NMSDC Conference sets out to Empower Minority Business Owners

Conference attendees got a chance to network and connect with over 700 exhibitors across major industry giants like  GE and Google.

Conference attendees got a chance to network and connect with over 700 exhibitors across major industry giants like  GE and Google.

The 2016 National Minority Supplier Development Council Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange was held at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, October 23-26. This annual event was the nation’s premier forum on minority supplier development. The conference, lasting four days, saw more than 6,000 corporate CEOs, procurement executives and supplier diversity professionals from the top multinational companies and international organizations, as well as leading Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American business owners. Attendees convened to re-energize their collective efforts to develop and advocate for more vigorous participation by minority-owned firms in global corporate supply chains.

The theme of this year’s NMSDC Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange was “Minority Supplier Development: Investing in the Future.” During the event, more than 20 educational seminar sessions and interactive workshops engaged attendees with details of the latest commercial advances, strategies and techniques to prepare for economic developments in the coming years.

 

NMSDC president, Joset Wright-Lacy, addresses the 1000’s of conference attendees during the opening reception on Sunday.

NMSDC president, Joset Wright-Lacy, addresses the 1000’s of conference attendees during the opening reception on Sunday.

The  one-day Business Opportunity Exchange had more than 700 exhibit booths and opportunities for establishing business-to-business ties. One of the highlights of the Conference was  the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency partnered with NMSDC to present Powered by MBDA, a cluster of learning sessions featuring the latest information and trends in federal procurement, international trade and technological innovation.

According to Joset Wright-Lacy, President of NMSDC, “The 2016 Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange will give forward-thinking corporate executives and minority business owners the tools to cope with shifting economic winds, and to take advantage of as-yet unimagined opportunities for commerce presented in the near – and more distant – future.”  Wright-Lacy also added that as the U.S. nears the point where minorities comprise greater than 50% of the population, the need for strong minority-owned businesses in national and global supply chains will be vital to the health of our economy

The economic impact generated by the Conference itself is considerable: $7.5 million total, including an estimate of more than $1 million in state and local taxes and 1,400+ jobs supported. A survey of last year’s Conference attendees show that 73% of the over 6,000 attendees spent more than $1,000 each in the Conference city.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members. NMSDC was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes. For more information about NMSDC, check out their website at  www.NMSDC.org.

 

Booth Women Connect Conference Challenges the Status quo

Showing  strong attendance and support,  over 900 women registered for the Booth Women Connect Conference.

Showing  strong attendance and support,  over 900 women registered for the Booth Women Connect Conference.

Booth Women Connect Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Mccormick on Thursday 10/27, proved to be a day filled with inspiration, collaboration, and camaraderie. Over 900 students, alums, and Booth affiliated women registered for this dynamic conference. The conference opened with a keynote address from Marianne Bertrand, a Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics. To a riveted sea of women, Bertrand addressed the topic of “breaking the glass ceiling” where she presented a number of her findings about women across business industries and the discrepancies between the genders in regards to treatment and salary. Bertrand's research encompasses economic, social, and psychological factors that account for the remaining underrepresentation of women in the top corporate echelons and the role of public policy in addressing this gender gap.

The conference offered a number of relevant and timely panel breakout sessions like  “Fine Tuning your Executive Presence” taught by Executive Coach Carol Vernon and “If I Knew what I Knew Now” which facilitated networking to discuss career advancement, building advocacy, and balancing career/family questions. Other panels included a student-only panel called “Mentorship vs. Sponsorship,” which touched on the difference between a mentor and a sponsor, the relative strengths of each of these types of relationships, and how to facilitate and maintain productive connections in both contexts. Anna Chaldysheva ‘17 said “I learned from the panel that at our career level many of our coworkers can be seen as mentors and that we should bring certain mentors to the forefront depending on our objectives and turn them into sponsors for our career growth.”

Many women took full advantage of the amazing networking opportunity the conference presented.  

Many women took full advantage of the amazing networking opportunity the conference presented.  

There was also an entrepreneurship panel called “Ready, Set, Go: Create Shape and Launch your Entrepreneurial Venture.” During this interactive panel, attendees were able to hear from current female entrepreneurs like Andi Hadisutjipto, ('16), Founder and CEO, Riviter, Andrea Sreshta, ('16), Cofounder, LuminAID, and Julia Carmona, ('13), and Lauren Katzberg, ('13), Cofounders, Stylisted. The panel addressed the entire life cycle on entrepreneurship including find a great idea, establishing a team, honing the elevator pitch, and finding the right investors. Women attending the panel were encouraged to network among each other as well to discover synergies and possible business partners.

The lunch keynote speaker was Julie Roehm, '95, SVP Strategic Relationships and Chief Storyteller at SAP. Her speech covered the art of storytelling in business and how to leverage messaging to build your company’s brand equity. She touched on the history of successful storytelling campaigns including Apple’s famous Macintosh Super Bowl commercial in 1984. Roehm emphasized the importance of compelling storytelling and simplicity of brand imaging in order to be successful in today’s consumer marketplace. She mentioned how people gravitate towards simplicity in such a complicated society and the brands that are winning understand this component. She mentioned brands like Uber, Airbnb, and Blue Apron as examples of brands that are making consumers lives more simple and convenient.

Booth Crushes it at the Ross Investment Competition

Proving that Booth students truly are a force to be reckoned with, Brett Bateman (’18), Wyan Yarbrough (’18), and Jack Zhao (‘18)  brought home a win, placing 1st  at the Ross Investment Competition. The competition on Oct. 14th was  hosted by American Century Investments. This year’s victory marks the third consecutive year that Booth has won this challenge.

The competition was held at the Michigan Ross School of Business and consisted of three-member teams from Tepper (Carnegie Mellon), Columbia, Johnson (Cornell), Sloan (MIT), Kellogg (Northwestern), Booth, Ross (Michigan), and Wharton (UPenn). The panel of judges included investment professionals from American Century Investments, Catalyst Capital, INCORE Capital Management, Thrivent Asset Management, Columbia Wanger Asset Management, and Wells Fargo Asset Management.

The stock pitch event consisted of two rounds:  each team presenting during the first round with the top three teams advancing to the final round. Teams were provided a list of companies ten days prior to the competition and were required to prepare two stock pitches, which could be either long or short.

Brett Bateman (’18), Wyan Yarbrough (’18), and Jack Zhao (‘18) brought home a 1st place win for Booth, annihilating the steep competition at this year’s Ross Investment Competition.

Brett Bateman (’18), Wyan Yarbrough (’18), and Jack Zhao (‘18) brought home a 1st place win for Booth, annihilating the steep competition at this year’s Ross Investment Competition.

For the competition, the Booth team chose to pitch long Dave & Buster’s (Nasdaq: PLAY) for the First Round and long Dollar Tree (Nasdaq: TREE) for the Final Round.

