Most of us in the Weekend program end up spending multiple hours in and out of airport terminals. Often we run into other Boothies, similarly crazy to undertake a ‘weekend’ pilgrimage. Every now and then we meet curious co-passengers, perplexed at seeing a handful of people skimming through lecture notes.
Not too long ago one of these co-passengers turned out be someone who had served time in trenches same as ours.
After noticing a middle aged man staring my way, and unsure why, I managed to give him a toothless smile accompanied with a nod. My way of letting him know that I was aware of his gaze. He responded back with a smile and a question, “so, what you reading?”
“Notes on Portfolio Management,” I attempted replying in a manner to not come across as the educated show-off that MBAs often get blamed for being.
“Still talking about efficient markets?” our friend asked.
“You have a different view?,” I asked. At the time, I was still recovering from having been on a recent trip, and thus debating with an airline co-passenger who was convinced about how theorists have spoilt the ‘art of stock picking’ was something I certainly didn’t want at 5:00 in the morning.
With a smile on his cheery facade, the stranger walked up and sat down next to me. Pointing at my paper folder which bore Chicago’s Phoenix, he said, ‘I was at GSB in early 90s’. Great ! An alum, I thought to myself.
“Ah, good to meet you. I can see why you’d be scared while defending the efficient markets,” I said. “Not scared, just fond memories.” he chuckled; “I don’t want to forget where I came from.”
We soon started chatting about, among other things, the academic strength of the program, the benefit of being a ‘midwestern’ global school and the winters in Chicago. After he’d called me (and by that virtue all others) ‘absolutely crazy’ a few times for flying in every week for classes, I asked him about what all recalled from his days as a GSB student.
“Here’s my short list,” he said with a grin on his face.
“Don’t train with a job in mind- it won’t be the same in a few years anyways,” he said, sounding prophetic. I could see why he’d say this. It made sense. He continued, “The only thing you’ll look back at your experience at school and wish you had done more, would be getting to know people.” Again, an area that I personally wanted to invest more of my time in also. “Don’t be scared at not knowing answers. A fancy education makes you scared to admit, but don’t delay accepting facts.”
I have to confess that the list entries above have been somewhat paraphrased of what I remember him saying (I wasn’t taking notes much as some might be dismayed). I’d thought about capturing this conversation and writing to the wider Booth student groups. Not sure if all agree with what he said, but my early morning Tall Americano, coupled with this conversation had the desired effect and I was wide awake. Had there not been an announcement for the boarding to commence, I was sure that I’d have managed to get a few more additions to his list. But for now, this was looking like a good start to a day of classes.
Gaurav Chhibbar, is a student in the Weekend MBA program and will finish 11 courses by start of Summer '18. Gaurav is a Commodity Trader by profession and has worked for over 7 years at Cargill's offices across Asia and the US.