Small Group, Big Benefits: Get to Know Booth Real Estate Group

Chicago Booth Real Estate Group kicked off spring quarter with a mixer on Thursday, April 13 at Lounge 420 in the Gleacher Center. (Photo by Ardi Baftiri)

Chicago Booth Real Estate Group kicked off spring quarter with a mixer on Thursday, April 13 at Lounge 420 in the Gleacher Center. (Photo by Ardi Baftiri)

Having recently been a part of a focus group aimed at assessing our “Booth experience” after completing a few quarters, I came to the realization that career exploration is just as important to part-timers as it is to those in the full time program. Despite entering the program with full-time jobs, part-time students too exhibit a curiosity about “what else is out there?”

Regardless if these students ever plan on switching careers, answering that curiosity is easily achievable at Booth. However, it’s important to realize the broad spectrum of possibilities you can explore. Too often we find ourselves relying on courses in addressing that curiosity with outside discussions heavily focused on only a few industries such as private equity, investment banking, and management consulting. However student groups, too, offer a great way of addressing that curiosity. As such, this article will shine a spotlight on one of the little known groups, hopefully inspiring you to further explore all the options available to you.

The Real Estate Group is the perfect example of a smaller student group that Boothies might not have heard of, but one that can surely benefit anyone looking to better understand all the options available to them. Understanding that not all its members are in the real estate industry, the group strives to showcase the breadth of opportunities via the diversity of its events. Events span panel discussions with real estate private equity funds and investment banks, networking events, all the way to the highly specialized ARGUS training sessions.

Ardi Baftiri

Ardi Baftiri

Ultimately, the broad array of events makes such a group perfect for anyone looking to further their understanding of all that Booth has to offer. The benefits of joining a smaller group however go beyond simply satisfying one’s curiosity; when asked what she thinks the biggest benefit of joining the Real Estate Group is, Julie Zeng— one of the Real Estate Group co-chairs said, “Unlike some of the larger groups, when companies in our industry (real estate) are looking to hire, they often aren’t going through GTS. These companies are going directly through the Real Estate Group. So our members get access to job positions that others may not have…and at times we get as many as 3 job postings per day.”

The Real Estate Group held its official spring kick-off event on Thursday April 13th , the event highlighted the fact that it offers benefits to members of all backgrounds. Attendees included Boothies in real estate private equity and banking as well as those simply looking to learn more about how their unique non-real estate experiences could be applied within a real estate context. Ultimately, the fact remains: the key to satisfying your curiosity about “what else is out there” may not lie solely in different classes and classroom interactions, but in the little-known student groups that bring multiple fields together in one.

Ardi Baftiri is currently a Booth evening student and works in real estate development. He is an avid traveler and has visited over 35 countries.

IRL: It Isn’t Just You & It Isn’t Just Me

Catherine Frances Napier

Catherine Frances Napier

Leaving Gleacher at 9:30pm, to get home by 10, to maybe get up at 5am for a workout (shelling out $30 for SoulCycle seems to be the only thing to get me out of bed), to return to Gleacher at 6pm the next day, to coming to Gleacher another day for a meeting, to bringing my A game to work, to managing my grandpa’s transition to hospice while studying for finals, to squeezing in date night to celebrate my boyfriend’s win in a competition (he’s pretty cute and is a #FellowBoothie), to trying to make lifelong friends at school (√check), to figuring out career next steps (can Career Services be added to my speed dial? Shout out to Kelly O’Brien), trying to fit it all in – and doing it all in the most cost effective way (note: making my own dinner wasn’t included in any of that). Sometimes, it’s easy to think, wow, look at my schedule.

True – we are busy at Booth. If Booth teaches us something quickly, though – it’s that it isn’t just me, it isn’t just you. I think that is one of the coolest lessons we learn at Booth.

Here is what busy means to Boothies:

Samantha Darnell welcomed a baby boy last fall, while being a student. Anyone who can carry a baby while being a student deserves immense credit. In the middle of her pregnancy, she also landed a new, great job. She balances motherhood and school.

Amado, a Gleacher cashier who always wears a smile, works at Gleacher from 2pm-9pm and is home by 11pm every night. He gets up at 5am to drive Ubers until 12pm. He takes a quick nap when he gets home before heading back to Gleacher. Amazing.

Kevin Bendle works at the Gleacher bookstore. He worked to effortlessly give Booth students a discount on Booth gear if they were signed up for an SAC athletic event. He also shares that he has completed over 60 quarter starts. While most bookstore managers only deal with two semester starts per year, he deals with four quarter starts! He is the reason all your books are available.

Naved Siddiqui is enrolled in four classes this quarter on top of his full time job. He is working to complete 12 classes by August so he can participate in OCR. He is working to achieve his dream career.

Lindsay Badeaux constantly balances a ton of work travel to recruit the best future Boothies, which means she also works a lot of nights and weekends to make that happen. She also ensures she has fun in her busy life – including adding guitar lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music to her schedule, caring for her two pups, and enjoying time with her husband. #workhardplayhard

Bryan Scherer landed an investment banking summer internship while working a full time job, planning a wedding, and taking M&A Strategy and Financial Statement Analysis in the fall quarter (both classes are known as some of the toughest at Booth).

I hope this inspires every Boothie. Sometimes, it’s easy to be worn down with everything on our plates, but the entire Booth community is in this experience together. Whether you’re a student or you’re supporting us students succeed, you are not alone. It isn’t just you on this journey. We are all in this together. It is a beautiful thing.

Catherine works at Northern Trust in wealth management, loves yoga, creating content on, and the peanuts at the Midway.

Hit the Town with these Springtime Activities

With so many things to do in Chicago, it’s easy to miss something. It’s also easy to stay home and watch Netflix. Get out of house and off campus and head to one of these hot (or cool, but under the radar) events happening over the next two weeks.

Chicago Dance Month

April 1-30, 2017, Various Locations

All month long, celebrate Chicago’s dance community with discounted or free events, classes, and performances of every genre, including ballet, African dance, circus arts, tap, modern, musical theater, and even fitness.