For Dave & Buster’s (Nasdaq: PLAY) predicted based on market analysis that national unit count can both exceed the Street and management’s expectations. Also, an improvement in same-store-sales (the driver of the Company's valuation) would result in newer, higher performing stores  added to the comparable base, which would drive both upwards earnings revisions and multiple expansion.

The team presented that Dollar Tree (Nasdaq: TREE) is a defensive business that, along with the broader brick-and-mortar retail landscape, has come under pressure recently. This sell-off has created an attractive entry point given that the core business continues to grow at a healthy rate while the Family Dollar integration offers a multi-year pathway for upwards revisions to earnings estimates. The team’s thesis continued that the  Dollar Tree has a high quality management team and they have a significant opportunity to create shareholder value from the under-managed Family Dollar. Based on the combined  points of  margin expansion, improving returns on invested capital, and upwards earnings revisions, the team predicted that this stock would out perform.

Jack Zhao told Chibus,“The time spent researching these two businesses was an exceptional learning experience.” Reflecting on the preparation for the competition Zhao added, “Our diligence included store visits, customer surveys, detailed financial modeling, and calls with management / industry professionals.”  The team said the experience was very rewarding and they are proud to have brought home a 1st place win for Booth.

 

Fogel Dinner Brings Diversity to the Table

Booth alum and current students came together for a night of celebrating diversity and inclusion during the Fogel Dinner 

Booth alum and current students came together for a night of celebrating diversity and inclusion during the Fogel Dinner 

On October 14th, a number of Booth students and faculty gathered for dinner in honor of celebrating diversity inspired by Nobel Laureate Robert Fogel. The annual dinner, in its 33rd year, was started by Professor Robert Fogel and his wife, Enid, who wanted to bring students of color together in an intimate setting at their home in Hyde Park. As an interracial couple in the 50s and 60s, the Fogels faced discrimination and a feeling of isolation from the community due to the racist views of the time period. Due to this adversity, the Fogels wanted to preach acceptance and inclusion within the University of Chicago community, which they valued greatly. Although Robert Fogel and his wife both passed away a number of years ago, the dinner tradition and the communal experience continues to live on.

 

Booth alumni also attended this dinner and were excited about connecting and networking with current students. During this year's dinner, the Head of Diversity at Booth,Jessica Jaggers, spoke about the importance of keeping the spirit of the Fogel Dinner alive. She also reflected on how our country is still striving for acceptance and tolerance of all types of people. The Interim Dean,

Douglas J. Skinner, also attended the dinner, which was hosted on the 6th floor of the Gleacher center. Among stunning city views, Dean Skinner spoke to the dinner attendees about the importance of diversity in business and Booth’s efforts to improve diversity in both the student body and faculty. He mentioned that it only enriches the classroom experience when there is a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and thinking. Fogel Dinner attendee and Booth 2nd year, Araba Nti, told ChiBus that the dinner was a great opportunity to catch up with fellow classmates and reflect on the memory of the Fogels, who were proponents of building relationships over good food and conversation.

In Photo from Left to Right: Alejandro Lozano, Elsa Rodriguez, Dan Patton, Wilther Merchan, Javier Rodriguez, Robert Weir, and Alda Lewis

In Photo from Left to Right: Alejandro Lozano, Elsa Rodriguez, Dan Patton, Wilther Merchan, Javier Rodriguez, Robert Weir, and Alda Lewis

Professor Robert Fogel, who passed away in 2013 at age of 86, used quantitative methods to explain economic and institutional change. His work often challenged conventional wisdom and was, at the time, controversial. His research showed that the economic impact of railroads in the 19th century was far less than generally assumed. Fogel was an active faculty member in Economics at Booth and joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1964, moved to Harvard in 1975, and returned in 1981 to the Chicago faculty, where he stayed for the rest of his career.




Connecting Outside the Booth Bubble

The Fall Postdoc Graduate Innovation mixer, held on October 12th at the Polsky Exchange, brought together students from many disciplines within the University of Chicago. ChiBus spoke with Mike Abrahamson, a 1st year at the Harris School of Public Policy, who said, “I came to this mixer because I’m interested in social entrepreneurship at the intersection of innovation and public policy.” Mike stated that he is interested in exploring possible collaborations with students from other programs and competing in SNVC. A number of students across the University from the Law School to the Medical School are interested in meeting and connecting with Booth students to build meaningful relationships and possible businesses through events like this.

Booth Students Jonathan Coffey 17’ and Kyle Mcandrew 18’ talk synergies and possible collaborations with University of Chicago post-doc Sarah Mcmellon

Booth Students Jonathan Coffey 17’ and Kyle Mcandrew 18’ talk synergies and possible collaborations with University of Chicago post-doc Sarah Mcmellon

 

The Postdoc Graduate mixer, offered each semester,  serves as an excellent opportunity to lay the groundwork for meaningful conversation and potential partnerships. Sparking inter-disciplinary collaborations is a real benefit of being a part of the larger community at the University of Chicago. So often we get entrenched within our own programs that we take for granted the diversity of expertise and thought leadership happening in other programs. Touching on the reasons he came to the mixer, Abrahamson added, “The diversity of knowledge is beneficial for all fields and it’s good to meet other people who are doing something different and interesting in a social setting and see if there are ways you can work together.” Jonathan Coffey, a Booth 2nd year who is also a Co-chair of EVC, confirmed that sentiment, mentioning that Booth students should take advantage of the wealth of resources and students outside of the Booth community. “Sometimes we put our head down and get bogged down by business school and don’t interact as much across departments and I think it’s important to network throughout the University and venture out.”  Kyle Mcandrews, a 1st year at Booth who also attended the event said he was excited to start working with a University of Chicago researcher he met while attending a Polsky Collaboration event last month. Mcandrews said, “It’s important to me to interact and make interesting connections across the University. I learn about a lot of cool opportunities that I may not have discovered if I didn’t attend events like this.”
 

The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs also hosted a mixer for graduate students and postdocs to connect and share their experiences across departments. OMSA mixer served as an opportunity to celebrate interdisciplinary diversity and allowed multicultural students to form relationships with other students who may be looking for support from the U of C community. OMSA, like the Polsky Exchange, hosts these interdisciplinary mixers throughout the year and organizers encourage students to get involved in the robust offerings.

Booth Students take on Business in India

“You have reached your destination,” the Emirates loudspeaker projected.  “Welcome to Bangalore.”  It was 4am and I was greeted by two classmates whom I had barely known before arriving in India to spend three weeks consulting with start-ups. But the flight attendant was wrong – the journey was just beginning.

