Before returning to Booth for her MBA, Catherine worried that she might be seen as a nonperformer during her studies. But she was pleasantly surprised that her company and colleagues actually valued her contributions even more.
I think one of the biggest concerns many students have coming into the program is that Booth will take away from their time at work, and therefore, they’ll be seen as a nonperformer in their company. But this is absolutely not the case. In fact, for me, it was quite the opposite.
When I first approached my company to allow me the flexibility that I needed to participate in this program, I was fortunate that they were very supportive. But what I found as I attended the classes was that I’d often be thinking about some of the challenges and opportunities back at work, and, by taking the time to reflect on them, I was able to return to my role with better ideas. My company really benefited tremendously from my time away because I came back more focused and able to make better key decisions.
The process Booth has put in place really does help you to improve your decision-making. It’s a cliché, but the world is shrinking, and we’re getting inundated with more and more information and data. So it’s a veritable challenge to take all these pieces of information and put them together to determine the correct way to move forward.
But Chicago Booth does just that. It gives you systematic ways to evaluate information and to be confident in your analysis and conclusions. It gave me the mindset and the tools to make more accurate decisions and to look at issues from a more moderate point of view. Just the other day, I was in a planning session where we were trying to balance a variety of issues and all of a sudden, I thought, why not use a decision tree like we’d done in our statistics class? So we did, and it really helped us to organize our thoughts and to clearly see, as a group, what the ramifications of each of our choices might be.
Chicago Booth takes you out of your comfort zone, everyday. It challenged me not just in the classroom but with our discussion groups as well. The result is that it’s empowered me to interact more confidently with senior management. It prepared me to move up many levels in my career, and gave me the exposure I needed to move into my regional role.
The biggest takeaway of the program, for me, is the global network. You have the opportunity to interact with so many different types of students from various nationalities and backgrounds. In my cohort we had students from large multinational companies, and we had SMEs, and entrepreneurs, so we all came from such different perspectives in the business world. And we had classmates from everywhere, including Vietnam, America, Japan, and Malaysia. I mean, that was just from one campus. Now take that level of global representation and multiply it by three, to include all the Booth campuses. I left the program feeling like I had contacts and people to reach out to in so many different business areas, globally.
We were able to interact and share with each other our experiences from our current organizations to see alternative points of view. I found that very critical to my learning process, and it helped me to see other viewpoints and how others might perceive a situation differently from me. It helped me factor in a multitude of perspectives before I came to my conclusions.
When I came to Chicago Booth, I was handling projects for a local company in Singapore. Upon graduation, I moved into a regional role with a bank in Dubai. After two years, I moved back to Singapore where I now have a regional role handling markets for American Express. The program really prepared me very well to handle multinational issues on a day-to-day basis.