2015

Stories related to "Alumni".

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The Next Generation of Enterprise

On the day of the NVC finals in May, David Rabie, ’15, and his team stood in front of a panel of judges in a Booth classroom and passed out samples of Thai chicken curry, quinoa, and ginger soy broccoli. The meals had been cooked in a futuristic countertop device—similar to a crockpot—called Maestro. Rabie’s vision of simple, healthy meals calls for customers to pop pods of raw vacuum-sealed vegetables, grains, and proteins into the machine and scan the QR-coded cooking instructions on the package. In a half hour, a well-rounded meal is ready to go. The judges tossed out plenty of questions: How did Rabie plan to grow the company? Who would develop the recipes? Rabie had answers, which is why the judges awarded Maestro first place in the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), Booth’s signature startup program. With a cash prize of $70,000, business services, and enviable industry connections, Maestro has a good start in life. Four months later, the start up is fine-tuning the product, building a

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The Survivor

José Antonio Álvarez, ’96 (EXP-1), has seen some of banking’s darkest hours. He was elevated to CEO of Madrid-based Banco Santander a year ago—with Europe still struggling to climb out of an economic malaise and the Greek debt crisis threatening to destabilize the fragile eurozone. Álvarez had been through worse. He was named CFO of the bank 10 years earlier, as the housing bubble was about to peak, then burst, hobbling highly leveraged US and European banks. Yet Santander emerged as Europe’s seventh largest bank, with assets of more than $1.5 trillion. Of course Santander was by no means immune to the crisis that engulfed Europe and its banks, with Spain’s overleveraged construction industry contributing to the frenzy. “The worst was summer 2012,” Álvarez said. It’s when Spain was downgraded by the three major ratings agencies, “a few notches in one shot” from Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s. However, through it all, Santander never posted a quarterly loss, unlike many of its European peers, including BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole Group, and Deutsche Bank. Royal Bank of Scotland suffered such steep

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Of Like Minds in the C-Suite

When an organization’s CEO and CFO both hail from Booth, there’s a common methodology to problem solving that cuts to the chase. In a fast-moving environment, according to Byron David Trott, AB ’81, MBA,’82, founder, chairman, and CEO of BDT & Company, applying “the same disciplined approach” as his Booth-trained CFO Mike Burns, ’03, speeds decision making and removes unnecessary drama from the equation. This doesn’t mean that they always agree—far from it. Maria Kim, ’12 (XP-81), CEO of Chicago-based the Cara Program, describes her CFO Carla Denison-Bickett, ’04, as “a healthy agitator.” But in many ways, the open debate leads to increased dynamism that infects the entire leadership team. At BDT & Company in Chicago and Oaktree Capital Management in Los Angeles, the CFOs were the first and most significant external hires by the founding CEOs—and the pairs are still together. At Oaktree, it’s been 20 years as a team for CEO Howard Marks, ’69, and David Kirchheimer, ’78. Kim and Denison-Bickett have led nonprofit the Cara Program for the past year, but previously worked at the organization

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Where’s the Optimal Place to Park a Food Truck?

Pursuing a love of food and cooking, I completed the basic pastry certificate at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris the summer before starting the PhD program. So I was thrilled to see a crêpe truck, Paris Ouh La La, serving lunch during the school year. After several good meals at the food trucks on Ellis Avenue, and observing the variation in the trucks parked each day, I started thinking about how the trucks decide where to park. Where you choose to locate a business is a fundamental economic question—one that food trucks must re-answer every day. The classic location choice model was offered by the mathematician and economist Harold Hotelling in 1929. Consider two ice cream vendors who parked their carts on a one-mile stretch of beach. Assuming the venders offer roughly the same treats, beachgoers will naturally choose to walk to the closest cart. The vendor on the left will serve all the beachgoers to its left, and the vendor on the right will serve all the beachgoers to its right.

