Alumni Ashwin Avasarala, Evening MBA, ’18 and Wilson Sun, Evening MBA, ’17, recently hosted a Booth Family Dinner at popular Chicago restaurant Pacific Standard Time. Dinners are an opportunity to expand your Booth family by meeting alumni hosts and students from both our full-time and part-time MBA programs. Below they tell us about their recent dinner and share how Booth impacted them.
Tell me about dinner
Wilson: While our conversation did touch upon career choices and engagement with our school, we also spoke about other topics. Students were interested in learning what our experience was like after Booth and natural conversations just flowed from there. I enjoyed the fact that this was meant to be a social event and didn’t have a specific agenda. The students who attended came from all kinds of different backgrounds and industries. These dinners are really differentiated from other events; we could relate to each other in different ways compared to our regular professional events.
Ashwin and I were asked how we thought about the return on investment we got from our time at Booth. I shared my personal story, that school really changed the direction of my entire career. I came from a technical background and this opened the door to allow me to pursue different things. I enjoyed sharing my personal experience with everyone.
What did you learn about the students? What was your takeaway from dinner?
Ashwin: Boothies usually graduate with a very good balance of confidence and awareness. We are aware of how much there is to learn, and also confident of becoming leaders in whatever we do. This creates a sense of humble confidence. That was very evident from the students. Some of the full-time students had jobs and internships already lined up, while some others were still looking. However, everyone was confident that Booth had prepared them to take over the business world and achieve their goals, without any arrogance about it.
Wilson: At the dining table, we had students and alumni with diverse career interests and different backgrounds, sitting together to network without expectations. It was refreshing to learn from the graduating students about their next endeavors, and how they look forward to moving into new jobs or new cities to continue their Boothie stories. The dinner was so much fun and I was so glad to get to know the students. I was also excited to see Booth continue to experiment with new ways to build stronger community.
Why did you choose Booth?
Ashwin: I wanted to move into a leadership role and wanted to structure the way I think about leadership. I am a very quantitative person as I come from an engineering background so Booth was a natural choice. However what I enjoy most about Booth is beyond the analytical piece, it’s been the classes around personal psychology, leadership, negotiations and everything entrepreneurship.
Wilson: I was interested in Booth’s world-class economics department, as I wanted to strengthen that set of skills as I was coming from an engineering background. When I considered which MBA program to apply to, I was impressed by the student groups and cultural programs that students created in the Evening and Weekend program. Turns out, leading student groups are one of the most impactful experiences I have had at Booth.
What is your favorite memory of Booth?
Wilson: I was on the Student Advisory Council and we had a program with the Council on Chicago Booth, which advises Booth’s leadership team. I started speaking with an alum who was very down to earth and gave me his personal email. I then found out he was the former CFO of IBM. I emailed him asking for a list of recommended reading I could share with other students and he wrote me a very long email back. I appreciate how open alumni are and how much time they’re willing to invest in students.
What impacted you the most from your time at Booth?
Wilson: One of the most impactful things about Booth is the network you build. By network, I mean friendships you’re able to build in a semi-professional manner, where you work with others and get to know how they think and work.
Ashwin: At Booth it doesn’t matter whether you’re a full-time, part-time or Executive MBA student. We are all treated as the same program, which I’ve really appreciated. Booth has a combination of competence and warmth I didn’t see in other programs. We have the right balance of competition and collaboration. This is not an environment where you’re fighting to survive because it is so competitive. It’s also not an environment that’s so collaborative that you don’t question the judgment of others. It’s an environment that does an excellent job of balancing both.
Libby Smoler is a marketing specialist for the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.