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Chat with Executive MBA current students and alumni

March 23, 2010 — 12:00-1:00 PM CST

Moderator: Hi, we will begin the chat in 10 minutes. Please submit your questions!

Patricia: Good afternoon! Welcome to the chat. I'm Patricia Coffey, Associate Director of Admissions

Kate: Welcome All! I am a current student within the EMBA program. I currently work as a Division Marketing Manager for a global agricultural manufacturing company. I look forward to answering your questions today. Thanks!

Stacy: Hello everyone. My name is Stacy Waters and I graduated from the EMBA program a year ago (XP-78). I communted from Dallas, TX fro the program. Welcome!

Toby: Hi everyone and welcome. My name is Toby Cortelyou, I am the Associate Director of Admission and Marketing. Remember today's chat topic is the Student Experience and we have some great students and alumni here to answer your questions!

Rafi: Hi to everyone. I graduated a year ago with XP-78. One of the best experiences of my life. I am currently a senior product manager with a Japanese electronics manufacturer.

Moderator: Just a reminder, the topic of this chat is the student experience. We have a current student as well as 2 recent alumni on this chat today who can answer your questions about their experience in the program!

SL__Guest_: Given that most students in the EMBA have careers that can have unpredictable time commitments. What happens if a class is missed? Are they recorded?

Rafi: People do miss class. Every professor is different so you need to let them know in advance. Classes are not recorded; however handouts and lecture slides are always available. This is where your study group comes in to help you fill in the gaps. All that being said, you will not want to miss class as this if where most of the real learning takes place and the fantastic interaction between the professor and classmates takes place.

Abhi__Guest_: Is it possible that I can Travel once in a month and follow up on the other friday i missed by attending online?

Toby: Hi Abhi - Actually no, we require that students be in the class. We do not offer any online courses.

Mike__Guest_: Booth being a strong finance school can u say that EMBA is equally strongly focused on finance?

Kate: While the EMBA's main focus is position you for upper (general) management, the EMBA does offer a concentration in finance. In my experience, I thought the finance classes were thorough and rigorous. Finance was my weakest area going into the EMBA and I came out feeling that I was prepared to take on any finance issue that would come up.

Abhi__Guest_: How many times does the Class meetup on an average over a month?

Patricia: Hi Abhi. The program meets every other weekend in Chicago. Attendance is required/expected at every class weekend. A calendar of class weekends for the class starting in June can be found at http://programs.chicagobooth.edu/execmba/docs/XP81-calendar.pdf

Nonye__Guest_: Rafi & Stacy: What are some the things you have done to stay connected with your former classmates?

Rafi: Rafi here. First off, Booth does a great job of organizing events around the country for alumni. My class continues to have monthly lunches and happy hour events. My global class is meeting in Miami this summer. I have really enjoyed continuing to see people.

Mike__Guest_: EMBA focused on wide general management or on focused areas.

Kate: Hi Mike, EMBA focuses on building your business fundamentals. For instance, we started the curriculum with accounting and microeconomics, and then each quarter we build on those principles. While it does provide a general management perspective, you have the opportunity to focus in on specific topics within the classes and via a specialization week offered prior to graduation.

Tes__Guest_: Hello, will you be answering admissions questions today?

Patricia: Hi Tes, This chat is for student experience. However, we can answer a few admissions questions. Feel free to contact us offline at XP@ChicagoBooth.edu

Derek__Guest_: Hi, I'm planning to take a trip to Chicago from Chico CA April 16- 18th 2010 and I was wondering if it is possible to schedule an appointment to get to know admissions and the campus more. The problem is April 16th I will be free around 4:30pm and the next following two days are weekends. Is an appointment possible during those time as I'm very interested in going to Booth? Thank you

Patricia: Hi Derek -- we can certainly set up a time to meet with you. Feel free to contact us at XP@ChicagoBooth.edu to schedule a meeting.

