Coffee on the 3rd Floor: Professor Ayelet Fishbach

When Professor Ayelet Fishbach moved to the U.S. in 2000 to complete her postdoc, she only intended to stay for a few years. Little did she know that 17 years later she would be the Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at Chicago Booth and being interviewed by yours truly. She likens this outcome to the butterfly effect. “We often don’t realize how the small decisions we make end up shaping and changing our lives in the long run. These decisions are far more significant than we give them credit for at the time.”

Professor Fishbach didn’t always plan to study psychology. She initially tried sociology and political sciences before switching. “Intro to Psychology is a very popular course in undergrad institutions. Most students take the course and then move on with their lives. I just never did.”

Although teaching was never a part of her long-term plan, she found herself in the profession and enjoyed the research atmosphere. Chicago Booth was the only business school she considered because it was renowned for its psychology department and its research. Chicago, she said, is the one school that really focuses on research - very few of the faculty members leave for this reason.

While she clearly enjoys her role at Booth, when quizzed on the downsides, she quipped that unlike research where one has control over their own time, teaching is often an early morning to late night job! “While the academic lifestyle should give you more time, when you’re at a place like Chicago with a lot of research support and energetic PhD students, that’s not often the case, and you want to be at a place like that.” She sees a parallel between MBA students who flock towards jobs that will take over their lives rather than more relaxed options.

Outside of her job she considers herself a “boring academic” who likes to read books and hike occasionally. She likes to travel, but more often than not she only travels for work. “It’s a funny situation where I talk about work life balance in my class, but my life and work overlap to a great extent. Perhaps, I will develop more hobbies in my next life!”

Having been teaching for 15 years, she has had her fair share of interesting classroom incidents and I pushed her to quote one. “During one negotiations course, there was negotiation over $20 where the student involved took out a $20 bill from his pocket and proceeded to rip it up in front of the class to illustrate his point that it wasn’t about the money, but rather the principle involved. He clearly seemed to have understood what I was saying about committing to your position!”

Booth Rugby Reclaims the Cup from Rival Kellogg

Booth Rugby celebrates after victory against Kellogg in Evanston.

Booth Rugby celebrates after victory against Kellogg in Evanston.

This past Saturday in sunny Evanston, Booth Rugby outmatched rival Kellogg in grit, fan spirit, and, most importantly, points on their way to a 29-24 victory and reclamation of the Cup. The win marked the end of a year’s worth of training, tournaments, blood, and sweat, and was the exclamation point for the Class of 2017’s rugby careers.

After Kellogg put the first ten points on the board with a try and penalty kick, Booth dug in and took over the match. Booth grabbed its first try when Brian O’Callaghan (2017) caught a dribbling kick-pass and tiptoed up the sideline for a score. The next try came from Brock Corbett (2018) who hammered it up the middle taking several defenders with him over the try line. The final score of the half came from Atsushi “The General” Saito (2017) who snuck into the try zone after shaking a few purple jerseys on a tap-and-go. Mark Nemec (Dean of the Graham School) converted the kick on the Saito try and Booth went into halftime with a 17-10 advantage.

The Booth ruggers were the first to draw blood in the second half with another punch-in try by Corbett and kick conversion by Nemec to take the lead 24-10. While Kellogg battled back to a tie before Matt Sidley (2017) scored the winning try on a sprint up the sideline to make it 29-24, Booth asserted its dominance until the final second ticked off. The Booth forwards were superhuman as they overpowered and outlasted their Kellogg counterparts on every contested scrum and took tremendous territory on mauls. The Booth wings showed off their skill and quickness as they created space with their passes and took advantage of any open field given to them. It was an exciting match and a well-deserved win and the boys are happy to return the Cup to its rightful home in Hyde Park.

Final Quarter Reflections

Chase Gosselin

KV: Fondest Booth memory?

CG: Spending a month traveling with Booth friends after summer internships. I started in Australia to see wildlife, continued through Asia to experience new cultures, and ended in the UK to attend a Manchester United match (one big check mark on my bucket list).

KV: Most surprising to you about your time at Booth?

CG: That Booth offers any sort of programming on Fridays. Surely by now the school knows about TNDC…

KV: Anything you are doing now that you would not have predicted two years ago?

CG: Sleeping in past 10:00am six days a week. The life of a second-year business school student in spring quarter is going to make the real world that much more painful of a reality check.

KV: Advice for current first years or incoming students?

CG: Develop a list of goals that you want to achieve while you are in school and dedicate yourself to them. Put people first, prioritize experiences such as travel, and seek to become a better person outside of school. Business school is full of distractions, so be selective with your time – going to a friend’s birthday party instead of studying the night before a midterm is always the right call.

KV: Anything you wish you would have done differently?

CG: I did a good job of getting to know most of my class, but I regrettably never really prioritized getting to know enough people a year above and below me. In hindsight, I would have enjoyed meeting a lot of those people.

KV: What will you miss most about your time at Booth?  What will you not miss?

CG: I will miss the five day weekends with friends where social events actually count as being productive. I won’t miss the Chicago winters that somehow seem to linger until April.

KV: Anything on your bucket list for the last few weeks of school?

CG: Developing relationships has been the most important aspect of business school. Really, it’s making time for friends before we scatter into the real world.

 

Priyanka Prakash

KV: Fondest Booth memory?

PP: Being a Career Advisor. Being able to influence career decisions and seeing people get their dream offers is extremely gratifying and incredibly motivating.

KV: Most surprising to you about your time at Booth?

PP: How holistic the experience is. It's been a transformational experience from a professional, academic, social and lifestyle perspective.

KV: Anything you are doing now that you would not have predicted two years ago?

PP: Several things! For starters, baking and spin! I recently had the opportunity to speak at the TEDx UChicago conference - that was a huge surprise, totally didn't anticipate it when I started! From a skills standpoint, I'm thinking more cross-functionally now, particularly on economics and marketing versus thinking financially - classes and conversations with classmates has been instrumental in making that happen.

KV: Advice for current first years or incoming students?

PP: Make mistakes. Be unafraid to make them. Your community always, always has your back.

KV: Anything on your bucket list for the last few weeks of school?

PP: Since I'm moving out of Chicago, going to all my favorite West Loop restaurants is on my bucket list!!

 

Anna Chaldysheva

KV: Fondest Booth memory?

AC: I enjoyed both of my spring break trips very much, but who doesn’t like a vacation!

KV: Most surprising to you about your time at Booth?

AC: I was surprised at how much I would be learning every single day for two  years. I was also surprised at how giving and supportive my classmates, as well as professors and staff members, have been with their time.

KV: Anything you are doing now that you would not have predicted two years ago?

AC: I did not realize how transformative the MBA experience would be. Today, not only I know a lot more, I also gained a lot more confidence in my business judgement.

KV: Any advice for first years or incoming students?

AC: Soak it all in for two years: go to a random talk, take a class outside your comfort zone. But make sure to leave a bit of room in your schedule to relax and be spontaneous. When it comes to career and recruiting goals, go after your dream. Don’t doubt yourself. You can do it! The amazing Booth community will provide plenty of support – just ask. On the other hand, if you are unsure of which path to pursue, don’t stress over the choices. Just pick a path. It will be a great learning experience.   

