Category Archives: Academics

Business School – A Family Affair: Flexing with the Curriculum

So, have you heard that Booth has a flexible curriculum?  When I was initially doing research into business schools I felt this feature came across loud and clear every time I looked at Booth, but I didn’t really understand why it was significant.  Maybe it was just my background in economics, but it seemed to me that if I was going to make a significant investment in business school, I should have the freedom to choose what classes I wanted to take and when.  Since then I have realized that this is a truly unique aspect of Booth, and have found that it has been extremely helpful for me in three major aspects of my B-school experience:

Continue reading Business School – A Family Affair: Flexing with the Curriculum

How do you Know When It’s Time for an MBA? (Part 1 of a 3 Part Series)

I was 24 when I started at Booth. At the time, I had only two years of professional experience. I was incredibly worried about starting with a huge disadvantage but once I got here the feeling quickly disappeared. In future posts, I’ll explore why I think Booth is a great school for early career candidates and provide some tips for any early career readers. Before thinking about which school you should attend and the best way to gain admission, you should first understand where you’re at in your career and what an MBA can do for you. Here are some things I tried to think about before enrolling:

Continue reading How do you Know When It’s Time for an MBA? (Part 1 of a 3 Part Series)

My First Booth Case Challenge – Kilts Quantitative Marketing Case Competition

First-year MBA YaoYao Wang recently competed in a quantitative marketing case challenge sponsored by Booth’s Kilts Center for Marketing and Kraft Foods.  It was a unique opportunity for YaoYao and her team to test out the marketing skills developed during their first quarter at Booth, and to engage with Booth alums at Kraft, who were very involved in making the competition a great experience for the participants. The case competition shows a number of Booth’s strengths – our analytical and data-driven approach to business problems, the deep and active alumni network represented in a variety of industries and functions, and the Kilts Center – which make Booth an incredible choice for anyone looking get into a career in marketing.

Booth is off for Winter Break for now.  Enjoy the holidays, and stay tuned to The Booth Experience to learn more about what students do during break, including Ski Trip, career treks, and planning for Round 1 Admit Weekend!
–Matt

As a first-year taking Marketing Strategy and recruiting for marketing internship roles, I was naturally drawn to Booth’s inaugural Kilts Quantitative Case Competition, sponsored by Kraft Foods. Since the Kilts Center for Marketing focuses on advancing marketing at Chicago Booth, this was a perfect fit. I appreciated how involved Kraft Foods got with the case competition; not only did they send three executives, including Deanie Elsner (’92), Chief Marketing Officer; Greg Guidotti, Senior Director of Marketing, Ready-to-Drink Beverages; and Triona Schmelter, Vice President of Marketing for Meals, to be judges, they also developed the case from a recent and very real business issue the company was facing with one of its major brands, Planters. Two Booth alumni and Kraft Senior Associate Brand Managers, Johnni Rodgers (’12) and Ketan Vaghani (’09), developed the case over the course of eight months using Nielsen data.


My team of five first-years was an unlikely assortment of Boothies hailing from several different backgrounds, including a former economic consultant, Peace Corps volunteer, researcher, engineer, and start-up enthusiast. We joined together to form Team A1. We were fortunate to be picked for the case competition, as only half of the 20 teams that applied were selected to participate. We attributed this initial success to our fun-filled PowerPoint presentation that highlighted our differences and complementarities as well as our fit with Kraft.

At the start of the competition, all 10 teams gathered at Harper to get more information about the case from the original case “Krafters” themselves, Johnni and Ketan. We were introduced to Kraft’s history and more importantly, that of Planters and Mr. Peanut. My team and I went home from the kick-off full of ideas and energy. Our first strategy? Stop by our local drugstore to browse the aisles, check out Planters’ direct and indirect competitors, and of course, pick up some Planters to snack on for the group brainstorm session.

The next few days passed by in a blur. In between classes, corporate events, study groups, and other case competitions (two of our members were involved in a Booth Business Solutions Group case project as well), we somehow found time to meet, discuss our findings and come up with a solution. By the time we presented our recommendations to the Kraft and Chicago Booth faculty judges three days later, we had learned much in that short time about marketing, Nielsen data, managerial decision-making, and strategy. Everybody in my team was invigorated by the fact that we had an opportunity to take a sneak peek into a real challenge that a huge Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company faces. We had been told countless times by recruiters, alumni and second-years that companies look for future employees who can deal with ambiguity, and we finally had a chance to practice. This wasn’t an in-class case where a professor would guide us in discussion to a particular solution, and it wasn’t a homework problem set where we would get the answers. We had to use limited data, analyze it, and come up with suggestions for future steps. That’s as real as it gets as an MBA student practicing critical business skills, and exactly the kind of problem solving that our Booth classes train us for.