A cacophony of sounds is the first thing that welcomes you to India: music playing in the streets, the relentless roar of traffic. Our first stop was tech hub Bengaluru, where the little army of eight of us – all members of the Booth class of 2017 – began our edition of BOOTHxINDIA, a student-led initiative to collaborate with start-ups across the globe.  There we teamed up with Porter, a logistics start-up focused on becoming the Uber for intra-city cargo delivery, and Oodi, a product design company specializing in integrated web and mobile app solutions for businesses.

Each of us began the journey from different places but had the same “destination” in mind. We wanted deeper insight into the challenges and opportunities that entrepreneurs faced in developing nations. What we quickly realized is that many of the modern approaches to building and scaling start-ups do not yet work in India. How do you scale a business when most of a company’s customers don’t even have an email address? What advice do you give to a company when they have to compete with businesses that give kickbacks to their customers?  As we dived deeper into India’s booming startup scene, we gained a richer understanding of these obstacles.

In New Delhi we partnered with Inficold, a company specializing in thermo-electric energy storage solutions, and Bira, one of India’s first craft brewers looking to expand into the US beer market.  Subsequently in Mumbai, we collaborated with thriving, venture-backed home healthcare provider Care24.  There we designed packages for critical disease management and constructed a pilot program for reducing insurance claims, learning the nuances of the Indian energy, food and beverage, and healthcare industries along the way.

BOOTHxINDIA was a tremendous experience to learn first-hand that being an entrepreneur meant navigating the detours -- protests in Bengaluru, chikungunya outbreaks in Delhi -- and building a path around them. We each boarded the plane back to Chicago with entirely new perspectives and an appreciation for what starting and scaling a business in an emerging market entails.

There’s a well-worn trope in literature where a scrappy band of individuals sets off on a journey, venturing into the unknown, and ends up learning more from one another than they had ever anticipated. We returned to Chicago having learned more from our classmates and from navigating the detours with them than we had ever anticipated, and with new clarity on why we call businesses “ventures.”

India, our adopted nation for those few weeks, is a country of contrasts. Luxurious hotels towering along the highway into New Delhi exist side by side with vast slums. What unites these contrasts, however, is the Indian people’s unwavering positivity and energy to build a better life. The people are what will take this country to new heights and make us want to come back, and we’re so grateful that BOOTHxINDIA gave us the opportunity to be a part of this.

 

Black Lives Matter at Booth

Dozens of University of Chicago Booth Students, dressed in black, gathered on Sept 23rd to support a cause that is stirring up the nation. Raising many questions about race and equality, the Black Lives Matter movement, founded by activists and sisters Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors, is a call to action and response to the current police brutality and killing of numerous African Americans. In many of these incidents the victims were unarmed and were not committing a crime when they were confronted by the cops. The Black Lives Matter campaign addresses the frustration and grief that many people feel about the violence and systemic racism toward black people.

Photo Caption: Just back from summer break, dozens of Booth students, organized by AAMBA and HABSA co-chairs, came out to support the Black Lives Matter initiative on Friday Sept 23rd.  

Photo Caption: Just back from summer break, dozens of Booth students, organized by AAMBA and HABSA co-chairs, came out to support the Black Lives Matter initiative on Friday Sept 23rd.

 

The Black Lives Matter movement is founded on a number of principals that welcome inclusion and diversity. The movement emphasizes the collective value and restorative justice, which can be seen in the diversity of people who come out to show support for communities and the significance of all lives. The Black Lives Matter movement really started to pick up steam and garner national attention after 18-year old Mike Brown was killed at the hands of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Hundreds of protesters from around the country came to Ferguson to proclaim Black Lives Matter and the world took notice.

The most recent police shootings of 43-year old Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte and 40-year old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa has sparked outrage and further highlights the tumultuous relationship between law enforcement and black men. In the Tulsa incident the Police officer Betty Shelby who killed the unarmed Crutcher, will face charges of first-degree manslaughter.  The Charlotte Police Department has not yet brought charges on the officer involved in the death of Keith Lamont Scott.

Top business schools across the country including Harvard, Columbia, NYU Stern, and Berkeley Haas are showing their collective support for the Black Lives Movement and mourning the loss of innocent lives by wearing black. Here at Chicago Booth, MBA co-chair, Antoinette King, helped organize dozens of Booth students to wear black and take a photo showing the country we care and want justice and equality for all. In an interview with ChiBus, King pointed out that last year she felt the Booth community was not vocal about the injustices and wanted to raise a dialog about the violence black people were facing across the country. “Last year it was heartbreaking to see how silent my classmates were about the instances of police violence happening all over the country. It was as if no one outside of the Black and Hispanic communities cared,”said King. King, who admits she has always loved Booth and is proud of the community was ecstatic to see the collective support on Friday.

“Seeing classmates and administrators show up and engage on Friday made me realize that this absolutely wasn't true. People do care.” proclaimed King. “They just didn't know how to approach the issue. So on Friday, when so many people pushed past their discomfort and showed support by wearing black it made me love the Booth community even more.”

Organizers of Booth’s Black Lives Matter support initiative hope that Friday’s dressing in black is just the start of a larger conversation about diversity and engagement within the Booth community.

 

School’s Out for the Summertime

Summer is finally here and many of the first year Boothies will be heading off to interesting internships around the world and in varied industries. ChiBus caught up with a couple of 1st years to get insight into their summer adventures and find out what’s eating your classmates.

ChiBus: Where are you headed this summer and what will you be doing?

Pratik Desai: I will be heading to the NYC area to work for Verizon as a Product Marketing intern.

Ziad Abouchadi: I will be interning at T. Rowe Price in their London office. I will be evaluating equity investments in emerging markets.

John Frame: I will be working in human resources at Reformation, a sustainable, environmentally conscious retail company in Los Angeles

ChiBus: What are you most excited about experiencing or learning this summer?

Pratik Desai: I'm excited about three things. First, I have the opportunity to learn more about the field of marketing outside of the classroom. Second, I'm excited to try out living in the NYC area for the first time. Third, as the only Boothie in my intern class, I'm excited to get to know some people outside of Booth. It's going to be an amazing summer!

Ziad Abouchadi: As a career switcher, I am excited about having the chance to work with and learn from top-notch managers.

John Frame: I am excited to understand how Human Resources is incorporated into a company's overall strategy.

ChiBus: What are you anxious about during the summer?

Pratik Desai: I don't have an anxiety. I'm eager to get my feet wet and have an amazing experience!

Ziad Abouchadi: I hear that the summer internships can be quite draining. I will try my best to manage my time well so that I have a chance to explore the city.

John Frame: I am not certain exactly what my project will entail. I'm eager to find out before I start on the first day

ChiBus: How do you feel about becoming a second year now?

Pratik Desai: I'd like to echo something my friend John Edwards told me at the MIT Sloan Conference this year when he said, "this time in our lives is quite fleeting. I just want to enjoy it as much as I can.”

Ziad Abouchadi: It doesn't feel real yet. I guess I need to see the new faces to realize that one year has already passed.

