Lessons in Lead(HER)ship

You have probably heard the term leadership many times throughout your Booth experience, but how about Lead(HER)ship?  In 2019, Booth’s Leadership Development Office launched a brand new leadership program for first-year women designed to equip them with an elevated sense of self, enhanced leadership identity, and strengthened community network in preparation for their summer experiences and beyond.

The genesis of the program began when the Leadership Development Office recognized a gap in programming tailored toward women’s leadership at Booth. Katie O’Malley, Senior Associate Director of Leadership Development, felt empowered to fill that gap so she created a program to address the needs of first-year women. For O’Malley, it was important for the program to address how women connect with one another, and how they can remove power differentials that occur in the workplace; thus, she built out a program in which these first-year women could build a sustained community over these shared experiences, while also supporting their upcoming summer internship experience. The program is comprised of three modules and two small-group coaching sessions. The three venues for each of the modules were mindfully selected, with the intent to meet a female owned and operated businesses or where that was not possible, being thoughtful about the space that was selected.

Booth 1Y Lead(HER)ship participants at evolveHer

Booth 1Y Lead(HER)ship participants at evolveHer

The first session took place at evolveHer, a female owned and operated co-working space, where participants focused on understanding and promoting their own top strengths via the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment. Women were placed into small groups based on complementary strengths in order to foster a sense of admiration in the strengths of others within the community. Furthermore, the first-years participated in hands-on interactions in which they could explore their strengths as a group, and had the opportunity to self-reflect upon these strengths as well. During this session, participants were encouraged to focus on developing and celebrating their strengths in order to become more excellent at those characteristics (rather than focusing on perceived deficiencies). In addition, the women were educated on the differences between self-care and squad-care, learning that the encouragement of a community/squad elevates can provide care without the pressure and burden to be self-reliant as is proposed by the self-care mentality.

The second session took place at the official practice rink of the Chicago Blackhawks, MB Ice Arena, where they discussed the role gender bias plays in the workplace, particularly around hiring, feedback and performance evaluations. Although MB Ice Arena is not women-owned and operated, hockey is considered by many to be a male-dominated sport. Given the venue, it was only appropriate that participants ponder the question of how a male-dominated environment impacts how women give feedback to one another. The women tried their hand at ice skating, played broomball and even got to tour the Blackhawks locker room. The women also reviewed their 360 Feedback results previously received back in the fall to determine whether gender biases crept into any feedback received, discerning whether said feedback was biased or unbiased. In their post-session small group coaching session, the women debriefed on the experience, complimented each other’s strengths and provided bias-free feedback.

The last session will be held at Revolution Brewing, where each small group will showcase a 7-8 minute presentation to share about what it is unique, brilliant and strong about each of the women in the group. This synthesis event is intended to leave the participating first-year women feeling confident and supported going into their summer internships. The Ink Factory, a visual notetaking firm, will be present to capture the presentations in an artistic mural. Participants will receive a tour of the facility by female brewers and will close out the session with a frosty-beverage laden celebration. Participants will enjoy a couple of kegs of one of Revolution Brewing’s Spirit of Revolt, a special-edition beer brewed each year by the female brewers of Revolution Brewing.

Although this is the inaugural year of Lead(HER)ship, O’Malley would love to see the program expand in future years, hoping to have as many participants as the program can accommodate for. For any questions about the program, please reach out to leadership.development@chicagobooth.edu.

The language of music speaks to the soul

If you're at the Battle of the Bands on May 10th, there's a moment I want you to look out for: it's in first few seconds when the musicians walk on stage, plug in their instruments, and launch into the opening song. Imagine the feeling you have when a childhood friend's name unexpectedly appears as an incoming call on your phone screen. Or that rush you get when standing up to deliver the opening words of a speech. And the thrill of seeing someone special walk through the door to join you on a first date.

Amplify it by an order of magnitude: that's the experience each of your classmates will have when they walk through the backdoors of the green room and step onto the stage this Friday night. It's like creaking open the door to another universe. It's a moment filled with promise and affirmation. There's nothing like it.

Up until the Battle of the Band auditions in March, I had forgotten that moment. I grew up playing music. The first time I felt the potential for success was when my middle-school punk band played in a talent show. A few years later I began playing rock clubs in Macon, Georgia. I'm still not sure how many local ordinances must have been violated by booking 14-year-olds to play in downtown Macon's dive bars. I continued playing music all through college. And as is all too often the story, I let it go when I graduated and ramped into my career. Joining AudioBooth this year has given me the chance to rediscover that love.

But the high points of joining AudioBooth and Booth's community aren't just about personal discovery. It's the daily reminders of how incredibly striking and talented my classmates are outside of class, interminable recruiting events, or group projects.