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Power Sources

The Challenge: In 1999, Ted Brandt cofounded Marathon Capital in Bannockburn, Illinois, a $25 million investment bank focused on renewable energy. The original compensation structure hewed to the industry norm of a steady balance between salary and bonus, based on both individual and company performance. But in the first several years, Marathon was short of capital and the model was unsustainable. How could the company devise a system of incentives while maintaining the necessary cash flow to sustain the business, Brandt wondered. The Strategy: For the next three years, Marathon slashed salaries and paid bankers big bonuses when deals closed. Revenues grew, but that led to new challenges. This “eat-what-you-kill” model, as Brandt calls it, discouraged teamwork and was unfair to younger bankers who had no say in what projects to join. Also, by paying out bonuses before fixed costs, Marathon had few profits. Compensation ran about 90 to 95 percent of revenues. In comparison, similar banks

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Big Marketers on Campus

Is it possible to geotarget advertising messages by street address? How can business-to-business marketers get better data? Why are millennials spending buckets of money on jewelry? These were among the intriguing queries tackled at Kilts Marketing Day, an annual forum sponsored by the Kilts Center for Marketing. The event brought 16 executive-level alumni in marketing to Harper Center in April to share their industry experience and expertise. Each alumnus hosted a table and led a 30-minute discussion on the latest developments in big data, business-tobusiness marketing, and product innovation. The 100 student attendees—aspiring marketers and those interested in learning more about the field—divided among the 16 tables and rotated for the second session. For the students, the opportunity is extraordinary—joining in discussions, and posing questions directly to alumni in senior positions at marketing heavyweights including JPMorgan Chase & Co., McDonald’s Corp., and MasterCard Inc. For alumni, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with Booth and engage with students. The forum showcases the range of career paths and functions available to students with an interest in marketing—not just consumer products but banking and finance, manufacturing, entertainment, retailing, and technology. Lee Ettleman, a Full-Time student, was interested in the analysis of consumer spending offered by

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I'm No Dr. Love

Marketing is often perceived as being about slick advertising campaigns. To me, marketing is about running a business, a profit and loss account. I start the course by asking students, “If you are running a company and your market share drops, what will you do to fix it?” Students give all kinds of answers to my introductory market share question—they’ll cut prices, innovate, run a sales promotion. I wait until someone says, “We need to figure out what happened.” Unless you get at the underlying cause, you can’t find the solution. I teach from the perspective of presenting the strategic aspects of decision making that are intrinsically linked with marketing. This includes setting an objective for a brand, understanding where customer opportunities lie, and positioning yourself to give your target a reason to buy your product. I call that “the right to win.”<br/>The Framework<br/>I give my students a robust tool kit that enables them to look at any business problem and dissect it. I want my students to be the ones people turn to in meetings because they have something of value to

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The Colombia Conversation

Juan Esteban Calle Restrepo, ’94, heads Medellín-based EPM, the largest public multi-utility company in Colombia. Calle recently discussed the economic prospects for Colombia and Latin America with Santiago Umaschi, ’11, managing partner of a Boston-based strategy consulting firm that specializes in international markets. Umaschi works with a nonprofit arm of EPM that helps small and midsize companies in Medellín find export markets. Umaschi reached out to Calle on a visit earlier this year— the two met for the first time over coffee, and talked about the city’s prospects. They continued the conversation in a summer phone call. Umaschi: I commute from Boston to Medellín from Boston twice a month, and I find the geography to be striking. With the Andes all around you, you’re surrounded by a wall of green. At first I was a little claustrophobic, but then the city grows on you. The people are proud of their city. The metro cannot be cleaner. If you call the car service for a 5 a.m. pickup,

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The View From Singapore

It’s been a festive year for Singapore, which this year is celebrating 50 years of independence. The city also is home to a thriving community of nearly 650 Booth alumni who hold top jobs in trade, banking, and real estate. They get together to swap business and personal advice, help with hiring and job referrals, and even advise on start-ups. Many hold regional responsibilities that require travel—and foster connections— throughout the continent. Low Soon Teck, ’04 (AXP-3), CFO at RCMA Group Pte. Ltd., makes a point to attend a monthly dinner with alumni from his Executive MBA cohort. “We talk about managing people and talent at the workplace,” said Low, whose firm dates from colonial times as a marketer of rubber and has since expanded into agricultural commodities. “Competition for talent is intense in Singapore, where the unemployment rate is almost zero.” When Sarita Singh, ’07 (AXP-6), wrestles with a business problem outside her expertise, she seeks out fellow Booth alumni.