Price: Varies (Free & Paid)


Cocktail Summit

April 2-3, 2017, Logan Theater, Logan Square

Take your experience with cocktails beyond drinking them and learn everything there is to know about the concoctions (which, fun fact, were invented right here in Chicago during Prohibition).

Price: $100 for the weekend, $50 per day, or buy individual sessions for $15 each


Midwest Rum Festival

April 8, 2017, Logan Square Auditorium, Logan Square

Try over 50 different types of rum, sip cocktails, and take Master Classes all afternoon. ChiBus Tip (CBT): Go to and use promo code “TASTINGS” for 50% off.

Price: $35 for one ticket, $65 for two with link (so bring a friend!)


Handmade Market Chicago

April 8, 2017, Empty Bottle, Ukrainian Village

Before it closes for the summer, stop by, grab a mimosa, and browse the handmade work of over 30 artists, including jewelry, clothing, candles, and paper goods. It’s the perfect place to pick up a special gift for a loved one or for yourself (after all, you got through another Chicago winter!)

Price: Free


Old Style Chicago Pizza Summit

April 9, 2017, The Chop Shop & 1st Ward, Wicker Park

All you can eat pizza, 5 beer tickets, and a commemorative Old Style pizza-shaped plate all for $35? Count us in. Attend one of two sessions (starting at either 2:00 and 5:00 pm) and join 1,000 other pizza aficionados for hours of pizza bliss while live DJs play in the background. CBT: If sold out, check the Facebook event page for people selling tickets.

Price: $35


Pop Culture Happy Hour

April 12, 2017, Harris Theater, Millennium Park

The Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast is hitting the road with it’s first live show in the Midwest. Hosted by Linda Holmes, the show will include panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon, along with VIP guests Sam Sanders, and W. Kamau Bell, discussing all the hot gossip relating to books, movies, music, television, and anything else that gets people riled up.

Price: $45

Rachael Nass, Class of 2019

Rachael Nass, Class of 2019

Rachael works in litigation consulting at Epsilon Economics. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, forming emotional connections to TV show characters, and cooking/eating/talking about/writing about food.

Now that the weather is warming up, set aside some time between work and classes to take in events that the city has to offer. (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Now that the weather is warming up, set aside some time between work and classes to take in events that the city has to offer. (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

In Real Life with Phil Giglio

Phil Giglio is on the path for his second advanced degree

Phil Giglio is on the path for his second advanced degree

23% of Booth students have advanced degrees before starting Booth. Not only is weekend student Phil Giglio one of those impressive students, he’s also back at the University of Chicago for round two.

Phil always knew he wanted to go to law school, and landed at – where else – the University of Chicago to pursue that dream. He has been practicing law for four years working with private equity clients (and working 60 hours per week on average). He assists clients in forming their funds, ensuring their compliance with regulations, working on M&A, and much more.

While in law school, Phil enrolled in Booth’s renowned Negotiations class. The lessons learned in Negotiations regularly apply in Phil’s everyday life.

“Given that my job is essentially predicated on negotiating, that class has been hugely valuable. I use those skills in everyday practice,” Phil shares.

“We learned that when you negotiate, people don’t like silence. If you put silence on someone, they’ve a tendency to talk to break that silence. And when people talk, they give away information, and information is the most valuable asset in a negotiation,” he says.

While others might feel awkward, Phil appreciates the valuable silence in negotiations, thanks to his lessons at Booth. He applies this lesson every time he negotiates on the phone – which is 99% of the time.

As a current Booth student, Phil participated in the annual Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge between Booth and Oxford. Students form a team, create an LBO model, and pitch a company as if they’re pitching to an investment committee at a private equity firm. Given Phil’s legal specialty, this gave him the perfect opportunity to learn more about the investments side.

“I sit on the other side of the private equity landscape,” he explains. “Making the pitch to a hypothetical client was a great change of perspective. It gave me great color as to what my clients go through on a daily basis.”

Further, Phil and his team worked to create a group with a great deal of diverse perspectives – including bankers, consultants, and a lawyer.

“We all brought a different skill set to the table. We had a really great team dynamic based on the fact that we all came from a different background.”

Catherine Frances Napier, Class of 2018

Catherine Frances Napier, Class of 2018

Phil’s latest team project involved applying to this year’s New Venture Challenge with another impressive group – a full time student, a part time student, a partner at a law firm, and a Booth professor.

“For the past two months, we’ve been working on proposing a new legal software solution and hoping that we get accepted into the program. That will kick up the amount of schoolwork I’ve got,” he adds.

Phil is clearly not a stranger to hard work – he balances an impressive legal career (including billing 100 hour weeks at times) and being a Booth weekend student. To Phil, Booth is absolutely worth it.

“Booth changes the way that you approach problems. Lawyers are trained to think a specific way and to think about all the possibilities of what could go wrong, almost to the point of inertia, and Booth teaches you what to focus on and how to sift through what doesn’t matter. It’s a very different way of thinking. The framework with which we’re taught to think at Booth really complements the legal training and education that I’ve had.”

Catherine works at Northern Trust in wealth management, loves yoga, creating content on, and the peanuts at the Midway.


Data in an Anecdotal World, and The Chicago Approach

Ardian Baftiri, Class of 2019

Ardian Baftiri, Class of 2019

At the core of the Booth experience is The Chicago Approach— three words summing an idea with as many interpretations as people who experience it. Despite its interpretative malleability however, with enough probing common themes emerge: data, analytics, and results. Equipped with analytic tools, students strut off campus quietly summoning the world before them, “give me your problems, I will give you a data-driven solution.” Then they see, “Trump signs Muslim ban” on their phones and the power of data-driven solutions suddenly comes into question. If empirically substantiated solutions aren’t relevant for winning the most powerful office in the world, we must question what we’ve been preached to. We must question The Chicago Approach.

