School of Business Administration

Lifelong grit, perseverance and resilience propels MBA alumna to next level

icon of a calendarJuly 19, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Emily Morris

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Lifelong grit, perseverance and resilience propels MBA alumna to next level

A headshot of Rebecca Ramirez.
Rebecca Ramirez, MBA ’14, taps her personal and professional experience and drive to advance in her career while also elevating opportunities for women in her network.

Originally from a small village in Germany, the opportunity to study business through a three-year apprenticeship at Brose Fahrzeugteile GmbH & Co. KG whet Rebecca Ramirez’s, MBA ’14, appetite for the prospects a career in the automotive industry could offer.

Leveraging the knowledge and experience she gained at Brose’s Bayern, Germany, office, she secured a position as an organizational coordinator at Brose North America in Auburn Hills.

“I wanted more and better opportunities,” Ramirez said. “That’s what motivated me to just keep going.”

Nearly 20 years ago, Ramirez packed her life into two suitcases and moved to the Motor City where, with the support of some extended family members in the area, she plunged into her new life. While she brought her experience, grit and determination with her, she left her biggest supporter behind, her mom.

“I can’t just pop over to my mom’s house to have a cup of coffee and chat with her,” she said. “That is still — to this day — the hardest part.”

As Ramirez worked her way up from organizational coordinator at Brose North America to member of the finance team at FCA, she knew additional education would enhance her experience and boost her climb up the corporate ladder.

Driven to keep moving forward, Ramirez simultaneously dove into studying finance while working full time. She earned her associates degree from Oakland Community College and quickly followed with a bachelor’s from Walsh. With those credentials, she advanced to financial analyst at T-Systems North America.

When she was ready to take her career to the next level, Ramirez turned to the Oakland University MBA program based on its reputation, location and her desire for what she describes as a “true college experience.”

Balancing a career and education, Ramirez appreciated the bustling size of Oakland University. Her mid-size classes allowed her to socialize and connect with other students. Through the variety of students’ journeys, she completely experienced college.

“I really enjoyed my time at OU,” she said. “At times, I could live vicariously through students I met. It was really neat to see full-time students and students living on campus too, versus my pathway.”

Adding an OU MBA to her experience and drive, accelerated Ramirez’s career. Shortly after starting the program, she was promoted to a business operations role at T-Systems North America. After graduating, she advanced to manager, project controlling, at MAHLE Behr. Her energy, accomplishments and experience led her to a global controlling role at Borg Warner.

Today, as manager, automotive engineering controlling at Harman International, Ramirez manages annual spending of over $250 million. As an international woman leader, Ramirez is proud to be a link in a chain of support she is building where she focuses on learning from and elevating women and girls, illustrating careers in technology, engineering, finance and beyond are within their reach.

Recognizing her leadership and achievements, in the previous year Harman shared Ramirez’s voice as an inspiration to current and future women professionals, featuring her in videos recognizing Women’s History Month as well as International Women’s Day.

Her interest in advancing and supporting women is professional and personal. In addition to being a lifelong learner and successful professional, Ramirez also chose the role of mom. As a mother to her five-year-old daughter, Ramirez works hard to demonstrate that women can do anything.

“I remember the majority of MBA graduates in my program were women,” she said. “It was really special to be part of that.” Ramirez specifically recalls the positive impression Associate Professor of Management, Joy Ruihua Jiang, Ph.D., left on her. “Her style of teaching made an impact,” said Ramirez. When she has a chance to mentor others, Ramirez says she models her style after Dr. Jiang’s.

Ramirez knows how taking a leap of faith feels. She works to offer others the same support she has received. Over the course of earning her OU MBA and building her career, Ramirez connected with mentors, professors and professionals, creating a strong network. It is these relationships and network that helped ease Ramirez’s move from her home in Germany.

“I’ve acquired lifelong friends who I consider my family. As we move into different roles in our lives, I still have that support today,” Ramirez said.

Modeling her personal and professional life around connections, Ramirez strives to always continue learning and offering advice to others when she can. Ramirez acknowledges ambition can be intimidating, it also leads to success.

“You have to make the best out of the situation that you're in, even if it's not the most ideal,” she said. “You are successful because you keep going.”

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