KV: Any regrets?

AC: I wish I took at least one more marketing or soft-skills class, rather than focusing on finance.

Also, I regret getting injured while skiing over the spring break. But if I could go back to spring break, I would go ski anyway!

KV: What will you miss most about your time at Booth?  

AC: I have tremendously enjoyed learning something new every day, but now I feel it is time for me to get out there and do! I will miss the spontaneity of student life, and the awesome people that became my friends.

KV: Anything on your bucket list for the last few weeks of school?

AC: A few friends and I are planning to take half a day and explore the beautiful UChicago campus and take lots of pictures. And then there are Booth things I really want to do once more before the school year ends: one more random talk, one more drink at Ida Noyes, one more Battle of the Bands, and one more TNDC.

Booth ETA Hopefuls Pitch at the Third Annual Search Fund Summit

Michael Tadros ('17) of Trailview Partners fields questions from potential investors.

Michael Tadros ('17) of Trailview Partners fields questions from potential investors.

“This is why I believe I will be a good CEO and partner, and why I think you should invest in my fund.”  You don’t often hear phrases like this coming from current and recently graduated MBAs, but at the Chicago Booth Search Fund Investor Summit that’s exactly what you can expect.  On Wednesday, April 19th in the Gleacher Center, investors from across the country gathered at the Gleacher Center to listen to the principals of four Booth search funds deliver their pitch to raise capital and begin their “search.”

Dating back to 1984, the search fund model was pioneered by graduates of the Stanford Graduate School of Business as a new path to Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA).  A subset of private equity, a search fund is committed, private capital that funds an entrepreneur’s search for an attractive existing business with the intention of acquiring and running the company.  Searches typically last anywhere between 6 and 24 months and target companies with between between $5-$50M in revenue.  Over the last few years, searches have increased in popularity as a viable career path for MBAs.

This marked the third year that Chicago Booth has hosted a search fund investor summit and it is still the only business school in the nation to put on such an event.  In 2016, four Chicago Booth teams received an aggregate of $1.5M+ in search capital funding, secured from over 30 investors. This year, four teams presented to and fielded questions from a panel of more than 25 individual and institutional investors as they sought to raise between $350,000 to $750,000 for their funds.  The teams were Sri Bodapati (‘17) with Silver Chariot Capital, Rob Joyce (‘16) with Arbor Hill Capital, Michael Tadros (‘17) with Trailview Partners, and Dave Bochetto (‘17) and Josh Weiss (‘17) with NEX Management.  The searchers provided details on their background and career experiences, explained what drew them to the search fund model, why they thought they would be good CEOs, and even highlighted some initial industries they found as potential target areas for their search.  After the summit, the teams were able to engage with the investors more directly during a private networking reception.

The summit is also a fitting culmination of sorts - the final big event sponsored by Chicago Booth and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation after a full year’s programming of conferences, lunch and learns, newsletters, and podcasts.  The Booth-Kellogg ETA Conference last November drew a crowd of 400 investors, students, and searchers eager to learn and connect with others in the ETA community.  Another contributor to the further development of the ETA ecosystem at Booth is the Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition course taught by adjunct professors Brian O’Connor (‘08) and Mark Agnew (‘06).  In fact, most of the investor summit participants this year and in the previous two years committed themselves to pursuing the ETA path after taking O’Connor’s and Agnew’s highly popular course.

If you’re interested in learning more about search funds and other ETA models, feel free to reach out to the Co-Chairs of the Search Fund group: Tim Mendoza, (tmendoza@chicagobooth.edu), Sebastian Perez-Restrepo (sperez@chicagobooth.edu), and Yang Zheng (yzheng4@chicagobooth.edu).

Authored by Tim Mendoza ('18)

Authored by Tim Mendoza ('18)

Booth Soccer Takes Down Rival Kellogg in Spring Match

“What a fantastic Saturday – eating delicious BBQ with my friends while watching my team take down Kellogg.”  Of all the celebratory notes going around following the afternoon soccer matches between Booth and Kellogg, none summed up the experience better than First Year Alvaro Alesso’s quote.

The Booth-Kellogg Spring Soccer Match on April 22nd was the first event organized by the new 2017-2018 Soccer Club co-Chairs, following weeks of preparation and coordination between the two schools.  Over 150 fans and friends from both sides of the divide were in attendance at the Saturday afternoon matches, enjoying the warm weather, mingling with each other, and savoring the food.

Though the least important aspect of the friendly event, what were the final scores?  Game 1: Kellogg 1 – 0 Booth.  Game 2: Booth 5 – 4 Kellogg.  BBQ:  150 satisfied MBA students.

The main event, Game 2 between Kellogg’s and Booth’s ‘A’ teams, gave the fans all the drama and excitement they could ask for. Following several chances at victory in the final minutes for both teams, regulation and extra time concluded after 75 minutes in a 0-0 tie. After a few dramatic penalty kicks and saves, the shootout ended when Booth goalkeeper and co-MVP Rodrigo Mansur saved the 6th kick by Kellogg, handing Booth a 5-4 win on made kicks by Michael Jacobs (‘17), Tristan Taru (‘17), Kyle Bonney (‘18), Manuel Sanchez (‘18), and Yaniv Guelman (‘17).

So, who was the other co-MVP? If you were there, you would know that this award clearly went to the provider of the person quoted at the top of the page - the grill-master Alvaro Alesso who was responsible for turning a couple of friendly amateur matches into a must-attend event.

Authored by Yaniv Guelman ('18)

Authored by Yaniv Guelman ('18)

Coffee on the 3rd Floor with Professor George Wu

Decision making and negotiation play an important role in nearly all professional fields —politics, law, medicine, and more. However, it has always had special importance at  business schools. In the case of Booth, it brought us the Center for Decision Research in 1977, opportunities to stab our classmates in the back in negotiation class, and most importantly, George Wu, the John P and Lillian A. Gould Professor of Behavioral Science. Among other things, Wu is best known for his Advanced Negotiations and Managerial Decision Making Class as well as his participation in the three-year, $3.6 million, “New Paths to Purpose” project.

How did an Applied Math major develop a passion for negotiations? “What I like about negotiations is that it involves both psychology and analytics. The challenge isn’t about psychology or analytics—it’s about marrying the two together. What makes negotiation hard is that there isn’t a clean recipe on how to balance and combine psychology and analytics.” While a lot of what we may see in the Negotiations or Advanced Negotiations courses is around how people and businesses make decisions, much of Wu’s world is around exploring how managers, policy, makers, firms, and governments can impact how customers, citizens, and other individuals make decisions.

How has studying decision making shaped how you make decisions? “I recognize that even with all the things that I’ve studied, decision making is still hard. I know that I’m not immune to making bad decisions or falling victim of the biases I teach about in class.” Claiming that he is not more risk tolerant than average, he adds, “The reality is that even though I know that it’s not the way I should think, small losses are still painful. You can try and reengineer the way you think, but a lot of times, they’re still painful.” While this may suggest that we battle the strong force of human nature that is at odds with sound decision making, Wu gives us a work around: “I think it’s much easier in many ways to see the errors in other people. For example, if you and I are in an organization, we can work with other people to make better decisions, because I can see your errors much more clearly than I can see my own.”