Now this isn’t an anti/pro-Trump article, but it does use the political arena as an example for evaluating the appropriateness of placing as much importance on data as Chicago Booth does. Continuing with the Trump example, we see the triumph of anecdotes over data in the illegal immigration debate as well. Data shows that immigrants are less likely to commit crime, with illegal immigrants not expected to commit a disproportionate share of crime. However, Trump repeatedly points out illegal immigrants have murdered citizens and he wants to reduce these senseless murders; he then relays the story of the illegal immigrant who killed a natural-born citizen. The story is factual. The argument is anecdotal. The solution is fantasy-land. Yet, the presidency was won! If data is seemingly irrelevant at the most important policy decisions, should Chicago Booth begin teaching “Impressive story-telling” rather than Applied Regression Analysis? Is the cost of a Booth MBA better spent elsewhere?

Despite the seeming insignificance of data-driven solutions at garnering success, the reality is that the argument above is anecdotal as well. We use an anomaly— the political success of Trumpian solutions— to suggest that Booth’s emphasis on data-driven solutions is flawed. In fact, data analysis has never before been seen as important a competitive advantage as now. Businesses across industries are relying on data to drive strategies, and according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit 83% of professionals surveyed said data is making even existing products more profitable. Ironically, it is also data that made Trump successful, not anecdotes. Decades of data analysis into how our psychological biases could be used in negotiations revealed the importance of storytelling in circumventing the brain systems responsible for critical analysis— what I would argue was Trump’s actual source of success. Nevertheless, the reality remains: data is the future, and Booth is our conduit to it. So as you contemplate classes in coming quarters, consider these: Big Data, Data Driven Marketing, Applied Regression Analysis, and Machine Learning.

Ardi Baftiri is currently a Booth evening student and works in real estate development. He is an avid traveler and has visited over 35 countries.

Taking a Third Class

When I completed LAUNCH last fall, I asked a Seattle-commuting Weekend student about how his quarter was going, and he mentioned in passing that he was enrolled in three classes. An option I hadn’t previously considered.

Part-time students have varied reasons for why they choose to ramp up their enrollment. One out-of-state Weekend student I talked to wanted to maximize academic value considering the significant time investment of traveling. Another student wanted to work around seasonality in their job, allowing for little-to-no course load during heavy seasons. I ended up going for three classes my first quarter as I was personally drawn to the idea of front-loading on classes to provide flexibility in case I choose to elect a full quarter of studying abroad.

Regardless of your motivation for taking three classes or more as a part-time student, managing a full academic plate is a big commitment. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide on whether the approach is a good fit for you and some tips on how to make the most of it:

Key Questions When Considering Three-Plus

1. Does my schedule allow for it? If you’re already working 70 or more hours per week (not even factoring commutes), chances are a third or fourth class may be a stretch when you think about the homework and additional requirements a course comes with.

2. Will taking more classes now be better for me down the road? Maybe the start-up you founded looks like it will soon require more and more of your time. Or maybe you have a transfer to an international office looming on not-so-distant the horizon. In such cases, you may find it hard to stay within the five-year completion window for an MBA. That said, if your time in the near future seems more permitting, it may be a good idea to take on a few more courses now to keep you on track to graduate.

Tips for Managing a Full Load

1. Check course evaluations and syllabi - These are invaluable resources to help you gauge weekly workload of classes and assessing which courses may be complementary. For example, you might want to break up the monotony of three heavy quant classes with a case-based course that involves a reasonable amount of time dedicated to group work.

2. Judiciously use time off for study - This may not be ideal to hear, but if doing well on your degree is high on the priority scale, it would be a good idea to allocate some days for emergency homework purposes.

3. Do a Week 3 Check-in - The deadline for dropping without landing a “W” on your transcript is Friday of Week 3 in a given quarter. At the start of that week, assess whether you think the lifestyle is manageable. If not, it’s not too late to drop.

Of course, don’t forget to available of the resources available to you via Academic Advising and Career Coaching to further help you prioritize.

Klariza Alvaran works in marketing and dabbles in creative pursuits on the side. She enjoys writing sci-fi, crocheting hats, and making music.

Maintaining Your Sanity During Winter Classes

“If you have to take difficult classes or have a three course quarter, aim for winter...there’s nothing better to do!” I’ve heard this quote one too many times in my year and a half at Gleacher, and while I agree that taking Multivariate Time Series Analysis may make better sense when the sun sets before 5pm, it is clear with Winter quarter midterms that we each need something more in the Chicago cold than work and school. Hopefully these suggestions will help you keep your sanity until spring.

“Read” Something Non-School Related

We’ve all told ourselves that we will pick up a book after the quarter ends, but how often does that actually happen? I know it can be difficult to get in the habit of reading for pleasure when there’s enough to deal with class-wise, but a great alternative are audiobooks. Whether it’s Audible or something else, I would recommend giving an audiobook a try for your downtime during the day or at work. For shorter, more direct listening satisfaction, podcasts can also help stimulate the mind without much time or effort.

Attend a Bulls or Blackhawks Game

I know the Bulls are a mess and that hockey isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however there’s more to Chicago sports than the Cubs. Since I first went to the United Center in 1995, the food, drinks, and overall vibe have improved significantly, and with West Loop restaurants and bars down the street, it could be the perfect evening escape from throughput and derivatives.

Try New Coffee Shops

Too much studying to do? Sick of doing it at home or Gleacher? I’d definitely recommend trying a new coffee shop. From Sip in West Loop to Eva’s Cafe in Old Town, each neighborhood around Chicago has their own hidden gems in the coffee realm. Getting work done, leaving the house, and warming up over a caffeinated beverage can really kill three birds with one stone on the bleakest of days.

Visit George on the Second Floor!

We can’t change the fact that we’ll have to still spend a good amount of time at Gleacher every week, and with the Midway Club closed until spring, “beverages” may seem hard to come by. However, the Gleacher bar is still alive and well on the 2nd floor lounge and George is always looking for company.

As we plow through the rest of winter quarter with dreams of warmer times on the horizon, please don’t let anything hold you back from enjoying these next few months.

Mike is an Evening MBA Student and Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant at Vista Consulting Group. His hobbies include distance running, volleyball, and exploring local restaurants.

