Welcome back. We are regularly trying to provide a wide variety of student perspectives that can help to highlight the social culture at Booth and the type of activities you can involve yourself in. For this posting, John Clinton, one of the co-chairs of Booth’s Media, Entertainment and Sports Group (MESG), has offered to share his experience in arranging the group’s annual conference. To provide a little context, every year this student led group arranges a symposium (over 110 participants from 5+ states) to discuss relevant issues and help educate students interested in pursuing a career in media, entertainment or sports. This year, the group had several keynote speakers to include Tom Ricketts, Chairman and owner of the Chicago Cubs and Patrick Benetucci, a President at Leo Burnett (both Booth alums). The conference is a tremendous amount of work to set up but is an incredibly popular event and was even covered by the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune. So, without further delay, here is John:
I’m sure that if you follow this blog you will read a lot about the top-quality education Booth students get in the classroom but, in reality, classes are only part of the amazing learning experience. Throughout my time here I have participated in a number of activities that have helped me develop into a more confident leader. One specific example was my experience planning MESG’s inaugural conference.
We have often heard that the diversity at Booth makes for a much stronger MBA experience – this is absolutely true. Our MESG co-chair group is a perfect illustration of the value to be gained from that diversity. The incredible range of the co-chairs’ professional backgrounds allowed us to bring a variety of necessary conference-planning skills to the table: logistics, networking, marketing, and graphic design just to name a few. It was not immediately obvious just how vital these different skill sets were going to be, as but as we got closer to the date and the list of tasks started piling up – designing programs, updating the website, coordinating audio equipment, making last-minute scheduling changes, haggling over the catering price, watching the budget, actually marketing the conference (I think you get the point) – it really paid to have people who had functional expertise. But while we all had our strengths, working closely with the other co-chairs also gave each of us a chance to broaden our knowledge as well. Speaking specifically to my own situation, my background is primarily in logistics and the production side of business; while this enabled me to be a critical contributor for the logistics, I also learned enough from my peers to contribute to the group when debating our pricing strategy and marketing outreach plan.
Co-chairing a student group at Booth has also provided the opportunity to get some serious leadership training. Don’t get me wrong, participating in LEAD was an awesome foundation, but LEAD was safe – it was contained within the walls of Booth and within my cohort. LEAD helped me reflect on who I was as a leader, but leading a student group took that training and put it into action. Let’s start from the inside and work outwards. First, I have gained experience leading and motivating peers – as I mentioned above, each co-chair was the leader for their functional expertise, meaning that we all had to take turns leading the group when our area was being discussed. Next, I have been leading our group’s members – MESG’s goal is to support members in pursuing a career in an industry they are passionate about. Choosing a job out of Booth is a potentially life-altering career decision, so it’s incredibly important that we not only strive to help members find that perfect job, but also ensure everyone has realistic expectations. Being a co-chair has also meant representing the student body when interacting with school administration. We have an incredibly supportive administration, but maintaining that support has required building trust, being reasonable, and staying flexible. By putting in the time and effort to foster that relationship we were able to have the school’s full support in launching our inaugural conference. Finally, being a co-chair means serving as a representative of Booth. Whether you’re talking with alumni, promoting your conference to other schools, or trying to get press coverage for your event, being a student leader means considering the tremendous value of all of these parties and interacting with them accordingly.
Of course, leading is as much about what we do today as what happens tomorrow. As one of the smaller but growing industry interest groups on campus, we have a real opportunity to make a big impact. Through events like the MESG Conference, we’re attempting to lay the foundation for future co-chairs to build on. One of our biggest challenges will be making our progress stick – that means building long-term relationships with industry firms, keeping up individual relationships with alums and other speakers, finding the right next generation of MESG co-chairs, and then getting our progress down on paper so we can pass on what we’ve learned.
Planning the MESG Conference and working with the group in general has been quite the challenge, and a ton of fun. I hope all students coming to Booth take advantage of the leadership incubators that are student groups – be it industry-focused, functionally-focused, or even one of the fantastic social clubs on campus – make it a point to get involved while you’re here! It will absolutely help you when you step into a leadership role beyond Booth.
I hope you enjoyed reading about John’s experience. Above is a picture from the conference – Vince Gennaro talking about his book “Diamond Dollars.” If you want to learn more about Booth’s Media, Entertainment and Sports Conference click here to see this year’s agenda and explore their site. Until next time, I wish everyone the best on their applications and interviews.