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It was a fairly easy decision to apply to Chicago Booth. I was at a point in my career where I wanted to pivot to a management role with P&L (profit & loss) responsibilities. I saw the Executive MBA Program at Booth as a fantastic opportunity to become a more well-rounded professional and leader.

I applied when I was working as chief of staff at Oppenheimer Generations, a single family office comprising commercial ventures and not-for-profit organizations committed to improving the world. Booth was the only program I applied for. I really took stock in a recommendation from one of my early bosses and mentors, Thomas Kalaris, ’78, the former CEO of Barclays Wealth Management. He shared his experience of the rigor of the program, the depth of the network, and the global nature of the three campuses.

I also admired the structure: one-week blocks that gave you an immersive experience as close as possible to that of a full-time program. Because of that, I believed I could get the best of both worlds and continue working while attending school.

The first 10 months of the program were an unbelievable experience. I had expected it to be largely academic with a bonus of networking, but I actually made lifelong friendships, and the experience became a catalyst for many professional opportunities.

“The program’s empathy and efforts to cater to our different needs were essential.”

— Edoardo Collevecchio

Around this time, I was traveling a lot for work and missed a few London weeks of the Fall Quarter. Booth allowed me to make them up at the Hong Kong campus. There, I discovered an incredible network of established professionals from over 20 countries across Asia. After one trip, I realized I had only scratched the surface of what I could learn from them and ultimately decided to take all my classes out of Hong Kong. I then started building business engagements on the back of my class trips, and my classmates helped facilitate many new work connections in the region. I was also extremely fortunate to count on my employer’s support to undertake this program and dedicate the time I needed to capitalize on the various opportunities that came out of it.

Then COVID-19 hit. Booth allowed students the flexibility to create individual completion plans that worked best for them. Some people wanted to finish the program on schedule, while others wanted to delay. Without this flexibility, a lot of people, including myself, wouldn’t have been able to complete the program. We’re working within a global market and juggling demanding personal and professional commitments, and the program’s empathy and efforts to cater to our different needs were essential. I decided to take a hybrid approach with a partial load, since I didn’t want to complete online but still wanted to progress in the program and continue sharpening my skill set.

At the same time, I was also busy opening the Asia office for Oppenheimer Generations—something that likely wouldn’t have happened without the connections I made at Booth. By building a permanent presence in Singapore, we hope to increase our exposure to the region, as well as boost synergies, increase trade, and catalyze investments between Africa, our home market, and Asia over time.

The Booth network helped me develop and refine this new strategy for the company, and even influenced my approach toward recruitment. For example, I built a trusted friendship with a classmate of mine, Yi Ling Ong, through work-study groups and time in the program. Yi Ling is steeped in the Singaporean ecosystem. When I was looking to shore up the investment side of the business, it was a natural step to hire her as our head of investment.

We officially launched at the end of October 2021, and I’m excited to see how this new adventure unfolds.

As told to Danielle Braff