tauber exposed me to the myriad responsibilities I would have in my new role, and challenged me to juggle multiple priorities while still meeting objectives. One particular memory that stands out is conducting a MAP presentation for our project sponsor from an airport shuttle van en route to my Tauber project kickoff meeting. This was just a glimpse of the multitasking I’d be doing after graduation.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your work life today?
Driving simultaneous projects across multiple, often unrelated areas of responsibility, often on aggressive timelines. The pace and breadth of subject areas has forced me to work and manage my time more efficiently, as well as be able to switch gears across different topics quickly (e.g. back-to-back meetings on finance, product management, and operations).
I also spend a lot of time on the road, away from family, so the “challenge” is to make the most of my time at home with my wife and dog!
Q: What recurring principles do you see showing up in your career?
To me, this is where the military and business are very similar: (1) understand the mission and (2) understand and manage stakeholders’ expectations. You have to be clear on your objectives in order to stay focused and conserve resources (especially time); not focusing on objectives leads to problems like scope creep and solving the wrong problem. The second concept is easier said than done—don’t make promises you can’t deliver, but don’t under-promise too much, either.
Q: What advice would you give to current Tauber students?
Look for opportunities everywhere. If you’re seeking a certain role or experience, you may find it in industries you hadn’t considered before. This may allow you to start building your professional track record sooner, which will actually help you land better opportunities down the line.