Though my team did not win the competition, we felt that we gained a great deal through the experience.  We were reminded once again of why we chose to apply to and attend Chicago Booth and why it is the right place for us. We were able to combine our quantitative and qualitative analytical skills and apply them to a real-world business. We were able to present our ideas to the real decision-makers at Kraft. We listened to Deanie Elsner’s words of wisdom, and were gratified to learn that she was impressed by everybody’s findings and mentioned that with the increasing importance of big data, it was a great time to be Chicago Booth students on the forefront of research designed to grapple with these kinds of high-level analytical problems. The Kilts Case Competition was simply unreal in terms of the level of learning, application of our classroom marketing knowledge to actual business problems, and teamwork and camaraderie we got to experience with our new classmates over the course of a few days. 

Moneyball at Booth: Sports, Analytics, and Business

Jeffrey Chao is a first year student at Chicago Booth. Prior to Booth, Jeffrey worked as a financial analyst on an energy trading floor and as a consultant focused on financial transformation and procurement analytics. Jeffrey has always had a passion for sports, and, once upon a time, he interned for Major League Baseball and the National Football League. At Booth, Jeffrey is a member of the Corporate Management & Strategy Group, Dean Student’s Admissions Committee, and Wine Club.

Jeffrey is also active in the Media, Entertainment, and Sports Group (MESG) and attended its annual conference. He recaps some of the highlights and talks about how some unique features of Chicago Booth academics and the alumni network are helping him position himself for his dream job at the nexus of business and sports.
–Matt Richman
For students like me interested in the business of sports, MESG’s 4th Annual Sports Symposium felt like Christmas Day. The Symposium featured industry panelists discussing a range of topics, including front office management, sports analytics, digital marketing, and litigation in sports. Panel discussions gave attendees unique insight into the rigorous analytics and business methodologies now performed in many facets of sports business, as well as personal anecdotes about how to land that dream job in the industry. My experience at the conference showed me the breadth and strength of Booth’s varied alumni network, and how I might combine the analytical skills I’m developing in my Booth classes with my passion for sports.
Michael Girsch, a 2003 Booth alum and currently the assistant general manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, set the tone for the day by stating, “there is no equivalent in the corporate world to winning games.” That statement highlighted the motivation behind why people work in sports, and certainly got me pumped to hear more about how sports and business intersect. Throughout the day, many panelists offered sound words of advice to attendees looking to break into the industry. Enthusiasm, passion, and tenacity are key traits, while the ability to communicate and sell an idea is paramount.
Jon Hay and Michael Gries share their
experiences in sports business
I felt encouraged to learn that Booth provides ample opportunities and connections to break into sports business. Two recent Class of 2013 Booth graduates, Jon Hay and Michael Gries, gave back to current Booth students by participating in a panel discussion on the increasingly prominent role of analytics in sports. Gries, who works in baseball operations with the Baltimore Orioles, said his current position is “like a fantasy job.” Both Gries and Hay, a member of the Boston Red Sox’s baseball analytics staff, stuck around long after their panel finished in order to chat with Booth students and symposium attendees about their recruiting strategies and job experiences.
Second year Booth MBAs present
their research
During the lunch hour, second-year Booth MBA students Ryan Jones, Mauricio Zachrisson, and Matt Frankenfeld delivered academic presentations on various sports analytics topics. They developed their papers in a class called Sports Analytics, which I am personally excited to take. This class, taught by renowned professors (and fellow sports lovers) John Huizinga, Tobias Moskowitz, and Kevin Murphy, was one of the reasons that I was so excited about the academics at Booth when I was researching business schools. It turns out that business school professors tend to be sports fanatics as well.
Booth alum David Sally’s keynote
It was also exciting to hear from a Booth alum who could soon be known as the “Michael Lewis of soccer/football.” A recipient of a PhD in economics from Chicago Booth, David Sally delivered the symposium’s keynote speech. He discussed findings from his new book, The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer Is Wrong, which has drawn comparisons to Lewis’ Moneyball. In one example, Sally described soccer as a “weakest link sport,” correlating the likelihood of wins to the quality of a team’s worst player rather than its best.
During breaks and at a reception following the Symposium, I had a chance to network and make personal connections with panelists such as John Ball, the founder of a sports consulting firm called Beyond Box Scores. In chatting with another panelist about his career trajectory, I discovered that not only did we have the Booth connection in common, but we went to the same high school.
While the sports business can be a difficult industry to break into, the combination of events like the MESG Symposium, Booth’s rigorous analytical curriculum, the connections with companies and sports organizations facilitated by Career Services, and the incredibly varied and supportive Booth alumni network give me the confidence to pursue my passion. I am personally excited to take all these tools and put them to good use as I pursue a summer internship.