John Frame: I am honestly happy that ear one is over. It's been tough, but incredibly eye-opening. I am excited to take advantage of the leadership opportunities and all of the wisdom that comes with being a second year!

As 1st years gear up for their exciting summers, the Booth community says goodbye to the amazing 2nd years, who helped make the often overwhelming transition into business school enjoyable and way more manageable. Here at ChiBus, the editorial team wishes you good luck and grace in all your future endeavors.

A Celebration of Women at Booth

Connecting with other dynamic female Boothies was the main objective for the CWIB dinner, which had a strong turnout of both 1st and 2nd years. Photo: Marjorie Chelius.

Connecting with other dynamic female Boothies was the main objective for the CWIB dinner, which had a strong turnout of both 1st and 2nd years. Photo: Marjorie Chelius.

Last Thursday, the Chicago Women in Business (CWiB) held its annual Spring Dinner, a formal event that celebrates the women at Booth. The event opened with a cocktail reception and many group photos with the scenic views from Lincoln Park Zoo’s Cafe Brauer in the background. The women were seated shortly after for opening remarks from Dean Stacey Kole. Dean Kole gave a warm welcome to the CWiB members, noting how significant it was to have so many women in the room, for it was not so long ago that the gender ratio was much different.

Not only does Booth have better female representation today, with 42% of the Class of 2017 being women, but Dean Kole made sure to emphasize just how strong a presence our women have as leaders at Booth and in the greater Graduate School community, with KR Ling as outgoing Executive Graduate Business Council President and Elizabeth Gosselin as incoming President, with Katie Perri as outgoing Graduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees and Megan Beck as incoming Graduate Liaison, and with the outgoing CWiB Co-Chairs who maintained CWiB’s strong brand and launched an exciting new initiative, Common Chromosome, putting Booth at the forefront of addressing gender equity in a way that engages both women and men at Booth. The list of amazing women at Booth goes on and on.

New and former Co-Chairs of CWIB celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of their programming initiatives from this year. Photo: Junghoon Han

New and former Co-Chairs of CWIB celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of their programming initiatives from this year. Photo: Junghoon Han

While the event is certainly a celebration of women at Booth and the support system we have built for one another, it is also a subtle reminder that we are not quite there, that we must continue to encourage women to pursue MBAs, that we must work to ensure that we are equitably treated and fairly represented in our future positions. The new CWiB co-chairs understand that it is our responsibility to carry forth the work of past co-chairs and help to not only prepare women professionally for positions of leadership, but also to continue to foster dialogue with our classmates and our networks to figure out how to ensure that our successes are equal, that there is no discrepancy in pay between women and men, and that our biases are curbed to their greatest extent when we serve as managers and heads of organizations. In the past 10 weeks, we have seen just how much work it is to run CWiB from behind the scenes, and we thank Whitney Enright, Darcey O’Halloran, Nicole Lapka, Emily Low, Sarah Reinemann, and Marylynn Diallo for all that they did to shape our experience as members this past year. We are excited to see what the next year brings and what our futures hold, for our classmates have certainly proven that the women at Booth are destined to be great leaders. 

 

 

Booth Investment Club gets inside scoop on Berkshire Hathaway Written by Kurt Lyell '17

Investment Club members got an exclusive opportunity to witness the activity on the ground floor at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting.

Investment Club members got an exclusive opportunity to witness the activity on the ground floor at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting.

The Booth Investment Club embarked on a 7-hour road trip to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) annual shareholders meeting.

The annual meeting is known as the "Woodstock of Capitalists" and a place where investors come for reunions with friends and colleagues. It is also a sort of mecca journey for business school students. The event was held in the Omaha Convention Center, with approximate attendance of 40,000 according to Yahoo Finance.

Prior to the financial coverage, 2 hours of specialized and hilariously popular entertainment warmed up the audience. Entertainment included an animated cartoon skit spoofing the 80s movie Trading Places featuring Geico’s gecko as Eddie Murphy, and a showcase of Super Bowl-halftime-worthy commercials from BRK holdings and subsidiaries, including Coke, GEICO, Duracell, and others. Next, a video glorifying the construction of a wind farm, highlighting Mid-American Energy’s 3.6 billion dollar investment in an Iowa wind farm and a component of it’s 85-percent renewable energy by 2020 strategy. A comedy skit with cameo appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and, rumored crush of Charlie Munger, Jamie-Lee Curtis highlighted 92-year-old Charlie Munger as a Hollywood A-lister and ladies’ man while Buffet waits on hold with Arnold.

The 2-slide financial overview and 5-hour Q&A were webcast for the first time in BRK history. The event is special because of the incredible success of companies spanning decades and its founders’ value-oriented style of investing.  This investment style attracts financially conservative folks who tend to wear blue jeans and drive ordinary cars, yet hold multiple $200,000 plus shares of BRK (at the time of the conference, voting shares traded at $214,000). There is also the charm and wit of the two founders, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. Several in the audience take notes to try and catch the "Munger-isms", such as, "If you disagree with someone, you should be able to state their case better than they can. If you can do that, then you can effectively argue", or "Microeconomics is what we do; macroeconomics is what we put up with."  Buffet-ologists would remember one-liners such as Warren Buffet's "A full wallet is like a full bladder; when it gets too full you want to pee it away." or headline-grabbing comments about publically-traded company Valeant's troubles, calling Valeant a "Wall Street Scheme" whose business model is "Enormously Flawed". (Charlie Munger adds in his own succinct version, "Valeant was a sewer.") Booth students met several people including Whitney Tilson, Yahoo Finance's Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer, whom Jimmy followed with interest and became a source of humor on the drive home.

This trip was a bucket list item for many involved and the memories and friendships will last a lifetime. As founders Warren Buffet (age 84) and Charlie Munger (age 92) are advanced in age, the young clan of the Investment Club should have stories that will be rare in decades to come.

Attendees included: Investment Club co-chair and organizer John Milligan, Elsa Ng, Qi “Jennifer” Shi, Helen Huang, Pak "Jimmy" Wong, Charles "Chad" Miller, Qu "Emma" Xiao, Gongrou "Krystal" Zhu, Lei "Anderson" Dong, and Kurt Lyell.

The next Booth Investment Management Club event is to gather (May 24th at 9:15 PM at NBC/Gleacher) to watch the 1983 original Trading Places (noted to be one of Warren Buffett’s favorite movies); it will be the first viewing for many of the club.  Naturally, a healthy debate of heredity versus environment should ensue!

Kurt Lyell is currently taking his first course at Booth and the Investment Management Club trip to Omaha was his first official Booth Club event!

