The British born, biscuit loving Umesh has a predilection for the BEC’s mission and the people he works with.

Umesh has been a critical member of the Business Engagement Center almost since our inception. He initially served in corporate and foundation relations at U-M, and has been a vital part of establishing the BEC as one of the country’s leading corporate relations programs. His depth of knowledge of the university serves as a key resource for U-M and industry partners alike. As a first-generation college student, Umesh is a strong proponent for student financial support.


Q: Tell us three things most people don’t know about you…

  • I was born and spent much of my early youth in the United Kingdom. I am still partial to British candy, biscuits, and TV.
  • I am the first in my immediate family to attend college. Consequently, I really care about BEC’s work with industry on scholarships and other forms of financial support that improve students’ access to quality K-12 and higher education.
  • Even after all these years, many people both inside and outside the University, are surprised to learn that I am a graduate of The Ohio State University. They are even more surprised to learn that my wife and my two daughters are all U-M graduates. As you might imagine, the annual OSU football game brings interesting times.


Q: What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

I continue to have “learning experiences”every day but top of mind are:

  • Find something you enjoy doing and people you enjoy working with. We spend a lot of our waking hours at work, so it is important to find something you enjoy and that provides a sense of purpose.
  • Stephen Covey said, “seek first to understand then to be understood”. Active listening to see other perspectives is very important to approaching problems with an open mind and developing effective solutions.
  • Do the right things and do them right. People can be so busy getting things done, that they might not take time to consider if they are doing the right things.


Umesh Patel 2018 PhotoQ: What do you like most about your job?

That’s easy – the people. Every day, I get to work with smart, interesting industry practitioners, students, faculty, and staff on important topics.  I’m always learning something new and no day is ever boring.


Q: What are three words to describe the BEC?

  • Customer-focused
  • Purposeful
  • Agile


Q: What has been your favorite project at the BEC?

I have too many favorites but I greatly enjoy working with student organizations and teams. – A few years ago, I had the opportunity to accompany the Michigan Solar Car team on an American Solar Challenge race from Austin to Minneapolis. There are always unexpected surprises on a race and I was impressed by what these young people are capable of under pressure.  Our students are extremely tenacious, creative, passionate, and I find their work ethic and team work very energizing!




Q: What do you do for fun?

  • Reading. Usually history, business, and science fiction
  • DIY projects (recently discovered the wonders of woodworking with power tools).
  • Traveling. Particularly visiting historical sites or naturally scenic places.


Q: What’s the next big thing at U-M for companies to get involved in?

I’m confident that there is something for everyone to get involved in but some topics of current interest include;

  • Responses to global environmental and sustainability challenges. Including carbon capture and utilization technologies and clean energy solutions.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
  • Smart cities and smart mobility solutions for urban centers
  • Aging populations and associated needs and implications


Q: Why should companies work with the BEC?

U-M is very large and very decentralized. The BEC team has many years of collective experience and knowledge of university capabilities and expertise. Consequently, working with the BEC might save you much time and effort, and we’re very easy to work with.