Surprise, Surprise

Hi everyone!

First of all happy new year! We hope you took some time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. For those of you who just submitted Round 2 applications yesterday, congratulations on getting that in!

Students here are back at Booth and gearing up for our winter quarter. In today’s blog we thought we would step back and reflect a bit on first quarter. Today’s blog entry comes from Jason Wright, who is a 1st year student originally from Southern California, concentrating in Operations Management and Entrepreneurship, and looking to become a difference maker in urban education reform after spending some formative time in strategy consulting. Read on to hear more from Jason!

Tina

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The sigh of relief. That’s what is passing through my lips as I write. I completed my last Final exam five minutes and half a Mushroom Swiss burger special ago. As such, I can finally reflect on the first chapter of my Booth story. I would entitle that chapter “Surprise, Surprise” as my first quarter at Booth has been characterized by a series of pleasant surprises:

1) This school is not full of socially inept nerds. I already knew that the incoming MBA class was full of brilliant, accomplished women and men recognized as rising stars in their respective fields. What I didn’t know was the level of kindness, sociability, and humor almost each of my peers exudes. I have seldom met a person I didn’t immediately want to spend my non-existent free time with. I’m now convinced that I significantly bring down the average “cool factor” of this school since I do little else but study and spend time at home with my wife and seven month old daughter.

2) This student body is not full of stone-hearted, exploit-you-to-death ambition. I honestly believed that I would be one of the only students on campus with a commitment to work in the social sector. I figured I would regularly voice the dissenting opinion of compassion in classroom discussion. Wrong again. A large chunk of both the 1st and 2nd year classes on campus have intentionally chosen career paths that allow them to do socially impactful work. More surprisingly, there are an inordinate number of students interested in my personal area of passion, education reform. I’m very excited to work with a number of them in the Social Entrepreneurship Lab course next quarter. Prior to enrollment, I would’ve bet you a significant sum of money this wouldn’t be the case.

3) I am not the only student from a non-traditional background or with color to my skin. Every business school claims to value diversity. As I’ve become acquainted with my first year class, Booth’s stated commitment has been proven true. As a recently retired National Football League player, I believed I would likely have one of the more interesting stories on campus. Then I met a classmate who performed and taught dance all over the country. Then I met another who worked in the White House. At a networking event I met an international volleyball player who became an accountant. I was shocked to see on Linkedin that one of my humble friends is a multilingual phenom who did multiple high level military missions in the Middle East. And let’s not forget about my friend who started an educational non-profit while sailing around the freaking world! Additionally, it has been so comforting to meet so many fellow African-American students as well as other minority and international members of our first year class. All of these men and women are extremely intelligent and as they inevitably succeed, Booth will have a noticeable presence in the increasing diversity of the global business landscape. That is an exciting thing.

4) I DO belong here. As confident as I may sound in the preceding paragraphs, I came to school expecting to be something of a village idiot given my low baseline of business knowledge. It turns out the Admissions office knows a thing or two about who to let in. While I have certainly had to spend additional hours in preparation compared to classmates who’ve come from corporate positions, I’ve also seen myself rise to the level of gifted peers in coursework and debate. This was in large part facilitated by the patient instruction of Marketing study group members, encouragement from academic advisor Christine Gramhofer, and impactful mentorship by the LEAD course facilitators. I’m grateful to each one of them for bringing me light years forward in both personal and professional development.

So with all that has happened this quarter, I can hardly imagine the remainder of my time at Booth being as dynamic. But if I’ve learned one thing about business school (and life in general for that matter) it’s that I don’t know truly know how things are going to pan out. I expect that the surprises yet realized will make my experience at Booth more fulfilling than I could ask, think, or imagine.

Aspen Ski Trip!

Hi everyone!