The MBA Candidate: Greedy or Good?

Ask 100 working-age individuals why someone would intensively pursue a career in business. What do you think the most common response would be?

                 Ardi Baftiri, Class of 2019

                 Ardi Baftiri, Class of 2019

Often the response revolves around money and greed— not Adam Smith’s broad “self-interest,” but the type of greed you don’t want your friends to have. Immediately people conjure up stereotypical images of a Gordon Gekko-esque executive reveling in egomania. They see the MBA candidate as the money-hungry suitor of the next promotion.

Bombarded with these stereotypes and entering an elite MBA program, I feared an environment with a Wolf of Wall Street around every corner. With a few quarters down, I’m writing this to communicate the reality of how greedy my fellow Boothies are, the reality of why they’re pursuing an MBA, and the learning environment their motivations create. In doing so I hope to ease a potential fear for the recently admitted, inspire motivated professionals to consider an MBA, and encourage MBA candidates to forcefully confront the stereotypes cast upon them. Sadly, the recent rise in populism brought about by the invisible forces of global economics has found a scapegoat in the financial industry; with investment management, consulting, and financial services comprising the top 3 industries of Booth MBA candidates, sharing the reality of who the MBA candidate is has become more important than ever.

Let's begin by admitting the obvious: most MBA candidates around you are looking for their next career opportunity and eventually will make more money. The hidden truth, however? By and large the vast majority are searching for the “right” next step, not the next big check. Geoff Foulk is the perfect example of the type of person you’ll meet at Booth: smart, successful, and genuinely passionate. When asked why he’s pursuing an MBA his response was simple: “I’m passionate about energy, and it's obviously going to be a problem in the future. I want to apply the Chicago Approach to that problem…I’m not doing it for the money; I’m doing it to influence the outcome for a future I might not ever see.”  

Although anecdotal, empirical evidence too has shown no causal relationship between incomes and happiness once incomes reach about $75,000. Pre-MBA students, I suspect, are distributed near that figure, suggesting they’re now searching for careers that fuel their passions rather than fanatically fighting for random promotions. With corrosive self-interest stymied, business school becomes a concentrated melting pot of genuinely passionate individuals who you want to engage and collaborate with. Ironically, rarely will you encounter the stereotypical businessperson in business school; rather, you witness the inspiring pursuits of people motivated by visions of a brighter tomorrow for everyone. The Social Enterprise Initiative, New Social Venture, and Social Enterprise Lab stand as a testament to the sincere motivations of MBA candidates. The daily encounters you always wish could last longer stand as a testament to the character of the MBA candidate. So if you’re new, engage! If you know someone passionate looking for the next career step, suggest a Booth info session. If you’re an MBA candidate, push back on the stereotypes!

Ardi Baftiri is currently a Booth evening student and works in real estate development. He is an avid traveler and has visited over 35 countries.


IRL with Ryan Bormet

As the country transitions to new leadership this month, so does Booth’s student government. In the spirit of celebrating his accomplishments, we’re pleased to feature Ryan Bormet, who was most recently the Student Advisory Council’s Co-President. Over the course of his one year as president, Ryan has learned many lessons that he has applied to his real life.

Ryan Bormet, Class of 2017

Ryan Bormet, Class of 2017

You likely already know Ryan Bormet, who was Co-President of the Student Advisory Council in 2016. You may also know him from co-founding the Sales Club, serving as the Mentor Coordinator, interviewing Professor Randall Kroszner, taking advantage of every class, being one of the most visible student leaders on campus, and much more. These leadership positions have taught Ryan many lessons he’s applied in real life.

Ryan shares, “Whenever you’re working with people, you learn the balance of leadership—of knowing when to step in and take action and when to stand back and allow others to take the reins. That’s been invaluable.”

Thanks to his role as an advocate for the E/W student population, Ryan also has the regular opportunity to practice perspective-taking. “I've worked hard to check my own viewpoint and opinion in order to fully consider the perspectives and interests of my peers. I think this is a critical leadership skill, but certainly takes practice since my immediate thought is typically my own opinion,” he shares.

So to Ryan, it was important not just to think about one set of super involved students, but all students with multiple priorities – including those with exceptionally demanding jobs, suburban commutes, and families. “These groups are all equally important parts of the student population – so it’s crucial to make sure we’re thinking about the diverse set of needs across that whole population,” he says. With Ryan’s leadership, SAC continued to promote events to all students.

Learning perspective can help when navigating difficult situations, and it takes practice to learn this with grace. Thanks to his role as Mentor Coordinator, Ryan practiced this art in real life with peers. Some quarters, 60 people applied to 20 spots.

“Having those emotionally-charged conversations is difficult,” he says. “It’s about being composed and being thoughtful about others’ perspectives in those conversations. It’s definitely applicable to work when dealing with a client who is frustrated or a colleague who is angry about something.”

Of course, in these leadership roles, Ryan had many opportunities to practice public speaking. This immediately applied to his real life.

“I presented to all of the incoming students at LAUNCH. I wanted to represent the community well and make them excited about starting at Booth,” he shares. He even recorded one of them to listen back to it to make improvements.

Catherine Frances Napier, Class of 2018

Catherine Frances Napier, Class of 2018

This practice immediately benefited Ryan at work, where he was asked to moderate a panel with four executive level employees. With all the practice Ryan has had through Booth, it’s no surprise he got a lot of compliments.

Through leadership opportunities and excellent classroom experiences, Booth has given Ryan what he calls “an incredible foundation”.

In his own words:

“Booth has given me business acumen, knowledge, and confidence. I know I am not always going to have the answer, but we are equipped with the insight to ask intelligent questions and the thought processes to figure it out.”

We’d like to thank Ryan for the impact he’s made on Booth.

