Executive Education

Peer Talk Profile: Tim Andriesen

A couple of years after completing the Advanced Management Program (AMP) at Chicago Booth, Timothy Andriesen was invited to speak to an incoming cohort of AMP Executive Education participants.

And rather than speak generally to the group about the AMP experience, Andriesen decided to use a public-speaking technique he learned during his experience in the program: He told the group a story.

Storytelling, Andriesen learned from clinical professor of entrepreneurship Craig Wortman, is a powerful way to communicate to an audience. Great storytelling keeps an audiences’ attention.

Tim_But sometimes storytelling alone isn’t enough. Andriesen also learned that effective leaders craft their message—whether delivered through storytelling or not—based on the audience to whom they’re presenting. Presentations, Andriesen learned from Harry L. Davis, are like performances, and a good performer knows his or her audience.

Andriesen recalls the first week of his time in the program, during which Professor Davis took him and his cohort to the University of Chicago Court Theatre. The group worked with professional actors and directors at the theatre to put the principles of leading and communicating they talked about in class into practice.  

“With Harry we talked about acting as a metaphor, and that the stage is a metaphor for you as a leader,” Andriesen says. “We learned that to be effective in communicating, you need to make sure that you’re putting the right elements of your personality and your skills on the stage.” 

These two techniques Andriesen learned in the program—storytelling and performance—kept his audience of new AMP participants captivated. “I had 100 percent of their attention,” he says.

The knowledge and skills Andriesen learned in the program are immensely useful in his work, in which he presents to diverse audiences across the country—from the board of directors at his company to cattlemen in Texas. Andriesen works as managing director for agricultural products for CME Group, based in Chicago, where he is responsible for the development, execution, and management of the global business and sales strategy for agricultural commodities. 

CME is the world’s largest and most diverse derivatives marketplace. Andriesen’s product portfolio includes grains, oilseeds, dairy, and livestock. He has 11 direct reports on three continents, leads cross-functional teams, and recently helped lead the acquisition and integration of the Kansas City Board of Trade.

Andriesen grew up in near Champaign, Illinois and earned an undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He began working in the physical grain business buying and selling grain from farmers and terminals. After 16 years in that space, he transitioned to the over-the-counter side of the business, trading derivative products across the Midwest and in New York City.

After a working for a variety of financial institutions, Andriesen and his family moved to Australia for three years, where he ran a global commodities business for National Australia Bank. Andriesen says he “always felt the desire to go back to school.” While in Australia, he completed three-fourths of an MBA degree at the Australian Graduate School Management in its executive MBA program. 

“Unfortunately, I moved back to the United States and those things don't transfer very well,” he says. “I decided that the AMP program sounded like a good way for me to cover a lot of material that would be highly applicable to what I do for a living.” Andriesen looked into similar programs at Harvard and Northwestern, but ultimately selected Booth’s AMP because of its convenient schedule and Booth’s reputation. “The assumption is that Booth is a numbers school,” Andriesen says. “But within the first day there, it became apparent to me that the program is not a purely data-driven program.”

Realizing that the program went much deeper than he originally thought was precisely the message behind Andriesen’s story to the incoming cohort of AMP participants. His story focused on Billy Beane, the infamous executive for the Oakland Athletics and subject of the award-winning film Moneyball. Beane, Andriesen told the group, didn’t just revolutionize the game of baseball with sabermetrics; he was also a major-league player with a poor batting average.

“‘So, what does this have to do with Booth?’” Andriesen says he asked the group, rhetorically. “‘Well, it could be this, but it’s not. To me, it’s actually this.’” Storytelling, Andriesen says, was an effective way to communicate to the group the things that they would get out of the program. “It just shocked me how powerful it was.”