The world arrived on our doorstep this week.
We welcomed our 81st executive MBA group in North America, our 17th group in Europe and our 11th group in Asia. 290 students from 51 countries and 6 continents traveled to Chicago for the start of what we call Kick-Off Week -- an introduction to Chicago Booth, our academic rigor, incredibly diverse student body and a mid-career experience that will change their professional lives in ways they cannot yet imagine.
It's one thing to create a pie chart which illustrates the diversity of our students -- it's colorful and interesting to look at. The data can be sliced and diced in many different ways. We can pat ourselves on the back because we have achieved our goals for our new cohorts. It's quite another thing to sit down at lunch with students who make up that pie chart! Just yesterday, I sat down, introduced myself and invited my tablemates to do the same. Within a minute, I found that I was sharing lunch with a gentleman from Bologna, Italy, a woman from Vietnam, a woman from San Francisco, California, a man from Taiwan and a man from Tokyo, Japan. I asked myself - now where can you replicate such a group other than at Chicago Booth?
Knowing the work that goes into creating such a diverse class, I felt goosebumps at lunch that day. This, indeed, is what an executive MBA program is all about.
The week ahead will be filled with academic classes, review sessions, networking opportunities and study group meetings. I will observe first-hand the group dynamics, moments of anxiety (some) and "ahas", and the students' realizations that they are on an adventure which will change the way they view and conduct their professional lives going forward. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else....