The Booth Experience team had the chance to sit down with incoming Graduate Business Council President, Chukwudi (Chudi) Ilozue to hear more about his background and his goals for Booth.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your background before Booth?
I am Nigerian and have spent the last 12 years living in the US between Chicago and Indianapolis. Prior to Booth, I worked as a hardware engineer at Cummins Inc. building microcontrollers and control systems for engines and vehicles of different auto manufacturers. Working on products tailored to different countries made the experience more insightful and valuable. I love math and science but on a broader scale I enjoy problem solving on the micro and macro levels.
Why did you choose Booth?
We’ve somehow developed a reputation as the nerdy business school. In reality, there is a balance with how Chicago students approach the MBA journey. I learned this through campus visits during my application process and the realization still holds today. Coming from an engineering background, I wanted an institution in which I could craft my own path in business early on. The positive ripple effects of the flexible academic curriculum, on your social and professional lives continue to pay dividends. Booth is also on a mission to expand its global footprint and having an international background, I wanted to contribute my efforts to that journey.
Why did you decide to run for Booth’s GBC President?
After accepting my admission, I made a list of what I wanted to gain from this 2-year experience. Playing an active part in reshaping the community to what we envision was of one my key goals. I am very passionate about service and have always lent my efforts to growing every institution I’ve been part of. This was the motivation behind running to represent the Harper cohort on the GBC last October. Transitioning from COVID into our current reality, it’s important to me that the sense of community within the program is not eroded. I polled students from other schools who have very strong cohort identities to better understand the systems their schools utilized. I plan to adapt a few of these lessons to our context at Booth.
Having an outlook informed by being a person of color, representation matters to me as well. I believe a system fails when the people it serves lose trust in it. We are still growing efforts to improve representation within Booth and the greater UChicago community. I wanted to ensure diversity and inclusion were an active part of our conversations and not another awkward topic. I also wanted to expand transparency on the efforts made to grow inclusion within our community and at the very least grow more faith in the school’s promise to keep students top of mind.
Tell us about your teammates on your Slate?
Forrest, Juan Francisco, Hyebin, Monica, and Ed! These are honestly some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met and worked with. There is an egoless passion with which they approach this work that’s refreshing and motivating. Everyone has a personal stake in ensuring we’re meeting our actionable goals and setting up systems that will outlive our tenure. There’s a lot of work ahead of us but I can’t think of any group I’d rather be on this journey with.
What are you hoping to achieve during your time leading GBC?
On the forefront, Community, Transparency and Equity! These are some buzzwords that have probably been uttered by other slates in the past. Our focus on them today shows there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Our team is very research-oriented and we’re approaching these issues systematically by breaking down various components of each issue that contributes to the current inadequacies. We have sat down with faculty, staff, and alumni to learn the history and present. And we have approached the main stakeholders, the students, to learn where it hurts for people in different communities.
The Cohort Cup is important to us. We’re mindfully crafting this to grow cohort spirit. Random Walks are great, but we want to be more intentional in strengthening our bonds past the summer. Having such a diverse slate, equity is important to us as it applies to ethnicity, sexual orientation, creed, career aspirations, and any marginalized identity. We want this to be a community in which you thrive because you are, and not despite. We’re organizing our mission starting from the cohort representatives so that the way you hold the GBC accountable is less bureaucratic and more structured. At the end of our tenure, our success will be defined by two major achievements – how much you’ve grown to identify this school you’ve chosen as a safe and resourceful environment for your personal and professional development and how the systems we implement can set up future GBC slates to do better.
What do you love most about Booth?
The people! Students come here from around the world and are so accomplished and humble. There’s always something new to learn from everyone and additional sources of perspectives are usually one referral away at the most. I’ve been incredibly intellectually challenged in the last 6 months, and just as critical I have grown to better structure and articulate the reasoning behind my convictions.