Halfway There

Mike Sharifi, Class of 2018

Mike Sharifi, Class of 2018

An interesting part of being an Evening/Weekend student is that there is no pre-determined “halfway” point of your MBA. There’s no summer after sophomore year of college or internship between full-time MBA years that give you a chance to reflect on what you’ve already gone through. This doesn’t exist during the Evening/Weekend programs and if you don’t pay attention, the moment may pass you by. For some of us, you might complete Class 10 and begin Class 11 a week later without much time to digest. Having just finished my tenth class at Booth, I wanted to take some time to reflect on these past 15 months, as I prepare for the 15 months to come. Hopefully, these insights can help you as you prepare for the remainder of your time at Gleacher as well.

    One of the major things that I’ve learned being a part of the Evening/Weekend program is that while it’s a major grind adding 15-30 additional hours to our already busy weeks, we should never lose sight of the big picture and why we are here. Some of us are here to change careers, which I’ve recently done through connecting with a Booth Alum (Thanks Rock!), or discover and develop strengths we may not know we have - but one of the things that I’ve noticed is that we may lose sight of some of our intentions as we “go through the motions”. This isn’t to say that our goals and aspirations do not change over time, because they most certainly will, but making sure to remain in control of our MBA experience is important as we progress.

    Additionally, I was able to learn the value of attending student events early, but with time, I felt too busy to attend events as frequently. Last quarter, I didn’t attend a single Midweek at Midway or SQA. Was it because I was too busy or had too many challenges with the Littlefield Simulation in Operations Management? Possibly, but I more likely made excuses to stay involved. With this in mind, I will make more of a concentrated effort to make it to at least a few events this quarter, and I challenge each of you that couldn’t make it to an event last quarter to change that as well!

    Finally, as I look forward to these next five quarters, the primary thing I won’t lose sight of is how Booth has made an impact on my everyday life, on multiple levels. From work projects with alumni to planning my wedding guest list that will include classmates, it’s become evident that Booth has already made its mark on me and I’m definitely better of for it. Booth is no longer just the classes or the Gleacher Center, but who I text to grab a drink after work and who I’ll play pick-up basketball with on the weekends. Booth is definitely what we make it and I hope that 15 months from now, looking back on my experience as a student will be a strong indicator of my future as an alum.


Mike is an Evening MBA Student and a Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant at Vista Consulting Group. His hobbies include running, volleyball, and exploring local restaurants.

Stay on Track this 2017


2017 is underway, which means it’s time to get rolling on this year’s goals and resolutions.

Excel tracking docs can be key in staying organized

Excel tracking docs can be key in staying organized

Seeing how you’re progressing toward a goal can be a challenge. Fortunately, resources such as Google Sheets and saving an Excel document to a cloud drive make it easy to log priorities and monitor progress wherever you have an Internet connection.

As you begin to solidify what goals you hope to achieve and big decisions you need to make for 2017 are, consider making a spreadsheet “tracker” for key areas where you want to stay on track.

1. Hobbies

The New Year typically brings out a desire to try new things, but with so little time and so many options, a spreadsheet can help keep the undertaking from being too daunting. Use a spreadsheet to keep an ongoing list of what you’d like to try, where you can make it happen, and any accomplishments or highlights from those experiences.

2. Picking classes

The 20 classes we take for our degrees (add onto that the “Take Three” and the three you can elect post-grad) is a finite number that becomes even more apparent when you think about all the Booth and non-Booth classes at a student’s disposal.

Laying out fields in your tracker for your top three to five core selection criteria and the sub-considerations beneath those can help you prioritize what kind of course structure, objectives, workload per week, and professors are the best fit for your needs and preferences.

3. Moving to a new city

You will probably need more than just a spreadsheet to figure out where you would like to move after or over the course of your MBA. However, some basic tables in a spreadsheet can be useful in the initial information-gathering phase. Some useful starting points to examine might be:

  • Contacts at Booth who live or used to live there to ask for information

  • Target companies in the new and attributes such as typical commute time

  • Proximity to leisure activities (like a Krav Maga gym, hiking trails, etc.)

No person is an island

One way to stay accountable is to share your trackers with a friend and/or mentor and schedule periodic check-ins with them. As you become more deeply immersed in the day-to-day grind of working toward your goals and life in general, a second set of eyes on your progress can be immensely helpful to ensure that you keep sight of the big picture and have a firm grasp of your priorities.

Have fun with the process

Klariza Alvaran, Class of 2019

Klariza Alvaran, Class of 2019

Working incrementally is a great way to bring sustainable change into your lifestyle. Doing that 100 hours of boxing training in one month that you were meaning to do in 2017 may allow you to check the box off your goals list, but you might also get burned out. Spreading out a goal without a rigid timeline can help relieve pressure and even lead you to organically find the best way to fit the change seamlessly into your schedule.

Klariza Alvaran is working on several short stories and novels, while doing marketing on the side. She enjoys writing sci-fi, crocheting hats, and making music.


Put People First: IRL with Eileen Ward

Eileen Ward, Graduate of the Class of 2016

Eileen Ward, Graduate of the Class of 2016

If you know Eileen Ward, you know she lights up a room. Before she graduates, read what Eileen has learned from Booth and which lessons she has applied to Booth, in return.

Booth taught Eileen about negotiating. In her sales role, this is surely applicable everyday.

“You should over ask in negotiations, and expect to have a compromise in the end. You can optimize by finding small concessions to demonstrate that you respect the other party and their desires,” Eileen shares.

To Eileen, it is about how you made the other person feel.

“Psychologically, everyone desires feeling respected, likes winning, and also feeling like they are being nice or generous – so, if you play your strategy right, you can actually get what you want quite often, if you’re willing to appeal to what is most important to other people before instinctually being selfish.”

My favorite part of this interview is when Eileen added what real life has taught her and how she has applied that lesson to Booth:

“Put people first, and everything else will follow. Everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time. If you think about the burden or stress people feel in a given day – school, work, family obligations, money – they just want to feel like they’re getting by in a positive way. If you can help people in those endeavors – by pulling your weight to alleviate that level of stress, you’ll make friends very easily. If you do your best, chances are that’ll be enough,” Eileen says.

