Davidson Field Scholars Dedicate Their Efforts to Global Business
Monday, November 21, 2022
A new cohort of Davidson Field Scholars brings distinct expertise to WDI’s global partners
As an independent nonprofit with an education focus, the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan (WDI) has relied on students as essential drivers for impact since its founding 30 years ago. Students participate in each stage of WDI’s projects, from data analysis to strategy development to implementation. And for the last three years, the University of Michigan students most dedicated to WDI’s mission to equip economic decision-makers in emerging markets with the tools for success have earned special recognition as Davidson Field Scholars.
WDI again is proud to welcome its next cohort of these important student contributors.
“Davidson Field Scholars provide valuable insights into multiple WDI projects, ranging from consulting work with partners to program support for organizations in low- and middle-income countries,” said WDI President Paul Clyde. “They play a critical role in our Michigan Academy for Developing Entrepreneurs and WDI’s International Investment Fund.”
This year’s group of Davidson Field Scholars is no different. Each brings distinct expertise — from medical to high-level marketing experience — to the specific challenges of WDI’s global partners. In collaboration with WDI partners, students have helped organizations execute technology updates in global markets, push forward local health equity measures, and develop go-to-market strategies for essential products, among other efforts.
Becoming a Scholar
Students who become Davidson Field Scholars are dedicated to finding business-empowered approaches to many economic and social issues in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). They also demonstrate students’ commitment to understanding and sharing business solutions with partners through consulting, analyzing, and managing complex dilemmas for organizations around the globe, Clyde said.
To earn the designation, scholars must complete two courses or programs through WDI. Many students work with WDI to complete their Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) as part of their MBA degree. Scholars may also participate in a WDI-supported internship, independent study, the International Investment Fund, or the Michigan Academy for the Development of Entrepreneurs (MADE). Through these opportunities, partner organizations secure imperative guidance and students gain meaningful skills. “Within just a couple years, these scholars develop experiences that many of our partners rely on,” said Clyde.
WDI is looking forward to working closely with its current team of Davidson Field Scholars and seeing the powerful contributions they will undoubtedly bring to its global partners, academic programming, and the business world as a whole.
Learn more about this program on our Students page.
WDI’s 2022–23 Davidson Field Scholars
Danielle Burnett (MBA, ‘23)
Burnett is dedicated to guiding brands toward powerful marketing plans, and she is working toward her Ross MBA with the goal of driving brand management strategies. Before beginning her MBA, she earned her Anthropology degree from Dartmouth College. Burnett completed a WDI-sponsored MAP project in Uganda, where she developed a go-to-market strategy for diabetic products. She plans to work with the International Investment Fund and participate in either a WDI-supported internship or independent study. After graduation, Burnett plans to return to PepsiCo Frito-Lay, where she completed a marketing internship.
Luke Hendon (MBA, ‘23)
Hendon worked with cloud software development and global technology expansion teams at Deloitte before beginning his MBA program at Ross. He also earned his degree in International Business and Marketing from the University of Georgia prior to starting at U-M. With a concentration in healthcare management, Hendon is focusing on healthcare product commercialization, growth strategies and health equity. He has traveled to Uganda to build a diabetes product commercialization strategy as part of a MAP project and interned with Medtronic’s Surgical Innovation team to evaluate global startups. Hendon is also slated to work on a project for a rehabilitation clinic in Ghana and plans to join the International Investment Fund.
Sarah Jahnke (MBA, ‘23)
Jahnke is focused on pivoting to a career in healthcare investment banking. After earning her undergraduate degree in history and political science from the University of Michigan, Jahnke worked in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. As a Ross MBA student, she completed a WDI-coordinated MAP project at the Aravind Eye Care Hospital in India. She is currently a research assistant on a project designed to understand the role of Aravind’s culture in a hospital they have been involved in starting and running in Nigeria. Jahnke will be joining Morgan Stanley after completing her degree at the Ross School of Business.
Anna Lam (MBA & MURP, ‘23)
Lam is a dual-degree student, expecting to graduate with a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning. Before joining the Ross School of Business, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Psychology at U-M. Lam has completed a WDI-sponsored MAP with TIP Global Health, mapping the production cycle and delivering a cost analysis for ready-to-use therapeutic food for people who are malnourished. She not only grew her business experience but also boosted her understanding of poverty and desire to live as a global citizen. Lam plans to begin a WDI-approved independent study and then work at a development-centered organization.
Brennan McMichael (MBA ‘23)
Before joining the Ross School of Business, McMichael earned her Biomolecular Science degree from U-M. She is currently pursuing both a Ross MBA and a Doctor of Medicine, hoping to make impactful, system-level changes to the worlds of academic medicine and global health equity. She completed an internship focused on developing a business plan for a rehabilitation clinic in Ghana, merging her business and healthcare expertise. McMichael has completed a WDI-sponsored MAP project and plans to participate in a WDI-approved independent study.
Benjamin Naovarat (OMBA, ‘23)
Before beginning his Master of Business Administration, Naovarat earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Texas A&M University, graduated with his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Medical School, and worked as a physician-researcher. He has focused much of his time at the Ross School of Business on venture capitalist endeavors including participating in venture fellowships, founding the Michigan Venture Consulting group, and interning at UPMC Enterprises. He also joined a WDI-sponsored MAP project, working with Clínica de Familia La Romana in the Dominican Republic to aid in the implementation of a new imaging device for the clinic. Naovarat plans to participate in the International Investment Fund with WDI and transition to a venture firm, perhaps with a focus on biotech, after graduation.
Brian Plamondon (MBA, ‘23)
Plamondon has been a member of the WDI-supported International Investment Fund, where he is the Managing Director. Before beginning his MBA, he earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame. After graduation, he traveled to Zambia to work with a mobile payments company, and he has since worked with a healthcare business in Kenya. He led the International Investment Fund’s first investment, supporting a startup in Kenya. Plamondon hopes to work at a startup focused on clean energy or financial inclusion for sub-Saharan African populations after completing his MBA.
Geetika Rao (MBA, 23’)
Rao graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Biology and completed a Master’s of Public Health with a focus in Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Regulatory Affairs from Yale University in 2018. Before pursuing an MBA Ross, Rao worked in healthcare analytics at several large firms, including CVS Health and Blue Health Intelligence. Rao is developing an independent case study, evaluating the Aravind Eye Care System model and its replicability in Nigeria. In the Winter 2023 term, Rao plans to participate in the WDI-supported BA685: Healthcare Delivery in Emerging Markets, with a special focus on the Kisii Hospital Vision Center in Kenya. Rao plans to apply her degree and experiences after graduation at Boston Consulting Group, with a focus on health care.
Bryce Rajabian (MBA, 23’)
Rajabian graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2011 and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan. A resident of Detroit, Rajabian has worked for DTE Energy for ten years, including currently as General Supervisor at DTE Energy’s Warren Service Center. Rajabian also is a co-owner of an engineering company and a fintech start-up, Relic. Rajabian participated in a WDI-sponsored Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) by providing international market entry analysis for a US healthcare provider in Vietnam. As a Davidson Field Scholar, Rajabian is interested in providing consulting services in healthcare, energy, or financial technology — focus areas he plans to apply to his career post graduation.
Note: This article was updated Jan. 5, 2023 to reflect the addition of Geetika Rao and Bryce Rajabian.