Alumni Advice from Booth 20/20

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Julie White, a student in the Evening MBA program and a Tourism Marketing Manager at the Art Institute of Chicago, received great advice during Booth 20/20, a day of insightful and engaging conversations with our alumni. Below is a small subset of the questions that panelists were asked, which reflect some of the most widely discussed themes of this year’s sessions.

Alumna panelist Mary Olges, Evening MBA, ‘00, Managing Director and General Manager of Financial Services at Microsoft, also weighed in on the experience.

Why did you attend Booth 20/20?

Julie: This is my second year attending Booth 20/20. It’s always been a good encompassing overview of different industries and functions. I enjoy hearing about what life is like after Booth and appreciate that there are both recent alumni and those who graduated 30 years ago. Booth 20/20 is also a good opportunity to connect with classmates. We’re placed in very small breakout groups with panelists, so there’s a lot of time to ask personal questions and dig into the discussion.

Mary: I was excited to reconnect with other alumni and create reverse mentorship opportunities with the Booth students. It is interesting to hear what’s top of mind for the 20/20 class and learn about their career goals and aspirations.

What was your most valuable class at Booth?

Julie: Practically every alum talked about how much Harry Davis’s Leadership class impacted them.

Mary: Yes, agreed. My leadership classes were the most memorable from my time at Booth.

What should we know about mentorship, as both a mentor and mentee?

Julie: Alumni spoke about how paying it forward, giving back to Booth and thereby maintaining a pulse on what’s happening here has been very rewarding. If you take on mentees after you graduate there’s a multiplier effect in terms of the value you can get back, you get back what you put in. As a mentee, be proactive but not aggressive. Help your mentor help you as much as possible plus invest in and understand your own mentor.

Mary: Think about reverse mentorship. I learn a lot from the early in career mentees and they have opportunities to learn from my experiences. If you have a relationship that is open, you will each benefit from what you can bring to your time together.

What advice do you have regarding work/life balance, especially for parents?

Julie: Panelists spoke about the trade-off. Put in the hard work and time now so you can see the results and have more time with your family later. A successful career requires a supportive partner and the ability to delegate. It’s key to find an employer who values results over face time. One mother on the panel said you can do it all but not all at once and that really resonated with me. She spoke about how it’s ok to buy the store bought cupcakes.

Mary: Find something you’re passionate about and involve your family early on in your career and in as many ways as you can. I love to give a dry run presentation to my kids or ask them advice on how they would handle a work issue I am dealing with. They appreciate being involved and it will make it easier for them to accept your work time and travel schedule. If you do something you love, it’s easier to feel you have a balance.

What do you look for in a hire?

Julie: I loved that alumni stressed they hire Booth grads whenever possible. Characteristics they looked for in hires included being a team player, integrity, intellectual curiosity, resilience, and openness to feedback.

Mary: I look for someone who is passionate about the opportunity and has a point of view to share. I am not looking for someone who feels like they need to have all the answers, but rather someone who can learn and grow in the organization and deliver impact. My leadership principles are to create clarity, generate energy and deliver results!

 

Libby Smoler is a marketing specialist for the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.