To new students, Eileen shares her advice:

“When you go in, go in positive, make friends, don’t worry about the academics as much, figure out where your heart leads you in terms of which groups matter to you. If you don’t come in with a roadmap, you’re missing the boat why you get an MBA.

“If you come in with a few things you want to take away from it and you aggressively pursue those things, you’ll be well served by the time you’re exhausted and burnt out in the backend. You’ll have talking points and friends and people who like you to survive the backend.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and no one enjoys the backend of a marathon. The stakes go up the further in you get - due to OCR, trying to change careers, or getting the promotion at work. So, you might as well maximize the stakes when they’re as low as possible. It’s all about optimizing,” she shares.

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

“Take an inventory – are there people you wanted to get to know that you thought were so cool, have you reminded the people that you met in the beginning that you love them, and what are you doing to show them that? Did you wish them a happy birthday or send them Christmas cards? Did you like their new job on LinkedIn? What’s the game plan to stay relevant?”

The best part about Booth for Eileen? “I met the most amazing, hardworking people who know what it is to be a good teammate and have really noble ambitions.”

Catherine works at Northern Trust in wealth management, loves yoga, creating content on, and the peanuts at the Midway.


Chicago Business Fellows Autumn 12 Cohort Winds Down

Captions & Photos By Klariza Alvaran, Class of 2019

Autumn CBF batch 12 (in white) take on the CBF alumni team (in black) during the annual CBF football game on Nov. 13 at Oz Park. The alumni group prevailed as winners.


Fellows from the Spring and Autumn 2016 batches were grouped into teams to sell products and services to their part-time MBA peers for the CBF Marketplace on Nov. 19. High-performing teams were recognized with titles such as the Revenue Award (for high revenues with low costs), the Brand Equity Award (for successful implementation of brand strategy), and the Start-up Award (for an entrepreneurial idea that effectively addresses an area of need).


Weekend CBF students TIffany Yang ’19 and Andrew Kerosky ’19 take in the CBF football game with their dogs on Nov. 13.

Weekend CBF students TIffany Yang ’19 and Andrew Kerosky ’19 take in the CBF football game with their dogs on Nov. 13.

Holding down a full-time job and being a dog owner is tough. Couple that with traveling to Chicago on a weekly basis for a part-time MBA program makes matters even tougher for students like Tiffany Yang ’19 and Andrew Kerosky ’19, who brought their dogs to Chicago from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Fort Worth, Texas, respectively for the CBF football game.

“It’s tough managing the various competitions for your time,” Kerosky says.

Yang agrees. “Sometimes the decision is like, do you do work? Do you do homework? Or do you take care of your dog?”

“You end up having to multitask a little bit,” Kerosky adds. “Hang out with the dogs, while doing homework. It’s not easy.”

Klariza Alvaran works at and does freelance marketing. She enjoys writing sci-fi, crocheting hats, and making music.

PE Group Unites E/W, Full-Time, and Executive MBAs

Matthew Bey (‘18) was able to bring together E/W, Full-Time, and Executive MBAs for a great networking opportunity.

Matthew Bey (‘18) was able to bring together E/W, Full-Time, and Executive MBAs for a great networking opportunity.

On Saturday, November 5th, the Evening/Weekend Private Equity Club hosted an event very unique to most held at the Midway Club. The group decided to hold a networking event aimed at bringing together not just members of the E/W community, but also students and alumni from the Booth Full-Time and Executive MBA programs interested in or working within the Private Equity or Venture Capital space.

    “A year-long goal of the E/W Private Equity Club is to build a stronger Booth community,” states Matthew Bey (‘18), Co-Chair of the group. “We started last quarter by co-hosting a networking event with the E/W Search Fund Club, and expanded our scope this quarter in experimenting with a cross-program networking event. The collective response across all three programs was ‘why don’t we do this more often?’”

    The event had 100 RSVPs and a strong turnout from all three student bodies. Conversations ranged from investment strategies and portfolio building to how one can get their foot in the door with a local PE or VC firm. The event included both current students and alumni brought together with a common interest, and for two hours leading into the evening, the Midway Club was home to cross-program conversations that would have been difficult to have otherwise.

Mike Sharifi, Class of 2018

Mike Sharifi, Class of 2018

    “The E/W Private Equity Club is going to continue to host community building networking events, and we encourage everyone to do their part to help us continue the trend,” said Bey.

Hopefully, other clubs can take the success of this event as a starting point for future cross-program initiatives that will better unite the entirety of the Booth community.

Mike is an Evening MBA Student and a Senior Consultant at Vista Consulting Group. His hobbies include running, volleyball, and exploring local restaurants.


Spotlight on Lab Courses at Booth

Entrepreneurial Discovery

Entrepreneurial Discovery students (from left) Greg Johnston ’18, Brittany Genelin ’18, Erica Watkins Ryan ’18, and Aviv Shalgi ’18 discuss next steps on an assignment while in class.

Entrepreneurial Discovery students (from left) Greg Johnston ’18, Brittany Genelin ’18, Erica Watkins Ryan ’18, and Aviv Shalgi ’18 discuss next steps on an assignment while in class.

While most of my fellow Autumn 2016 entrants in the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs have focused their first quarters on completing Foundation Courses, I’ve been mostly heads-down in electives. Aside from the Creative Writing class I wrote about before, I am also enrolled in Entrepreneurial Discovery.

Entrepreneurial Discovery was established to service the first “D” in the D4 innovation process for entrepreneurship at Booth (i.e. Discover, Design, Develop, Do) and doubles as an initial step on the road to the Edward L. Kaplan ’71 New Venture Challenge. In fact, several former students of the course have gone on to be part of winning teams at NVC, including the 2016 winner, Transparent Career.

Since its creation, Entrepreneurial Discovery has been taught or co-taught by Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Polsky Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mark Tebbe. Tebbe is a veteran entrepreneur—having sold two successful tech companies post-IPO, an angel investor, and a highly regarded tech industry leader who is now sharing his wisdom with aspiring entrepreneurs at Booth.

Now at seven weeks in, I have to agree that the learning experience is worthwhile for any student with entrepreneurial inclinations (and can make it down to Hyde Park for a daytime class during the week).