 

EMS: A Recap of Booth’s Largest Student-Run Conference

Emerging Markets Summit (EMS) was a pinnacle event that brought together influential players from around the world to engage with the Booth community. Toted as Booth’s largest student-run conference, The Emerging Market Summit was a huge undertaking that brought together a number of Booth groups including Chicago Women in Business, the Investment Management Club, and Middle East and North Africa Club. After strong promotions and word of mouth, EMS had a strong turn out of around 350 attendees. Some of the prominent speakers at the event included Tendai Biti, Former Finance Minister of Zimbabwe, Siva Yam, President of US-China Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of US-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, and Alfredo Moreno Charme, '82, Former Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile.

The emerging markets face a unique set of issues and opportunities and the EMS summit looked to address these factors during a number of panels. Broken into five tracks African, Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and MENA, the break out sessions allowed attendees to dive deep into topics about a certain region or jump around to different tracks that may interest them. This aspect of the Summit allowed for an omni-lens perspective and gave insight into potential synergies between countries like China and Zimbabwe. China was a big focal point of discussion as they are positioning to surpass the United States as the next big super power.  China’s private equity investing in U.S. and U.K. companies has become aggressive over the past 5 years, creating bidding wars with companies like Starwood and GE appliances getting stuck in the cross hairs. Also, China has been investing heavily in natural resources from African countries like Zimbabwe, which have some regional experts like Tendai Biti concerned that China is taking advantage and locking governments into damaging contracts.

During the lunchtime Global Roundtable a panel of female executives including  Graciela Cairoli, '82, Vice President of Capital Markets Argentina and Lamia Pardo, VP Global Strategy & Marketing, Pangea Money Transform, discussed the challenges and opportunities for women in emerging markets. On the panel, Pardo mentioned that today women are seeing more opportunities to work in competitive firms, whereas only 10 years ago many of these companies would not have hired women in certain roles. Evening in more developing economies like India, currently there are larger numbers of women than ever before going into entrepreneurial ventures and starting successful businesses.

Co-organizer of EMS, Oma Nwabudike told ChiBus, “The conference made me realize that people within the emerging markets face many of the same issues and can learn from each other.” She also added that for next year’s conference she would like to try to bring more local people representing certain regions to better understand their plights on a micro-level.  

Many of the attendees from the conference mentioned that their takeaway from EMS was the growth opportunities in private equity and entrepreneurship within the emerging markets.

Alexis Miller is a Booth first year who loves journalism, food blogging, and global travel. She is passionate about telling the stories of the Booth community.

 

Booth Soccer Takes the Tuck MBA World Cup By Michael Jacobs

Booth Soccer Club at the Tuck MBA World Cup where the team beat out serious competition from other top business schools and took home 1st place!

Booth Soccer Club at the Tuck MBA World Cup where the team beat out serious competition from other top business schools and took home 1st place!

The Booth Soccer Club repeated as champions of the Tuck MBA World Cup following a 3-1 championship victory over the tournament hosts, Tuck School of Business. First half goals from Danny Doyle (’17), Nelson Yan (’16), and Dominik Hertzler (’17) propelled the team to victory in the final, allowing Booth to retain the title as back-to-back champions.

Despite entering the tournament with only 14 players and the ‘reigning champions’ target on the team’s back, Booth prevailed creative attack and a rock-solid defense. Throughout the two tournament’s two days, Booth won six straight matches. Goalkeeper Guido Pagani (’16) only allowed one goal past him during the entirety of the tournament, keeping a clean sheet for more than the first 300 minutes of tournament play and saving two penalty kicks during a semi-final shootout. Group Stage wins over Yale, NYU, and Babson on Saturday, April 23 were followed by knockout stage victories over the Tuck Alumni, Cornell, and Tuck on Sunday, April 24.

This tournament wraps up a historic two years for the Booth Soccer Club. The Class of 2016 graduates with three separate tournament victories under their belts: the 2014 Anderson Soccer Cup along with the 2015 and 2016 Tuck MBA World Cups. Special Recognition goes to Yan and Julio Guzman (’16) for being members of all three winning teams. On the other side of the spectrum, Daniel Lozano (’16) played in his first tournament during his final opportunity. "Besides winning the tournament, sharing the weekend with an amazing group of people and a pool of very talented players was the best part of it. I wish I would have joined this awesome group earlier,” Lozano commented.

Check out the following Booth Soccer Club events this quarter: Booth vs Kellogg (May 14) and a 1Y/2Y game to see which class reigns supreme (May 22).

 

African-American MBA Association on its 31st Annual DuSable Conference

AAMBAA is currently preparing to host its signature event, the 31st Annual DuSable Conference: “Work Hard. Network Harder.” ChiBus recently sat down with conference co-chairs Kelly Henry ’16 and Kharay Kenyatta ‘16 to learn more about this conference and what makes it so special.

ChiBus: Why did you choose to focus on networking for this year’s conference? And what does “Work Hard. Network Harder.” mean to you?

Kharay: I saw the value of networking firsthand throughout my career before Booth and even here I’ve noticed that some of the best opportunities I’ve had have been because of connections I’ve made. I get the impression though that many Boothies would rather be in a spreadsheet than out networking in person. However, when we get to our post-MBA roles it’ll be incredibly important to know how to exert the power we do have because at the end of the day, if you’re not getting the right exposure your hard work won’t necessarily get you where you want to be. Your network is a differentiator.

 

Kelly: When looking at “performance, image, and exposure” you find that exposure is the most important factor for getting ahead and networking helps you achieve the necessary exposure for personal and professional advancement.

ChiBus: Who is the conference geared toward?

Kharay: Anybody! We’ve purposely included speakers and panelists from different professional backgrounds so that attendees can spot trends within and across industries.

AAMBAA Co-chair Kharay Kenyatta '16

AAMBAA Co-chair Kharay Kenyatta '16

AAMBAA co-chair Kelly Henry '16 

AAMBAA co-chair Kelly Henry '16 

Kelly: DuSable is held during Booth Alumni weekend intentionally. We target current students, alums, and prospective students. We also have a strong track record of attracting high level executives who want to give back to Booth and meet current talent. There’s a misperception that DuSable is for Black people but I feel like that’s largely because people like to network in circles of comfort. DuSable has such industry and attendee diversity that it forces you to network past that--which is a great thing because it grants exposure that most other conferences cannot. DuSable really is for everyone!

Chibus: What makes the DuSable conference unique from other conferences?

Kelly: The fact that it draws such a mixed crowd: alumni, prospective, and current students and the fact that it’s not industry specific.

Kharay: The fact that the theme changes annually and is universally applicable so attendees gain value from every speaker. It’s one of few conferences to have speakers that range from 28 to 66 years old and everything in between. Attendees will connect with professionals fresh out of school who can identify with their situation, as well as hear from people who have been working for decades and can guide your long term perspective.

ChiBus: Thank you Kelly & Kharay for sitting down to speak with us and good luck on what sounds like it will be a phenomenal conference!

