"I love basketball. I love baseball. I've followed those sports all my life," says second-year student Anthony Dedousis. So before business school, while working in corporate strategy and consumer banking at Capital One, he decided to pursue a career in sports—and a well-rounded education at Chicago Booth.
"Sports organizations are very much a business. They haven't always been run that way, but they're starting to become more analytical," Dedousis adds. "They're starting to appreciate the MBA skill set."
Through Booth, he enhanced his skills in entrepreneurship and leadership, and connected with sports teams, leagues, and businesses that partner with sports organizations.
During his first year at Booth, Dedousis cemented his transition away from banking and corporate strategy by landing an internship in the Chicago office of Catapult Sports, a small but growing Australian company that makes wearable devices and software for elite athletes.
"I've been very pleased," Dedousis says of his MBA decision. "The Booth program has over-delivered."
"My role at Catapult is in corporate development, but it's a small organization—about 60 people worldwide and 15 in the Chicago office—so I'm sort of a jack-of-all-trades. I'm working on strategy projects, I'm doing market sizing, I'm researching competitors, doing basic M&A analysis, I'm helping give presentations. Really, it's a pretty fluid role."
Dedousis says that from his first days at Booth, LEAD and other courses have prepared him well for his big career move.
"I've developed better leadership skills, and I can communicate in a way that gets my ideas across. The experience of LEAD, the experience of working in small teams in various courses, have been very helpful in helping me address the little subtleties of communicating beyond the actual words I'm saying or the words in an email," Dedousis adds.
"I know these are small things, but they've been helpful as I adapt to working in a small environment, which is different for me, considering that I was in a very big one before."
Classroom time also produced on-the-job breakthroughs, Dedousis says.
"One of the assignments I've worked on at Catapult has been trying to estimate how big the potential market size is for our devices and software.
"I've done this before, in one of my favorite classes, Commercializing Innovation," taught by Scott F. Meadow, clinical professor of entrepreneurship. "I just pulled up the model from the class and tweaked it, so I found that to be very handy."
Dedousis further impressed his colleagues by helping his manager prepare a presentation during the much-watched NBA Summer League, which attracts many of Catapult's customers. And he contributed thought leadership during a quarterly sales meetings, drawing again from classroom experience.
"We had an interesting, freewheeling discussion for about 90 minutes," he recalls, "and I was able to bring up parallels and examples I had learned about from my marketing and competitive strategy classes: 'This company does it this way for this reason. Maybe we should think about doing that because we're similar in this way.' So I was applying some of what I'd learned in classes from cases. I felt very much like a part of the conversation, that people cared what I thought."
Outside of class, Dedousis strengthens his leadership skills as a co-chair of the student-led Media Entertainment and Sports Group and a co-chair of the music-focused student group AudioBooth. For fun, he helped start a band that's gaining a small following.
All of that happened because he came to Booth to follow his passion for sports.
"Most MBAs are a passionate group. They're a smart, hard-charging, ambitious group," Dedousis says. "When you're in an environment where people are exciting and capable, it challenges you to raise your game. It creates opportunities to bounce ideas off each other and create groups and events."
"Being in that sort of environment has made me more creative, has made me a better leader and even more of a people person. In any sort of business environment, whether it's sports, entrepreneurship, or anything else, having those kinds of relationships and people skills are valuable."