Responsible Leadership Through Choice Architecture

New to this academic year is the Responsible Leadership through Choice Architecture lab course. Co-taught by Professor Heather Caruso and behavioral economics thought leader Professor Richard Thaler, RLCA provides students with the opportunity to engage in a yearlong consulting-based learning experience with real clients.

I had a chance correspond with Professor Caruso earlier in the quarter to check in with her and get her thoughts on the course.

Q&A with Professor Caruso

KA: How did the course come together and why the lab format?

HC: Trying to keep our own teachings in mind, Richard and I realized that leaders won’t automatically become effective and responsible choice architects just because we give them Nudge, Misbehaving, and other information about the usefulness of behavioral science. It is critical to also create an environment that helps our present and future leaders actually start using choice architecture as a tool, and by bringing students and real organization leaders together in a hands-on laboratory course, we aim to do just that.

KA: How has the student reception of the class been so far?

Klariza Alvaran, Class of 2019

Klariza Alvaran, Class of 2019

HC: We’ve been delighted to see the enthusiasm of so many students—both at Booth and across the university—for our new course. Although it was hard to have to turn many of these students away in order to keep class size appropriate to the complexity and intensity of the workload, we have been glad to see that our enrolled students are deeply and earnestly engaged, benefiting not only from the greater attention we are able to provide as a teaching team, but also from the balanced scope and scale of partner organization projects, and the intimacy and camaraderie of the small class size.

Klariza Alvaran works at and does freelance marketing. She enjoys writing sci-fi, crocheting hats, and making music.


Taking a Measured Risk: IRL with Pam Roxas

Pam Roxas ('17) took a risk that paid off. 

Pam Roxas ('17) took a risk that paid off. 

When Pam Roxas first started at Booth, she wanted to work the management track in her engineering field. Her initial course work helped her secure a promotion at work. However, after settling into the new role, she realized that she was not fully satisfied with the track that she was on. Booth’s coursework and community helped Pam facilitate a change and encourage her to take a risk.

“The spark for me was M&A Strategy with Professor Morrissette. I was so surprised to learn about the types of roles that impacted strategy at the firm wide level. Professor Morrissette does a great job of bringing in practitioners from corporate development, investment banking, private equity and entrepreneurship, who discuss how they apply the class concepts in their actual day to day work. It got me thinking - let’s explore the optionality out there.”

M&A Strategy also helped give Pam direction. “After doing a lot of due diligence, I realized investment banking was the intersection of many things I was looking for in terms of job content, learning opportunities, career progression and a culture of excellence. I don’t know if I would’ve found [this industry] on my own. I am thankful that Professor Morrissette carved out a portion of his class to ask the question: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’”

Booth’s strong women initiatives also made a big impact on Pam and really helped push her to take a risk. After last year’s Booth Women’s Connect conference, Pam chose to quit her job and wholly pursue the transition into investment banking.

“I was really inspired by several speakers who shared their perspective on how they took risk in their careers and how they managed the upside as well as road bumps along the way. It was cool, I had a surge of courage and I thought, ‘I can do this.’”

“The Women’s conference is such a good chance to recharge and focus on what your goals are. It’s easy to get caught up in the grind – I’ve got to do homework, eat dinner, etc., and the Women’s Conference provides a platform for women to evaluate: ‘Where do I want to improve, what do I want to accomplish in X number of years?’”

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

Ten months after the Women’s Connect Conference, Pam completed an internship in investment banking and accepted an offer to return full time after graduation. “The totality of Booth was critical for achieving my goal – the coursework, support from my professors, Career Services, the Banking Club, and my fellow peers all formed an important support system that helped me get [the internship] and the full time offer,” she says.

As she wraps up classes 19, 20 and 21, Pam reflects on her time at Booth. “When I started the program three years ago, I never would’ve guessed this is where I would end up.”

She advises, “My two cents for what it’s worth: Explore a lot, figure out what you like and don’t like so you can work towards creating the career and life you are excited to live, and don’t be afraid of taking risks. Booth is a unique time in your life, where you are afforded many options as well as the tools and support system to explore them and choose what is the best fit for you.”

Catherine Napier works at Northern Trust in wealth management, loves yoga, creating content on, and the peanuts at the Midway.


The Power of Collar Stays

Denyse Skipper ('17) was able to land her dream job by preparing and following-up

Denyse Skipper ('17) was able to land her dream job by preparing and following-up

Here at Booth, we are often fortunate enough to have distinguished speakers from the field speak to the work they are doing. Usually, these presenters will give us great insights into the business application of our classroom material, however what we do with this valuable information and opportunity is up to each of us. Many of us will store away tidbits of knowledge in case it becomes relevant for our work down the line, or even jot a few notes for an upcoming assignment, but that wasn’t enough for Joseph Alexander and Denyse Skipper when they heard Ted Buell (‘07), Head of Insights and Analytics at Google, speak at separate events.

    “Understanding the interests and background of the speaker is very important in making sure to ask the right questions,” states Skipper (‘17) referring to a Marketing and Tech event  last winter where she asked Ted about a relevant industry topic: How to value websites that aren’t driving revenue. “I did my research beforehand on LinkedIn and saw that Ted actually worked with some of the partners of my old job, which made it easier to approach him afterwards.” By asking great questions and doing her research, Denyse was able to drive a meaningful conversation with the Google leader.

    Coincidentally, a few weeks prior, Joseph Alexander (‘17), had the opportunity to hear Buell speak during his Marketing Strategy course. While enjoying the talk, Joseph couldn’t help but notice that Ted’s shirt collar kept flipping over his sport coat. A relatively minor takeaway, but this proved to be quite the observation come the holidays.

    At the end of the quarter, Joseph and Denyse were chatting about Denyse’s “dream job” being apart of the Analytics team at Google and Joseph had a crafty solution to reconnect the two of them with their recent speaker. Remembering Ted’s collar issues, Joseph and Denyse looked up Ted’s contact information and mailed him a thoughtful holiday gift: Wurkin Stiffs. These powerful collar stays were just what Ted needed and helped drum up the conversations that led to Denyse finally landing her perfect job on Google’s Analytics team.

