The Art Of Business


Business school is typically understood to be a place where students learn the foundations of business. At Booth specifically, academic areas such as accounting, economics, statistics, and the behavioral sciences lay the groundwork for a student's understanding of the way effective and efficient businesses operate. You could say that we teach the "science" of business. But does this approach leave room for understanding the "art" of business? At least one pair of students in the Booth part-time MBA programs believe so.

Zeeshan Farooq is a current Evening MBA student and the founder of CreationZ Art, which delivers original and customized Islamic and Arabic artwork and wedding calligraphy services. Currently, Zeeshan is the sole artist there but he is working to build a stable of highly specialized artists who are willing and able to turn their client's vision into art. Zeeshan's self-taught calligraphy skills using self-made pens and tools date back to the 5th grade in Pakistan, when he remembers drawing his first calligraphic letter in his native language of Urdu. His interest in these activities flourished until his move to the United States in 2001, when he was forced to put much on hold during his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His skills lay dormant until offering to create wedding invitations for a co-worker in 2005, when his passion for art was invigorated once again and pushed him to found CreationZ Art.

While at Booth, Zeeshan has been able to apply the frameworks and concepts he is learning in class and from his fellow students to his new business venture. Although the connection may not seem obvious at first, Zeeshan is able to take a structured approach to growing his business by applying lessons on identifying a customer base, creating marketing plans to reach those customers, and pricing products and services appropriately. Zeeshan has been able to do all of this work with CreationZ Art while still maintaining a position at Oracle USA Inc. as a Senior Software Engineer.

Ali Jafri, a current Weekend MBA student, founded SocialCanvas, an internet based service which provides both marketing and sales support for non-profit organizations that create artwork that benefits disadvantaged individuals. In short, as Ali says, "SocialCanvas is socially conscious art." Ali has been interested in both art and non-profit activities for as long as he can remember, and SocialCanvas is his attempt to marry those two passions together. At Booth, Ali consulted with Arts of Life, a Chicago-based art therapy center for adults with severe disabilities, as part of a project for the student organization Local Optima, and that is where his idea for SocialCanvas began.

Ali has received training via his courses at Booth in areas such as financial modeling, marketing, and pitch presentations, which he indicated have been essential in growing his business. He was able to take these concepts directly from class and apply them the next day to his business, which is one major advantage to a part-time program. SocialCanvas was selected for the 2012 Social New Venture Challenge business plan competition and made it to the final presentation, and participated in the ARCH New Business Incubator during the summer of 2012. Ali left his position as a Systems Analyst at Aon Hewitt earlier this year to focus on his new venture full-time.

An education at Booth, specifically in the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA programs, affords you the opportunity to take what you're learning both inside and out of the classroom and apply it to your work the very next day. You can also bring your ideas with you to class and other activities and test your approach to solving complex business issues in "real time." Both Zeeshan and Ali are leveraging their experiences to improve their business models, and we encourage you to explore Booth further and witness these opportunities first-hand.

Humberto Freda
Associate Director of Admissions