Jonathan Gregg (MBA '07) is the founder of Hall Analytical, providing strategy, operations, and market analysis consulting for small and midsize businesses. Jonathan reflects on the impact his Tauber education has had on his career designing and executing highly effective sales strategies for his clients.
Q: What drew you to the University of Michigan?
The massive snow, endless winter, and icy roads of course! Honestly, for me, it was a mix of academics and family/community life. Michigan is unique among its peers in that while it might not be number one in each field, it is more likely that it is top five or 10 in whatever field interests you. And, not only that but both Ross and the broader university don’t just “allow” one to be multi-disciplinary, they actively encourage it.
The other thing that really blew me away was the “community" - both the University and the town. We visited several other top schools, and while all had some form of partners club, Michigan had what seemed like an army out there making new students' partners feel welcome. As big of an adventure and adjustment business school is for us as students, it’s also a huge adjustment for those who come with us. However, we as students have a natural built-in support system, things to do, and ready friends. It’s not always as easy for our partners, and the Michigan support system was second to none.
Q: How did your Tauber experience shape the professional that you are now?
In a lot of what we learned, we were taught concepts at their root level. We were taught in a way that we weren’t just able to parrot back some answers or whip out a fancy deck with some Excel wizardry. Rather, we were taught to “get” the concepts in a fundamental way that allows you to apply those principals in a wide variety of circumstances throughout your career.
Additionally, what made Tauber unique within the University was the opportunity to spend time learning with, and working beside, brilliant people from a different discipline. MBAs and Engineers often approach a challenge from differing angles, and having those different outlooks applied to solving cutting-edge real-world problems was instrumental to the learning experience
Q: What’s the most important thing to remember in business?
It’s not about you – it’s about your client, your customer, your colleague, or the team across the globe that is relying on an output from you. I have had the pleasure of leading several sales teams across industries, so this is near and dear to my heart: you are in the business of making their lives better, not yours. Do the former, and the latter will happen. However, even if you are an analyst, a production line supervisor, or a product designer, whatever you do it’s your job to provide a value of some kind to someone else. Always keep in mind that it’s about THEM.
Q: What recurring principles do you see showing up in your career?
Couple things. First, something Warren Buffett said: “… I want employees to ask themselves whether they are willing to have any contemplated act appear the next day on the front page of their local paper—to be read by their spouses, children and friends—with the reporting done by an informed and critical reporter.” Seriously, it amazes me how detrimental to one’s career losing trust can be. You won’t get the benefit of the doubt, people will question everything you say, and few people will go out on a limb and partner with you on a new idea if they don’t trust you.
The other thing is, when it comes to employees and rules, keep it as simple as possible. I once walked into a situation where we had a ten-page …yes, TEN-page handbook on what constituted inbound vs outbound sales. In 99% of situations, if you can’t figure that out in 10 seconds, you have the wrong people. Too many rules get people focusing on the rules and how to get around them or “game” the system rather than on the underlying principals
Q: What advice do you have for current Tauber students?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. While you are in the middle of the interview process, the job search, second round flybacks, the pressure can be enormous. It’s extraordinarily hard, but seriously, sit back and enjoy the ride. Ann Arbor is an amazing experience. Get to Rick's a bit more, meet your classmates, make lifelong friends. Those are the assets that will matter 20 years from now, not if you got a high pass in your class. You are at one of the premier institutions of leadership and learning on the planet. Enjoy it, and don’t forget to rock that Maize and Blue wherever you go.