Challenging Everything: A Boothie’s Bogotá VC Internship Experience

William K. Lee is a rising second-year student at Chicago Booth. This summer he was an intern at Polymath Ventures, an innovative company builder in Bogotá, Colombia, and he shares some of his experiences in this interview. Prior to Booth, he worked as a software engineer for Bay Area Internet companies including eBay and Wikia. He came to Booth because he wanted to shift to the business and management sides of technology, so his summer internship gave him a great opportunity to practice the high-level skills he has developed in business school. Moreover, the opportunity allowed him to step out of his comfort zone and tackle new challenges in a new place. Will is active in the entrepreneurship scene at Booth and in Chicago and is a Co-Chair of the Booth Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Group (EVC) for this coming year. Outside of school, Will is training for October’s Chicago Marathon (his sixth) and enjoys playing bar trivia with other Boothies.

–Matt Richman
 
Where did you work this summer and what was your role?
I worked in Bogotá, Colombia, at Polymath Ventures. Polymath designs and builds companies from the ground up that serve the needs of the middle class in emerging markets. This summer I was a technology advisor and product manager for one of Polymath’s companies, Táximo. Táximo is trying to reinvent the taxi industry in Latin America by making the customer experience safer and more convenient.
What are some resources you took advantage of at Booth that helped you land the job?
The Entrepreneurship concentration at Booth was instrumental in securing my summer internship. I first heard about the job opportunity from the newsletter of the Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Group. Once I got the offer, I turned to the Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) from Booth’s Polsky Center for further assistance. EIP offers grants to students like me who want to work at cash-strapped startups.
What was the highlight of your summer internship?
I was in charge of hiring a software developer. At first I tried the regular recruiting channels, such as posting on job websites, but they proved fruitless. The next step I took really threw me out of my comfort zone. I went to several software engineering Meetups in Bogotá in order to meet talented developers in person. I planned on attending just the events’ networking sessions, but I ended up participating in the interactive Spanish-language portions, too. Imagine trying to talk about Big Data with just high-school level Spanish! Nevertheless I am glad I got to experience these Meetups not just because they helped with recruiting but because they informed me about the startup scene in Colombia and connected me with tech entrepreneurs.
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Will attending a tech Meetup at a Bogotá co-working space
Were there any transformative aspects of the experience that will help you structure your final year at Booth?
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working closely with company founders to advise them on technology issues. I liked drawing on my technical background and also pushing myself to think strategically. I would like to have a role like this after I graduate from Booth. This could be partnering with an entrepreneur for a startup or serving as advisor-in-residence at a startup incubator or accelerator. In my final year at Booth, I plan on participating in entrepreneurial activities and taking many entrepreneurship and general management courses, such as New Venture Strategy.
How was your Spanish before the internship? 
I studied Spanish for four years in high school, but it was very rusty when I landed in Colombia. This wasn’t a problem for work because my colleagues used English in the office. Still, I tried to improve my Spanish. I got involved in Spanish-English language exchanges and listened to podcasts. Now it’s pretty good—yesterday I tuned into a Spanish radio station and understood an announcement for a supermarket sale!
Did you get a chance to explore Bogotá and Colombia? What was your favorite experience outside of work?
Bogotá had a host of things to do this summer. I enjoyed going out into my neighborhood and discovering nice restaurants, hole-in-the-wall eateries, cafes, and bars. I also ran a lot this summer for marathon training, so I got to explore many parks and districts on foot. I created a Google map of my favorite places, which was a big hit around the office. I tried to break out of the city’s large expat scene by meeting locals through various channels. They were very friendly and invited me to special events like a wine expo and an outdoor rock festival. My favorite experience of the summer was spending a weekend in Medellín, Colombia’s second city. I enjoyed its fantastic weather, met its outgoing people, and reveled in its vibrant nightlife.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Will and another Polymath intern sampling some reds at a wine expo in Bogotá
How did your first year at Booth help you get the most out of your summer?
When I decided to pursue my summer internship at Polymath in Colombia, I took the Booth motto of “Challenge Everything” to heart. In my work, I used skills I developed in my first year coursework to perform extensive analysis on every claim I encountered. My colleagues appreciated the level of rigor I applied to my job. At a higher level, I challenged myself by taking the risk of working in an emerging market that I had known little about. The safe move would have been working for a startup in the Bay Area, where I’d lived for most of my life, where I planned to return after Booth, and where I would have formed connections seemingly more beneficial for my short-term goals. But conversations with faculty, second-year students, and industry professionals that I met on Booth-organized career treks helped me see that a summer in Colombia could be just as rewarding. I’m glad I chose Bogotá. Not only was it a unique life experience, it opened my eyes to the business opportunities there and gave me insights into entrepreneurship that will serve me well in my career (and which you can read about here).