In this age of increasing information, how can we continue to make good decisions? “There are lots of situations these days where the amount and specificity of information gives us a very clear direction. On the other hand, there is a lot of information and much of that information is, by necessity, going to conflict with other information. A generation ago, we would just make a decision. Now, there is this kind of ‘analysis paralysis’ that ends up afflicting a lot of people. MBAs like to look at a lot of data. They feel like they haven’t done the work if they haven’t looked at all of the data. And maybe that’s not the right way of looking at things. The goal isn’t to turn over every rock, but to turn over enough rocks that you feel confident in the decision that you’re making.” Wu notes that this is becoming increasingly important as the velocity of technological change is such that having all of the relevant data from one instance in time may never be enough to shed light on the ultimate concern, which is what the future will look like.

Wu’s parting advice to graduating students is short and sweet: “Reproduce the spirit of Booth in your life. What we’ve done here is set up this idealized environment to learn, but I think that you can pick up a lot of those pieces in the spirit of what we’ve done in the classroom and extend it into your lives, long after you have left Hyde Park.”

Final Quarter Bucket List

The final quarter is underway for the Class of 2017. For many it feels like just yesterday that they walked into the Winter Garden for the first time. Of course, it is hard sometimes not to think about missed opportunities and the “woulda coulda shoulda”. I talked with a few second years who are planning to minimize those thoughts and cross off some items on their “Final Quarter Bucket List”.

Kasey Stonehill

My number one bucket list item for this last quarter at Booth is to attend one of Prendergast’s famous art tours at the Harper Center. The little discoveries walking around campus are amazing – like the new installation in the empty stairwell by C02 (of all places) that I swore was a janitor or professor hiding to listen to their favorite baseball game. It would be a shame to miss out on learning about one of Chicago’s best and biggest art collections!

Daniel Ochoterena

I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my bucket list.  Here it goes:

  1. Shine my dress shoes to a perfect mirror finish while sipping on Scotch

  2. Explore the campus and take photos on a day when everything does not look dead

  3. Finish re-reading three fiction books about a morally-ambiguous London banker that have been sitting on my desk for months

  4. Go to Lincoln Park Zoo and play hide-and-seek with a polar bear

  5. Have the courage to ask Sue the T-Rex out on a steak date at Morton’s The Steakhouse with Brian Gracia playing the piano in the background

  6. Tackle a 250lbs Kellogg rugger at the upcoming Booth-Kellogg rugby match

  7. Remember the faces of more than ten consultants and seven professors #prosopagnosia #whosbooth

  8. Not needing stitches after any of the remaining TNDCs or socials

  9. Host an epic Risk: Game of Thrones Edition night that destroys three friendships or less

  10. High five the Invisible Hand at Saieh Hall

Steph Mount

To-do lists are near and dear to my heart, so it became time to get action-oriented and cross items off of my extensive bucket list as spring quarter approached. The key to slimming down the list: accountability (i.e., calendar invites). First up was Milwaukee. Friends and I visited the city in March and successfully explored local culture (read: meat, cheese, beverages; largest bloody marys in WI pictured). Other bucket list items include: Russia (completed over spring break!), Harper art tour, attending IOP events/lecture series, Hyde Park brunch, White Sox game, and various neighborhoods and coffee shops throughout the city.

Valentina Fernandez Rodriguez Egaña

Hola! In my last quarter before I get deported, I auditioned to be part of Follies. I got my start dancing to reggaeton in last year’s show with Booth Dance Club, but now I want to be an ESTRELLA! I was super impressed by how talented, funny, and open-minded my classmates were. Follies is a once in a lifetime chance to be anyone you want to be on the big stage at Mandell Hall. The Follies team immediately recognized my talent and cast me as a typical Latina. It’ll be tough, but I’m committed. Method acting is best, so I quickly bought a ticket to the LATAM girls Vegas trip. I feel like I have spent my whole life preparing for this role!

Booth Rugby Competes on the World Stage in Las Vegas

In early March, six of Booth Rugby’s finest flew to Las Vegas to play in one of the largest rugby tournaments in the world, USA Sevens Rugby.  The international rugby tournament is the premier tournament in North America and men’s and women’s teams from 16 countries compete in 80 matches on the way to crowning a World Champion.  Concurrently with this world stage of rugby, the tournament hosts an amateur competition comprised of MBA, social, and semi-pro teams.  Sevens rugby is different than standard rugby in two ways:  1) teams are comprised of seven individuals instead of the normal fifteen, and 2) total play time consists of two seven-minute halves as opposed to the typical eighty-minute game.  Sevens rugby favors the agile, quick, and conditioned, and is the format played at the Olympic level given it is fast-paced, intense, and easy to follow.

The Booth representatives comprised of second year Andrew Ward, first years Alonso Smith, Scott Rupnow, Rob Weir, and Brock Corbett, and undergraduate David Liu.  Given Booth was a man short of seven, the team joined forces with Yale to form two teams for the competition.  

On the first day of competition, Rob Weir scored a hat trick in the first match against Stanford, leading a comeback that overcame a 19-0 deficit.  In the second match, Booth fell short losing 28-14 to the very tough UCLA alumni team, but were led by impressive tries from Brock Corbett and Alonso Smith.   

On the second day of competition, Booth took out the All-Army team with a score of 35-7 with tries from Scott Rupnow, Andrew Ward, David Liu, and Rob Weir.  Unfortunately, Booth was then knocked out of the tournament in the semi-finals of its bracket by the Irish University Business School.  Even as one of the youngest MBA rugby teams in Las Vegas, Booth walked away with a couple victories and and a solid placing.  The team plans to continue to develop and train hard for the upcoming MBA World Cup at Duke in April.  In addition to the MBA World Cup, Booth will compete in several spring matches and, of course, in the bi-annual grudge match against that purple team up north.

Rob Weir (Class of 2018)

Rob Weir (Class of 2018)

In Legendary Showing, 100 Boothies Conquer Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort

Jackson Lesser (Class of 2017)

Jackson Lesser (Class of 2017)

Over the final weekend of February, over one hundred Boothies descended upon Whistler Blackcomb Resort in beautiful British Columbia, Canada for 96 straight hours of shredding and celebrating our glorious ability to take an international ski vacation in the middle of winter quarter.  Appearances were made by skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.  Beginners turned into intermediates.  Intermediates turned into experts.  Experts turned into professionals.  And everyone turned into heroes.

The gnar-shredding was epic, the poutine consumption was excessive, and the dancing was sensual.  As the largest ski resort in North America with 8,171 acres, Whistler Blackcomb offered Boothies an immense amount and variety of terrain to conquer.  "No gnar was left un-shredded," commented second year and active BSSC member Tim Bechtold.

Winners of the Whistler "Fab Five" costume contest

Winners of the Whistler "Fab Five" costume contest

Bonds unlike any others made at Booth were formed on the dance floors over the course of four wonderful nights.  "I've never witnessed Boothies move with such passion and grace on the dance floor,” co-chair Adi Slifer reported overhearing in the gondola lift line on Sunday morning.  The first of two themed parties, "Jock Jams," paid tribute to the sports anthems of the ‘80s and ‘90s and provoked a significant amount of athleticism from the Boothies.  The second, "Fab Five," put the teamwork of each condo to the test, prompting each to dress up in coordination with a theme of their choosing.  Best Dressed Condo was awarded to Trump and his Mexican Wall, with honorable mention to the Corn Stalks.

