As a US Customs and Border Protection director, Brett has already applied many of the concepts he's learned at Chicago Booth to his role with the federal government.
I work for US Customs and Border Protection, so I have a bit of a unique background among my peers. I don’t necessarily have financial statements that I report to shareholders, but I do run a very dynamic operational group, and I’m always interested in finding ways that the public sector can borrow from the private sector to improve its practices and approaches.
Coming to Chicago Booth, I knew that I would be going through a rigorous, quantitative program. I was drawn to its focus on the fundamentals and data-driven analysis, and wanted to find ways to apply that kind of thinking to my role within the federal government.
The Chicago approach is to challenge everything, and they really do challenge us in everything we say, and do. The academic environment is exciting, and encourages healthy debate. It’s already changed the way I view the business landscape, and improved the way my organization runs.
The very first week of school, a student and professor in one of my classes got into a really passionate discussion on a particular topic. The following day, the professor actually returned to class and said that, after further examination, he agreed with the student’s position. I mean - I’ve never seen anything like that before.
Taking what you know, and what you believe, and then hearing what someone else knows and believes, and then working together to examine the data, talk about it, and bring your ideas together for one mutual, innovative solution to a common problem is pretty incredible. Working in Washington, DC, I’m pretty familiar with hearing two sides debate an issue. But seeing how the Chicago model encourages discordant opinions and generates such interesting and insightful ideas was inspiring for me.
I actually came to Chicago Booth for its international flavor. Everyone here comes from a very diverse background in terms of industry, geography, and ideology. We wind up with a lot of subject matter experts in various areas - that really creates a pretty interesting discussion and leads us to unique and innovative ideas. The network is invaluable, and it allows you to meet and connect with so many other professionals in a wide range of industries, globally. Your cohort becomes this big family, and it’s encouraged and understood from day one that you’re now part of the larger Booth community both while you’re here, and after you graduate.
The program not only gives you the academic preparation you need, but also offers you the resources and network to succeed. It’s not going to hand you your goals, but it will arm you with all the tools you’ll need to get there, on your own.