The Key to Successful Decision Makers

Experts develop deep domain knowledge that often enables them to make decisions in the blink of an eye with great success. The phenomenon is a part of the necessary tool kit for executives, according to James Schrager, clinical professor of entrepreneurship and strategic management, who spoke at a Global Leadership Series event at Gleacher Center in June.

Strategy may be the next field revolutionized by the same concepts invigorating behavioral economics and finance. Chicago PhD and Nobel laureate Herb Simon first introduced the concept of bounded rationality: people don’t consider all alternatives as they decide most things, only a subset. The way we choose that subset is often the secret to how well—or poorly—our decision will turn out.

Professor emeritus Albert Madansky and Schrager probed Simon’s work to see how experts developed decision-making skills and to map what Simon described onto strategy.

After about 10 years’ work in an area, according to Simon, people develop an “intuition” about how to make decisions—patterns they had previously learned.

Schrager advised students to study how a successful boss makes decisions. “Discover how they were made and listen closely to the reasons,” he said. “Successful decision makers are the first to say ‘I screwed that up.’ They are totally honest so they can catalog that pattern—especially if it’s a failed one—and learn from it.”—M.P.

To read a longer version of this story, click here


Marketing Mentors Make a Difference

A new mentorship program that matched students with experienced marketers drew more than 35 alumni who agreed to share their expertise for 16 months, starting in January. Co-sponsored by the James M. Kilts Center for Marketing, the alumni and development office, and student marketing groups, the Marketing Mentors Program was supported with a gift from Karen Katen, AB ’70, MBA ’74.

Mentor Ashley Baxter, ’04, senior advertising manager for Pizza Hut Brand Marketing at Yum! Brands, worked with first-year student Susan Thuresson. Baxter, whose experience at Chicago helped her switch to a marketing career, enjoyed hearing about Thuresson’s progress. “She wanted to work at Kraft Foods, where I interned and had worked. I provided interview pointers, observations about Kraft versus other consumer product goods companies, and contacts. I also shared in Susan’s success when she was offered the internship at Kraft this summer.”

Thuresson said the mentoring was critical to her internship search. “Ashley was a huge help in preparing me for recruiting. She also put me in touch with marketing colleagues at various companies so I could learn about the breadth of opportunities.”—P.H.


Management Conference 2009

The annual event drew its largest audience ever, reaching beyond the 1,068 who attended in Chicago through a live webcast that drew viewers from around the globe.

1st time
simulcast live on the web

Number of viewers online

Number of countries where viewers logged on

The webcast drew a worldwide audience from such countries as Uruguay, Bulgaria, Kuwait, and Australia.

To read more, see “Management of the Markets”, or visit


They’re Betting You’ll Want to Bump Someone

A student-launched company’s iPhone application swayed professional investors at the 2009 New Venture Challenge, Chicago Booth’s annual business plan competition. Bump Technologies, Inc., which offers an iPhone application that lets users exchange contact information with the bump of a hand, tied for first place with Nine Naturals, which makes hair care products for pregnant women.

“Bump is intuitive, very obvious, and has an easy-to-use interface,” said Franco Turrinelli, ’96, a public company equity analyst for William Blair who served as a judge for the preliminaries that put Bump among the 10 finalists in the May competition. “It’s a simple idea and it solves a problem that every businessperson has,” said NVC judge Ellen Carnahan, ’84, a 20-year venture capitalist, now with Machrie Enterprises LLC.

Bump Technologies was the brainchild of first-year students Jake Mintz and David Lieb; they cofounded the firm last fall with Andy Huibers. As an engineer at Texas Instruments in 2005, Lieb said, “I met some new colleagues and thought, I wish there was a way to automate contact info exchange, but I couldn’t think of a way to do it using the mobile phones we had in 2005.” The iPhone (or iPod Touch) made it possible because those devices have accelerometers. “The phones don’t talk to each other directly. An accelerometer in each phone responds to the bump and contacts a central server, which matches everything up. Pretty clever,” said a story praising Bump in Discover magazine.

At Chicago Booth, they learned how to turn the idea into a business. “The judges and faculty made us challenge everything: our ideas, our concepts, our assumptions. That approach toward entrepreneurship was a key to our success,” said Dominic Hofstetter, another first-year student on the team.

Their initial application was offered for free on Apple’s iPhone App Store in March; by May, 800,000 people had downloaded the app. Judges took notice.

Turrinelli said Bump Technologies won because of the ways it does not work—yet. “This is platform technology that can initiate almost any transaction we can imagine. And every judge in the room could think of a different way it could make money. That’s really powerful.” Also, its value increases the more people have it, Turrinelli said. “If the company can find a way of developing that widespread adoption, it will work. Then they have to figure out what people are and are not willing to pay for.”

Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, is among those who predict success. “Bump has the potential to be the most successful company to emerge from the New Venture Challenge ever.”—P.H.

Learn more about the competition.


Maybe we should have been worried about you guys.”

Francisco Gil-Diaz, executive president of Telefonica de Espana-Mexico and Central America and former minister of finance of Mexico, on the role G8 countries played in incubating the worldwide meltdown in credit markets. Gil-Diaz spoke during the sixth annual Vale Latin American Business Conference, sponsored by the student-led Latin American Business Group, at Gleacher Center in April.


“Experts” on Chicago Booth Meet to Develop Strategy

For the first time, members of the Council on Chicago Booth and the three cabinets of the Global Advisory Board (GAB) gathered to help shape the school’s global strategies.