Boothies were determined to explore both Whistler and Blackcomb Villages and covered substantial ground over the course of the weekend.  In just four days, the Booth group held ten social events at eight unique event venues, each of which was well attended.  One highlight was the radical performance from the legendary Hairfarmers, a local Whistler band, at Friday’s après-ski event.

Special shout-outs go to: Cristin Garry and squad for driving from Vancouver in an over-sized commercial vehicle, Brian Roscitt for assuming the indispensable role of sleeve monster, James Wallace for the most creative dance maneuver of the weekend, and Brian Keenan for an epic midnight voyage to Seattle airport.

Although hangovers and immediate onset nostalgia were severe, thankfully the trip concluded in good spirits, with zero injuries and 100% of Boothies re-admitted into the USA.

Perspectives from a Quarter Abroad

Every year, around 50 Boothies make the decision to escape the cold of Chicago and spend their winter quarter elsewhere.  Currently, Booth has partnerships with 33 MBA partner schools in 20 countries through the International Business Exchange Program (IBEP).  We spoke to second years Alex Sukhareva and Boris Askenov to get the inside scoop on a quarter abroad.

 

Alex Sukhareva (Class of 2017) - IESE Business School (Barcelona)

Studying at IESE in Barcelona has absolutely been one of the best choices I've made as part of my MBA.  I built a professional network for myself in Europe and developed friendships with students from business schools worldwide.  My education here has opened my mind to new styles of learning and allowed me to appreciate my Booth experience.  One of the things that struck me most is how international the education here is.  For example, IESE offers two week learning opportunities in Sao Paolo, Shanghai, Nairobi, and New York.  I got the chance to experience both an 8-week quarter in Barcelona and a 2-week intensive program on business practices in Shanghai.

Also, the class here is incredibly welcoming.  With only 280 people per year, they all know each other and people actively come up to me to introduce themselves to the new exchange student.  As exchange students, we are encouraged to go to cohort dinners, "SkIESE", and Bar of the Weeks (a TNDC that ends in the early morning).

Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the opportunity to explore Europe.  Many exchange students visit a different country every week!  I really enjoyed my study abroad experience and I am more than happy to talk more about the experience to anyone considering studying abroad!

Boris Askenov (Class of 2017) - The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

I wanted to study abroad for a number of reasons: to travel, to escape the Chicago winter (after all, my top three choices were Hong Kong, Cape Town, and Melbourne), even to recruit.  I had fallen in love with Hong Kong in particular after spending one night there on the back end of Japan random walk: it had a vibrant culture, great food options, was centrally located in Asia, and had fantastic nightlife (sorry Social 25, you’re not cutting it anymore).  

The study abroad experience has lived up to every expectation and in many ways exceeded it.  There are about 50 other exchange students at HKUST from all over the world and they all share a common interest in exploring the city, traveling, and going out; I’ve already made lifelong friends in just a few weeks here.  Other than the regular nights out in LKF and Wan Chai or weekend trips to Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Burma, and just about every other place imaginable, Hong Kong has some great hiking right near the city, and HKUST offers some great classes for those interested in learning about business in Asia (because I guess it’s called “study” abroad).  Biggest challenge that didn’t involve the over-consumption of alcohol?  Probably finding a place to live – Hong Kong makes NYC look cheap.  Overall, it’s been an incredible experience and one I’d recommend to any first year considering it. 

Boothies Represent at the Tuck Winter Carnival

Santiago Nieto, Class of 2018

Santiago Nieto, Class of 2018

This past weekend, eight Boothies descended upon Hanover, NH, home of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, to partake in the 32nd annual Tuck Winter Carnival (TWC).  The event brought in over 300 non-Tuck MBA students from all over the country and provided for a weekend of costumes, competition, camaraderie, and revelry.  For those of you who do not know about this prestigious event, it is claimed by many attendees to be one of the best weekends of their MBA experience.

The two-day event kicked off on Friday on campus with hot chocolate, pond hockey, and ice skating on Dartmouth’s frozen Occum Pond.  The evening featured an ‘80s après ski-themed party and a vintage ski gear auction.  The Boothies represented well wearing full length, neon ski onesies to the indoor event.

On Saturday morning, the ski racing competition took place at the Dartmouth Skiway – Dartmouth’s own ski slope just a short drive from campus.  Each school designated six team members as their racing representatives.  The competition was fierce with many former Division I and nationally ranked skiers showing off their skills.  While a competitive event, most did not take themselves too seriously.  Most skiiers donned their cactus and cow onesies, Hawaiian grass skirts, and dinosaur heads as they made their way down the icy slalom course.  Booth’s team was lead with some fast times by second year Pat MacDonnell and first years Santiago Nieto and Greg D’Alessandro.  

Tuck Winter Carnival

Tuck Winter Carnival

The Saturday evening activities began with a ceremony dinner for the weekend’s racers.  Not surprisingly, the Dartmouth team took home both the individual and team prizes.  While the Booth racers put up a good fight, their team score was not enough to get on the podium.  

Following the dinner and kicking off the final night of mechanical bull riding, mini-golf, school competitions, and a Tuck band performance, a group of Tuck students and budding comedians led a roast of the attending schools.  While Carnegie Mellon and HBS took the brunt of the harassment, the Tuck comedians targeted Booth for its supposed namesake John Wilkes Booth and their “lack of personalities”.  Clearly uninformed.

We had a blast at the 32nd annual Tuck Winter Carnival.  While it has not traditionally been a big Booth event given our two big ski trips, we hope to have a stronger showing next year and make it a Booth staple.  It is a fantastic weekend and a perfect place to build friendships with your fellow Booth classmates and MBA students from around the country.

Coffee on the Third Floor with Professor Sanjay Dhar

Sharan Kumaresan, Class of 2018

Sharan Kumaresan, Class of 2018

As the James H. Lorie Professor of Marketing, Professor Sanjay Dhar’s list of teaching awards alone could fill an entire article, so the irony is inescapable when he says that he used to feel academics was not his calling and that he was always far more interested in playing basketball and getting involved in other social activities when he was younger. Consequently, a whole generation of students, this writer included, are heavily indebted to his friends from college who convinced him to quit his job and apply to PhD programs setting him on the path to becoming an academic.

“A lot of what I’ve done in my life has been a series of opportunities that have presented themselves and I’ve taken conscious decisions to embrace them. My being here in Chicago as an academic came about because of an intense desire to not be an engineer after joining an engineering school for undergrad!” he says. He had initially rejected admission offers from multiple universities after undergrad in favor of taking up a job, but although he enjoyed his time working in the industry, he felt a recurring sense of boredom and was no big fan of the hierarchical authority structure either. This drove him to quitting his job for a change of scenery on the advice of friends.

“Life often leads you to analyze what-if scenarios about the different paths that you could have gone along but I have no regrets because becoming an academic was one of the best things that has happened in my life,” he says. Having signed up for it 25 years ago, he is still just as passionate about teaching as anyone who has been in his class can attest. “My kids don’t listen to me and my sisters don’t listen to me, but my students still want to hear what I have to say and that is very rejuvenating!” he quips.

