IRL with Jon Dana

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

Catherine Frances Napier (CFN), Class of 2018

One huge benefit of the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs is that you can immediately apply the lessons you learn in class to your workplace or “in real life” (affectionately abbreviated as “IRL”). In this column, we will celebrate the lessons students learn in class and how they apply them IRL. Do you have an a story that has inspired you? Feel free to write to me – your affectionate writer, known as CFN – at cnapier@chicagobooth.edu.

In our inaugural feature, a new student took lessons from LAUNCH - the official “first day” for students in the  Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs - and immediately applied them to his workplace. Jon Dana (‘18) felt so inspired by the lessons learned at LAUNCH, that he actually used the lessons to inspire change in his workplace.

During the Case Challenge presentation, Jon worked on the assignment that dealt with a startup trying to preserve its culture. It turns out, Jon is in the exact situation “IRL”. Using the lessons from LAUNCH’s public speaking session and inspired by his Case Challenge work (including discussing the situation with a judge who works in guiding companies through this transition), Jon bravely addressed the culture preservation issue with his top management.

Similar to the Case Challenge experience, the “real life” situation didn’t go as planned (the Case’s mock judges interrupted us to talk about tickets, and Jon’s CFO was late to the meeting). Nonetheless, Jon didn’t miss a beat.

Using LAUNCH’s public speaking guidance on listing a Point of View, Action, and Benefits, Jon compiled a presentation that was concise and clear. “If I hadn’t been planning to use this format, the whole conversation would have been jumbled and confusing - maybe even a little offensive to the owners. We had some great ideas, but we needed to get them across concisely in less than 30 minutes.”

Jon Dana ('18) was able to take his LAUNCH lessons straight to the office

Jon Dana ('18) was able to take his LAUNCH lessons straight to the office

Jon elaborates, “We learned at LAUNCH that we needed to be flexible and go with the flow. That's why I was adamant about having a very simple opening statement and very simple objectives - that let us go with the flow and have discussions while also getting our point across. We found that having all of the details in our 'back pocket' was critical.  We had to be prepared, but we needed to only bring up the high level points.”

The company was so impressed with the conversation that management committed to Jon’s request for action items. ”The view was that we were well thought out and we were taking charge of something that we are passionate about,” Jon says. “Our CFO came back to the office later in the day and thanked us for the conversation.”

The lessons Jon learned before Booth even started have already positively impacted his career. “I can honestly say that the conversation would not have been as effective and may have even been detrimental if it wasn't for the case study we did during LAUNCH,” Jon affirms.

As his CFO did, we’d like to thank Jon for this conversation. Before Booth Day 1, he has already inspired positive change.