By Pushya Jataprolu '16
ChiBus caught up John Evarts ‘05, when he was recently on campus to weigh in as one of the judges of the Leadership Challenge conducted by the LEAD office. John enjoys coaching Booth students as Executive-in-Residence and alumni mentor. And when he’s not busy with one of these activities at school, he is the COO/CFO of Mediafly, the customer interaction platform helping companies with large field sales organizations like PepsiCo, ThermoFisher, MillerCoors and SAP deliver the perfect in-person selling experience.
[ChiBus]: How do you make time to visit Booth for about two events every year?
[John Evarts]: When someone from the Alumni office reaches out to me, I say yes first and then figure out how to keep my commitment. I love the school and the ability to connect with extremely talented individuals, both students and alums.
[CB]: What drew you towards the Leadership Challenge for five consecutive years?
[JE]: It is unique and outstanding in providing rich, customized feedback, very early on, to the students when the stakes are low in a case study almost like real time. And the quality of my fellow alums who participate and cite real boardroom examples is incredible. In my conversations with students after these events, they have usually described their experience as second to none.
[CB]: Switching gears to your career, most people would find one C-suite role challenging enough. How is it being COO/CFO of Mediafly?
[JE]: I appreciate the compliment! For a growing start up the CFO’s role is a little bit simpler and less time consuming when compared to a large scale organization with strategic elements associated with it. At the same time, there is a huge opportunity with the COO role to impact the strategic step changes and the longer-term projects we should be working on. They go hand in hand especially at an early startup. To take it a step further, what you’re starting to see in a lot of companies is a much closer link between the operational strategy and the finance domains.
[CB]: The average work experience for Exec MBA folks is 13 years. With five years of work, what motivated you to pursue an Exec MBA while everyone else your age was looking at the full-time MBA route?
[JE]: For me the Exec MBA was as valuable for the network as it was for the education. As a young executive I knew I wanted to expand my network of executives, and thought leaders from attorneys to HR and marketing experts. One way I perceived this was achievable was through the Exec MBA program and it has indeed proved valuable.
[CB]: What was your favorite course?
[JE]: I really enjoyed Professor Gibbs’ Microeconomics. I did take a version of it during undergrad. But to be in a C-suite position and to see factors that drive business was seeing it from a very different perspective. Microeconomics really came to life at work once I got back to the office on Monday, ready to put my learnings into action.
[CB]: Are there any study group members you are still in touch with?
[JE]: Our section group was a great cross-section, pretty special and unique. And I do keep in touch with a number of folks I traveled with and we all catch up fairly regularly.
[CB]: Booth encourages the pay it forward attitude. And students do so as and when they can. But how do you suggest students from all the Booth programs develop a robust pay it forward habit for many years ahead?
[JE]: The value of the program depends largely on how much you put in. I have got as much or more than my volunteering activities. I have found it incredibly rewarding to connect individually, mentor and help students connect with others. By finding what you’re passionate about and involving yourself in ways that keep you engaged and excited, you’d start with one small step and continue into bigger contributions.
Pushya is the People Editor with ChiBus and finds the pay-it-forward attitude and success stories of alumni heartwarming.