He feels strongly about the inherent role of mentorship that accompanies being a teacher as the teacher-student relationship bestows him the freedom to have pure and open conversations with students and advise them candidly based on his experience. Academic institutions in general and Booth in particular are unique in fostering those connections and it’s a role that he values highly.

Chicago is clearly very special to him and his eyes light up when he talks about it. He was struck by how naturally he fit in when he started here initially, brought about by the uniqueness of the city as a whole, coupled with students, the faculty and in particular, the staff whom he has relied on over these past many years. As a strongly opinionated independent thinker – he once led his undergrad batch on a strike away from classes – he feels this institution in particular allows him to be himself and retain his uniqueness. “Booth is unique in that it gives you this sort of free market system where it always wants you to do things the way you want and relies on self-monitoring. Chicago teaches you to be self-critical and play devil’s advocate to your own arguments. It’s a characteristic I try to pass that along to my students as well. This institution attracts self-motivated people and being surrounded by the best pushes you to better yourself in a manner that’s most comfortable to you.”

As a note of caution for Boothies though, he does also retain a fondness for California, particularly during the winter months. “I chose UCLA for my PhD because my wife would only marry me if I went somewhere with similar weather to Kolkata which is where I’m from! Sometimes I do still think about taking a quarter off and spending some of my winter months in warmer weather.”

Although Professor Dhar’s marketing strategy class has historically been one of the most popular courses on iBid, he plans to slowly switch his focus towards teaching other elective courses as newer faculty members have come in and put their own spin on the course – the Chicago philosophy, thereby broadening the group as a whole. He is proud of the fact that they’ve shown the importance of marketing, strategy and entrepreneurship in this school, which had traditionally been very finance and economics driven, and of having that balance in a general MBA education.

Professor Sanjay Dhar

Professor Sanjay Dhar

On his vision for the school in future, he mentions that Booth has transformed a lot over the course of his career. While always having been an intellectual powerhouse in narrow areas, as a course of natural evolution, alumni inputs and dean leadership, the school has developed more of a broad based presence now. The faculty that have been recruited and the openness of discussions has attracted top notch talent in all areas. He feels the school has embarked on a good mix of retaining the edge in core areas that we’ve always been known for while also establishing ourselves in additional areas, which he hopes remains part of the culture of the school. He cites the increasing switch in recruiting numbers towards consulting and marketing careers from finance as evidence of the changing demand in the market.  

He also feels, that the school needs to have a strong presence in key areas of growth in Asia and Europe via our campuses in Hong Kong and London, as we have in North America and Latin America, particularly in an increasingly global business world, which is something the school leadership has been very cognizant of, and he hopes that continues.

“Business demand areas are cyclical and as a broad based major school, in the world and not just in the United States, the onus is on us to strive for excellence in all focus areas and geographies.”

Passing the baton

As spring quarter approaches, the current leaders of student groups at Booth initiate the transition to new leadership for the next academic year. Every year Boothies assume the mantle of a wide array of student-led groups that cater to several student attributes and interests– ranging from professional and personal affiliation groups to special interest and social groups.   Students often describe their experiences in student group leadership roles as being pivotal to their Booth experience.

As co-chair applications go live, several first years assess their own potential fit in future leadership teams.

To get a sense of this, we asked our current editors at ChiBus what their roles entailed over the last year and what they would look for in candidates interested in their positions.

John Frame, Class of 2017

John Frame, Class of 2017

Section: Lifestyle

Editor: John Frame

Lifestyle is really about exposing the student body to what is beyond the "Booth Bubble." Exploring the habits, attitudes, and tastes via arts and culture that connect the Booth community to the larger city of Chicago. It's about living.

I hope to see the next Lifestyle Editor fully embrace the fullness of what is beyond the Harper Center and the Loop

Patrick Burke, Class of 2017

Patrick Burke, Class of 2017

Section: Humor

Editor: Patrick Burke

Do you have things you want to say, but just haven't had the newspaper to say them in? Do you want to contribute to the bustling, new fake news industry? The humor section is your opportunity to make up facts and figures with impunity. All these opportunities and more await you. Become the humor editor at ChiBus and take reign of the smallest pedestal known to man!

Rikki Singh, Class of 2017

Rikki Singh, Class of 2017

Section: People

Name: Rikki Singh

If you enjoy getting to know people at Booth (peers, professors, staff) then this section is for you! You’ll have the power to make the community stronger by bringing people to the fore.

I hope that the next editor help us know the wider Booth community- my challenge would be for them to help us know the silent 200!

Coffee on the third floor with Professor Emir Kamenica

With one wall covered with a string of numbers and Greek letters reminiscent of a Beautiful Mind and another containing a beautiful oil painting whose backstory is worthy of its own HBS case study on supply chain systems, the four walls of Professor of Economics Emir Kamenica’s office are as multifaceted as his research interests. On how his research has developed through time: “My research has been more scattered than is typical, but over the years, it has become more focused on a particular topic, namely design of information—thinking of who knows what when as something that we can manipulate in order to achieve better outcomes.”  Kamenica has tackled many topics from many angles, both empirically and theoretically: To what extent are politician’s votes influenced by how people next to them vote? What is a good way to structure rules of sports and gambling to generate the most suspense and excitement? Perhaps a topic that MBAs may find most interesting: how does men’s aversion to wives with higher income manifest itself in the workplace and household behavior of wives? These are all topics that Kamenica has explored in his research.

Professor Emir Kamenica

Professor Emir Kamenica

Returning to Coffee on the Third Floor by popular demand, Kamenica describes what he has been up to since ChiBus last checked in with him. “Marianne Bertrand and I are looking at the extent to which the lives of the rich and the poor have converged or diverged over the last half century. Looking at data on time use, social attitudes, brand consumption, and media consumption, we’re asking the question: ‘if I knew how you spent your day in 1965, how well could I tell if you’re rich or poor? How does that differ from today? If I know what your views are about the social issues of the day, how well I can tell if you come from a high or low income household? How has that changed over time?” Perhaps applying his learnings on suspense, Kamenica leaves us with no hints of the preliminary findings.

On the source of inspiration for his work: “most of my work is world-driven rather than literature-driven, meaning that there is something about the world that I’m curious about or don’t understand. Sometimes there are things that we don’t know and I think ‘well, I know how we could figure this out.” Consistent with this, Kamenica spends some of his free time taking courses at the University of Chicago, courses ranging from biology to physics to even a PhD course on Wittgenstein. On being on the other side as a student: “it’s really not that different. A huge part of my job involves going to seminars, and a key part of them is trying to learn what other people have discovered. It’s not that different sitting in a seminar trying to understand a paper and going to a classroom and listening to a lecture. Being a professor and being a student aren’t that different.”