So first quarter is over after finishing a grueling week of finals and everyone has gone their own ways for winter holiday. You’ll want to check out this week’s WIWG video where I ask students what their plans are for winter break. Some students head home to their families, or spend more time with their spouses. Others go on adventure treks all over the world with their classmates, or career-related treks that have been planned by fellow students. There is a tradition for each winter break where about 250 Booth 1st and 2nd year students pack up their skis and snowboards and head out together on a ski trip for a week, planned by the Booth Ski Club. This year, I went on this trip and this week I’ll be blogging about the highlights from this jam-packed, super fun week. Read on for more!

This year’s Ski trip took place in Aspen, a cozy town nestled among the Rockies, “where the beer flows like wine”…if you believe the line from the now infamous classic movie Dumb and Dumber. I had been hesitant to go on the trip initially because I had only gone skiing once in my life, which I didn’t even count because it involved tumbling down miles of “blue” slopes in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I was intending to go to Aspen and just lounge around a fire, curled up with a warm drink, and catching up with friends. Instead, I found myself strapping on skis and hitting the slopes for four days out of the week (as most people did). This leads me to my first highlight of the trip – learning to ski! A week is a perfect amount of time to learn to ski if you give yourself a chance, take a lesson, and find a group of fellow beginners that will be your ski buddies for the week. No matter what level you are, if it’s been a while since you’ve last skied, scheduling a lesson on day 1 is a good idea. While my instructor taught my group how to actually put on skis, other classmates were learning how to gracefully approach moguls. Once I felt comfortable at my own level, I let the thrill of the blinding beauty of the Rockies overtake me and I was hooked. Some of the best parts were the beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains, whether reached by chair lift, or a 2 hour climb to the highest bowl (as some of my more advanced classmates did). We even got fresh “powder” (aka, it snowed) on our 3rd day skiing, which is a delightful experience (especially because it gives a little more cushion to your fall). The best part about learning to ski though was learning with a group of classmates that supported me and challenged me to do my personal best (see picture of my ski buddies below).

Given the short winter days, most of us were off the mountain by 3:30pm, after which we headed to an Apres Ski event that was sponsored by one of our generous sponsors, Accenture or MillerCoors. These gatherings of usually about 100-150 people were a fun way to mingle with those you didn’t necessarily ski with that day and swap stories of glory or comedy. These parties however, only served to warm us up for the evening festivities, and my next highlight from the trip – costume parties. My husband has always been amazed at the number of costume parties in business school (he had gone to law school, where apparently there is a little rambunctious less fun). At Booth, we take costume parties seriously, and the ski trip was no exception. This year’s themes were: Wild West, Rockstars & Models, and Lloyd and Harry’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, on separate nights. I think at business school we get a little tired of partying as ourselves, so we like to switch it up a bit and show some alter egos (and our creativity) in our costumes. It was incredible to see what people came up with for each of the themes. For the Wild West party, a 2nd year came as full-fledged prospector/gold-digger from the 1800s, while others ran around looking more like a version of cowboys. For the Rockstar & Model party we had everyone from Tina Turner to Tigger, and other (male) classmates just used it as an excuse to wear spandex. For the Ugly Christmas Sweater, it appeared that we had bought up every vintage holiday sweater in Chicago. See some pictures of the best and worst below and more pictures on our Facebook album.

Finally, the last highlight for me was the Scavenger Hunt, where we ran around Aspen in teams of 7 trying to find places and items on a list of over 75 clues. The scavenger hunt tested teamwork skills, creativity, and ingenuity, but mostly it was just a lot of fun. In a 3 hour time period, my team became acquainted with Sheriff Mike of the Aspen police and got to ride his squad car (without getting arrested), met the good folks at the Aspen fire department, “rode” on a snow mobile, had drinks with locals, made snow angels, and many other things that we can’t divulge (but unfortunately probably have photographic evidence for!) It was lots of fun getting to know the nice people of Aspen (who really are very nice, especially given what we were requesting of them for our clues). We ended the scavenger hunt with a somewhat perfectly appropriate 80s dance party spun by an amazing DJ in downtown Aspen.

All in all, I’d say that the Aspen ski trip was a huge success, thanks in big part to the team of 2nd years who spent the last 6 months planning it. We all parted ways this past Sunday, eager to recover from a week full of activity, but also looking forward with excitement to the Spring ski trip this April.