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Ariel Tiger, '10

With excellent rates on payroll and health insurance services, stylish interiors, and bento box lunches, New York– based WeWork is fast becoming the dream office environment for those not particularly inclined to office environments, including freelancers, start-ups, and small businesses. Chief administrative officer Ariel Tiger, ’10, oversees financial and legal matters, culture, and community growth for the company, which has 48 coworking spaces in 16 cities worldwide. Tiger’s day is a flurry of activity capped off by brainstorming with colleagues late into the night. He takes us through a typical Monday. 6:30 AM Wake up and spend time feeding and playing with my 18-month-old son, Jonathan. There is nothing better than early morning father-son quality time. 7:30 AM Check news, stocks, and, of course, my email. WeWork has operations around the globe and is expanding further internationally, so the company never sleeps. 8:40 AM Walk to our new HQ. We moved from the financial district to Chelsea because we outgrew our offices when our team doubled in size in the first half of 2015.

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A World of Growth for Small Businesses

I discovered Grow Movement shortly after business school. I was seeking to volunteer as a mentor and contribute toward developing economies. Grow enabled me to use knowledge gained from Booth along with my professional experience. Having worked in private equity [Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch], I had some idea about the attributes of successful entrepreneurs and the elements needed to build a business. After studying several proposals, I decided to work with Martial Batangana, a 24-year-old entrepreneur in Rwanda. His ambition was to build a mobile platform that would provide agricultural advice to local farmers and connect them with regional buyers. Batangana was highly motivated and technically savvy, but I saw that his business needed a framework—it was a matter of planning activities and organizing resources. For six months, I spent two to four hours a week, often on a weekday evening or a Sunday afternoon, communicating with him via email and Skype. Through his deep local and industrysector knowledge, he had identified a need in his home country. I drew on my knowledge of marketing,

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The Groundwork: A Window on Retail

The average American spends more than 200 hours a year commuting. These are notoriously stressful hours for most, usually spent stuck in traffic or crammed into subway cars. But Davidkhanian has managed to make her morning and evening commutes highlights of her day. For the eight years she’s worked at Macy’s—first as an associate in the merchandising office, now as vice president of market trends—Davidkhanian has walked the 1.2 miles from her home in Midtown Manhattan to her Herald Square office, invaluable 30-minute city adventures. “It feels like I never take the same route twice,” Davidkhanian said during a walk on a sunny morning in late June. Her one regular stop: coffee at Essen on Madison Avenue and 41st Street. “I follow the traffic lights, rain or shine, unless it’s freezing out. It never gets boring.” There’s an undeniable value in analog moments of observation—turning attention to the kind of infinitely varied scenes that unfold in real life versus on a screen. And some studies have shown that walking, like running and other forms of cardio, can help reduce stress as powerfully

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The Glittering Allure of Entrepreneurship

Of course I was well aware that most start-ups fail, and of course I was giving up the resources and access to talent that come with working for multinationals. But I had the bug to be an entrepreneur and a creator. What exactly to do with that? I always was interested in the luxury segment of consumer goods as a business. I studied to be a mechanical engineer and learned to cut and polish diamonds as part of my training. When I moved back to India in 2011, I studied the female Indian consumer and how she made female choices. The jewelry retail side here in Mumbai and across the world remained traditional. Stores continued to invest in inventory, assuming that people would come and buy whatever was in stock. I learned that even jewelers who had been in the industry for decades weren’t working off the most profitable business model. They couldn’t react to fast-moving trends because they were carrying inventory that didn’t always sell. The consumer, on the other hand, wanted to see new designs more often. I began to wonder, can technology shake up what is happening in this market?

