It isn’t often that a young professional gets the chance to meet and engage in meaningful conversations with dozens of CEOs, CMOs, and senior executives, especially in a single afternoon. However, as a Booth student, myself and many of my classmates, had the opportunity to do just that, thanks to the Marketing Day Forum put on by the Kilts Center during Spring Quarter.
At what is traditionally known as a finance-focused institution, Chicago Booth’s Arts & Culture committee of the Graduate Business Council brings MBA students together to celebrate the city’s cultural side.
Through a number of events at the school and various locations across Chicago, the group creates opportunities for students to meet one another and share their interests. The committee has organized several outings in the past year to local art museums, including the Mana Contemporary Chicago and Renaissance Society, ballets such as Modern Masters at the Joffrey, and comedy shows at Second City and iO Theater.
As I’m wrapping up my last quarter here at Chicago Booth, my mind is running through a whirlwind of what seems like far-off memories. The drive from Colorado, first day of classes, investment banking recruiting, trips across the world, and the list goes on. Contemplating what I imagine will eventually seem like a small glimpse in time, I find myself reflecting on one aspect of this experience that I feel is illustrative of the whole.
My first year at Business School was tough. Awash with a number of competing tasks—moving to a new city, navigating the waters of recruiting, maintaining a family, nurturing lifelong friendships—it was critical that I had the right network in place to help alleviate some of the stress, so that I may successfully emerge from this experience. More often than not, I came to find that members of the African American MBA Association (AAMBAA) were more than willing to fill this gap. AAMBAA has served as more than just a professional resource, it has been my family.
In this second installment of our Booth through the decades series, we speak with Earl Van Zyl, ’07, who works in investment management in South Africa. Earl chose to pursue his MBA despite the observed differences in educational expectations between South Africa and the US. Whilst the chartered accounting qualification is a more popular and recognized post-graduate degree in his home country, Earl saw a unique need for and opportunity in pursuing the Booth MBA: here is his take on how his experience stands out from the rest.
After coming back to Chicago from Japan Trek 2018—the experience of a lifetime—I received one email. It said: “Dear Atsushi, We had such a wonderful time in Japan and you put in so much effort it was just wonderful and we cannot say thank you enough for all your energy. Thank you.” It was sent by the Japan Trek participants with a gift card.
I was so excited that I immediately showed it to the other Trek leaders, and realized they had also received the same message! What more could I ask for as a Trek leader?
While there were some challenges to organize the trek, it was an incredibly rewarding experience. The thank you note reminded me of what made the trip so special. Although this could be self-applauding, the beauty of the Japan Trek truly came from the diversity of experiences of the trek leaders and how well we worked together.