Happy holidays everyone, thanks for reading! Since we are on break, we are going to take a short break from the blog for a couple of weeks and will return on January 4th. Good luck to those who are doing their Round 2 applications now, and if you want to learn more about life at Booth from the student perspective, go back and read previous entries on this blog, check out of WIWG video series on YouTube or Facebook, and check out our Facebook page.
Tina

Why Booth?

Hi everyone!

Today is the big day for Round 1 decisions! If you’re among the lucky ones to get great news from the Admissions office, let me be one of the firsts to congratulate you!! Today’s blog entry from Nupur is geared around her decision to choose to come to Booth – read on to get another perspective on why Booth may be your perfect fit for an MBA program. If you are thinking about applying in Round 2, this will give some great insight on what differentiates Booth from some other top programs. Also, make sure to check out our Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video where we ask current students to share their reasons for selecting Booth.

Happy reading!
Tina

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Congratulations! You’ve been admitted…but now what?

Hi everyone! At this time of year, many of you must be getting very familiar with your email/browser refresh buttons and your favorite b-school blog(s) of choice as you wait with baited breath for Round 1 admissions decisions. Step One: Breathe! There will be plenty of time for hyperventilation once you find out you’ve been accepted to all of your dream schools. Once this occurs, however, you might suddenly realize that you’re faced with a new dilemma: Where to go? This month, I thought I might try to create a checklist of sorts that hopefully helps you as you make your decision.

The quality of academics and breadth of opportunities for extracurricular leadership are certainly at the top of everyone’s mind when making such a decision, and I’ll direct you to Chloe and Didier’s blog posts from last week for more info on those items as they’ve done a fantastic job describing how awesome the Booth community and curriculum are. Here, we’ll focus a little more on some other fundamental questions you might want to consider; some that perhaps I could have spent more time thinking of beforehand and the answers to which over the past quarter have shown me how lucky I have been with my decision to attend Booth.

Career Switching: it’s all about information

When I was applying to business schools, I was looking at shifting from private wealth management into consulting. Pretty much all the top schools facilitate the switch. At the time, I felt like there wasn’t much to think about when comparing schools on this front. However, having been at Booth for a quarter, I realize that Booth’s key differentiator is its ability to dramatically streamline the process. Booth attracts so much focus from such a variety of consulting firms that I’ve spent the entire quarter learning about the industry. I’ve realized that when making a career switch, information is king. The better informed you are about the various firm characteristics (e.g., culture, problem solving approach, industry focus, geographic reach), the more intelligent and efficient of a career switch you can make.

Booth excels in providing this information for you by attracting so many firms all of who make themselves and people from junior consultants to senior partners extremely accessible to you. Firms have dedicated Booth on-campus recruiters, and these representatives organize multiple coffee chats, corporate presentations, lunch and learns, and more. As I look back at my calendar for the last quarter, most of my time was spent on recruiting activities that were initiated by firms who came on campus to meet us. Even now during winter break, firms are reaching out to us to set up time with senior consultants and partners for one-on-one conversations.

I know my classmates who focused on other industries have had similar experiences. The Booth name led to a lot of firms willingly opening their doors to talk to first years during career treks as they were eager to speak with members of the class of 2013. As you assess your options I strongly encourage you to evaluate the breadth and depth of information you can obtain about your career preferences. Ask how many firms come to campus, what cross-section of the corporate ladder makes itself available to you, and what the level of individual interactions with employees at these firms is like.

City vs. small town

Two years is a pretty sizable amount of time to spend anywhere. I’ve always been a city girl and I love living in a city. When looking at business schools I was definitely looking for a school in a city. I’m sure you’ve all heard how cold the winters get, but if a Singaporean like me can handle it, you can too! (it’s only snowed here once so far and yes I’ve successfully survived a week of 30 degree weather, soon to get colder I’m sure). Everyone is extremely friendly, and there’s a ton of things to do, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy whenever you get a spare moment from the rigors of Booth.

