3 Takeaways from Women's Winter Weekend in Chicago

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A group of women face off frame with one focused in the center

Three years ago, the Executive MBA Program hosted their first Women’s Winter Weekend in Chicago for a small group of female candidates. Since then, the annual event has grown and brought prospective candidates together with Booth alumnae, faculty, and current students to offer an immersive experience that illustrates what it means to be a woman at Booth.

This year, I had the opportunity to experience this unique weekend firsthand. I was able to sit through a masterclass with our world-renowned faculty, listen in on peer coaching conversations, and learn more about the women themselves. After spending time with these phenomenal women, I walked away with a few key insights.

Experience counts, both in and out of the classroom

One thing that makes Executive MBA students unique across MBA Programs is their level of experience. In our most recent cohort, the average student started with 13 years of work experience. The number of industries and functions represented are also highly varied; this leads to rich discussion in and out of the classroom. The candidates who attended Women's Winter Weekend were no exception, and brought their own perspectives and lived experiences to a masterclass led by Professor Randall Kroszner. When the conversation turned to the global impact of the 2009 financial crisis, the depth of the participants' comments struck me; despite not having read a text beforehand or prepped in any way, they were able to draw upon real-world examples to ask questions and make deeper connections to the material.

In order to be better leaders, women need a space to grow

In the afternoon, we shifted our focus to leadership and the unique challenges women leaders face in the workplace. In this session, led by Carolyn Ou, Senior Associate Director of Leadership Development, each participant was able to share their challenges in the workplace and brainstorm solutions.

This peer-mentorship activity offered a brief experience of what it’s like to participate in Booth Women Advance, a five-session series with women students from the Evening, Weekend, and Executive MBA Programs. During the series, students can explore, reflect on, and address their leadership challenges by tapping into a community that offers constructive feedback and support.

I was amazed to see how quickly a sense of community developed among the candidates as they shared their professional challenges with each other.  One prospective candidate remarked that the coaching exercise with Carolyn really “helped to create deeper connections amongst us as prospective students.”

Outstanding women—they’re just like you and me

The women who are considering a Booth degree are just as impressive as you think. They have successfully navigated complex mergers or have helped a school district bounce back after a natural disaster. The thing that I found most surprising, however, was the more simple goals they set for themselves and their pride in those accomplishments.

One woman shared that her newfound dedication to working out regularly was her proudest accomplishment of 2018, while another expressed relief that her two adult sons were living together and getting along. One woman offered that her biggest goal for the next year was to take her parents on a dream vacation.  

When taking the measure of a person, sometimes it is the smaller things that make the most impact. Despite the women coming together in pursuit of an Executive MBA, it was the discussion of our smaller, more personal goals that gave us all a sense of shared community. After all, who doesn’t want to stay fit or do something generous for their family? Therefore, if you ever wonder what type of woman considers a Booth Executive MBA, the answer is that they’re a lot like you and me.