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Chat with the Dean

March 14, 2007—9:00-10:00AM CDT

Topic: Dean Ted Snyder; Chris Iannuccilli, Executive Director of Marketing, and second-year GSB students Lindsay and Demetrios field questions about the direction of the GSB, the power of the brand and new initiatives underway.

Melissa: Welcome! The chat will begin at 9:00 am CDT. Please feel free to begin submitting your questions now.

ChrisI:: Good morning. This is Chris Iannuccilli, Executive Director of Marketing for the GSB, and I'm happy to be here.

Lindsay: Good morning everyone! I'm a second year, concentrating in marketing and entrepreneurship. I spent my summer internship in Product Development at Brunswick, and I'm headed to American Express in NYC after graduation.

Demetrios: Good morning. My name is Demetrios. I am a second year student. I spent my summer internship with a private equity firm. I am looking forward to answering your questions.

DeanSnyder: Good morning everyone! I'm Ted Snyder. I'm delighted to join the chat.

Charlotte: In what ways does the GSB try to integrate or bring together the curriculum among separate courses?

DeanSnyder: The integration comes from a common approach -- the Chicago approach to Management Education -- as opposed to a "behind the curtain" effort by faculty to orchestrate particulars. The Chicago values are the unifier behind the flexible curriculum. So whatever you end up selecting as your curriculum, you'll end up experiencing a common feel -- challenge, leveraging what we call discipline-based knowledge, as well as empirical knowledge.

lho: Also, how hard is it for someone from a liberal arts background (i.e. non-quant) to succeed in quant classes at chicago?

Lindsay: I have many classmates who come from a non-quant background, and they have all managed just fine. There are optional pre-term classes you can take in preparation, and there are options like basic statistics and basic financial accounting that you can take first quarter to get you ready for the rest of the curriculum. And much of the class work is done in groups, so your classmates will also help you come up to speed.

MBApilot: It was great news to hear that Chicago GSB was ranked no.1 by Business Week in 2006. Could you tell us how Chicago GSB takes action to keep the top ranking next year?

DeanSnyder: Thanks. The recognition is great. Our approach is to stay focused on ensuring the integrity and quality of the program. The other imperative -- important in any organization -- is to keep the right balance between appreciating what we've achieved and what we need to do to improve. On the improve side, we're doing a lot to make the program better right now and in the near term. That includes improvements in facilities, career support, faculty hiring, global visibility and as always recruiting great students!

youngsin: How does the IMBA faculty at Chicago GSB prepare students for the ever changing trends in today's global marketplace?

Demetrios: Discussions on trends in the market place are not limited to just IMBA faculty/track. It is pervasive throughout the program. Professors bring up "real time" global events through class discussions and hand outs.

AlexeyM: Lindsay and Demetrios, may I ask you to elaborate on your most significant experience at the GSB?

Lindsay: That can be answered many ways. Classroom experience... taking the new venture/small business lab with Proof. Harrah, working on a team of 3 to craft a business plan for Goodwill of Chicago for a janitorial service using ex-convict labor as an earned income source for them. Awesome project. Student group... being a DSAC co-chair and having a significant role in recruiting and selecting the next generation of GSBers. Personal life... meeting my fantastic boyfriend, who is also a GSBer.

s_terifay: What surprises you most about the GSB brand? Who do you feel are the key tastemakers in establishing a consistent, yet evolving identity?

ChrisI:: Great question, s_terifay. What surprises me most about the GSB brand is how far-reaching it is. The GSB has touched lives around the globe. For example, at our recent Global Advisory Board meeting, I sat next to a senior official in the Vietnam finance department who described how Chicago and Milton Friedman had profoundly impacted the economy. It was great.

SVPN: Hello Mr. Snyder, I am excited to participate in a chat with you. My question: Chicago is greatly positioned among B-Schools. I think it is very well know for strengths in quantitive, finance areas. What do you think is its positioning in entrepreneurship? Where does it rank among other top schools?

DeanSnyder: SVPN, great question. We've approached entrepreneurship and private equity from a somewhat different point of view from a lot of schools. We in fact have leveraged our strengths in finance, accounting, and economics. The results are pretty amazing. "Entrepreneurship" is our 2nd highest concentration right behind finance. Our students and alumni have always been big in these fields. More seasoned alumni include people like Jerry Rao (Emphasis), Bill Conway (Carlisle), and Cem Cesmig (Investcorp). Somewhat younger entrepreneurs include the CEOs of Akami and Morningstar. Our alumni have a competitive advantage in the market -- they know how to in the words of Jim Kilts, former CEO of Gillette, "cut the baloney". What does that mean? You have to know how to put the entrepreneurship venture into a good financial framework and manage it to success.

