Executive MBA alumni return to the Harper Center at the University of Chicago for Electives Weeks and much more. Photo by Bruno Batista.
At Chicago Booth, we pride ourselves on going deeper into the fundamentals of business to understand how businesses function, markets work, capital is allocated and how people make decisions. It is an approach that’s lasting, and applicable to any time, any place. But how do our students customize their program to address their own interests and needs in a fast-changing global business environment?
In the second summer of their program, Executive MBA students from our campuses in Chicago, London and Hong Kong come together for two weeks of elective courses in Chicago. Students choose from a wide range of over 30 courses in many different disciplines. These innovative courses are designed to enhance students’ core knowledge with more advanced, in-depth learning around areas of business that are considered advanced or cutting edge in the current business world.
Take the example of artificial intelligence and big data. There is a lot of interest in learning how AI and big data affects industry and business. The use and understanding of the power of data is not new to Booth; we have always taken a very data-driven approach to business problems in our research and teaching. Our elective courses in Managerial Decision Modelling and Machine Learning give students more advanced and applied learning around how data and AI are fundamentally changing the practice of business and disrupting often-entrenched practices. These have become popular choices, and are increasingly in demand by students as a complement to the very solid underpinning of the fundamentals they have already learned in the program.
The same is true with our courses on The Fintech Revolution taught by Professor Luigi Zingales, Data Driven Marketing by Professor JP Dubé, and Technology Strategy taught by Professor Mark Knez. All great examples of courses that build on the fundamentals of business to address the ways business is changing today. Electives also offer ample learning for would-be entrepreneurs, with classes like Entrepreneurial Finance, Entrepreneurial Selling, and New Venture Strategy.
Electives Weeks in Chicago not only bring all of our global cohorts together, but are a great touchpoint for interacting with alumni. This year well over 100 alumni from all over the world came back to the classroom to learn alongside current students. They, too, value the opportunity to return to Booth to expand their skill-set in a particular area or discipline, or to reconnect with faculty they valued learning from during their earlier study. Working professionals increasingly demand more from their careers; people are living and working longer and making more career changes along the way. We want to make sure we are meeting the demands of our alumni by allowing them to come back and brush up on new and old skills over a lifetime.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it’s all study and business during the two weeks in Chicago. Rest assured that our students and alumni find time to network and enjoy reconnecting after meeting earlier in the program – in fact, Electives Weeks are a program highlight for many of our students, and a great opportunity to enjoy Chicago in the summer.