Mike__Guest_: Difference in depth and rigor or curriculum between EMBA and MBA

Toby: Hi Mike. The depth and rigor of the EMBA and MBA will be very similar. The biggest differences in the program are the flexibility of the curriciulum and the demographics of the students. The EMBA program has a lock-step curriculum, meaning we have a set list of courses and order in which you will take them. The students in the full-time program simply have more choice. In terms of demographics the students in the EMBA program are typically more seasoned with an average age of 36 along with 13 years of professional work experience.

Masoud__Guest_: Hi everyone - I am a propsective applicant, and I was wondering if I could hear from the students and alumni what they consider as the one single factor that distinguishes Chicago Booth from the rest (in other words why did each of you choose Booth)?

Kate: Hi Masoud, Chicago Booth was distinguished from the rest due to their focus on analytics. I have a marketing background, and wanted to strengthen my analytical skills and understanding. Chicago Booth certainly challenges and delivers that approach in teaching style and curriculum.

BPC__Guest_: Can you provide an estimate of weekly time spent on classwork outside of the classroom. Also please comment on how you balance class, work, family. Thanks!

Kate: Hi BPC, I spend between 5-10 hours per week depending on the class. Prior to exams or major projects, that may increase, but on average 5-10 hours. Each person balances differently. I find I focus 1-2 nights per week on school, but then spend Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon working through the coursework. Others I know, focus on it during the week (either taking time off of work or in the evening) so they can spend as much time with their family as possible on the weekends. After the 1st quarter, you start to find your routine on what works best for you.

Prosasty__Guest_: My question is for Stacy. It is difficult for students not living in the area to take advantage of all the career services ( like one-to-one coaching and others) ? Did you go back to the same company in Dallas after EMBA ? How much did working and career services help?

Stacy: Hi Prosasty. I owned my consulting firm for 17 years - and was the owner during the program. Therefore, Career Services was not of interest to me. Part of my goal with the program was to aquire the skills, knowledge and tools to help me sell the company and start a new career path. Without a doubt, Booth gave me that and more. I sold the company and as a result of networking with classmates moved easily into a completely new field and position. Also, you should know that many of my classmates traveled in and many of them used Career Services to full potential. They did not find the distance issue an obstacle. I would have to say that the XP program offers more opportunities for networking with other C-level classmates that is so rich, that most people found terrific contacts within our own class space and with class mates in one class above us and behind us. The international networking experience was fruitful for some of my classmates as well. I hope this helps.

G-488926765__Guest_: hi all, the question to the alumni - how much time you need to spend daily/weekly at home between the modules to success? thanks

Kate: Hi, I spend about 5-10 hours per week working on the class information. A few nights a week, but primarily I study Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Depending on the topic, I may study more. For instance, Accounting was a challenge for me, so I had to study more for that class then for Macroeconomics.

Nonye__Guest_: How far in advance before the start of each quarter will students receive the syllabus and course material?

Kate: Hi Nonye, typically we receive the information about a month before the next class.

BPC__Guest_: Thanks Katie, that's very helpful. Is that 5-10 hours per class per week or 5-10 hours total?

Kate: Hi BPC, 5-10 hours per week per class. Thanks!

Nonye__Guest_: As a follow-up to how far in advance do students receive course materials, was it realistic to try to get a head start on the quarters?

Toby: Hi Nonye. I think you'll find that the week to week work in the program is enough to keep you busy without thinking too far ahead in the curriculum. That said we do distribute your books for the upcoming quarter about a monthe before that quarter starts.

Eugene__Guest_: Do you have a list of employers who have previously sponsored your students?

Toby: Hi Eugene. We don't have a list like that. We have a very diverse group of organizations that sponsor our students. Sponsorship is different for every student, it can be financial (to that end it can be 100% or some other percent of tuition) or it can be sponsorship of the time committment for the program. If you are interested in learning about the policy of a specific organization I would encourage you to get in touch with them. Otherwise, I would contact your manager or HR department to determine what your company's specific policies are.

Abhi__Guest_: How important is it to have accounting back ground for coping up with the curriculum?

Kate: Hi Abhi, I certainly do not have an accounting background, and the curriculum is challenging but manageable.