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Chandra Greer,'90

Style: I wear sneakers with just about everything—suits, dresses, and skirts. They’re easy, casual, and stylish. Plus, I have two kids and run a retail store, so I’m on my feet a lot. These, from Italy, have a particularly graceful, bohemian, beat-up luxury that elevates sneakers to an art form. Travel: I was last in Namibia in the spring of 2014, and it’s an experience I will treasure always. This is a land of extraordinary physical contrasts—other-planet-like sand dunes, sweeping coastal views, and low, lush mountains. The Himba women there, in the way they coat their hair and skin with a paste of red ochre, are striking and beautiful. Art: Henry Darger Henry Darger was the ultimate outsider artist, iconoclastic and super private. I first became aware of him because he lived in a boardinghouse across the street from where I used to live in Chicago. When he died, in the early '70s, his landlord found a bunch of huge murals and a giant illustrated book. He did all of his artwork just for himself, and now it’s extremely valuable. I’m really drawn to that internal expression because it’s

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An Introduction To Sailing

I started sailing at Cornell University, where I joined the club team. I also spent a semester at sea. It’s a bug that bites you. After college I moved to San Francisco and bought a decrepit, leaky, 20-foot sailboat for $1,000. That’s where I learned to sail single-handedly. With solo sailing, I can just go. I’m not counting on anyone. At Booth, two years later, I had to set aside sailing. The Chicago boating season is short, and I concentrated on my studies. Once I was out of school, I got back on the water. That I could let go of sailing and focus on something else was an important life lesson—one that has also made it easier to step back from racing while my daughter is young. When you leave something behind, the desire doesn’t disappear. You have to wait until the opportunity returns. Sailing alone on the ocean is the ultimate act of self-sufficiency. You’re out for five days, just you. It’s beautiful and fun and lovely, but something always happens—a catastrophe— and you have to learn how to deal with it yourself. One day I had a light wind and lumpy seas, so I set the spinnaker

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Satya Nadella, '97

Having grown up in the company, what is it 23 years or so, I always come back to the very first thing Microsoft did, the BASIC interpreter. It was this notion of empowering others to do great things. And how do you do that as a business? I also think, in Chicago style, we’re all victims of our economic model. In our case it’s about your product. We want to do the best job of making the tools you use. It could be a student writing a term paper or a developer writing an app. My vision is to take that productivity and empowerment of individuals and organizations and express it in this new world, which is mobile-first, cloud-first. The only way you’re going to have that mobility of the human experience—not the device—is by having cloud orchestrate the movement. Regarding that Chicago-style thinking, is there a Booth class that was particularly memorable? It was a class that I took with [now-retired] professor Marvin Zonis on leadership. He stressed that EQ trumps IQ in the long run—the E is for empathy. How did you carry this into your career at Microsoft? When I’ve had my failures— when I’ve been

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Kernels of Wisdom

Chicago Booth was founded in 1898. When it comes to longevity, however, Tokyo-based Japan Corn Starch Co.—a privately held comprehensive corn starch manufacturer founded in 1867—has even the second-oldest business school in the United States beat. This July at the beautiful Hotel Okura Tokyo, the company’s president and CEO, Soichiro “Sean” Kurachi, ’85, hosted a celebration for the 150th anniversary of his family-owned business. The guest list for the event evidenced the company’s global reach—it has strong ties to the United States, sourcing all its corn from US farms and partnering with US academic institutions for research and development, and serves as the corn starch provider throughout Asia for many major companies, including Coca-Cola. Kurachi welcomed guests from around the world: representatives of suppliers, buyers, associations, farms, corporate partners, and academic institutions that have had partnerships with JCS, many of whom have had long-standing, close relationships with both the company and the Kurachi family.