Describing his game theory course as a “baby that needs to be tended to and taken care of,” Kamenica cautions against searching for a short-term application of that course in the business world: “it’s very much geared to MBAs, but we’re also in a school that offers a lot of classes. If you really want a class that has immediate applicability -- as in, you walk out of the class for a consulting interview, repeat things from class, and do well -- you shouldn’t be taking game theory. There are other, more suitable, classes for that. Game theory is meant to be horizontally differentiated from classes like competitive strategy. Game theory has many applications, but the applications are a side effect of understanding.” TNDC hangover or game theory? Take your pick. Kamenica doesn’t feel the slightest bit bad about making students drag themselves to campus at 8:30am on Friday mornings of Spring Quarter to experience his game theory class: “I love teaching Friday morning classes. Sometimes you get people who are falling asleep because they were out on Thursday, but in general, you get people who are more motivated. The most energetic and fun sessions I’ve taught were Friday morning sessions.”

Araba Nti, Class of 2017

Araba Nti, Class of 2017

Araba is a second-year MBA student who enjoys her coffees on the third floor!

Coffee on the third floor with Prof. Sanjog Misra

Sanjog Misra, Professor of Marketing and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow

Sanjog Misra, Professor of Marketing and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow

Sanjog Misra, the Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow believes there’s a marketing evolution underway. A clairvoyant to this marketing evolution, Misra has long established himself in the field of quantitative marketing both through his research and his numerous consulting projects. Outside of academia, Misra has most notably worked as an advisor to Convertro, a multi-touch attribution service. Convertro was sold to AOL, now Verizon, where Misra continues his role as an advisor.

On his initial interest in data-driven marketing: “I started off as a theorist but realized that theory by itself is incomplete. I started looking into ways of testing theory, and that’s what got me into looking at data. Initially it was looking purely at research topics and trying to find data to corroborate theoretical results. At some point, I realized that it’s not enough to simply test theory. Since I’m in a business school, it’s more challenging and more interesting to try and see whether the methods we develop can actually make a difference in how firms operate and whether it can create value for consumers, firms, and non-profits.”

While most of us are somewhat familiar with the role of data science as it’s applied to online, large scale, real time marketing decision making where humans cannot be involved, Misra’s sees this as just as the beginning: “there’s going to be a shift in marketing, and it’s already taken off. One is that we’re going to see humans being replaced by machines and algorithms in what I’ll call ‘menial’ marketing jobs. Anything that can be automated will be automated. Humans will be Level 2—managing algorithms or managing people who manage algorithms.” How can Bausch & Laumb redesign its compensation scheme to precisely align with the incentives that motivate its sales force? If MGM sends you a promotion and you end up staying at the Bellagio, how can they better distinguish those who were incentivized to stay because of the promotion from those who received the promotion because they were more likely to stay there for other reasons? While questions around incorporating human motivation into firm decision making has traditionally lied in the realm of psychology—and in some cases, intuition—Misra has tackled these questions through his quantitative marketing approach.

On the role of analytics in the online world: “Imagine that you have a website and you have 10 different ads created but you don’t know which one is the best one. The old, old approach would be to get an expert—an ad agency—that would create these for you, pick the best one for you, then you would run that. The next approach is to test ads with a randomized control trial, figure out the best one, then implement it. The next approach is to say that ‘we’re losing money. If we test 10 of them for a certain amount of time, we’ll find that 9 of them were not the best. So we just showed a whole bunch of our customers ads that ex-post we know are not really good.’ How do we do this in an efficient way? This is where k-bandits come in. You start with all 10 ads, then as you learn that one is better than the other, you slowly move money or exposure to the few that are performing better—not completely, because you might be wrong. You’re learning about the effectiveness of each and redirecting traffic as you learn. Very soon, you converge to the ones that work.  The holy grail is to be able to do this for each unique individual at scale—the ad, the product, or the price that works for each individual.” The speed at which companies are able to do this is what Misra sees as the axis where companies will compete to exploit revenue.

Misra’s Digital and Algorithmic data course—being offered this Spring—gives students the opportunity to tinker with these issues: “the idea of algorithmic marketing is that every time you have to make repeated decisions at scale, you need an algorithm. We go behind the scenes of how these algorithms work.” Inspired by his research and consulting work, the course explores real-life product recommendation and matching algorithms, while also giving students the opportunity to try and improve the algorithms of start-ups Misra has partnered with. And for any OkCupid users out there, the course will give you a peek at how the website has (or hasn’t!) been able to help you find “the one.”

The beauty of Misra’s research interests is how easily they have lent themselves to bridging the gap between academic research and the pressing challenges of firms and non-profits. Don’t worry, though, Misra has no intention of leaving us. Citing the flexibility in exploring research topics and designing his own courses, Misra describes academia as “the best job in the world.” For those of us who will be leaving Booth soon, Misra advises us to prepare ourselves for management roles that will involve more management of data and more management by data. Whether it’s in the improvement of algorithms, finding ways to use data more cleverly, or the service component of making data-driven insights more digestible, Misra sees the algorithmic revolution as just beginning: “My class is not about marketing. It’s about the direction business is taking. If you’re in operations or finance or consulting or entrepreneurship, you don’t really have a choice. The role of the MBAs isn’t going to change. You’re still going to be managers. But the question is going to be what you’re managing.”

Araba Nti, Class of 2017

Araba Nti, Class of 2017

Araba is a second-year student who enjoys her coffees on the third floor

How the Next GBC Leadership will Make a Difference

Although at the time of this reading the vote for GBC’s next Executive Board has already been tallied, all of the slates had great campaigns and great ideas about how to make the Booth experience the best it can be. Here is what they had to say:

Disha Malik, Class of 2018

Disha Malik, Class of 2018

Disha Malik
Hometown: Lucknow, India
GBC Slate: ABC|GBC Aspire. Build. Connect.
Title on Slate: VP of International Student Affairs

For our slate, it was all about the “F” words.  We heard these issues over and over again, largely because Booth does a lot to inspire connections among students and build a community, but there is always room for improvement.

Funding Access - Find the funds that allow us to stretch beyond our means and do things that excite us

Facilities to Benefit All - have the facilities like corporate headshots or better printing access to help us come across more professional to recruiters and take away pain points from our daily lives

Faculty Connect - How we connect to our award winning faculty

Andrew Godwin, Class of 2018

Andrew Godwin, Class of 2018

Andrew Godwin

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

GBC Slate: ACT for Booth
Title on Slate: President

Our slate focused on three things: Access, Collaboration, and Transparency.

Access - Access to the right resources, contacts, and connections to support and enhance our Booth journey

Collaboration - Facilitating collaboration to embrace our diversity, build on ideas, and cultivate a supportive community

Transparency - Bringing transparency to leadership, initiatives, and decisions at Booth and the broader University of Chicago community  

Dave Mullen, Class of 2018

Dave Mullen, Class of 2018

Dave Mullen

Hometown: Denver, CO

GBC Slate: Simpli-fly

Title on Slate: Executive Vice-President

Our primary aim was to focus on simplifying communication and promoting connection to solidify your efforts and make the Booth experience more efficient for future classes.

Clear Communication - Currently incoming students have to execute on a number of tasks across a few platforms. We want to expand the orientation app to house the incoming student tasks and links to execution in one place. Additionally, we want to streamline the ‘email overload’ problem by working with administration to better coordinate when and how many emails a week we get.

Celebrate Connections – There is a difference between TNDC and Booth Insights. While both events are amazing and have a place at Booth, identification of events as depth vs. breadth and programming around depth based on events is important to us. We want to ensure Boothies leave school knowing a few people very well.