Bill__Guest_: I have a friend who graduated XP 78 and he mentioned that unlike other schools, Chicago is a very individual experience from the student aspect. He was thrilled that the grades were independently earned and given as opposed to other schools that might split into teams. My whole career has been very independent, and not team driven. I am concerned that a prospective employer may criticize the lack of team experiences. Can any of the students or alumni comment on that?

Kate: Hi Bill, you are evaluated individually, but to really gain from your Booth experience the network and group study is critical. For instance, this past quarter we had both individual and team assignments, that we would review and teach each other weekly. Each person brings different strengths to the group, and so we leverage that to learn for our individual assignments and exams. Secondly, most classes thus far have a signicant portion of the grade driven from group projects or assignments. You have to work well with your team to get them done successfully. Personally, I think it is a good balance.

Moderator: We are halfway through the chat. We have received great questions thus far and will continue to answer as many as we can in the next 30 minutes!

G-488926765__Guest_: what is the faculty attention to the students? do the students have a personal care/service for the acses from the faculty staff? what is the ratio students to faculty? Thanks

Rafi: This could be the single greatest aspect of this program. The professors treat you as a peer. They expect you to challenge them. They have the theory, you have the experience. It comes together in the classroom. In my experience, professors were very approachable. I had direct dialog with every professor and met with several of them outside the classroom. Also, the TA's were really good and often held additional lectures to help add material. The ratio is 1 professor to 90 students but again I would stress the peer to peer interaction with the professor.

Fran__Guest_: Any suggestions for obtaining financing in order pay for the ful term of the program?

Toby: Hi Fran. I would encourage you to visit our financial aid website and get in touch with a member of their staff to learn more about the options you have in terms of financing your education. You can visit them at this url http://www.chicagobooth.edu/execmba/admissions/financialaid.aspx

Steven__Guest_: Does the MBA help you with career opportunities?

Kate: Hi Steven, Terrific question and one that I had when I started the program. I owned a successful consulting firm at that time for over 15 years. A driving reason for getting my MBA was to gain the skills, knowledge and tools that would help me to form an exit strategy. Booth gave me that and more. As of February 1st, I am now the AVP of Development for University of Chicago Medical Center. The MBA opened this door for me without a doubt.

Mat__Guest_: Are the relationships built with other students something you've maintained post-Booth? Is this a part of the value-added you've experienced? Or do people go their separate ways?

Stacy: Hi Mat. I cannot speak to other classes but I can tell you that our class (XP78) is definitely well connected. The relationships are transformative and life long. Just this month, I will have 2 dinners with different sets of classmates, 1 fund raising event in which several of us will attend, and 3 one-on-one coffee meetings with former classmates. We also have a reunion planned for Miami later this year that will involved our classmates from London and Singapore.

Tes__Guest_: Are professors available outside of classes for question , concerns etc?

Rafi: Yes the professors are available. They treat you like peers. They want to learn from you and engage in rigorous discussions. I met with several professors outside the classroom and had countless email exchanges.

Abhi__Guest_: What kind of career services can Exec MBA Students expect?

Toby: Career Services at Chicago Booth include everything from resume prep and mock interviews to one-on-one coaching and industry workshops. I would encourage you to visit their website to learn more - here is the url http://www.chicagobooth.edu/execmba/career/index.aspx

Nonye__Guest_: Question for current students and alum: What were the most challenging aspects of the program?

Kate: Hi Nonye, thanks for the question. The curriculum is challenging, but applicable and managable. The combination of study, travel, personal, and work time has probably been the hardest to balance. There are busy times for each area of your life that gets challenging to balance, but in time you figure out how to manage.

Mat__Guest_: Do study groups change from time to time, or are you together for the whole program?

Toby: Hi Mat. We will change your study groups every quarter.

Abhi__Guest_: I am currently working in Seattle. Travelling every alternate Friday could be a challenge for me. Is there any options that can mitigate this?

