Career News

For Alumni, Career Services Is Where Talent and Opportunity Converge

When Deb Glasser, '05, joined Biogen Idec in 2009, she stepped into a whirlwind.

"It was a company that was exploding with opportunity," said Glasser, an associate director of professional marketing at the biotech company. "We were growing from two products currently on the market to potentially having six within the next 20 to 24 months."

So Glasser went to work, lobbying her bosses at Biogen hard to start building a pipeline of marketing talent. And one of the first places she turned was Booth's Career Services, hoping it would be a good match for her internship needs, despite the relatively small size of the function within the organization.

"I'm not going to be an employer like McKinsey or even my previous company, Abbott Labs," Glasser said. "I'm not going to come on campus and offer seven students entry-level jobs. Rather, I'm looking for one."

She was pleasantly surprised. "I got incredibly good, almost white-glove service from the Career Services group, even though I wasn't a volume buyer," she said.

Booth, on the other hand, is a volume resource for MBA talent. It has more than 45,000 alumni and students around the world in all industries with all levels of experience. Many have profiles and resumes in Career Services' Resume Database for Alumni and Part-Time Students (RAPS), a free resource available to recruiters and alumni interested in just-in-time and experienced talent. Companies can also access online databases to target students seeking internships or students interested in entry-level MBA positions. Companies are encouraged to post jobs on Booth's Global Talent Solutions (GTS) system.

LemanIn addition to helping companies seeking talent, Career Services also plays a valuable role in helping students and alumni seeking jobs, like Christian Leman, '08 (EXP-13) (pictured).

He gives Career Services a lot of credit for helping him get the job he started in February 2012: director of B2B business development and partner integration for global markets at HomeAway, an online vacation home rental site. But this isn't the first job Career Services has helped him land.

Leman, a French national who earned a master's degree in computer engineering in 1990, spent more than 15 years in product management and business development positions in Europe that left him wanting more. "I wanted to be able to combine my technical skills in computer science and acquire executive types of skills to get an executive position in a tech company," he said.

So Leman entered Booth's Executive MBA Program through the London campus in 2006, and the following year he made his first contact with Career Services. He approached Anita Brick, AB '77, MBA '81, director of career advancement programs, and asked her for advice.

He had a job offer as head of global operations at SoftThinks, a technology company with operations in Europe and the United States. Taking the job would entail moving to the United States, and Leman wasn't sure it was the right move. Following a series of one-on-one coaching sessions in which he and Brick discussed the pros and cons, Leman used a tool on the Booth website that helps candidates weigh offers. Ultimately, he decided to accept.

"It was definitely the right decision for me," he said. Shortly afterward, Leman relocated the company's US headquarters from San Jose, California, to Austin, Texas - the corporate home of Dell, which SoftThinks was wooing as a client.

After he landed a contract with Dell in December 2009, SoftThinks asked him to return to the company's European headquarters in France. The problem was, he wanted to stay.

"So I decided the leave the company," Leman said, "and that was the second time I got in touch with Career Services in Chicago."

He quickly re-engaged with Brick and the team in Chicago, and this time, in addition to coaching sessions, Leman used GTS to search for job postings, the Career Resource Center databases to develop a list of target companies, and the Community Directory to network with the Booth community.

He also used the CareerCast and Booth Mediasite online tools to hear podcasts and watch videos to get different points of view, and contacted the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship for insight and advice. These activities ultimately led him to his current job at HomeAway.

For her part, Brick contends that Leman deserves a lot of credit himself. "He's very innovative, and I think he's someone who gives back," she said. "He is very active in the Austin alumni group, and he's there to help fellow alumni." - T.P.


Unique Competitions Intrigue Alumni Private-Equity Investors

KaplanAt an intimate dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, (pictured) spoke to more than 50 alumni in private equity, discussing the current state of the field and the opportunities for them to engage with their alma mater and with each other.  

The Private Equity Industry & Academics Dinner, sponsored by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Chicago Booth Career Services, was the second in an ongoing series that connects Booth alumni in private equity with each other and with faculty research. 

Kaplan presented findings from his recent research at the dinner. The bottom line is positive: Private-equity performance for investors (limited partners) has been remarkably good for a long time. It has outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 3 percent per year. At the portfolio company level, evidence suggests private-equity investors make companies more efficient.

Going forward, there are some positives and some negatives. On the negative side, returns from private-equity investments that began between 2006 and 2008 are likely to be low. Partially as a result, the entire industry looks likely to contract somewhat from its 2007 peak size.   

On the positive side, private-equity funds have expanded capabilities for improving businesses in which they have invested. Partially because of the intense scrutiny on public company CEOs, private-equity investors are much more attractive to CEOs and top executives than in the past. 

