Alumnae Q&A: Academics at Booth

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Chicago Booth has a reputation for placing a high value on its data-driven approach to the curriculum. That approach, along with a diverse and supportive community, help to create a two-year MBA experience with effects that reverberate for years to come. We sat down with four alumnae—Selena J. Roker, 10, Jasmine Richards, 11, Ameerah Phillips, MBA ’17, MPP ’17, and Chinwe Aneke, 15—to discuss their Booth experience. One of the areas we focused on was the academic offerings here at Booth. Read on to hear their insights.

While doing your research on Booth’s program, what surprised you most about the faculty?

Ameerah: Accessibility. You can’t glean that from the website, or by reading about professors’ work, but when I arrived to campus—first for a visit and then again after enrolling—I was pleasantly surprised at how generous professors were with their time and energy. We are fortunate at Booth that we have professors who are willing to go above and beyond, and who support and engage students in all facets of the MBA experience: in the classroom, in discussion, as mentors, and as colleagues.

Selena: I was surprised at how often the faculty at Booth were sought out for their opinions in the news regarding the economy. They are leaders in their fields and they choose to educate students daily. Pretty impressive.

Jasmine: When doing any research on Chicago Booth, you are sure to find out about the numerous Nobel Laureates and groundbreaking research from various professors. This gave me the impression that the faculty would teach classes but mainly be focused on research. What surprised me, was how approachable the faculty were and their level of commitment to teaching. During a visit to campus I heard the infamous story of Austan Goolsbee conducting a review class in his tuxedo on his wedding day and I got to witness the openness of the faculty for myself during campus visits. During my time at Booth, I continued to be surprised at the relationship that I was able to develop with professors, even over dinners at a classmate’s apartment. Since graduation, many of the faculty continue to be available when I have questions during my professional career.

Chinwe: It was interesting how many Booth faculty members were either Nobel Prize recipients or advisors to major governments and companies both within and outside the United States

Is there any one professor or class that really made a lasting impression on you?

Ameerah: Just one?! I had great professors who taught really engaging, and relevant courses. [This is not a promo!] It’s honestly hard to pick just one. New Venture Strategy with Professor Schrager, The Firm and the Non-Market Environment with Professor Bertrand, Managing In Organizations and Negotiations, both with Professor Fishbach, Designing a Good Life with Professor Epley, Money & Banking with Professor Kroszner, Impact Investing and New Social Ventures with Gertner. I was really lucky! These were my favorites.

Selena: Haresh Sapra will forever reign supreme in my eyes. I took his M&A Accounting course and if, for some reason, people stop eating chicken [Selena works at Chik-fil-A], then I’m going to dust off my course packet and consider a career in mergers and acquisitions. He has a great approach to teaching, which is, “You will not embarrass my name when you leave this class, so I am going to prepare you for what to expect!” He was right. I left his class feeling very confident and whenever I interviewed, people asked which courses I was taking and with what professors. Whenever I mentioned Professor Sapra, they all said, “Oh, he’s the best!”

Jasmine: One of the many reasons I chose to attend Booth was because of their strength in both Finance and Entrepreneurship. After loading up on finance classes first year, my goal was to use second year to explore entrepreneurship. Thankfully I had hoarded enough points and got into Building the New Venture with Waverly Deutsch. One of the first assignments is for everyone in the class to present their business idea that they want to work on for the quarter. Naturally, everyone is a little apprehensive about sharing their well-researched, innovative ideas in a room full of highly capable classmates. After encouraging the class to be more open, Professor Deutsch brought in successful entrepreneurs, who discussed their successful business ideas. By the end of the quarter, we had lived and breathed each of our companies, but these lessons from that first class have stayed with me even into my current research role: 1. Don’t underestimate the unconventional idea. 2. Ideas are only the beginning, execution is what makes the difference. 3. Ideas only get better when shared.

Chinwe: The hardest class I took at Booth was Anil Kashyap’s Analytics of Financial Crises. His class took a step by step view of how the housing crisis in the US came to be. I could tell he was passionate about the topic and although the class involved a lot of reading and complex research that took time for a non-finance person to understand, I really got to expand my knowledge of the intersection of financial markets and the macro-economy.

Read insights from our alumnae on the Booth community and the impact Booth has had on their careers.

 

Alumnae Bios:

Ameerah Phillips is an Associate in the Management Associate Program (MAP) at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., a two year MBA management training program. There, she will complete four six-month rotations across the firm in wholesale, consumer, and corporate businesses in diverse functions and geographies.

Jasmine N.  Richards, CFA, joined Cambridge Associates in 2018 as Senior Investment Director, Manager Diversity to lead the firm’s ongoing initiative to identify and research institutional-quality investment managers in all public and private asset classes that have diverse owners or leaders, including women and people of color.

Selena J. Roker received her MBA with concentrations in Analytical Finance, Accounting, and Strategy in 2010. She has worked for Chick-fil-A Inc. since graduating from Booth and two years ago transitioned to Marketing from the Finance department.

Chinwe Aneka works in Strategic Pricing at ExxonMobil. In the nearly four years she has spent at ExxonMobil, Chinwe has worked in both strategic pricing and strategy implementation.