Ted Buell ('07), Head of Insights and Analytics at Google

Ted Buell ('07), Head of Insights and Analytics at Google

    “I’m very much into things that are practical and useful,” notes Buell. “Having been a student at Booth, I know that it is hard to stand out at events or in networking, but this left a lasting impression because it was authentic and genuine.”

    So whether you are looking to land a job, or help an alumni with their collar issues, make sure to remember the small things since they can go a long way.

Mike is an Evening MBA Student and Director of Talent at Telnyx. His hobbies include running, volleyball, and exploring local restaurants.


IRL with Adam Meyer: Atlanta-Minneapolis-Chicago: A Classic Week for a Weekend Student

Adam Meyer, Class of 2018

Adam Meyer, Class of 2018

Before Weekend student Adam Meyer’s morning class, Adam has flown from home in Atlanta to his consulting project in Minneapolis and then to Chicago for school. He’s even made it to a 7:15am Orange Theory workout class.

Despite the busiest travel schedule of even most Weekend students, Adam continues to find ways that Booth lessons have been applied in real life. In Professor Yoad Shefi’s Competitive Strategy class, Adam learned to try to find ways that nobody will emulate what you or your business can do.

In consulting, we talk about how it’s about owning your brand or your career, and I try to be a resource that no one can emulate so that people want to work with me by offering what I would deem as my competitive, sustainable advantage,” Adam says.

Booth has also taught Adam how to frame questions and remove bias from projects.

He elaborates, “It’s helpful just to listen. [Framing questions] makes you see how people approach problems with different biases, and being able to see something and be objective is key. If you can do that in consulting, you’ll be successful because you need to see the problem the way it is, not the way people want it to be.”

Balancing all the travel has also taught Adam to truly maximize his day. “I commit to being wherever I am,” he says.

To Adam, travel time is definitely not dead time – it’s what we would call Adam is definitely alive time.

“Because I spend so much time on planes or in airports, I have to be really productive wherever I am. So, when I get in on the CTA in the blue line, it’s a 45-minute ride. I am not just going to do nothing. I will work for that 45 minutes.”

How does Adam maintain this motivation?

Having a goal to work toward certainly helps. I really want to get all of the skills and such that come with the business degree. I am just trying to learn as much as I can. Given that I have future pursuits of running a higher education institution, I know this degree will help me get there,” Adam shares

Besides school and applying Booth lessons, Adam appreciates what else is needed.

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

“It’s about time management. So, if I want to play golf, then in order to play golf, then I need to work an hour extra every day of the week and whatever else that means. I just accept there is a trade off for doing these things. But I don’t compromise my hours in the gym. Sleep is a given.”

So is Adam’s Saturday 7:15am workout before class.

“You have to take care of your body, because it’s brutal what I do to it. It’s really important to protect it,” he says.

When Adam has a break, he most enjoys getting to know the Booth community. To Adam, the people are the best part of Booth.

“It’s nice because everybody’s motivated. It takes a different kind of person to give up their Saturday. Everyone is giving up something that’s super precious, so you know everyone is serious about what they’re doing. I really do enjoy the Saturday lunch hour – whether it’s the clubs or meeting new people at lunch, it’s a nice time to be able to do that.”

Catherine Napier works at Northern Trust in wealth management, loves yoga, creating content on, and the peanuts at the Midway.


Taking Advantage of Local Perks

Klariza Alvaran, Class of 2019

Klariza Alvaran, Class of 2019

We receive many big city perks living, working, and studying in Chicago. One of those is being surrounded by major entities across professional industries. What’s more is that this allows us to partake in an even wider breadth of opportunities that can further our professional development and exploration beyond what Booth offers.

Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, non-profit executive, or marketing manager, there’s something going on somewhere in Chicago that may be worth checking out.  Below are some sources you can scour for events.

1. 1871 & Matter event calendars

If you think the start-up or venture capital life is in your future, you should be keeping tabs on the event listings at two of the leading start-up incubators in the city: 1871 and Matter. Chances are you’ve heard of 1871, which is home to accelerators, workspaces, and training programs geared toward tech-focused start-ups. Meanwhile, Matter is its healthcare-focused neighbor on the twelfth floor of the Merchandise Mart. Both host numerous events throughout the week for talks, trainings, and networking, many of which are also open to the public.

Recommended event:

A Conversation with "Millennial Mentor" Gerard Adams

Monday, Nov. 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1871 (222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th floor)

For more information, visit

2. Professional organization websites

Chicago and its surrounding suburbs happen to be home to a number of professional organizations, ranging from the American Marketing Association to the Society of Actuaries to the International College of Surgeons. That, and the fact Chicago is the big city in the Midwest, makes it a prime location for these associations to host events. Make it a point to check out the event calendars of professional organizations that align with your interests to be sure you don’t miss out.

Recommended event:

Build an Employee-Driven Content Marketing Strategy

Thursday, Nov. 3 – Friday Nov. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days at Summit Executive Center (205 North Michigan Avenue, 10th Floor)

For more information, visit,-IL.aspx

3. Searching Eventbrite

Everyone seems to be directing their RSVP’s to Eventbrite these days, which has turned the site into a comprehensive source of event listings for anything you may be into. It can also double as a catchall for many events you may have missed from the prior two suggestions. So when you’re not browsing Eventbrite to find free food tastings in the city, you can check for events and conferences that may give your career development a boost.

Recommended event:

Chi Hack Night

Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 6-10 p.m. (held weekly on most Tuesday nights)

For more information, visit

A friendly reminder

As MBA students with full-time jobs, we have to be mindful about how we allocate our time to avoid burnout. A good rule of thumb: if you feel like you should want to go an event, you probably shouldn’t because you had to go through the exercise of convincing yourself why you should want to go in the first place.


Klariza Alvaran works at and does freelance marketing. She enjoys writing sci-fi, crocheting hats, and making music.