Aqtan: LEAD appears to largely occur during the first year. Are there any leadership or team-building initiatives that are integrated into the second year of study?

Demetrios: There is nothing specifically built-in to the curriculum during the second year. However, there are a number of opportunities to exhibit leadership and team building throughout the two year program. For instance, serving as a Co-chair for a student run group is one example.

AdrianGomez: What is student life like regarding school organizations and on a social level in general?

Lindsay: There is always something going on! And because GSB students live in a variety of different neighborhoods in Chicago. You get the whole experience of the school and the city. Student groups organize lots of activities and conferences. On a social level, you can always find GSBers across the street at the Ida Noyes pub after class. I played in a weekly poker game with my classmates and some alumni. During football season, you could find me every Saturday with a group of GSBers drinking beer and watching the games. We also have a formal event in the winter. And people are always organizing trips. For example, a bunch of people are renting RVs and going to the Kentucky Derby this spring.

Robert: Hi - this question is for Dean Snyder. How has your approach to brand management changed since you became Dean in 2001 and what new challenges are on the horizon?

DeanSnyder: Robert, this is in many ways the key question. Our approach has been to (a) build the viral base, (b) stay focused on what is unique about Chicago, (c) more recently push multi-media, and (d) develop new initiatives such as the Initiative on Global Financial Markets. Let me just comment on the viral part. Each person who is part of our community is part of the effort to manage our brand. We'll talk more about this when we all gather next fall.

Melissa: Great questions so far! We have over 300 people in the chat! Keep those questions coming. Our speakers are standing by.

Robert: Chicago has been effective at clearly differentiating itself from its competition, through the culture of thought leadership and flexible curriculum geared towards more mature individuals. How do you see the brand changing over time?

ChrisI:: I see the brand expanding, for sure. We'll build on our well-known strengths in finance, economics and accounting and expand our reputation on other strengths such as marketing and entrepreneurship, two very strong programs at the GSB.

Joel123: Lindsay or Demetrios - Roughly, what percentage of first years live near Hyde Park vs. Downtown? I prefer to live Downtown but do not want to miss out on the social/networking aspects of the school. Any suggestions?

Demetrios: I chose to live on the northside. I would think that the majority of students live on the northside versus living in Hyde Park though I don't have a specific % breakdown. You won't miss out on the social/networking since most of it does take place on the northside.

Kalyan: Congratulations on being ranked #1 recently. It is much deserved considering all the great research that is conducted at the school. Could you tell me how this research helps shape the school's curriculum?

DeanSnyder: Kalyan, You've hit on a hot topic of debate now. The outgoing dean of MIT has said that research has gone "too far". I strongly disagree. We have a mix of research-oriented faculty and more practice-oriented faculty. When we look at the research-oriented faculty, they are among our best teachers. They bring their research into the classroom. More generally, we are in the business of teaching you how to understand organizations, how to understand markets, and recognize opportunities. We aren't going to teach a course on "execution". Our faculty will help you identify, however, what you should pursue and what you shouldn't. Last point: Good research and your professional development share a common value. It's all about improving on the "best approach". Listening, leveraging, and improving.

youngsin: How do you use the interview in the admissions process?

Rose: The interview is an additional point of evaluation by someone (student, staff or alumni) who has not read your application file. It is a chance for you to connect, tell your story, ask questions and get to know Chicago GSB's unique community.

pedro: Is there a pattern in the reasons that made current students choose the Chicago GSB against other top schools to which they were also admitted? What are the main reasons invoked?

Lindsay: I don't want to speak for the entire GSB, but I can tell you from my personal perspective. I chose the GSB because I fell in love with the culture the first time I visited and spent time with current students in the Wintergarden. I also wanted a lasting brand, if you will, on my resume, that would be recognized nationally and internationally as a valuable MBA. I think Chicago's approach to curriculum (fundamentals + flexibility) fits really well with my personality.

bdm: How would you compare the delivery of your curriculum, or the environment in which it is offered, to that of some of the other top schools in the country? Would you say that the flexibility that your program offers with its curriculum is something your students appreciate and see as an advantage over other programs? Thank you for your time.

Lindsay: I can't really speak to the curriculum at other schools because I have only attended the GSB. I think if you polled most of my classmates about why they chose the GSB, I think most would mention the flexible curriculum among their list of reasons. I personally love the flexible curriculum. It means I can take the classes that suit me best. It means I'm interacting with a different group of people each class, potentially first years and second years. For the 20 classes I'll take, I could have 20 unique study groups. I think the flexible curriculum actually helps you expand a bigger network than possible under a more structured curriculum. And because I didn't really want or need to take a finance class, I will graduate from the GSB without having taken a single finance class. That's pretty cool, in my opinion.

