Alumni Organizations Extend Booth's Reach
When Erik Wallsten, ’04, returned to his native Mexico after earning his MBA, five or six students a year from Mexico were attending Booth. Now, eight years after Wallsten first became active in the Alumni Club of Mexico and expanded its programs, three times as many students a year are heading to the school.
One of the club’s missions is to get the Booth name out to top prospects who might not be familiar with its celebrated faculty and global business connections. Consequently, the club sponsors events ranging from a private tour of the Mexican president’s residence to conventional cocktail parties. “We publicize headline events so as to promote the Booth brand name and attract more applicants,” said Wallsten, the outgoing president who manages a private equity firm that invests in socially beneficial projects.
The events impress prospective students who “see the strength of the local network as compared to other schools whose alumni get together only sporadically,” Wallsten said. He has coffee with about 15 prospective students each year; he and other alumni also contact admitted students. Recruiting is important because, “I am convinced that Booth has the top MBA program of any school worldwide and that the best way of attracting top students is by interacting with them directly,” he said.
The Alumni Club of Mexico is among 70 alumni clubs worldwide that keep the Booth name front and center in US cities and around the world. “A number of these clubs are doing excellent community building and opening strong networking opportunities,” said Rachel Nash, senior associate director, Alumni Affairs and Development. The clubs are headed by professionals who juggle jobs and families but find it rewarding to stay engaged with Booth.
In North American cities with large concentrations of Booth alumni, the clubs have the opportunity to bring Booth’s intellectual capital to alumni with particular interests and expertise. For example, the Alumni Club of Washington DC sponsors a group for alumni interested in China, and another for those involved in energy issues as part of the Booth Energy Network, noted Aaron Stopak, ’03 (AXP-2), the president of the club who is an advisor to a hedge fund that invests in Asian equity markets, as well as a 3D animation firm and a farm management company, both based in Uruguay.
One of the club's most active and successful programs is the Booth Entrepreneurs Advisory Group, which, for 10 years, has invited local area start-up founders and angel investors to speak to Booth alumni involves in entrepreneurial ventures. They discuss business problems and receive valuable advice that they otherwise would obtain only for a hefty consulting fee, Stopak said.
In addition to clubs that are geographically based, there also are special interest groups such as the Chicago Booth Black Alumni Association (CBAA), the Real Estate Alumni Group (REAG), and the Chicago Women in Business Alumnae Network (CWIBAN) that are broadening Booth's influence.
CWIBAN supports admission of women to Booth and connects women graduates around the world, said Zina Markevicius, '02, a founder of CWIBAN who runs her family's real estate business in Los Angeles. Women represent more than 20 percent of Booth alumni, a network that is expected to expand as their numbers row in MBA classes. The group hosts discussions with successful women professionals on career and life strategies, facilitates job referrals, and assists alumnae moving to a new city.
CWIBAN's capstone event is Women's Week, which includes events for prospective and admitted students held in 30 cities during the first week in May. These range from intimate to large events, and they can have a big payoff. "We want to bring the best students in the world to Chicago," Markevicius said. "I feel the value of my degree, and I want to give back."
For more information about Chicago Booth alumni clubs, send us an email.
Photo of Stopak courtesy of Aaron Stopak; photo of Markevicius courtesy of Zina Markevicius.)
Alumni Angels Recognized
By Chelsea Vail
Published: Summer 2012
The fifth annual Alumni Angel Awards (A3) honored four Chicago Booth alumni for their exceptional engagement with students. Class Agents announced the winners during Worldwide Booth Night on April 12. The event, which was hosted in 90 cities this year, is an opportunity for alumni, as well as current and recently admitted students, to meet in cities around the world and celebrate their connection to Booth.
This year, students honored Hoke Horne, ’97, vice president of pricing at Juniper Networks in Sunnyvale, California; Roberto Ippolito, ’03, head of corporate finance at General Electric Capital Italy; Kenneth Kelly, ’98, vice president of sales and marketing at DaVita, a provider of kidney care based in Denver; and Karl Muth, ’10, a consulting economist.