Kyle Veatch, Class of 2018

Kyle Veatch, Class of 2018

Kyle is a first-year MBA student who enjoys getting to know his peers

Coffee on the Third Floor: with Prof. Randal Picker

Viva Zhou Ronco, Class of 2018

Viva Zhou Ronco, Class of 2018

Randal Picker is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law and the Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Teaching Scholar at the UChicago Law School. He teaches a class at Booth called Legal Infrastructure of Business. I took the class last quarter and it absolutely blew my mind!

Professor Picker is a master of the so-called Socratic method. You thought you’d understood the legal cases in the assigned readings, only to find, through Picker’s thought-provoking questions, other different dimensions to the issues at hand. The classes were similar to the process of onions peeling - layers after layers, we’d eventually get to the core of the problems. Each week, we'd cover important legal issues in a business area, ranging from bankruptcy, intellectual property to privacy. By the end of the quarter, I don’t pretend that I know any topic in great depth, but I do feel inspired by my own ignorance, and feel an immense respect to the legal infrastructure that’s been supporting the sustained growth in the U.S.

Professor Randal Picker

Professor Randal Picker

This year, I had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Picker for a nice chat on his teaching, his productivity routines and his advice to students. I’d love to share the conversations below with the fellow Booth community.

Q: How did you start offering the class at Booth?

P: I have 3 degrees from the University of Chicago. When I was an Economics grad student, I was doing research for John Huizinga, who was one of the deputy deans at Booth. At some point when I was teaching at the law school, John rang me up one day, and we then decided to try a version of this class. From my perspective, this class covers such a broad sweep.I’d never be able to do that in my classes at the law school because they always focus in a particular topic and drill very deep. I love doing that, but it’s also nice to have a class where you don’t do that. There’s no must-do in this Booth class, so I can be very responsive with the content to current event. For instance, I wasn’t covering Uber and Airbnb 4 years ago, and now I am.

People generally found the class very different from a standard Booth course. It has little lecturing and is very talk-intensive. I believe that the back and forth process, what we call the Socratic method, is an important part of learning. You get a wrong answer from a student, that’s great. We work with that idea, shake it, and see where that takes us. Only then we figure out that maybe that’s not where we want to be. We’d have to think hard where exactly it went wrong, as it seemed so plausible in each step! Sorting through that is incredibly useful. You see that while a particular problem can be analyzed in one way, there are 20 other ways of looking at it at the same time. Seeing all these perspectives can be very important when the students go into business or law, as they might find that the “right” method in class might not be the possible approach.

Q: Your MOOC, Internet Giants, doesn’t have interactive component but has very good content. How was your experience producing that?

P: I had students who took both but thought that the real class is a lot better. It’s good to know that what we do in the classrooms won’t be replaced by MOOC. However, MOOC allowed me to reach people that I’d never thought I’d have access to. Thinking that there are some government officials in Ireland sitting there and watching me for 20 hours is just mind blowing.

I took a filmmaking class at the Second City in preparation for the MOOC. All the sudden, you see how telling stories visually matters. It was a real challenge to talk to an empty room for 20 hours and try to present law content in an interesting fashion.

Q: You also worked 3 years at Sidley Austin, a very respected law firm, for 3 years. What made you leave and started teaching?

P: I enjoyed practicing law and had a very positive experience at Sidley. I saw what it was like, liked it, but thought I’d just apply to one place for a  teaching position. I got lucky. At that point, I didn’t know at all if I’d like teaching, but I knew it would be a great adventure. The truth is that I enjoyed the classroom experience more than I’d expected and thought it was a very good use of my time.

Q: How does it feel now that you’ve taught for many years? Were there new phases in your experience?

P: I’ve doing something new in the last few years, that is taking improv classes at Second City. The experience of improv has made me a better teacher, though I didn’t go in there with this vision. The heart of improv is listening, so I am willing to be more improvisational in the class. I consider this a slight new phase. At the law school, I also get to teach in different areas. Every time I teach a new subject, the learning process also gives me insights in the other areas I already know more. These cross-linkages are a source of inspirations and new ideas.

Q: What’s your daily source of information?

P: I have 3 different ways of getting informations. I skim through 4 physical newspapers everyday: the Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Financial Times. I use RSS and Twitter to get specialized services, though I only follow 100 people so I am actually able to absorb the information. I also use professional news services like Bloomberg for my research.

I set up my information system based on the projects or research topics I have. Whenever I have a new idea, I will either write down and email myself or send myself a voice mail via Google Voice.The whole point of this system is to divide my projects into storage phase vs. producing phase. I’d constantly generate new ideas from the things I read while I’d also have to focus on the projects that have higher priority.

Q: Any advice you’d give to your students?

P: The only advice I give is that take a few classes that you are purely interested in. Don’t know if this would be useful in a few years? That doesn’t matter. It’s such a special opportunity to get an education in this intellectual environment. You also just never know when it would be useful.

If you want to see Professor Picker in action, I strongly recommend this class in the fall, or you can search for his MOOC, Internet Giants at Coursera.

Viva is a first-year double Maroon who loves interdisciplinary and intercultural conversations

Humans of Booth: New Year New Me

Matt Robinson.JPG

Matthew Robinson (’18)

Hometown: Sydney, Australia

After a litany of failed new years’ resolutions, I have boycotted the notion.  However, my to-do list for after recruiting season includes learning how to make mulled wine, developing a hook shot on the basketball court, increasing my TNDC attendance rate (I have brought shame my Random Walk trip leaders), stopping referring to "flip flops" as “thongs” and securing my dream house husband role (I have got cover letters out there already).

Jenny Spiel (’18)

Hometown: Lake Forest, IL

Well, I'm kind of fond of the Old Me, but I'm open to minor improvements. 2017 will be big for me. I plan to hit snooze only once, travel to several continents, do a pull-up, and watch all of the Godfather films. I say the Godfather one every year, but this year I'll actually do it. I also hope to get to know the Booth community even better. I've gotten to know the people who are in my organic networks (i.e. class, RW, recruiting, cohorts), but I keep meeting fantastic people every day and want to keep it going beyond who I run into on a day-to-day basis. So, if you see me in the Winter Garden, say "Hi" and maybe ask me to do a pull-up. Happy 2017!

Kyle Veatch, Class of 2018

Kyle Veatch, Class of 2018

Coffee on the third floor with Professor Harry Davis

Araba Nti, Class of 2017

Araba Nti, Class of 2017

Harry Davis, the Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management, describes being a professor as a career that “gives you a great deal of latitude to be your own playwright.” And that he has. Along with teaching and research, Davis is the founder of both LEAD and the Management Lab. He has also served in various administrative positions, including serving as the interim dean.

Harry Davis, the Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management

Harry Davis, the Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management

Araba is a second-year MBA student who enjoys learning about our professors beyond classroom interactionsDescribing the classroom as his “real home,” Davis looks back at what originally attracted him to a life in academia: “My father worked for Bell. I always assumed I was going to go into business, because in those days, people typically went to work for large companies. So I decided to get an MBA. I remember I was in my second year and I was interviewing with companies, and I had an interview with General Electric. I left the interview and went to a class where this teacher was teaching a class on what we might call ‘soft skills.’ In the middle of this case discussion, I thought to myself ‘is he getting paid to do this?’ It’s probably the best question I’ve asked myself, because I literally followed him down to his office after the class and asked the professor ‘would it make sense to get a PhD and do what you do?’ It was what he was able to create in the classroom. We were all engaged, learning, listening to one another. There were different points of view but we showed respect for one another in the conversation. He was a very strong force in the classroom that kept us on track without having to say much.”