After this interview ChiBus was curious about what others had to say about networking and we did a little research of our own. One Business Insider article we found states "The New York Times reports that companies like Ernst & Young emphasize referral-based hiring. Last year (2013), 45% of non-entry-level placements at the professional services giant came from referrals, a jump from the 28% in 2010."[1] Further, in a recent Ted Talk prominent American sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis expounded that the architecture of one’s network has a profound on their life experience.[2]

With that in mind it seems like the DuSable conference might be on to something afterall. Check it out Saturday, May 14th at Gleacher.

[1] Baer, Drake. "Who You Know Is Even More Important Than You Realize."Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 07 Apr. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

[2] "The Hidden Influence of Social Networks." Nicholas Christakis:. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

 

Booth Rugby Defeats Duke, Tuck at MBA World Cup By Peter Estridge

Booth Rugby Team at the MBA World Cup hosted at Duke in Danville, Virginia 

Booth Rugby Team at the MBA World Cup hosted at Duke in Danville, Virginia 

      The Chicago Booth Rugby Club recorded a best-ever finish in the MBA Rugby World Cup hosted by Duke on April 9-10 in Danville, Virginia.  After initially losing close matches in the pool phase against HBS and University College Dublin, the team bounced back to defeat Duke 24-10 and secured the club’s place in the top 50% of entrants in the tournament for the first time in Chicago Booth’s history.  The team started elimination play strong by defeating Tuck 19-7, but lost 13-10 in a scrappy rematch with University College Dublin.  Chicago Booth recorded the 4th best performance by an American team and came in 7th out of 16 total clubs.  On-field highlights include 2nd year center David Tune breaking 7 tackles on his way to a 40 meter run; a full-team goal line defensive stand to deny Duke a score despite 17 straight runs at the try zone by their opponents; and ironman 2nd year Brad Hemmick playing every minute of every game.  Tries were scored by James Jenkins, Pete Estridge, Marland Hobbs, David Liu, Ernesto Santiago, Jimmy Goodwin, and Isaac Song, with Dan O’Brien kicking penalties and conversions.

 

The team’s performance represents a big step forward for the club, and is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that Booth’s rugby team has only been in existence since 2013.  Booth Rugby has shown consistent progress in recent seasons, with this year’s finish being an improvement over last year’s winning of the “Plunger Trophy” — which one can find prominently displayed in the Harper Study Lounge right next to the Nobel Laureates.  “Booth’s never seen a team like this,” says alumnus and former team captain Dan Cavanaugh ‘15. “None of the opponents that we played were expecting to see a [Booth] team this strong.  I'm proud to see that momentum and it’s great to see our club cement itself as a team to be feared.  MBA rugby has a very strong history – some clubs have been active for almost fifty years – and I'm more excited than ever about the future of Booth Rugby.”

 

The 2015-16 team has worked hard to advance the club’s skill and reputation, beginning with a recruiting effort focused on engaging students who had never played the sport before. “It’s great to have a core of a few experienced players,” says outgoing co-chair and token Englishman James Jenkins, “but here in the colonies the sport just hasn’t reached that status in terms of popularity.  The majority of our players started the year with no experience.  With two tournaments under our belt, however, we’re really starting to click.”  The team’s last game of the season will be an away match versus Kellogg on May 21st, with buses available to take fans directly to the field from the Loop neighborhood.  Booth Rugby is looking forward to capitalizing on the momentum of their World Cup performance and sending the graduating 2nd years off with a big win against their crosstown rivals.

Pete Estridge is a first-year student at Chicago Booth. He wants to build a wall around Evanston and make Kellogg pay for it.

Fashion Forward Adds Style and Innovation to the MBA Experience

Retail and Luxury Group Co-chairs Anna Pon '17 and Patrick Yan 16' looking stylish at the 1st Annual Fashion Forward Conference 

Retail and Luxury Group Co-chairs Anna Pon '17 and Patrick Yan 16' looking stylish at the 1st Annual Fashion Forward Conference 

Stylish, while at the same time engaging, the Fashion Forward Conference hosted by Booth’s Retail and Luxury Group brought out a diverse group of industry players, who are disrupting the fashion and retail ecosystem. A panel filled with both entrepreneurs like ZipFit CEO, Liz Tilatti, and Founder and Creative Director of Fischer Voyage, Steven Fischer, touched on how retailers are shifting their strategies based on a new consumer consciousness.  This conscious consumer expects more from brands than in the past. They addressed how consumers demand transparency in categories where traditional business practices were opaque.

Fischer, who also teaches a course on the luxury and fashion industry at Northwestern, confessed during the panel that aspirational consumers are “bored” with the current offerings in the market and are looking for brands that connect on a more authentic level.  Fischer Voyage makes luxury American-made leather bags that are priced at nearly $10,000. The bags and leather belts are sold in the UK department store, Bergdorf Goodman, and Fischer says many Voyage sales come from one on one referrals. While Fischer Voyage has done very little traditional marketing, the pricey travel bags have received significant national media attention and flourished under a sense of exclusivity that Fischer says he hopes to maintain.

Steven Fischer, Founder of Fischer Voyage,  and RAL Co-Chair Kamaria Campbell 17' 

Steven Fischer, Founder of Fischer Voyage,  and RAL Co-Chair Kamaria Campbell 17' 

After past years of dormancy, the Retail and Luxury Group is in full swing this year, with a retail trek to New York City and the sold out Fashion Forward event, highlighting their resurgence. Hosted on the 6th floor of the Gleacher Center, the Fashion Forward ambiance boasted panoramic views of downtown Chicago and showcased attendees’ unique style including spotting a Givenchy Bambi and Female Form Print sweater and floral patterns with lace. Yet, fashion and consumer trends weren’t the only focal points of this event, but also the trend towards the fashion industry embracing MBAs. Patrick Yan, Booth 16’, and outgoing Co-chair of RAL, told ChiBus “More retail and fashion companies are recognizing the value of the MBA and we hope to bring these recruiters to Booth students, who are looking to break into this space.” Yan also mentioned that he encourages his classmates to experience the industry through as many channels as possible including internships and volunteering at fashion industry events in order to really understand what it’s like working in this competitive space.

Addressing how technology and analytics are impacting the retail industry, a panel including retail tech expert Jose Chan, Mike LaVitola, Founder and CEO of Foxtrot, Jan Seale, Senior Director of Sales at Trunk Club, and Stephen Walmsley, SVP at Kohl’s, emphasized the importance of building an omni-channel and on-demand operations in retail. As technology enables consumers more flexibility around the purchase process retailers must acclimate to the demand through innovative product experiences and delivery.

Alexis Miler is a first year MBA at Booth with a passion for entertainment, media, blogging, and cooking.

