2019
Executive MBA student Nerina Bodasing attended Electives Weeks to network with fellow students and alumni while brushing up on current business topics.

Electives Weeks Fosters Connection, Professional Growth

Electives Weeks is a popular end-of-summer tradition for EMBA alumni and current students to network while taking courses in more than 30 subjects.

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Every summer, current students and alumni from Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA Program come together for two weeks of networking, inspiring discussion, and personal and professional growth.

This year’s event—held in August—attracted alumni from around the world as well as students from Booth’s three campuses in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong.

For alumni, Electives Weeks offers the opportunity to brush up on current business topics in more than 30 subjects and to reconnect with former classmates and professors. For current students, it’s a chance to expand their knowledge of a subject they may be interested in but couldn’t fit into their regular program. For both, the abbreviated nature of the classes is a big draw.

“You study but you feel much more relaxed at night than you do during the school year,” said Andrey Golovnin, ’19 (EXP-24), who graduated earlier this year and currently works as corporate finance director for EVRAZ Group, a London-based steel and mining conglomerate.

Golovnin took classes in behavioral economics, persuasion, storytelling, and power and influence.

“My goal,” he said, “was to get an integrated approach to social skills and measure what I can do better. I think the genius of Booth’s program is that it elevates people to a certain level where they can analyze problems in a way that’s both broader and more precise.”

Himanshu Kumar, ’19 (XP-88), a petrophysicist at BP America in Houston, didn’t hesitate to return to campus despite having just graduated this spring. He took advantage of Electives Weeks to explore his interest in entrepreneurship.

“I’m taking classes in entrepreneurial selling and venture capital,” he said. “My interests are in education and sports, and my ultimate goal is to go into politics. What I’m doing now is setting up the base for all of that.”

Nerina Bodasing, a student in the Executive MBA Program London as well as divisional director of communications at Liberty Holdings in Johannesburg, said she benefited immensely from classes in new product development and storytelling.

“The new product class has been mind-blowing because the approach is so practical and grounded in the real world,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bowie (Po Yee) Lam, a student in the Executive MBA Program Hong Kong, said classes in governance and social networking offered her invaluable insights in her roles as the founder and executive director of a nonprofit supporting young women’s sexual education and reproductive rights.

“My whole career has been in the nonprofit sector,” she said. “The program has helped me to understand the financial side and also helped me to think about how to grow the organization in the future.”

In addition to providing invaluable skills and insights to propel students’ and alumni’s careers to the next level, the event serves as a late-summer break, where both groups say they can take a step back to catch up with old friends and classmates and reflect.

“There is a saying that your community sets up certain standards for you,” said Golovnin. “Reconnecting with my Booth cohort and listening to their stories about life and business is very rewarding.”

“It’s kind of a retreat,” Kumar added. “Back home, every day is a busy day. Here I have time to read and think and sleep. I will definitely come back next year.”

—By Robert Sharoff
September 17, 2019