What I didn’t realize or think of before coming here was the access to firms that living in a city provides. Chicago is a hub for most industries – financial services, consumer goods, healthcare, automotive industry etc, and this translates into a diverse breadth of career opportunities and firms that come to campus. If you are an international student and want to stay in the US post b-school then definitely think about what city/area you might want to work in long-term, as recruiting within the city limits will definitely be (a bit) easier for you, especially if you have no roots or personal network in the US.

Access to alumni

Network, Network, Network. It’s one of the main reasons we all come to business school, and again, it is one of those things that seems to be so standard across all schools as to not even merit comparative consideration. But size of the alumni base and the number in prestigious positions are only part of the equation; without accessibility, they remain isolated islands to which you cannot connect. At Booth, the administration has implemented a community directory (accessible to you for life) where you can look up alumni anywhere in the world and reach out to them by obtaining their up to date contact information. That this directory exists is amazing, but perhaps more importantly, the fact that so many Booth alums keep their contact info current goes to show how excited the alumni are to engage. Everyone wants to hear from a fellow University of Chicago community member, and I know I’m looking forward to helping future students in any way I can.

Even more telling is perhaps that I haven’t had an opportunity to use the community directory channel yet, because I have been so occupied connecting with all the alumni that come to campus, whether for recruiting or just to chat with current students and hear what we’ve done or what our aspirations are. For example, some alumni organized an all-day on-site recruiting event for six of us Booth students at the headquarters of their firm. That, to me, was the most telling of the strength of the alumni network. Another classmate accidentally knocked over an older gentleman on a run, and the moment the gentleman found out that my classmate was a Booth student, all the commotion stopped and he was thrilled!! He actually said “Go run, study hard and make us proud!” No surprise there, the gentleman was a Booth alumnus.

Brand

Most people will tell you that rankings don’t matter and they are very subjective, but we all look at them. And even if we don’t our friends and family do. But rankings aside, what does the brand really translate into? It opens doors. The moment people hear that you are a student at Booth, they suddenly respect you more (even if you haven’t started the program yet) and are more willing to talk to you – this is true of not just recruiters but your former colleagues and long lost friends (who now might just want you to review their essays for them next year!!). I know my LinkedIn profile views went up significantly once I added Booth to my profile and a firm reached out to me for a summer internship position even before I got to campus. After I resigned, one of my ex-bosses told me that he was only letting me go because I was going to Booth and he wouldn’t have accepted my resignation if it was any other school. He then went on to offer to connect me to all his friends in Chicago. That is the strength of the Booth brand.

I hope this helps you think of some of the other factors you should consider as you evaluate your options. The student body and the community that you feel you will grow most in should definitely be at the top of your checklist, but I would encourage you to think beyond that. Feel free to reach out to any of us Boothies and we would be more than happy to tell you more about why we are here and what we’ve gained. A lot of us are also hosting dinner and drinks sessions around the globe over our winter break so make sure you attend those. More importantly though, congratulations to those who have gotten in, and I hope you have a fantastic holiday season!

Double Header: A Look Back on 1st Quarter of Business School

Hi everyone!

Welcome to this week’s TBE blog! This week, I caught up with two first years, Didier Acevedo and Chloe Williams, to ask them to reflect on their 1st Quarter at Booth. Keep reading to learn more and get a taste of what your first quarter here could be like! Also, make sure to check out our Facebook page for this week’s Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video, where I ask 2nd year students what they are doing to prepare for final exams this week.

Tina

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Hi Everyone!


Thanks for your interest in Chicago Booth! I am sure that as the winter rolls around many of you are thinking about holiday cheer, New Years resolutions and what next year might look like at business school. As my first quarter comes to an end, I thought I would take a much-needed break from studying for finals to reflect and share some of my experiences at Booth so far.

In my last two weeks of employment, one of my coworkers told me “business school is going to be intense but you’ll have a great time!” At the time, I was working in Boston for an investment management firm conducting equity research so I thought I was accustomed to intensity. Thus far, Chicago Booth has been an all-consuming experience. It is an exhilarating, fast paced environment that provides a vast amount of resources and events for my fellow students and I to enjoy on campus and throughout the city of Chicago.