A while back I was reading a listicle of the greatest words in the English language. A word stuck out: sonder—the realization that others have a life as rich and complex as your own. I'm not convinced that it's a real word because I haven't been able to find it in mainstream dictionaries. But nonetheless, the idea behind it resonates.

Nothing has helped me appreciate the richness of others' lives the way that music has. The serious second-year who grilled you during mock interviews transforms into a freewheeling guitarist. Your seemingly reserved friend becomes a strikingly confident keyboardist. A buttoned-up professional unfolds into an unrestrained lyricist. A laid-back introvert unwinds into an incendiary horn player. A drummer shares music from their country and the boundaries of percussion and rhythm are forever expanded.

I invite you to come out--not just May 10th--but to any AudioBooth event, informal jam, open mic event, or weeknight night concert with your classmates. Witness that take-the stage-moment. And rediscover what your take-the-stage moment is. Maybe you're a musician, and it's through AudioBooth. Perhaps you're an actor, and it's through Follies. Maybe you're an undercover sommelier and it's through presenting a new libation at Wine Club. Whatever it is, seize these moments. And most importantly, marvel at those timeless moments of wonder with your classmates.

The Booth Partner Experience

Booth Partners at an axe-throwing event

Booth Partners at an axe-throwing event

When I made the decision to move to Chicago along with my partner, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. I had spent most of my professional career in Dallas and would be putting a distance between a nearby brother and most of my friends. What I did know was that I wanted to be witness to and where possible, a part of what I was sure would be a life-changing experience for her. How would I make friends? Would I fit into this community? Will we have time for each other? I hope that after being here a year, I can share some insights and experiences that will help ease some of these anxieties that partners of admitted students may be facing.

As a partner, it’s easy to feel like an outsider at first. Conversation between Boothies often revolves around courses, recruiting events, or who’s spamming the Slack channel today. However, Booth offers many options to make partners feel welcome and integrated into the community. A prime example of this is the Partners Club, designed to host events throughout the year aimed at introducing you to other partners with similar experiences. As a co-chair myself this past year, I met some incredible people during axe-throwing, group workouts, and a myriad of other events. That’s not to say you should limit yourself to hanging out solely with fellow partners. The Booth community is a diverse body, with a wide range of interests. Partners shouldn’t feel reservations about raising their hand to participate in student activities they are interested in. I personally have been welcomed by members of the rock climbing and board game community on campus and have never felt unwelcome in these settings. Additionally, Booth activities such as formals, TNDC, LPF (you will learn the acronyms), etc., are all incredibly welcoming to the partner community. Lastly, watching your Boothie perform scholarly activities may just spark your long dormant academic and intellectual interests. If that is the case, I encourage you to inquire with professors about auditing courses. It’s a rare opportunity to leverage the talent of a school like Booth.

At Booth, you’ll also find yourself an invaluable asset to your partner (who else will water the plants during random walk?). As they experience the gamut of stress associated with recruiting, clubs, attempting to keep up with coursework, and just remembering to eat, you will be their support mechanism and source of encouragement. As a Booth student, it can be easy to get caught up in meeting incredible expectations and forget you are in a world where everyone is exceptional. It is your role to remind them of that. You also represent a link to the outside world and a bit of normalcy. You may find yourself to be a welcome relief from the regular series of questions (‘how are classes going?’) amongst other students. Be ready for your newfound popularity. Finally, on a serious note, The Booth experience is a commitment that requires compromise and sacrifice from both parties no matter your situation. However, with the right perspective and approach, it can be an adventure that brings you closer together and leaves you with memories for a lifetime.   

Representing Booth at the Adam Smith Society’s 2019 National Meeting

Boothies bond over photobooth fun

Boothies bond over photobooth fun

When we descended on the Intercontinental New York Barclay hotel in Midtown Manhattan, it was abuzz with activity. Suited professionals filled the lobby, hotel employees hustled around helping guests, and I struggled to catch an elevator. It set the tone for an energetic 2019 National Meeting hosted by the Adam Smith Society. Over that mid-April weekend, more than a dozen Boothies and I attended to learn and engage with other MBA programs and business leaders.

What is the Adam Smith Society? According to the group’s website, the society “is an expansive, chapter-based network of MBA students, professionals, and business leaders who work to promote debate and discussion about the moral, social, and economic benefits of capitalism.” The society describes its mission as advocating free enterprise and promoting free markets. Backed by the Manhattan Institute, the Adam Smith Society has grown significantly since its founding in 2011. Indeed, there currently exist over 30 student chapters and membership of over 4,000. Booth itself has 129 current full-time students as members.

We began that Friday evening exactly how we wanted to – with an open bar. As we enjoyed our frosty beverages and snacks, we met members from other chapters and were surprised to learn that they came from as far away as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Soon, we were ushered into the keynote speaker event titled “How We Get Our News.” Though I felt the speaker was somewhat partisan and spent a little too much time criticizing politicians, the conversation did cover some interesting topics such as student debt and the evolution of the 24-hour news cycle.