Kaplan also described the Polsky Center’s current private-equity programs, particularly the new Sterling Partners Investment Thesis Challenge, in which student teams are charged with putting together original investment theses for private-equity investments in a particular sector or industry. Sterling Partners and other participating firms will provide mentorship to the teams with the most promising proposals.

“When I talk to private-equity partners, they tell me, ‘We see thousands of resumes and it’s very hard to differentiate among students. What would really be useful and differentiating is if the students brought us a live deal,’ ” he said.

Kaplan presented one fact that elicited murmurs of surprise: “Entrepreneurship is the second most popular concentration at Chicago Booth, coming behind only finance. This is a big change from the experience of people who graduated before 2000.” 

He also discussed the thriving, established entrepreneurship programs at Chicago Booth - for example, the New Venture Challenge, launched in 1996.

“The NVC is one of the best business creation programs in the world,” Kaplan said. In the last 18 months, 13 NVC start-ups have raised more than $135 million from some of “the world’s top venture capital firms.” 

“I had no idea that Chicago’s programs are this unique,” said Stephen McKenna, ’96, founder and managing partner of Consonance Capital Partners, who attended the dinner. “All alumni in private equity should know about this.” - Jennifer Vanasco

Photo by Dan Dry


Career Services, Polsky Center Help Alumni Entrepreneurship Thrive

Recent alumni know something that those from past decades might not: Entrepreneurship and start-ups are thriving at Chicago Booth. And Career Services and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship have grown into important and successful resources for alumni and current students in the entrepreneurship concentration.

"One of the many distinguishing characteristics of Booth is the lifelong career support it provides to all graduates," said Leslie Plaisted, associate director of employer development for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Career Services. "We constantly work to meet the needs of our current students, and also to ensure the continued success of all Booth MBAs."

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship started 14 years ago with a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Since receiving the 2002 endowment from Michael P. Polsky, '87, it has grown tremendously, and 5,312 students have earned an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship, including about half of last year's graduates.

Many of those alumni stay connected to Booth as guest speakers at student events, as mentors for one of the experiential learning programs, and as part of the New Venture Challenge, where they have served as competitors, mentors, or judges.

"Booth is one of the top entrepreneurship schools in the country, and one of its great strengths is how it gets alumni involved in tangible ways," said Kevin Willer, '10 (XP-79), president and CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

Alumni and students also benefit from the Chicago Conversations series, a recent program produced by Career Services, Admissions, and the Dean's Office that provides an insider's perspective on specific sectors of business. Conversations have been held in Atlanta, Houston, London, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, and Seoul, South Korea, and the series will continue in Chicago April 25, São Paulo May 17, and Paris May 23.

"We chose to do one in London this year due to its growing reputation as a start-up haven, thanks to the government's encouragement and support for such ventures," said Plaisted, who is based in London.

Alumni closer to Chicago often drop by the Polsky Center when they have questions about starting a business.

"Five to ten alumni contact us each week, usually to talk about an idea they have," said Tracey Keller, associate director of marketing, communications, and external relations at the Polsky Center. "They'll say, 'I have an idea, but I don't know if it's good. Can I get feedback?' "

Distinguished executives have also provided mentoring to alumni through the Executive-in-Residence Program. Recent leaders include David Booth, '71; Luis Miranda, '89; and Karl Muth, '10. Executives share their career-related knowledge through candid conversations in small group advisory sessions.

Keller also points to regional alumni groups located throughout the United States that sometimes get assistance from both the Polsky Center and Alumni Affairs. There are currently five alumni Entrepreneurs' Advisory Groups - in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington - that help entrepreneurs develop a strong local network.

Other opportunities to meet like-minded alumni include Chicago-area industry meetups, which bring together students, faculty, alumni, and industry experts to discuss challenges in their industry and explore trends, and the Innovation Workshop Series, sponsored by ARCH Venture Partners.

Midwest entrepreneurs looking for capital might consider Hyde Park Angels, founded by Booth alumni and still closely affiliated with the school. The group "provides a forum for entrepreneurial-minded members to invest in seed and early stage businesses," according to its website,

Alumni who would like to work for a start-up can look for ideas on the Career Services Blog or use the Global Talent Solutions system (GTS), both available through the Booth portal. They can also submit their profile to the Resume Database for Alumni and Part-Time Students (RAPS).

"We just recently added a new profile question that allows alumni and students to indicate an interest in entrepreneurship," said Nima Merchant, associate director of employer development, Career Services. "That means a company looking for talent can search RAPS for candidates that have indicated an interest in working for a start-up in addition to having the right functional and industry experience." - Jennifer Vanasco


Last Updated 10/16/12