Stacy: Hello Abhi. I graduated a year ago (XP-78) and traveled from Dallas every alternate Friday. While it was difficult the first quarter, I quickly learned how to maximize my time on the plane trip. I found that coming in on Wednesday nights worked best for me. I would work remotely on Thursdays from Chicago. I owned a consulting firm at the time so this was easy for me. Then on Thursday afternoons I would "flip the switch" and start to prepare for the Friday class. I found that coming in on Wednesdays gave me time to be more settled and prepared for class. Most of my other classmates that traveled could not do this and found that coming in Thursdays was equally adequate. A mistake to avoid is flying in on Friday mornings or late Thursday nights. With weather and other travel delays, this can cause problems for you quickly. Again, maximize your study time on the plane trips and get in as early as you can. Also, finding one hotel that you prefer helps. Build a relationship with them and this will help you to find your home away from home "groove".

AT__Guest_: As a current student or an alumni what are your comments on the curriculum of the EMBA program. How tailored can the EMBA curriculum be as compared to weekend or part-time MBA?

Rafi: The EMBA is designed to prepare you for upper (general) management and therefore is specifically well rounded. That being said, the program just started to offer concentrations this year. http://www.chicagobooth.edu/execmba/academics/curriculum/index.aspx The EMBA is a different experience in that we stay together as a single group of students for the full 2 years. Discussions are much more in depth and at a higher level.

AT__Guest_: Hi all, This question is directed towards Stacy or Katie. Is there any experience on campus as EMBA student which stand out or you would like to share?

Stacy: The first thing that comes to mind is the international campus experience in Singapore and London. The exposure to classmates from over 25 other countries was invaluable to me in terms of learning about the cultural differences in strategy and negotiation styles. In terms of a local Chicago experience, it would have to be some of the more quiet moments such as small dinners and social activities with my classmates that stand out to me. These are relationships that are transformative and life long.

marsoi__Guest_: Good afternoon Katie. I also work in global Agriculture manufacturing company. My previous job was as Program Manager of a new product in South America - I had every department (from Mkt to Product Eng to Financials to Mfg ...) as a matrix leadership organization. However few months ago I accepted a position in the US w/ lower status & responsibility due to personal reasons. Do I have a chance to be accepted at EMBA program, once I plan to keep working during my MBA time?

Kate: Hi Marsoi, good point. I am still employed full-time while completing the EMBA program. I travel about 40% of the time globally, and am able to manage the work and school.

Kelly__Guest_: As students in the program what would you say is most beneficial with regards to the international componet of the course work (trips to England and Singapore)?

Rafi: This is for Lee and Kelly regarding the international experience. I really appreciated that I spent a total 4 weeks with the international students in the classroom. These were actual graded courses. This was enough time to really learn and see the perspectives of other countries and cultures. I had a negotiation class where one project was myself and a Japanese woman against a man from Germany and one from the UK. It was really intense but rewarding. In the international weeks, you have an international study group and you have to prepares cases and give presentations. It was a great component to this program and makes it unique in the EMBA field.

Moderator: There are 15 minutes left in the chat. Please continue to submit your questions and we will answer as many as we can!

G-509091762__Guest_: While in the program, how are study groups organized and how often are they required to meet?

Stacy: Study groups are assigned at the beginning of the program. You are given other opportunities to change study groups during the program. If memory serves, you have two chances. It is not rigid. For example, there was at least one occassion where someone wanted to join another group because they just had more in common in terms of study styles, personality, etc. The class is a mature group of seasoned professionals and we all understand these things. Our class made a pact up front to honor the fact that someone may want to move away from a group and join another. You will have an international study group for international weeks and a local study group in Chicago. It is the local study group in which you have an opportunity to change. I stayed with my group from beginning to end. They were a terrific support. You will find that sometimes you do the heavy lifting in your group and other times, another classmate will do it. It is a true testament to teamwork. If you don't have a good rapport with your group, don't be hesitant to move. Again, it is accepted in my experience.

Fran__Guest_: Rafi, you meantion that you have enjoyed continuing to see people. Which leads me to believe that you see them on a more social basis. But what is the professional networking like? Both during the program and after?