What I found most intellectually potent was a talk the next morning given by Oren Cass, former Director of Domestic Policy under the Mitt Romney campaign. One of his central ideas is that relying on a metric like GDP to understand well-being has consistently led to under-performing labor markets. He contends that consumption, as measured by GDP, is very different from production, which is worker-centric. In a practical example, Oren noted that workers who are put out of work due to heightened international labor competition do not care that they now have access to much cheaper overseas goods. Thus, he disagrees with many contemporary economists regarding the usefulness of GDP, but does still advocate for free-functioning markets.

Other highlights over the weekend included a more in-depth review of Adam Smith’s ideas, a lively debate on the viability of driverless vehicles, and a closing reception on an airy rooftop near the Empire State Building. The other co-chairs in attendance and I also had some time to plan out our next steps and brainstorm upcoming events. We were energized by this conference and hope to bring some of these intellectual ideas to campus!

The JD/MBA - A rare breed

Dane Christensen.jpg

By Dane Christensen, JD/MBA Candidate

With only a handful of us pursuing the joint-program, we JD/MBA students are a bit of a rarity at the Harper Center. Throughout the first two years of my program, my law classmates and fellow Boothies have asked tons of questions about the JD/MBA program. Here are just a few of the most common queries:

What’s the biggest difference between law school and business school?

The first year of law school (1L) is extremely academically demanding. I had to study about five or six times harder than I had ever studied during undergrad just to keep up with my law school classmates. During 1L grades matter for legal recruiting, which produces pressure to perform well academically. However, the Law School does a fantastic job fostering a collegial classroom environment and student community that has never felt overtly cut-throat or competitive.

Through grade nondisclosure, Boothies have effectively avoided the Nash equilibrium of excessive studies, which allows us to spend greater time on other experiences integral to graduate school such as relationship building, taking tougher classes, participating in student groups, and competing in case competitions. Despite grade nondisclosure, I’ve been pleased to find that, the level of intellectual rigor and curiosity among Booth’s student body—both inside and outside the classroom—rivals that of any top law school.

At the law school, there are no midterm assignment or examinations—only a final exam for each class. Conversely, almost every single Booth class I’ve taken has required me to participate in weekly group-based assignments. This has been a fantastic opportunity to further refine my teamwork and project management skills.

Do you want to be a lawyer or go into business?

I don’t see being a “lawyer” or “going into business” as being mutually exclusive, but I definitely want to work at a law firm as an attorney. I plan to use the skills and knowledge I’m gaining at the Harper Center to differentiate myself in a law firm as someone who understands the underlying competitive strategies and financial implications of my clients’ decisions. Working on countless group assignments at Booth and participating in case competitions has also given me a better sense of how my future MBA clients think about issues and how they approach problem-solving. I know this will allow me to serve their legal needs more effectively in the future.

Four years is a lot of school…are you sure it’s worth it?

When you crunch the numbers, adding a fourth year to an already three-year law degree can get expensive. The cost of tuition paired with the opportunity cost of a foregone years’ salary adds up very quickly. However, the value I place on my joint-degree is difficult to translate to dollars and cents. Much of the of the value I perceive is intangible. It’s difficult to place an exact value on the relationships I’m creating, the classroom experiences I’m receiving, and the dual alumni networks I’m leveraging as a JD/MBA student—but I’m convinced it far exceeds the additional costs of extra schooling.

Dane Christensen is a second-year JD/MBA candidate at the University of Chicago Law School and Booth School of Business and currently serves as co-chair for Booth’s JD/MBA Association. He currently works as a UChicago Innovation Fund Associate and will be joining Sidley Austin Chicago’s corporate law practice this summer.

Making the most of the Booth Experience

Time is equal. We all have only 24 hours a day. In business school, time allocation is extremely challenging, since there is always so much going on. Maximizing my time has been my primary purpose since I joined Booth. Looking back on my two years, I truly believe that I was holistic in year 1 and I have been focused in year 2.

14th Annual CREDIT Conference Reviews Lessons of the Past to Guide a Path for the Future

This past Friday, March 8th, Booth’s CREDIT Group hosted the 14th Annual Credit, Restructuring, Distressed Investing & Turnaround Conference at the University Club of Chicago, with almost 200 attendees. This year’s speakers and panel members largely focused on applying lessons learned from historical empirics in order to assess where we are in the current credit cycle and to highlight risks that investors should be mindful of going forward.

By the Fireplace: Booth Stories

What if I told you of a place you could hear incredible stories from people from all over the world, from all walks of life. You could hear about their greatest triumphs, and their deepest losses. Their innermost dreams and their hidden insecurities. Would you go?