When Charlie Fisher started the Evening MBA program in 2017, he was working at the Chicago office of JLL, one of the few global real estate financial services firms. As Vice President of Global Capital Markets Digital Products, Charlie helped his group’s digital transformation by rolling out a new, global CRM platform. Only a year into his part-time MBA, he was told he would need to live abroad for eight months in Singapore and London to complete the work he had begun in Chicago. He took time off from Booth during those months and returned in the fall of 2018. Charlie explains how he managed it all and offers advice for those considering an MBA who also need to travel abroad for work.
Was your new global role a challenge for you?
My role has always been global, so I’m used to collaborating with colleagues over the phone, via shared documents, and across awkward time zones - lots of early morning and late evening calls. In addition, both of my managers live in London. Today’s technology, however, means it’s not a big deal; I was just in Bangalore, India for work and took some calls with my Booth group for a class project before I went into work!
How do you currently balance your coursework with travel?
I manage my travel around classes and breaks between quarters. I often schedule both my classes on Thursdays and Fridays if I am concerned about upcoming travel. If I am unlucky and miss a class, Booth offers a crossover between MBA programs. This allows me to take a weekend class if I miss my scheduled evening class. Maybe even take a full-time class at Harper! Booth offers a lot of flexibility in the programs which helps me a lot; I think most prospective students don’t realize Booth provides this flexibility.
What advice do you have for those considering an MBA who also travel for work?
You have five years to complete your degree – take your time. It is really easy to get burned out working and being in school, so you need to manage your time wisely. I chose not to take business classes while in London, so I could travel and enjoy the experience. That’s what’s great about the program - take a break when needed. You also need to have your employer and boss’ buy-in during the MBA. Being transparent and having a good relationship with your manager is key for a successful part-time MBA experience. My boss understands that my MBA is important to me, so we work together to ensure I can travel and make my classes.
I went to the University of Chicago for undergrad, and I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d ever want to go for graduate school. I like the quantitative and data analysis side of the program; the world, as is my job, is moving in this direction. I also appreciate the Chicago Approach and Booth’s philosophy.
Libby Smoler is a marketing specialist for the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.