Inspiring Conversations on Finance from CFOs

If you asked me to name one attribute of the Booth MBA that stands out to me – I would say that the Booth experience is one of depth. Depth in academic immersion, depth in professional relationships, and depth in leadership.

This depth of leadership and accomplishment was celebrated last month at the  2017 Chicago Booth CFO Conference – an annual gathering of Booth alumni who helm finance at the most inspiring global companies. The range of experiences, tenures, and industries is staggering – as well as testimony to the powerful impact that these CFOs have in shaping the corporate world in North America, and globally.

The conference is in its 7th year and curated by the CFO Advisory
Board – a group of alumni CFOs from Booth who are deeply invested in the school, and the conference. They address the most pertinent issues to foster insightful dialogue and analysis around the constantly evolving role of the CFO.

As a student invitee, to be in the midst of such stalwarts was a powerful and inspiring experience. The conference kicked off with a networking dinner, followed by an engaging presentation on ‘Undersociality’ by Booth professor Nicholas Epley, who used innovative experiments and data analysis to explain why social engagement is critical for happiness.

The second day began with presentations on technology and survey research by Booth professors JP Dube, Brian Barry, Robert Gertner, and Luigi Zingales; followed by the ‘Millennial Point of View,’ a session curated by request of the CFOs. As a student panelist along with three of my classmates, we had a lively discussion that was moderated by Associate Dean of Career Services Julie Morton. The session subsequently opened up to conversation with the CFOs, who created a conducive environment for us to speak with candor about our career aspirations, how we defined professional success, corporate integrity, and work-life integration. An overarching theme was the pervasiveness of technology – not just for personal networks, but also for professional collaboration and decision-making.

The conference concluded with a well-timed and relevant discussion on governance with Ray Young, ’86 (Archer Daniels Midland Company), Sheli Z. Rosenberg,  (Equity International), Richard L. Sandor (Environmental Financial Products), and Charles Tribbett (Russell Reynolds Associates); and a session on tax reform by Jeff Maydew (Baker & McKenzie LLP) and Professor Merke Erickson.
As I reflect on my key takeaways from the conference, I recall an inspiring conversation with alumnus Brian Tierney, ’95 (CFO, American Electric Power Company), where he mentioned the depth and credibility of the Booth MBA – and how this experience shapes one’s career, now and for the years to come.

The CFO Conference, truly, bears testimony to the lasting impact that Booth alumni have had and continue to have in shaping excellence and integrity in finance in Corporate America.

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