Some 78 alumni and friends of Chicago Booth from 13 countries attended, including Frits Seegers, ’89, and Bruce Rigal, ’89, who co-chair the GAB’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa cabinet; Jaime Chico Pardo, ’74, and Janet Ortega, ’81, chair and vice chair of the Americas cabinet; Luis Miranda, ’89, who chairs the Asia cabinet; and David Booth, ’71, who spoke about the need to compete for top faculty.

The meeting was convened by James Kilts, ’74, as chair of the council; the structure and scope were developed by incoming chair John Edwardson, ’72, who conducted the meeting. Miranda commented afterward, “Having the GAB meet in Chicago helped the members interact more. It also further developed the international perspective of everyone there.”

At dinner, Harry Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management, led a brainstorm session that encouraged members to think big about the common threads that tie the Booth community together.

Booth staff, in collaboration with council and GAB chairs, are developing an action plan for board members that aligns their work to four key goals: admissions, jobs for alumni and students, building the brand, and strengthening the global community.—P.H.


Edwardson to Head Council

As chair of the Council on Chicago Booth since 2002, James Kilts, ’74, turned the post over to John Edwardson, ’72, effective July 1.

“Having served as chair during the successful capital campaign, the opening of Harper Center, and the renaming of the school in honor of the gift from David Booth, ’71, and his family, I feel privileged,” said Kilts, founding partner of Centerview Partners. “It was a truly historic time for Chicago Booth and the entire community.”

Kilts, a university trustee since 2004, has been on the council since 1991. A gift from Kilts and Nabisco established the Kilts Center for Marketing in 1999; through the center, he has actively supported innovative work in marketing at Booth.

Edwardson, CEO of CDW and a member of the council since 1995, applauded Kilts’s leadership. “He has led the council with great wisdom, skill, and dedication, and I will strive to build on that strong foundation,” Edwardson said.—P.H.


Gifts Establish New Chairs

Gifts from alumni and their firms totaling $8 million enabled Chicago Booth to establish four new faculty chairs for the 2009–10 academic year.

“Their willingness to invest in human capital in a down market in order to create new faculty chairs underscores the significance of their support,” said dean Edward Snyder.

A gift from Clifford Asness, MBA ’91, PhD ’94, and John Liew, AB ’89, PhD ’95, established the AQR Capital Management Professor of Finance, held by John Cochrane. Support from Chris Dialynas, ’80, created the Chris P. Dialynas Professor of Economics, held by Marianne Bertrand. A gift honoring Joel Gemunder, ’62, from Omnicare established the Joel F. Gemunder Professorship of Strategy and Finance, held by Robert Gertner. Support from the family of Emmanuel Roman, ’87, created the Roman Family Professorship of Finance, held by Pietro Veronesi. “I owe an enormous amount of gratitude to Chicago Booth,” said Roman. “The finance and econometric faculty shaped my view of the world and my career.” (To read more, see “Named Professorships Include Four New Chairs.”)—P.H.


Connections in Key Regions

Alumni, corporate partners, and prospective students in key regions in Asia, South America, and the Middle East had a chance to connect with Chicago Booth this spring.

Caroline Karr, ’88, associate dean of global initiatives, and associate dean James Veeneman, ’03, traveled with Scott Meadow, clinical professor of entrepreneurship and faculty director of global initiatives, to Brazil, Chile, India, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates in an outreach effort “to energize and strengthen our alumni community while opening doors to new relationships that can help our alumni and students,” Karr said.

Meadow gave presentations on private equity and entrepreneurship. Both he and Karr hosted small dinners with alumni, visited firms to secure internships and job openings for Chicago Booth students in each city, and met with prospective students for all programs. “The alumni base around the world offers broad resources to the university to accelerate its global ambitions,” he said. “This can be in the form of scholarships, financial support, logistical support, jobs, and academic centers. Our trips laid a solid foundation.”—P.H.


Zonis Scholars Honored

The first two Zonis International Scholars, Omolara Gbadebo, ’09, and first-year student Tuong Nguyen, met over dinner in Chicago with Marvin Zonis, professor emeritus of business administration, for whom the scholarship was named.

Also present were the alumni who led the effort to establish the award, Bruce Rigal, ’89, and Luis Miranda, ’89. The five were among the nearly 300 who gathered for the global initiatives dinner, an event that brought together a distinctly international group of alumni and students after Management Conference in May. (See “The Future of Markets.”)

Rigal and Miranda established the Zonis scholarships in 2008 to help make a Booth MBA accessible to international students who don’t have access to the U.S. financial aid program.—P.H.


New Graduates Celebrate

Executive MBA students in London and Singapore celebrated the completion of their programs in historic venues this past February.

In London, 85 EXP-14 graduates and their guests gathered at Plaisterers’ Hall, a traditional guild hall, to hear remarks from dean Edward Snyder, managing director Glenn Sykes, and class representative Maximilian Puyanic, AB ’01, MBA ’09 (EXP-14). The celebration included a reception with champagne served from the family vineyard of Alexandre Penet, ’09 (EXP-14), and an awards dinner hosted by the Student Activities Council.

In Singapore, 95 students and their guests met at the historic Raffles Hotel for the certificate ceremony and reception. Adding their congratulations to Dean Snyder’s, deputy dean Mark Zmijewski, associate dean William Kooser, and Ron Burt, Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy, toasted the graduating students.—K.F.

Last Updated 5/14/09