Into the deep end


Our second quarter in the Executive MBA program at the U. of C. hadn’t even started yet, and our study group was already scrambling. Was there a group assignment due the very first weekend?

We were barely recovered from the sleep-deprivation of Quarter One: Microeconomics and Financial Accounting, which had stumbled itself out of the frenetic kickoff week that brought together into one building the accomplished mid-career women and men from Booth’s Chicago, Singapore and London campuses. In our first week we’d wrestled with the beginnings of Micro and Financial Accounting, along with an entire management psychology course -- “Essentials of Effective Leadership” -- that involved five group papers for our international study groups in five days. We were encouraged to collaborate and network. Late nights.

And now, back in our jobs, engaged with our families, Ram Shivakumar’s Competitive Strategy course had reignited that first week frenzy. Was that group assignment really due? Of course it was.

This is Booth. Please show up to work.

The EMBA program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business offers a study in navigating the highs and lows of empowerment and humility. (Now I can do “x.” But, alas, I hadn’t even thought of “y.” But now I can do “y” …)

It’s structured to expand your skill set and thinking. Foundational classes offer a quantitative view of the world. You begin to think more carefully. Functional and analytical classes build on that. Meanwhile, your horizons expand. Each classmate is a subject matter expert in almost every industry imaginable.

That airtight composition was why I started zeroing in on Booth a year ago. A year before diving in, I had questions ranging from the insecure -- What would it be like? As a person entering the business world mid-career, could I even get in? Would I be prepared for the courses? -- to the demanding:

Would it live up to expectations? Would my classmates?

In a word: Yes.

The professors are expert, demanding, and supportive. The Booth EMBA staff is helpful and engaged. In our international group are professionals from Japan, Austria, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Ohio, with expertise in finance and operations, general management, consulting and media. In my North American study group, there’s someone in consulting, manufacturing, health care, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.

The courses are interesting and demanding. So are our classmates. There are times we teach one another. There are times we challenge one another.

And always, we’re learning.

So on to weekend two of the Quarter Two. Tomorrow night, our group will compare notes on our Statistics homework and our case study for Strategy. That’ll get written up by the end of the week.

Then there’s that Statistics quiz on Saturday morning. Each Saturday morning.

But this is Booth. Please show up to work.

James Janega, XP-83