At orientation we were told that we would suffer from FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” FOMO sounds silly but I have learned that business school is a balancing act. It can get pretty difficult because often times you have to pick between hearing interesting speakers, going to club meetings, recruiting events, networking events, group meetings, events around the city, catching up with friends and, let’s not forget, doing homework. Despite this busy schedule, I could not picture myself anywhere but Chicago Booth.

One of my fellow classmates recently published an online article that talked about business school and fit. I was impressed with the article not only because he is a far superior writer than I but also because he captured the essence of why I chose to come to Chicago Booth. Booth is where I feel I belong. As the son of two immigrant parents from Colombia, I realize the importance of risk taking, pursuing ambitions and working hard. It is the combination these three values that have enabled me to go from being the first person in my family to graduate from high school to being a graduate student at the Booth School of Business. One of the things I love most about Chicago Booth is the attitude: Challenge everything! I believe it is this attitude that has produced groundbreaking research and first class alumni.

Upon arriving at Booth, we were greeted by Dean Kumar. Of all the things he said to us in his welcoming address, one sentence really struck a chord with me, “Swing for the fences, Chicago Booth has your back.” It was a challenge and an affirmation all in one. Initially I thought it meant that the faculty and staff were here to help us on our journey through the next two years but in reality he meant the student community as well. The student community is extremely impressive. The students are smart, driven and motivated and, most of all, are good people. We are a diverse group of students with different perspectives and world views yet we all agree that collaborating with each other through this transformative process is pivotal. Every day, I look forward to the interactions with my fellow classmates to draw insight from their unique experiences, talk about current endeavors and, in the process, make life-long friends.

Booth fosters a sense of community and encourages students to network to get to know each other better. Student clubs are a great way to get involved. They range from career-oriented groups such as the Investment Management Group to hobbies such as the Epicurean group. Student run groups are inclusive and put forth a lot of effort to plan events for the Booth community. Whether it is a group dinner at a second year’s apartment, a distinguished speaker event, or a costume party, there are plenty of opportunities to get to know other students.

In addition to an impressive student body, the faculty is very accomplished and includes several Nobel Laureates and professors who are working on the frontier of research in their respective fields. As most of you know, Chicago Booth allows students to tailor the curriculum to their interests. For me, that has translated into taking stimulating yet challenging classes in subjects such as, believe it or not, Accounting and Corporate Finance. I find myself being constantly challenged and learning just as much from my introductory classes as I do from my more advanced classes. Professors teach at a fast pace but are easily accessible via email or in person during office hours to answer questions and help you explore the content in more detail.

Looking back, my first quarter of business school has been awesome! I can’t believe how fast time flies in business school. It seems like just yesterday I was walking into the Winter Garden for the first day of Orientation. Although it has been only three months, I feel like I have known some of my classmates for a lot longer. Booth has enabled me to make meaningful relationships and push my thinking in ways I had never considered. In addition, I have had the opportunity to attend social events and experience the great city of Chicago. As finals come to an end, I look forward to a well-deserved break where I can recharge and prepare for interviews next quarter!

I hope you get to experience the Booth community!

SHORT BIO
Prior to coming to Booth, Didier worked at MFS Investment Management, a long-only mutual fund company based in Boston, as a an Equity Research Associate covering health care stocks. Prior to that, he was in the International Sales Department at MFS, selling offshore mutual funds to Non-Resident-Client Financial advisors in Mexico. Didier holds a BS in Business Administration majoring in Finance from Stonehill College and also holds a Charter Financial Analyst (CFA), designation. Didier is originally from Pawtucket, Rhode Island and has spent most of his life in the Northeast. Didier’s hobbies include hiking in the White Mountains and skiing them during the winter.