Rafi: I see people both socially and for business. You will leave this program with an entrepreneurial spirit that leads you to engage in business discussions. I was just at a Bulls game last night discussing a new business proposition with someone from XP-76. I could attend an organized Booth event almost every night of the week if I wanted. This is true as a student and as an alum.

Abhi__Guest_: What is the immediate impact you have had in your current work place after starting the classes..Can you quote some instances?

Kate: Hi Abhi, my first classes were accounting and microeconomics. Within the first few weeks, I was already asking better questions and applying my accounting information when discussing with our division controller. It provided me a better foundation, and a more solid understanding of the financial information I have to review and apply.

Gracias__Guest_: Hi Pat/Toby, I finsihed my degree [10+2+3 system] back in India, how does it meet up with Chicago Booth's eligibility criteria

Toby: Hi Gracias - the Indian 10+2+3 system is certainly fine in terms of eligibility. Remember though that your academic experience is only one part of the application process and we take a holistic approach to application evaluation.

Lee__Guest_: What wld u describe as the biggest takeaway from the XP program?

Rafi: Confidence. Confidence to face any situation in business (or in life) and know that you are positioned to excel. You are taught how to think as well as given knowledge but learning how to think is the key. You join a world-class institution with an incredible alumni base to leverage. And your classmates will become friends for life.

Kelly__Guest_: I am an engineer applying for June 2010. Not having a finance / marketing / sales background is a little concerning for me. What do you believe are the biggest challenges for a non-business person in the program?

Rafi: I have an Electrical Engineering undergrad degree from Northwestern. I had never taken an accounting or finance class in my life. As an engineer, you fill find comfort in the numbers. This is a huge advantage. You will have to learn the language and vocabulary of business. But, logic is always present which engineering prepares you well for. I graduated with high honors.

Sourabh__Guest_: I am in Seattle, do you have students doing exec MBA from remote locations and hows the expereince?

Patricia: Hi Sourabh -- we have students who travel from Seattle, as well as many other areas of the country, to attend the program. We will be happy to connect you with someone to share their experience. Please contact us at XP@ChicagoBooth.edu

Mat__Guest_: When you think back on your "student experience" what stands out the most? What was the most surprising? Most satisfying?

Stacy: Mat, what stands out for me the most on the student experience is the camaraderie of my class. By the end of the first quarter, you will already have met lifelong friends. It was surprising to me how 80+ people could bond so quickly and work to help each other. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and it was nice to be able to lean on them when others in our work or home world did not know exactly what we were experiencing in terms of balancing it all. You will find your classmates to be strong sounding boards. This feeling remains today - and it is satisfying to know that I could call on my classmates for advice or assistance without question. It is a unique bond that is forged.

Amit__Guest_: Question for alums, how much of the actual teaching in the class uses case studies as a teaching method as opposed to theoritical teahing? I realize that it might depend on the course but I am interested in finiding out school's general philosophy in this regard

Rafi: This is not a case study school. This is a school that believes in teaching you how to think and analyze any subject. Every subject began with learning theory (ex. we hand calculated standard deviations to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the measurement). We used case studies only to provide real world context in which to talk about the theory and thinking methodology. Case studies did NOT provide the knowledge. A critical difference.

Abhi__Guest_: Do Exec MBAs have opportunity to network with Recruiters who come for recruiting the Regular MBA grads?

Toby: Hi Abhi. No the on campus recruiting is not available to Exec MBA students. Primarily the positions that are offered through on campus recruitment are junior to anything EMBA students would be a fit for. That said just last month we had our first ever Booth Part-time program career fair of sorts. Over 300 employers and 500 students gathered at the Gleacher center to mix and mingle.

Srini__Guest_: Is it too late to apply now for the summer program - how many seats have filled up so far?

Toby: Hi Srini. No it is not too late. Our final application deadline is next week, April 1st. The number of seats that have already been filled is not information we share publically. Should we have a full class by the time your application is evaluated you could still potentially be put on a sort of waitlist or be offered a spot for the class in 2011.