While working on his dissertation as a PhD student at Kellogg, Davis came to Booth for a post doc with no intention to stay. He’s been here, in his own words “for more than half a century.” Attributing the tremendous influence he has had on the Booth curriculum to “a tendency to say yes more often than no without knowing what will happen,” he tells the story behind how he created the two courses that are probably the biggest opportunities Booth students have to reflect on and hone and their leadership skills:

On the Management Lab: “The first Management Lab [originally called the New Products Laboratory] was a six-month project with Kraft Foods. I literally went around the hallway and tried to recruit students—we didn’t have the bidding system then. I thought the learning experience of the lab would largely be an opportunity to have the students learn about marketing—how to run a focus group, how to write a concept statement, how to put together a financial plan, how to collect data—all of which we did. But I realized over the years that the students were learning a lot about themselves and about working in teams while working on these projects.”

On LEAD: “The business school rankings came out and Booth didn’t do so well. And what we found was that a lot of recruiters saw Booth as a place that attracted students that were very smart but that weren’t very connected to the area of leadership and how to have an impact on other people. And I thought to myself, ‘I could take a lot of what I learned from these laboratory courses, and we could actually have students create a curriculum. Then in the second quarter, have students implement it.’”

Can leadership be taught in the classroom without concurrent practice? Davis describes leadership development as a process of translating conceptual knowledge into performance: “There are concepts that relate to leadership that are useful to know, but each one of us needs to internalize these concepts in our performance. Leadership takes place on a daily basis—it isn’t just something that takes place at the top of an organization. Having opportunities to practice and perform are incredibly important. I think leadership requires knowledge—conceptual knowledge—what we spend a lot of time developing here. Then it requires the ability to read a domain: in this context, ‘what is important for me to understand in terms of how I’m going to act in a way that makes people excited to follow?’ It requires knowing what I’ve called action skills, which are the skills of communication, listening, knowing when to be assertive, when to lie back. Then translating that knowledge into actions with other people. Then outcomes—we need the skills of learning the right insights from experience. The other thing that I think is important is asking yourself, ‘given these experiences, what are my values? If I have the ability to have impact, for what purpose?’ The longer I’ve been working on this, the more important I think this is.”

Aptly given the chaired position of “Professor of Creative Management,” Davis sees creativity as an essential part of business. Defining creativity as an ability to match capabilities to an exciting and challenging task, Davis has a suggestion on how to find work environments that brings out our creativity: “write down five stories of times in your lives when you’ve felt creative. Where you had a goal, where there was a challenge involved, perhaps where there was a deliverable. Write a story about what the challenge was, who was involved, what were the dead ends, what were the moments of excitement, and how did it resolve itself. Go as far back as you can. Read back over the stories and try see if there are themes that emerge across the experiences. And these are themes you can look for when choosing a company. A certain amount of patience is necessary to learn a skill, but my sense is that your generation is much less patient. I think the notion of creating structures in large organizations that acknowledge both exploitation of what we know how to do—which requires focus—as well as exploration within a defined playing field, may make your generation more willing to work to for them”

On the future of education: “One evolution I would like to see is for education to not end at graduation. Many of you will be working for five or six companies, you may be working on different continents and you will have very very long careers. The notion that you’re no longer a student when you start working is a relic of the industrial period in this country. I think we need to think creatively about how to equip students to keep learning after graduation and think about how Booth can be involved.”

How does Davis nurture creativity in his own life? Davis has been heavily involved with the Court Theatre and recently stepped down as the chairman of the board of the Seminary Co-Op. A lover of music—particularly jazz—he plays the classical guitar and used to play flute/classical guitar duets with his son. Reflecting on his time at Booth, the manner in which Davis describes his proudest accomplishments sheds light on what outcomes he personally values: “I’m happy that I was able to plant some seeds in a number of places that have stuck and sprouted. This may seem strange, but I love it when other people own them. And when these people don’t have any connection with me but, rather, they’ve made it their own.”

Araba is a second-year MBA student who enjoys learning about our professors beyond classroom interactions

First Years' First Impressions

Mairen Foley – First Year and First Time Business Woman

Hometown:  Glencoe, Illinois

KV:  Hardest part about not coming from a business background?

Mairen Foley, Class of 2018

Mairen Foley, Class of 2018

RA:  My background is in architecture, so a lot of what I am learning is completely new to me.  The learning curve can be quite steep at times.  However, I have not found anything to be overwhelming difficult because I am not the only one coming from a non-business background.  I kind of feel like we have the “we are all in this together” mindset.  It has been very helpful to work through assignments and projects with my classmates.  Additionally, those classmates that have business or finance backgrounds are very willing to help get everyone up to speed.  

KV:  What has surprised you most about Booth?

MF:  Coming in, I thought my background would be pretty non-traditional.  However, I learned that everyone at Booth is non-traditional.  Everyone has a unique story - where they are from, what they did before, or what they want to do.  It has been incredible learning in this diverse environment.

KV:  #WhyBooth moment?

MF:  When I got on a plane with 18 people I did not know to travel to some far away land that I knew nothing about...Random Walk South Africa was an awesome experience.  It was the perfect way to kick off my two years here at Booth – I made a lot of great friends and learned a lot about Booth before even stepping foot on campus.

Ruchira Amin – First Year and First Time to the U.S.

Hometown: Vadodara, India

KV:  Your arrival at Booth also marked your first time to the U.S. – how was the transition?

Ruchira Amin, Class of 2018

Ruchira Amin, Class of 2018

RA:  The first couple of days were crazy!  Everything was new to me – the food, the public transportation, the interactions with people.  Fortunately, I had some time to get settled in before Orientation+ began.  I was surprised to learn how automated and efficient some things are in the U.S.  In India, something like setting up a bank account can take days – there is a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork.  A lot of the processes in India are not nearly as efficient as they are in the U.S.

KV:  What has surprised you most about Booth?

RA:  The pay-it-forward culture here is very real.  I first experienced it as a prospective student when researching schools.  I reached out to 23 Booth alums on LinkedIn and every single one of them responded and was willing to chat.  I was really shocked.  I did not experience anything close to that with the other schools that I was considering.  Now, I experience the pay-it-forward culture daily.  Everyone in the Booth community is so willing to share advice and provide assistance.  I really think the culture is such a unique part of Booth.

KV:  #WhyBooth moment?

RA:  When selecting classes before the first quarter began, I emailed Professor Fama with a question about his class.  I was very surprised and very excited when he emailed back!  Although I did not end up taking his class, I did keep the email.  I tell my friends at home that I correspond with a Nobel laureate.

Kyle Veatch, Class of 2018

Kyle Veatch, Class of 2018

Kyle is a first-year MBA student who enjoys giving his classmates an insight into their peers’ thoughts