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A look back on the 1st quarter: Chloe Williams


My first quarter at Chicago Booth is done (almost, 2 finals to go), where did the 10 weeks go? I don’t think there is a book, blog, advice from a 2nd year, or alumni that could have prepared me, and anyone who thinks there is probably shouldn’t be in business school. I came to Booth to be challenged and I was from day 1. I was challenged by my classmates, my professors, by the exams, and even by navigating the city of Chicago and public transportation. The pace of learning is much faster than you will ever remember, so be on your game!

It does seem like day 1 was a year ago, the time goes by fast but so much happens in that 10 weeks. The most impressive thing from the 1st term was learning about my fellow classmates. By Booth being a top business school, everyone that attends is truly amazing. You could spend all year being wowed by these people. Besides that, there are a few things I’m glad to see end and others I can’t wait to continue.

Things I’m glad that are done:

– That awkward getting to know you phase. Of course, I don’t know everyone in my class, but the awkward run-ins with people’s whose name I should know are for the most part over. I’m sure it will still happen, and there are more people to still meet, but at least it’s not awkward anymore.
– Crop circles, I’d like to find one person that likes them!
– Bad groups! If you had the bad luck to pick a group that doesn’t mesh with your personal style…congrats! The term is done and you won’t have to work with those people again if you choose not to.
– The feeling that you’re a freshman. The feeling of being lost, not knowing what to expect, spending way too much time organizing your calendar (I’m not so sure if that actually ends.)

Things I can’t wait to continue:

– The social activities. Personally, I did not partake in as many social activities as I should have. You have to pick and choose your battles in b-school. I’m excited for winter and spring to really let loose!!!
– Great conversation in class. I mentioned all of the great classmates, who come from wildly diverse backgrounds; this makes for interesting, stimulating conversation in class. Often times I learn more from the discussions than from the lectures!
– Group work. While this can go either way, I think I’m equipped with better knowledge to pick my groups wisely! If done right, groups can be your savior on that week that you’re insanely overwhelmed.
– Free lunches! I think that speaks for itself.
– Guest speakers and alumni talks. Henry Paulson, Condoleezza Rice (rescheduled, hopefully soon) and countless amazing alumni come to give talks.
– Getting involved. It’s hard to get that involved in the first quarter, we’re all still trying to find where the bathroom is. Winter term brings amazing leadership opportunities, with Random Walk and LEAD facilitator applications due! Winter begins the transition of positions from 2nd years and the class of 2013 can’t wait to fill the spots.

Fall met all of my expectations. It was busy, of course challenging, stimulating, and fun. Although Winter will bring its own set of headaches (interviews), I think the best is yet to come!

Adventures of our Roving Reporter

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all rested up after Thanksgiving! This week I’d like to introduce our Roving Reporter Jessica, who will be reporting to us from various activities and events on campus. Jessica is a first year MBA student at Chicago Booth. She’s actively pursuing a social venture with students from across the University and found “Big Problems, Big Ideas,” a great resource for better defining how to position the group’s idea in the market. She’s excited to participate in more idea generation and community-building events. Today, Jessica blogs about her experiences at the Healthcare Conference, the AAMBA DuSable Conference, and the Social New Venture Challenge Kick-off. Check out her travels!

Tina

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Spotlight on Healthcare at Booth

With one of the most prominent academic hospitals in the nation, The University of Chicago Medical Center, just a few blocks away it shouldn’t be a surprise that Booth has its fair share of students interested in the health care industry. Backgrounds vary from medical physicians to complete novices. Some students take advantage of the school’s interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP: http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/gphap) while others may just try to tailor their curriculum in other ways. Regardless of past experience and current education pursuits, they can all interact with each other within the school’s Health Care Group (HCG).

HCG puts on a number of events throughout the school year to keep students aware of the ever-evolving field of health care, but its biggest one is the annual Health Care Conference. For this year, the tenth anniversary of the conference, the theme was appropriately, “The Changing Landscape of Health Care.” Speeches from key players in health care venture capital, and health care services companies, were complimented by panels that covered a variety of perspectives that were just as diverse as the interests of students in HCG. The first panel was on consumerism in health care, with representatives from all types of firms that influence the patient/consumer experience, including consulting retail pharmacy, health insurance, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

The next set of panels looked specifically at entrepreneurial opportunities in health care. “Entrepreneurial Health Care” offered the opportunity for the audience to hear directly from professionals who started their own health care companies, including the founder of Agile Diagnosis – last year’s winner of the New Venture Challenge, and from firms that invest in and consult to health care businesses.