Sourabh__Guest_: Emial works really good fo me given hectic schedule, For the september session, who should i contact for admissions?

Patricia: Sourabh -- you can contact us at XP@ChicagoBooth.edu for questions about admissions. As a reminder, the EMBA program admits one class each year. The program begins in summer quarter (June).

Masoud__Guest_: Stacy, as someone who had her own business, as an entrepreneur, what was the most valuable contribution that Booth made to your business, and how would you say you contributed to the class?

Stacy: Booth helped me to think in a more rigourous and nimble manner. That is, not to be bogged down in the day to day and to look much further out in terms of strategy than just the next fiscal year. Also, when I did have challenges with my own business - for example when to expand, where to launch a new service, etc. - I had professors and classmates that would give their perspective in a meaningful and responsible way. I guess you could say that my professors and classmates served in a "consulting role" to me from time to time. I would say my biggest contribution to the class was to offer up the perspective of the small business owner. These experiences are often referred to as "real world" but I think we all have those experiences regardless of the size of the organization. I also contributed to the colloborative and positive spirit our class had because I believe in practicing support to others and keeping things light. A good sense of humor and a positive attitude will go a long way in this kind of program. Resilence is key for survival along with a good study group and a sense of goodwill.

marsoi__Guest_: Toby, What kind of experiences I should highlight in my essays? My background is Engineering, but I've experienced several initiatives on strategy planning & implementation (in 11 years of experience), as well as international expousure & learning (my last program I work simultaneously w/ US, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, India & China.

Toby: Hi Marsoi. You should highlight the experiences you believe would be most beneficial to your classmates. One of the biggest questions we ask while evaluating applications is "what value will this applicant add to the expeirence of his/her classmates."

Masoud__Guest_: Thans Katie. Could I also ask others to comment on the same question (why did you choose Booth)?

Stacy: Masoud, I chose Booth specifically because I wanted to strengthen my skills in business finance and economics at one of the most highly regarded schools in the nation. So much so, that I commuted from Dallas, TX specifically for this program's strength and reputation. I considered no other schools seriously.

RS__Guest_: Thanks for the staff and students for taking time off to answer our questions. I have a question for the students/alumni -> What do you feel is Booth's biggest differentiator from other EMBA schools apart from the well rounded curriculum and faculty.

Rafi: Booth teaches you how to think. It teaches you the theory and tools to use in looking at an issue/problem. This is the key. The real world does not fit neatly into a case study or text book.

Steven__Guest_: When will the application period begin for 2011 class?

Patricia: Hi Steven, The 2011 application period begins the first week of August 2010. The 2011 application will be live at that time.

Tes__Guest_: Is the EMBA offered with an International Business focus?

Toby: Hi Tes. The EMBA program is a lock-step curriculum with the optino to choose a concentration in Finance, Strategy or Marketing. However I would say that the program does a superb job of preparing students to perform in any international business role. With a campus in each London and Singapore and 25% of your classtime being spent with students from more than 50 different countries your exposure to international business practice is significant.

G-509091762__Guest_: For current students and alumni, what is the professional advancement in salary and responsabilities experienced through the program and after completion?

Rafi: 90 students. 90 different situations. What is constant is that we all emerged different and uniquely qualified to excel in business. I had classmates advance while in school and since graduation.

Toby: Thank you everyone for your questions today. If you have any follow up please feel free to email us at xp@chicagobooth.edu. Have a great day!

Stacy: This is my official sign off. I have enjoyed answering as many questions as I could in the time allowed. I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors. I can only add that choosing the XP program is one of the best personal and professional committments I have ever made. All the best, Stacy

Rafi: Thanks to everyone for taking the time to chat. I highly recommend that you take an in depth look at Booth. It is worth you time and effort to evaluate this school. This school changed my life.

Moderator: The chat has now ended. You can read a transcript of this chat within 48 hours at http://www.chicagobooth.edu/execmba/chat/archive.aspx