Last Friday the latest cohort of Executive MBA Students graduated from Chicago Booth at a traditional ceremony held in Rockefeller Chapel on the main University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park. Graduation is always a very exciting time in the life of any school or university. There is a sense of excitement, relief, anticipation about what the future holds and also some sadness that an important era of people’s lives was coming to an end.
I heard all of these and many other reflections from our graduating students who had come to Chicago from all around the world. These graduates had studied in our three campuses Chicago, London and the final group from our Singapore campus. As they reflected on the past 21 months they had spent studying, there were a few recurring themes that I heard which I believe capture the essence of our Executive MBA Program.
First, many of the graduates talked about a sense of relief - but this relief was almost always combined with a feeling of great accomplishment and success. Many graduates were relieved for sure that the rigor and hard work that was required of the program almost non-stop for two years was coming to an end. But many went on to say that they would not have traded that experience for anything. They had chosen the Booth Executive MBA specifically because it was rigorous and tough. They wanted that challenge of pursuing a pure Chicago MBA degree in the Executive MBA format. So they were relieved - but proud of their accomplishments.
Second, there was a lot of talk of transformation. For many of the graduating students there was the feeling that they had completely changed the way they thought and the way they approached their businesses and their lives. One newly graduated student said to me, “When I came here I think I was pretty smart. But this program took the way I think apart completely, and put it back together in a much more organized and analytical way. I will never be able to go back to my old way of thinking - and that is a great thing!” This kind of transformation, and the confidence that comes from it was something I heard students say many times.
Finally, the moment was also bittersweet for many. Having spent such an intense amount of time with their fellow students, many people were feeling sad that they would not have these powerful class weeks / weekends to spend together going forward. It was clear, however, that everyone had made lifelong friends during the program. Some have already begun business collaborations - both on their own and through the Global New Venture Challenge Business competition which had its final round during the graduation week. Others are already planning holidays together and reunions with classmates and their families. Many of these will take place all over the world - demonstrating that the global nature of this program does provide students with a broad international network that will serve them throughout the rest of their careers and lives.
The weekend finished off with a Black tie gala dinner at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago which is a long-standing tradition. Some photos included here!
Congratulations again to all of the Chicago Booth Executive MBA Class of 2015 (XP84, EXP20 and AXP14)! We look forward to following your continued success throughout your careers.
Managing Director - Asia
Photos by Ryan Bakerink