Students from all four MBA programs submitted nominations, sending stories about contributions alumni made to their professional and personal development. A list of finalists was selected and presented to the entire student body for a . Horne was honored for his commitment to recruiting and mentoring Booth students at Juniper Networks, and Ippolito was recognized for his enthusiasm in developing the Italian community at Booth. Kelly was honored for helping the student-run Operations Strategy Group expand and find sponsorship, and Muth was recognized for providing guidance to students interested in emerging markets.
Class Gift Campaign Achieves 100 Percent Participation
By Chelsea Vail
Published: Summer 2012
For the second year in a row, students from Booth’s Executive MBA Program united to achieve 100 percent participation in the annual Class Gift campaign. Student donations across the Chicago, London, and Singapore campuses totaled nearly $130,000 - about $32,000 more than the previous year - in an impressive display of support for the student-led initiative.
Alumni and friends contributed an additional $55,000 to the campaign, and the school offered matching incentives that brought the combined total to nearly $310,000. The Class Gift will support two funds: the newly created Executive MBA Program Office Fund, which will sponsor programs and initiatives that directly benefit Executive MBA Program students, and the Global Visibility Fund, which promotes Chicago Booth’s international presence.
“Our class was so intense, so adamant about maximizing its participation in everything the Booth community had to offer. Our achievement with the Class Gift was in part a recognition of how rich that community is,” said Leo Alves, ’12 (XP-81). “We wanted to make a statement. To send a message about what we could accomplish as a class, about what we mean to each other and what this institution means to us.”
Young Alumnus Launches Skills Training Initiative in India
By Kate Ancell
Published: Summer 2012
Chris Turillo, ’10, already had a plan when he entered Booth. He knew he wanted to work in India to help increase education and employment opportunities in the rapidly growing nation.
Earning his MBA, as well as a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, gave Turillo the skills he needed to launch the nonprofit he hopes will help address India’s systemic unemployment. In 2011, he and a partner opened Medha, which aims to improve employment prospects for students from low-income families, often from rural communities, who lack the resources to obtain and succeed in a job. The nonprofit provides college and high school students with training, leadership development, and career services in the northern Indian city of Lucknow.
“Booth was a big part of building the capabilities and the confidence required to actually take the first steps to start Medha,” Turillo said.
He also said that Booth methodology influenced the structure of the program. “We are focused on ensuring our program is taught in an experiential way, creating real-life and simulation activities as a way of learning instead of the traditional rote-based methodologies.”
For example, to learn basic supply and demand, students track the prices of vegetables at a market, enter the data into an Excel spreadsheet, and present their findings and conclusions. This simple exercise enables students to learn economic principles, MS Office, the English language, and presentation skills.
A native of Boston, Turillo spent time studying abroad in India as an undergraduate student at the University of Puget Sound. After graduation, Turillo spent several years researching ways to return to the country. Finally, he landed a 10-month fellowship at an Indian microfinance organization, which kept him on for another year as codirector of business development with now-partner at Medha, Byomkesh Mishra.
When he and his partner began researching unemployment and job-training in India, they uncovered a formidable problem. “Fifty-nine percent of youth in the labor market suffer some degree of unemployability, while 52 percent of employed youth lack skills,” he said. “These low skill levels result in higher unemployment and underemployment, and increased inequality.”
Luis Miranda, ’89, CEO of a Mumbai private equity firm who sits on Medha’s board and is a member of Booth’s Global Advisory Board, agreed. “When Chris told me about his plans to set up Medha, I immediately offered to be an advisor since the need for skills training is so great in India and he is so passionate about it.”
Medha aims to improve employability levels for more than 20,000 college and high school students across four Indian states by 2017. “I am motivated by the opportunity to have a positive influence on young people’s lives,” Turillo said.