The Open House Series Opens Dialogue about Gender Inequality

Pretty Quick CEO, Coco Meers, kicks of the CWIB Open House Series 

Pretty Quick CEO, Coco Meers, kicks of the CWIB Open House Series 

With over 40 percent of Booth’s 1st year class being female, the Chicago Women in Business club is making sure that population is supported both in their careers and personal lives. CWIB sponsored a week-long Open House event that was established last year by the club’s Co-chairs, who hoped it would become an annual event. The goal of the Open House series is to build awareness and spark conversation around gender, progressive roles and modern leadership in the workplace. The organizers hope the series helps equip Booth students with the tools they need to face leadership and managerial opportunities in their careers.

Gender norms, like “women should make less than men and take care of domestic responsibilities or men should not be able to take parental leave,” are causing gender inequality in the workplace. The Open House series highlighted the findings from leading research as well as spotlighted dynamic speakers, who touched on issues around systemic, policy, and social norms that impact gender parity.

 

The CEO of Pretty Quick, Coco Meers, kicked off the week. In the workshop titled “Bringing the Glass Ceiling from Home to Work”, Professor Emir Kamenica analyzed the impact of these gender identity norms on both personal and professional lives of women. His research uncovered some surprising insights about the way men view intelligent women and how making more than your male spouse may cause strife in the relationship.  Research shows in a dating context educated men like women, who are intelligent and ambitious, but these women become less desirable to men if she is perceived to be as bright or smarter than the man.  In regards to marriage, Professor Kamenica found that in situations where the woman makes more than her husband, she tries to overcompensate on domestic chores, like spending more time washing the dishes. Also, data showed there are more divorces in marriages, where the wife out earns the man. Additionally, findings show that a percentage of women do not reach their potential career advancement because they may take on less work hours or pass up high profile projects that take time away from their families. Balancing career and family can be challenging for both men and women, so many companies are offering alternative working arrangements like working remotely or share-roles to give their employees flexibility.

Professor Kamenica captivates the audience with some startling findings on gender inequality. 

Professor Kamenica captivates the audience with some startling findings on gender inequality. 

In addition to the Open House Series, CWIB launched the Common Chromosome - a platform that gives everyone in the Booth community a forum to be involved in the advancement of gender parity.  This initiative is geared towards helping promote an attitude of inclusivity and inspire current and future leaders through a series of special guest lectures, discussions, awareness campaigns, and blogs. Co-chair of CWIB Andrea Mcpike told ChiBus “Common Chromosome works to equip the entire community at Booth with the ability to engage as change agents, working toward inclusion and the equal treatment of the genders.”

Could Iran be the Next Emerging Market?

60 percent of University students in Iran are female, showcasing a surge in educated young people 

60 percent of University students in Iran are female, showcasing a surge in educated young people 

Booth Emerging Markets Summit is fast approaching and one of the noteworthy panels of the summit is “Conducting Business in Iran”. The event, which is held on April 30th, promises to be unique among top ranked MBA programs, as it will be the first at a major American business school to openly discuss investment and business opportunities in what was previously an off-limits market. To explore these opportunities, we are bringing panelists such as the IMF senior economist working on Iran and an American startup founder trying to enter the Iranian pharmaceutical market to the Harper Center for a discussion on what it means to enter the Iranian market as the country re-enters the global economy. As a fellow Iranian Boothie, here are my thoughts on the topic and your “Iran as an emerging market” 101 overview:

Post-sanctions Iran is projected to be the world’s biggest emerging market for years to come. The crippling international sanctions were lifted in January 2016, following Iran’s verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had completed the necessary steps that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful.

The nuclear deal with Iran will open up the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest natural gas reserves, along with an outdated energy sector that will require hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment. But it is not just Iran’s energy sector or its vast natural resources that has excited Western business leaders. The deal could also open up Iran’s underserved population of 77 million to multinationals and smaller businesses.

Unlike other oil producing countries in the Middle East, Iran’s economy is much more diverse. Iran has a strong agricultural export sector as well as a potentially lucrative auto sector. For instance, Iran’s pistachio industry competes directly with the US to dominate the world market. Moreover, Iran’s demographics are promising; Not only is the majority of the population under 35 years of age, but the labor force is highly skilled: Iran’s a literacy rate is 98%, and women now make up more than 60% of the university population. Moreover, the country’s 2,500 year old history and untapped tourism potential has made Iran one of the most talked about tourist destinations.

Iran’s recent elections were another promising sign for the strengthening of the country’s moderate faction who are eager to steer Iran towards the global economy. Despite this progress, however, several major problems loom on the horizon. An economic system largely controlled by state institutions remains in place, while corruption and nepotism present enormous challenges for many foreign firms looking to enter the market. Also, Iran’s domestic political system remains fragile and in the event that Iran does not hold up its end of the nuclear deal, international sanctions could snap back in place, isolating the economy once again. As one commentator has noted, the central question that remains unanswered is whether this will be a Deng Xiaoping moment – in other words, will the Iranian government use this opportunity to open up to the world and integrate into the global economy, or will it close up once again?  

The Chicago Booth Emerging Markets Summit will be covering this topic and many more in depth. Please join us at the conference on April 30th, and visit groups.chicagobooth.edu/ems to learn more.

Hoda Gerami Booth'16 is a contributing writer for ChiBus and has both visited and studied the culture and economics of Iran. 

Is Tech a Viable Space for Female Entrepreneurs? Techstars Says Yes.

In an effort to continue to drive the diversity conversation forward, and to better serve the needs of the Chicago entrepreneurial community, Techstars hosted a dynamic Women Entrepreneur Panel in March. The turnout was substantial with many students from the Booth community showing their support. Established in 2007, Techstars founded by David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown and Jared Polis, is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator that holds 13-week programs for startups in various cities across the country. The Chicago based office located in 1871, holds workshops and panels that are open to the public. The Women Entrepreneur Panel featured Techstar alums Sharon Schneider (MoxieJean),  Desiree Vargas Wrigley (GiveForward), Lina Pakrosnyte (UrbanLeash) and Stella Garber (FeeFighters)  and Jimmy Odom (WeDeliver), along with Techstars mentor and Senior Associate at MATH Ventures, Samara Mejia.

 

During the panel, the Techstars alums also shared advice on how to get into the super competitive accelerator that has been considered one of the top accelerator programs in the world. With a fewer then 1% acceptance rate, Techstars has received thousands of applications over the years, but has only accepted around 526 companies since its inception. The program selects ten companies each summer to participate in the three-month program in which they build connections and accelerate their business. The program culminates in Demo Day at the end of the program with the companies showcasing their progress to more than 500 angel and venture investors from around the country.

 

Techstars alum, Jimmy Odom, whose company WeDeliver recently got acquired by Grubhub for an undisclosed amount, spoke on the panel about diversity in entrepreneurship and how crucial it is for women to get involved in the conversation. Odom said “Women and minorities and significantly underrepresented in Silicon Valley and as Chicago grows as a startup scene, it is important that accelerators like TechStars push for diversity.”