The final panel looked even deeper into the deals that take place within the industry. The “Principal Investing in Health Care” panel featured representatives from banks, private equity, and venture capital firms with a presence in the health care market.

After a day of discussing innovation, consumerism, and venture opportunities within the health care industry, audience members were able to network with each other, speakers, panelists, and sponsor companies, bringing to a close this year’s annual tradition. Till next year’s conference!


The panel for Consumerism in Health Care featured representatives from Bain, Walgreens Co., Abbott Nutrition, Biogen Idec, Humana, Accenture, and Intuitive Surgical.

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The African-American MBA Association’s Annual DuSable Conference

The start of November marked a big weekend for the black, African-American community at Booth. Both the Chicago Booth Black Alumni Association (CBAA) and the full-time African-American MBA Association (AAMBAA) held their annual conferences. The weekend was a time for members of both groups to come together and network, as well as connect with the greater Booth community.

The weekend kicked off with the CBAA’s fifth annual Black Economic Forecast conference. This year’s event, “Removing the Barriers to New Opportunities,” featured a range of panels covering international and business-to-business opportunities for aspiring and current entrepreneurs, along with a session dedicated to career planning. After time for cocktails and networking, the conference closed with a keynote panel where major economic trends and their impact on the job market were discussed among professionals in economics, city government, and human resources.

Building off the momentum from the CBAA’s conference, the following night AAMBAA held its twenty-seventh annual DuSable Conference, presented by Credit Suisse. The evening’s theme was “Synergy.” During the course of the conference dinner, both the scheduled speakers– Andre Hughes, Global Managing Director at Accenture and Andrea Wishom, Executive Vice-President and Executive Producer of Harpo Studios– and the recipients of the alumni awards shared their stories about overcoming challenges to design the professional and personal lives they wanted. The networking hour afterwards was a great culmination to two days of insightful career advice and inspirational stories that benefited not only the black community at Booth but also all students and alums.


Dean Sunil Kumar speaking at AAMBAA’s 27th Annual DuSable Conference.

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Social New Venture Challenge Kick-off and Social Entrepreneurship at Booth

The career interests of Booth students have been changing over the years. While the stalwart career paths of financial services, marketing, general management, and consulting are still popular among students, entrepreneurship is also an area that students are eager to pursue now, not years down the road. Students’ eagerness for starting their own venture has led to the success of the now ten-year old New Venture Challenge – Booth’s business plan competition. But students are not just interested in for-profit opportunities, social entrepreneurship—whether a not-for-profit or a for-profit with a social mission—also has a home on campus. The Social New Venture Challenge (Social NVC) started last year in response to students’ interest in this area, and awareness of this opportunity only seems to be growing. This was evident at Social NVC’s kick-off event, “Big Problems, Big Ideas: Idea Generation for the Social NVC.”

At “Big Problems, Big Ideas” students from graduate and undergraduate programs across the University came together to hear and discuss some of the key areas of opportunity for starting social ventures. Seasoned professionals in the fields of health care, local government, the environment, and education each gave a fifteen minute pitch where they covered the key entrepreneurial trends in their field, unaddressed needs, and suggestions on resources to consult. Then the speakers held break-out sessions where students could come and discuss in more detail the unmet and pending needs in that field. Students even shared their own business ideas to solicit feedback from their peers and the experts and to potentially recruit team mates for their venture.

With the enthusiasm and momentum coming out of “Big Problems, Big Ideas,” there’s no telling what insightful and meaningful ventures will come out of this year’s Social NVC and the active social entrepreneurship community at Booth and the University at-large.

Official Student Blog for Chicago Booth. Here we talk about our experience and share stories about our time at Booth.