Published: February 29, 2008

Conversations that Matter

Dean Ted Snyder

Image by Dan Dry

We are sustained by our commitment to people, to understanding and refining the hierarchy of bad, good, and better ideas, and to great conversations. And there have been some really terrific conversations on highly relevant topics in recent months at the GSB.

As part of their orientation, MBA students in the class of 2009 heard from Ian Davis, head of McKinsey, on the big issues facing business. Sounding a theme that has taken on greater importance since he spoke, Davis emphasized the need for business leaders to understand the nature of the tradeoff between risk and growth. A week later, John Edwardson, ’72, chairman and CEO of CDW, engaged these students and LEAD facilitators from the class of 2008 in a highly personal discussion on the practical meaning of leadership and comparative advantage.

Leadership was also the focus for the Charles M. Harper Road to CEO Series, part of our Alumni Celebration. Steve Kaplan, Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, moderated the wide-ranging discussion with William Conway Jr., ’74, cofounder and managing director of the Carlyle Group, and Robert Lane, ’74, chairman and CEO of Deere & Company.

The Myron Scholes Global Markets Forum, sponsored by the Initiative on Global Markets, recently featured a discussion of America and the global economy with Roger Altman, ’69, chairman, co-CEO, and cofounder of Evercore Partners, and Austan Goolsbee, Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, in New York (see “Presidential Candidate Advisors Say Climate, Skills Gap Top Issues.")

An earlier Scholes Forum provided Charles Evans, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the opportunity to offer his first public remarks as the bank’s president. Evans, who spoke at Gleacher Center, focused on the current financial situation and the factors he sees influencing current monetary policy.

The autumn quarter also saw Gleacher Center play host to a GSB-sponsored interview of Ed Zander, then CEO of Motorola, by Kevin Maney, contributing editor to Conde Nast’s Portfolio magazine, as well as a discussion on leading innovation with Padmasree Warrior, Motorola’s chief technology officer and executive vice president.

The Global Leadership Series, which is supported by our school’s alumni and development team, spanned Europe, Asia, and the Americas in 2007, hosting faculty experts and extraordinary alumni speakers around the world, including James Kilts, ’74; Jaime Chico Pardo, ’74; and Gary Becker, PhD ’51 (economics), University Professor of Economics and of Sociology. To learn more about Becker, see “The Human Capitalist.”) In 2008, we look forward to hosting GLS events in Brazil, Chile, and New Delhi.

The Becker Brown Bag Series continues to offer highly popular forums where prominent economists present cutting-edge research. The series has featured Steve Levitt, Alvin H. Baum Professor in Economics and the College, on “Why Businesses Should Run Experiments,” and Kerwin Charles, Steans Family Professor in Education Policy at the Harris School, on “Incarceration and the Marriage Market.” (To read about Charles’s research on race and consumption, see “Behind the Bling.”)

The student-organized Distinguished Speaker Series continues the time-honored tradition of bringing business, government, and community luminaries to the GSB to address the important issues and events awaiting future business leaders. We were delighted to have Ken Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express, kick off this year’s series, and we look forward to welcoming Ron Johnson, senior vice president of retail at Apple, and Gordon Crovitz, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, later this year.

The London campus’s Executive MBA Program Speaker Series has hosted several great speakers since classes began in June, including Holger Schmieding, Bank of America’s chief European economist; Zbigniew Kominek, ’04, principal economist, office of the chief economist, at EBRD; Cem Cesmig, ’72, CEO of Newtonmore Advisors; and Bob Stefanowski, president and CEO of GE Corporate Finance for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

In Asia, we’ve welcomed Devin Kimble, CEO of MENU Pte. Ltd. Food and Drinks Group, as well as a panel on private equity featuring Eric Rosenkranz, ’75, CEO of e.three, and John Thomson, investment director at 3i.

These conversations make it an exciting time to be part of the Chicago Booth community. They certainly build on our momentum as we expand our reach, increase our visibility, and leverage the insights of our community.

Edward A. Snyder, Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Economics

Last Updated 5/14/09