 

The women on the panel took questions from the audience that ranged from; how did they balance their startups with their personal obligations to how did they navigate the politics or obstacles in a male dominated industry. Conversation got emotional as one audience member shared with the panel that she was getting harassed in her male-dominated work environment and wanted tools to help her branch off to her own business.

 

Tech startups aren’t the only sector seeing a lack of diversity. The average percentage of women working in the tech industry is 30%, based on diversity reports published by 11 of the world’s largest tech companies in 2015. In comparison, women make up 59 percent of the US labor force and almost 51 percent of the US population, according to the US Census Bureau. One of the main points stressed on the panel was that more women should venture into the booming tech industry and learn to code, develop applications, and take on challenging tech projects that could give them exposure at work. As Sharon Schneider founder of MoxieJean mentioned during the panel, “Women have an opportunity to make a big impact on the tech sector, both as entrepreneurs and within larger [tech] companies, but startups are a great place to break the rules and crush stereotypes.”

 

Thinking Out of the Box: Booth Design Thinking Club Takes Home a Big Win

First-year students Samantha Set, Michael Cheng, Lizzie Pine, Katarina Lackner, and Yoni Sarason took home the Rotman Design Challenge 1st Place.

First-year students Samantha Set, Michael Cheng, Lizzie Pine, Katarina Lackner, and Yoni Sarason took home the Rotman Design Challenge 1st Place.

Booth’s Design Thinking Club, in its first year of establishment, crushed the competition in the prestigious Rotman Design Challenge. Hosted at the University of Toronto's Business School, the Booth team consisting of Samantha Set, Michael Cheng, Lizzie Pine, Katarina Lackner, and Yoni Sarason were tasked with tackling a large and ambiguous problem using the design process. The challenge was to create a solution that is first desirable from the user perspective, then technologically feasible and financially viable. Despite competing against business programs that focus more on design, the Booth team held their ground and took home first place in this competition sponsored by Fidelity Investments.

 

The case for the challenge centered on issues around wealth inheritance, student loan debt, and financial opportunity. As the team wrestled with the initial questions and researched some of the large economic shifts, they uncovered the emergence of the freelance economy. When we coupled this with the fact that Fidelity is the largest provider of retirement and investment workplace benefits, the question became, "what does the future of workplace benefits look like for people without a traditional workplace?" The team was able to successfully merge the data-driven approach of Booth with human-centered design.

First-year students Samantha Set, Michael Cheng, Lizzie Pine, Katarina Lackner, and Yoni Sarason combined to form the Winning Booth team that took home the Rotman Design Challenge 1st Place.

First-year students Samantha Set, Michael Cheng, Lizzie Pine, Katarina Lackner, and Yoni Sarason combined to form the Winning Booth team that took home the Rotman Design Challenge 1st Place.

 

Innovating has become an integral part of creation in the corporate sector as more companies across industries realize in order to stay competitive businesses have to think out of the box. Business schools, including Booth, are catching on to this trend and implementing Design Thinking Clubs. Design thinking is an approach to problem solving that dates back to an idea called 'human factors.' ‘Human factors’ posits that since humans will be the end users of a product, how might we understand how humans actually interact with the environment in order to better understand their needs, when creating products and services. Where the traditional MBA problem solving approach is deductive, orderly, and logical, design thinking is an inductive process that is iterative and often messy. Design thinking has now become a popular approach to solving complex, ambiguous problems through innovation. A number of consulting firms are operating in this space as well as increasingly  in-house shops at major corporations.

 

Booth’s Design Thinking Club was officially established in October 2015, by a combination of 1st and 2nd year students including Yoni Sarason, Polly Grube, Mukund Multani, Lizzie Pine, and Katarina Lackner. The club was established to help students navigate a potential career in the highly competitive industry of design thinking and introduce classmates to the firms that foster this methodology.  After taking the User-Centered Design for Entrepreneurs course, co-taught by Waverly Deustch, Lindsey Lyman and Hugh Musick, some of the Booth cofounders of the Design Thinking Club utilized this course as a framework. Yoni Sarason told ChiBus “I got really interested in the space and focused my recruiting efforts on firms providing innovation consulting from this design-centric perspective.”

 

This year, the club has brought design-consulting firms, IDEO and Doblin, to campus for corporate conversations, which both events had a strong turnout.  They also held a webinar focused on finding customer needs with Teri Hoffman ('15) from Innosight, held a workshop on using the business model canvas hosted by Business Models, Inc., and conducted a session on ethnographic research. The club hopes to bring more opportunities to experience the design thinking process and meet the firms in the field. They also plan to partner more with the Chicago Innovation Exchange, which has hosted workshops in the past in design thinking, and eventually create curricular opportunities for students.

Alexis Miller is a 1st Year at Booth with a passion for entertainment, media, blogging, and cooking.

 

 

 

Booth Dominates Against Oxford in Global PE Challenge

Adding to our global footprint and representing Booth as true contenders in the first annual Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge, The Booth team consisting of Andrew Alexander, Bradley Powell, Michael Eisinger, Michael Vander Roest, and Ed White, took home a resounding win. The competition put together in association with the University of Oxford’s Private Equity Institute and the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, took place in Oxford. The teams pitched their final proposals to a committee comprised of Chicago Booth and Oxford alumni. To prepare for the extrodinary win, Andrew Alexander from the Booth team said his group “reviewed the list of companies provided and dug in on a few of those we found most interesting to ultimately select Planet Fitness as the company we would propose.” The group then performed due diligence and spoke with members of the Booth community including resident PE advisor, Chris Mcgowan, to get specific company and industry insights.

Alexander told ChiBus that the group faced three primary challenges on the road to success. He said the competition from Oxford was very strong. Their team had competed in the Wharton Buyout Competition the previous week in New York City and took first place among a group of 26 schools. Also the Booth team’s proposal had a complicated tax aspect as a result of the company they selected. Alexander admitted “ We are all far from experts on this topic so we connected with Professor Merle Erickson and other advisors to be as informed on the point as we could be.” Clearly seeking counsel paid off, as Alexander said, the judges really dug into the material and asked the group difficult, pointed questions that simulated a real investment committee.

The challenge was a great opportunity for the Booth team to learn more about private equity from some of the most innovative thought leaders in the space. Andreas Angelopoulos, a Booth alum and current Oxford Said professor, coordinated a compelling three-day forum around the challenge. They heard from impressive speakers, participated in several real-world training modules, and were able to network with senior professionals in the field. Additionally, they got to really experience the historic Oxford University. The team slept in dorms, ate in Harry Potter-esque dining halls, and toured many of the famed buildings and colleges of the University. Alexander added, “The camaraderie with the Oxford students was great. We definitely saw the inside of a few of their pubs.”