Eric627: Dear Panel: Should prospective full-time students be concerned about Chicago GSB's policy to allow part-time students to participate in on-campus recruiting with full-time students? Lindsay and Demetrios: Has this policy affected you personally at all? Thanks.

Lindsay: I recruited full-time, side by side with some part-time students, and from my personal experience, there is no need to be concerned. I became good friends with some part-time students through the process. In my opinion, you win or lose the job based on your own personal performance in the interview room. I don't view recruiting as competing with my classmates (FT or PT); I view it as trying to best communicate my fit with the company. It's not a zero-sum game. An offer to a part-timer doesn't take away an offer from a full-timer. At the end of the day, I want a Chicago GSBer to get an offer over another candidate from MBA program X, regardless of FT or PT. Part-timers are part of our alumni network, too, and I think that's a Chicago advantage.

Melissa: We've got 20 minutes left! There's still plenty of time for some questions. Feel free to submit them now!

youngsin: I am a full time applicant and am very much interested in the IMBA program Chicago GSB offers. What do you think distinguishes the GSB IMBA program from that of other leading institutions?

Rose: Chicago GSB's IMBA program is unique in several ways -- first, the core programming between the full-time MBA and IMBA is exactly the same. Meaning, you can focus in several areas of concentrations, have the same flexibility in choice and timing of courses, and develop relationships across the school and alumni. In addition, you will need to focus on a concentration in international business, have a high level proficiency in a language outside of our native language, do an international exchange program with one of our 33 sister schools around the world, and have the support of our IMBA alumni and international MBA program staff.

olfaction: I am at Yale. Yale School of Management has developed close ties to one of the emerging markets in China. Has Chicago GSB attempted to maintain an "intimate" relationship with a rapidly developing country or area on the planet? If so, which country or area? Thanks.

ChrisI:: Well, Chicago GSB has had a well-documented impact on international markets. It's really our school of thought that drives this -- the power of free markets -- and it has had wide-spread appeal. So we are not focused on any one country or area right now. On a related note, GSB professors like Raghu Rajan -- recently back from a 3-year run as Chief Economist of the IMF -- and Randy Kroszner -- member of the Fed Open Market Committee -- touch many economies in those roles.

Luis_Orensanz: I am most interested in Finance and Economics, which are Chicago's GSB most well regarded departments. However, I was wondering what is the strategy to try to leverage the Chicago GSB Brand to other fields such as marketing or the non-profit sector.

DeanSnyder: Luis, Another great question. The answers are different for the two fields you mention. We are pushing hard on marketing. We've got the best faculty in world in marketing. What we need to do is pump up the flow of students coming into the program with experience and interests in marketing. We've been making a lot of progress with the Kilts Scholars program. And it is changing the recruiting picture. American Express, for example, just added Chicago as a place where they recruit for marketing. Regarding non-profits, the story is different. A lot of our alumni are prominent in the non-profit sector. Andy Alper left Goldman Sachs after 9/11 to run NYC Economic Development. David Vitale is COO of Chicago Public Schools. But our view is that MBA students are not well served by a separate curriculum on non-profits. I've seen that stuff "up close and personal." So at Chicago, our view is let's teach you organizations and markets, and you can do everything and anything. Bottom line: Unlike marketing, which we are pushing, we won't push non-profits in the way others schools do.

Guanghao: Very good morning, Mr. Snyder. My name is Guanghao from Singapore. I know you and your administration team have worked hard to promote the GSB to the top school in the world since 2001. Could you please make some comments on the great achievements and what are the GSB's strengths besides economics and finance?

DeanSnyder: Dear Guanghao, FYI, I was just in your beautiful city 10 days ago. Our most important achievement is, in my view, in maintaining the quality and integrity of our programs. That means for our MBA students they share in the Chicago experience, in our values, and in the challenge and professional development that prepares you for your life's success. What lies ahead? We view our brand name as very strong, but uneven in terms of some functions and in some parts of the world. So we are pushing marketing and entrepreneurship, where we believe we are extraordinarily strong, but the recognition lags. Globally, I have upcoming trips to Tokyo, India, and Ukraine. We are very excited about our new Global Advisory Board and our faculty's new Initiative on Global Financial markets. The point of these efforts is to increase our visibility and influence globally.

Owen: I heard admitted 2nd round students will receive phone calls prior to March 28, is it true? If yes, how much time ahead? Thank you.

