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.
It’s commonly thought that business school students travel a lot. While our Instagram feeds may lead others to believe that we are #foreveronvacation, in reality there are many reasons Boothies travel. With school trips, interviews, case competitions, and student-organized getaways, there are a plethora of motives to hop on plane and jet set away. Below are a few trips we have taken during our first year at Booth!
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.
Why am I here and not somewhere else? I think this question is my constant reminder to keep striving toward my goals and to create change. I came to Chicago Booth, because I truly felt that only here could I explore my ideas and have the resources necessary to ensure their success. The ability to follow your passions and to create new initiatives is endless so long as you have the drive to see the work through. I knew that Booth would give me both the opportunity and the toolkit to create and lead in the capacity that I wanted whether instituting a student group, launching a business venture, or establishing a never before visited Random Walk destination.
For me, this type of leadership involves constantly affecting change. I believe that when I see a problem, I can and should work to implement a solution to solve for the problem. It is up to me to be the change—not someone else.
Going through Booth’s LEAD program once can bring people together. Going through it twice, builds even deeper relationships. And traveling to the other side of the world together for one of the biggest events of a lifetime ensures lifelong friendships.
As a second year LEAD facilitator, you dedicate two quarters of your Booth experience to creating and learning content, which you then deliver to the incoming Class during Orientation. Between your cohort squad and your work-group squads, you spend an incredible amount of time with the same sets of people.