Ashley Merritt (MBA 2006) is now the R&D Finance Manager for Terumo Medical Corporation. He shares how the Tauber Institute has shaped his career path, and offers advice for current students.
What drew you to the University of Michigan?
I was lucky enough to have some great options, but the University of Michigan was the only program that checked all the boxes. I considered factors such as prestige, reputation, cost, industry focus, student life, location, and more.
Michigan stood out for two main reasons. First, the selection of educational programs and unique offerings, like the Business School’s MAP program and Tauber. These programs provided the hands-on experiences that I crave and a means to get back to my operations management roots. Second, I know it’s a cliché, but I loved the people. A friend, who was a student at the time, convinced me to visit at the most beautiful time of the year…the winter. Despite the snow, I had a blast. I vibed with the people and just felt comfortable on and around the campus.
In what ways did your Tauber experience shape the professional that you are now?
As a student without an engineering background, I experienced culture shock. I always loved operations but I viewed it from a general management perspective. There were times this caused friction with team mates but it resulted in learnings and a widening of perspective on both sides.
Today I support the modeling for US R&D at a $5.5B medical device manufacturing company. I help my project teams and engineers translate their work into financial projections and viable business plans. My success can be directly attributed to the curriculum and methodologies of the Tauber program. Tauber has effectively allowed me to be a bridge between my company’s management and finance groups and our operations and R&D groups.
What advice would you give to current or future Tauber students?
Understand what you want, what you need, and what you are capable of doing. Self-understanding is the key to a fulfilling life. Once you understand yourself, do something outside your comfort zone, push yourself to your limit, and gain a new understanding of what you can do. Keep that cycle of personal growth going, always.