Rose: While we typically call admitted students a day in advance of the deadline, that all depends if we can complete our evaluation process in time. Hang in there

David: As I was told by some second-year students of Chicago GSB, few famous private equity firms, especially those based in Hong Kong, had on-campus recruitment last year. Since I'd like to do an internship at PE firms in Hong Kong, are you taking any measures to change this situation? Thank you very much.

Demetros: Most PE firms only take a handful of interns so it is difficult to gain critical mass from a recruiting perspective. That being said, a number of PE firms this past year have posted internships/fulltime offers both in the US and abroad (that is how I sourced my summer internship). The school provides a number of resources: PE Lab and PE Student Group (which sponsors conferences, guest speakers, resume book) which are all great resources for students interested in PE.

Melissa: We've got 10 minutes to go and plenty of room for more questions. Feel free to ask us anything!

Jon: What is the one thing you are most proud of about the GSB and the one thing you would most like to change?

DeanSnyder: Most proud? OK, I'm going to fudge and give two things. 1. The balance in support and challenge. We all know that "what you put in determines what you get out" The interesting question is, how does a school change the equilibrium? Chicago has done that by better supporting its students than any other school and by challenging its students in more important ways than any other school. 2. The improvement in viral marketing. The FAQ to me when I first started was, "Ted, what you going to do to market the school"? My response was, "What are we going to do to market the school?" That led to great conversations and ultimately building a school-wide viral marketing approach.

DeanSnyder: Most like to change? It relates to point 1 above. I'd like to insure that all of our students experience the Chicago Approach to Management Education every day, "many times" a day -- in the classroom, in team meetings, in casual conversations, and in their professional development. This is our ultimate competitive advantage and our ultimate challenge. We always have to fight against dilution of the experience.

Desong: Demetrios, if you were asked to give advice on how to better prepare for the MBA before you came to GSB, what would be the top 3 items you recommend?

DeanSnyder: Some advice I would give is to: 1) Come in with a clear focus with respect to what career track you are interested in 2) Take the summer off and travel 3) Participate in random walk. Then come into the program prepared to work.

lho: Student life/culture and feeling like I'm part of something that is closely-knit is very important to me. Does the fact that Chicago, having only one core class and no designated study groups, still have that close-knit sense of community that a small school like tuck has?

Demetrios: The size of the GSB student body I think is an advantage. It is a great opportunity to meet students with different backgrounds and career aspirations than myself.

Demetrios: You won't have any problem finding opportunities to spend time with your classmates in a meaningful setting. The only issue you will have is finding enough time in the day to fit it all in.

Roth_Jayachandran: Do you see a lot of firms recruiting students for a job in International Business (for example helping Starbucks setup operations in China)? My focus is emerging markets. I am hoping to get your thoughts on the job market in this domain?

DeanSnyder: Dear Rohith, yes! In my first year (2001), we put permanent staff outside the US to take advantage of the strong demand for Chicago grads all around the world. So the networks are very strong and many firms around the world are hiring Chicago grads. Our placement results are extremely strong for both students from the US and from outside the US, for students seeking jobs outside the US and in the US.

Robert: How might a Nobel price for Richard Thaler's work in Behavioral Economics change the image of Chicago GSB?

DeanSnyder: Robert, more Nobel prizes would be a good thing. That said, for people in the know -- and I'm going to include you in that set based on your question -- Chicago has the best faculty in finance and in behavioral decision-making. Debate here isn't a contact sport, but it is pretty close. Of note, the only two winners of the Fisher Black prize for top young scholars in Finance are at Chicago -- Raghu Rajan and Toby Moskowitz.

AmyA How do you see Chicago GSB evolving over the next few years?

ChrisI:: Amy, I'll go back to what Dean Snyder said to answer this. We've really got to stick to our two-part strategy: first, (continue to) deliver Chicago values and second, align around our key relationships. We feel that Chicago GSB is more of a business FORCE than a business school. Our plan is to keep delivering on the values that make us a business force.

Melissa: The chat has now ended. Thank you all for your participation! A transcript will be available in the Chat Center on Friday. Have a great day!

Lindsay: Thanks to everyone for participating! If you have any follow-up questions, please post them to the discussion forum. We are always happy to help you learn more about Chicago GSB. And if you get an Admit, be sure come to Admit Weekend in April and experience the GSB for yourself!

DeanSnyder: This has been great. My bottom line comment is that Chicago is the school that has the momentum. The energy in the Chicago GSB community is amazing. One recruiter said recently that we were on a "different planet" when it came to how our MBA students were supporting each other. That and so much else makes me proud to be part of the best business school in this and any other galaxy.

DeanSnyder: Best regards, Ted

ChrisI: It's been great chatting with you. I look forward to continuing the conversation in the fall.

Demetrios: Thank you for participating.