I still remember the excitement about getting into Booth like it was yesterday. After five years working at Anheuser-Busch (A-B) in Ohio and Chicago, I gained a real appreciation of how businesses operate in the Midwest, and saw myself as a future leader in the region. When deciding whether to apply to business school, I saw a pretty clear divergence in future paths: specialize further in one (very fun) area of business with A-B, or reopen myself to a broader part of the business world with an MBA. The call with the admissions officer, and the euphoric conversations that followed, made me confident that Booth would help me get to where I wanted to be. Within the next few weeks, I was figuring out how to start the following fall as quickly as I could.
One of the best parts about Booth is the flexible curriculum that they offer. You have the ability to choose which classes you take, and when you take them. I started with many of the fundamental classes, focusing on strategy and finance in year one. I was also able to take an entrepreneurship class, allowing me to balance my goals of preparing myself for a strategy job in the short term, and my long-term plan to start my own business. I am still amazed that through four quarters of school, my roommate and I never took the same class. Yet we both got what we needed out of the Booth experience in the order we wanted.
While I certainly didn’t anticipate a pandemic when I enrolled at Booth, yet again the flexible curriculum allowed me to adapt during COVID-19 to take advantage of a business opportunity. When COVID-19 hit, my brother (also working in Chicago) and I moved home, trading my room at MPP (Millenium Park Plaza is an apartment building in the loop where many Booth students live) for a backyard. Very quickly we moved from the Harper Center (Booth’s Hyde Park campus building) study rooms to dining room tables, and group meetings at 455 (one of Booth’s downtown campus buildings) to Zoom. Over the summer, we traded around working spaces, realizing how sub-par they could be. In the midst of suffering through those sore backs and craned necks from unconventional working positions, we realized there was a business opportunity in this new reality.
We started our company, Porvata, toward the end of last year. Our goal is to provide people working from home with high quality, customized office furniture to help them feel more comfortable and confident at work. I spent winter my break assembling technology, partnering with a local manufacturer, designing a website, and figuring out how to get the product to the customer. I knew, however, there was much more to learn now that the site was live.
Because of Booth’s flexible curriculum, I was easily able to reorganize my classes to match my new priorities. The strategy, operations and finance that I focused on before Porvata came in handy as we built our first supply chain and accounting system. Booth’s Innovation Leadership class I took the previous Winter Quarter helped guide our high-level discussions. The new focus on this venture allowed me to reorganize my final two quarters to make the most of the amazing Booth entrepreneurship classes and faculty. I’m glad I was able to experience electives in my first year, as it allowed me to be confident when the right time came to jump into a new opportunity. And I’m excited for the last two quarters and what I’m able to do with them because my new business goals with Porvata.