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Stepping Back In

It was time for Susan Hopkinson, ’97, to stop apologizing for taking a break from her career. After graduating from Chicago Booth, she excelled professionally with the internet boom of the late 1990s. Hopkinson joined J. P. Morgan’s investment-banking program as an associate. Then, she joined the Japanese investment bank Nomura International as a principal late-stage technology investor. When her fiancé was transferred to San Francisco, where her employer had plans to open an office, the couple moved to the Bay Area. Then came 9/11. At the time, Nomura had its New York office in the World Financial Center, and it decided to consolidate its employees in London. Hopkinson didn’t want to uproot her new life on the West Coast, so that left her amid a lot of out-of-work MBAs, stranded in a city where she had few professional connections. After a short stint consulting with a small secondary fund, in 2002, she earned a position as a fund-of-funds investment manager at Paul Capital Partners, known for its pioneering of the secondary market. A self-proclaimed finance geek, Hopkinson loved the work. “It was very technical but also focused on relationship building with venture-capital firms, so I was really qualified, and I felt very lucky,” she said.

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From Fail to Prevail

When Lotika Pai, ’08, arrived for her first day on the job, she was told to leave. Her role had been eliminated. It wasn’t personal; Pai’s start date was September 15, 2008—the same day that Lehman Brothers, her would-be employer, filed for bankruptcy. After enduring a competitive recruiting process and graduating from business school, Pai looked forward to switching into the fast-paced world of investment banking. The setback was understandably terrifying. “It was the sense of being overwhelmed by something that I had no control over,” she recalled. “I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” In the next few years, Pai got valuable experience as an investment banker at Barclays (which acquired Lehman Brothers days later), but she never forgot the anxiety she felt during the turmoil. “That situation was pivotal for me, in terms of wanting to change the trajectory of my career,” said Pai. That first setback with Lehman inspired Pai to consider entrepreneurship once she had finance experience under her belt. Last year, she cofounded Powwful, a Chicago-based women’s activewear brand that aims to change the conversation around fitness and empowerment. “Ultimately,” Pai said, “I wanted to be more in control of what happened to my career.”

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Meet the Dean

Incoming dean Madhav V. Rajan shares his personal story and lays out his vision for Chicago Booth’s future—including the critical role that Booth’s global alumni network plays in building on the school’s successes. Chicago Booth Magazine: You’ve called yourself a “lifelong learner.” Can you take us back and share an anecdote about a moment in your childhood or school years that sparked your interest in business and/or academia? How can Booth instill a similar love for learning in future generations? Dean Rajan: Steve Jobs famously noted that you can only connect the dots looking backward, and that is certainly true in my case. I did not think through or plan out my career. My decision to study business for my undergraduate degree was based purely on the fact that my older brothers were engineers and I wanted to learn something different. I then moved to pursue a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University, for the simple reason that my father worked in Pittsburgh. I did well in my first-year courses and was approached by a faculty member, who asked whether I had considered doing a PhD. I had not, but he persuaded me by noting that I would get paid to study, which seemed an amazing concept! This particular professor was in accounting, and that’s how I ended up in that field. However, Carnegie was unique in not having an economics department separate from the business school. Every student in accounting, economics, and finance did virtually the same coursework. Looking back, I have benefited immensely from the breadth of study and interdisciplinary training I received at Carnegie. Even then I wasn’t sure I would become an academic. Many of my PhD friends ended up in consulting, and I always thought the same would happen to me. But I liked academic research and teaching and was successful at it, so when I got a job offer from Wharton, it was an opportunity to keep going. Coming to Booth, I am firmly of the view that the school should support lifelong learning for its alumni. Two years ago, the school launched Back to Booth, which are short, nondegree classes for alumni. These courses provide opportunities to relive the Booth classroom experience with fellow alumni, and to learn about the latest ideas from faculty across the school. I cannot imagine a better way for alumni to keep connected with the school and to continue to learn from our great instructors and the latest ideas they are working on.

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Allies with Expertise

For Booth students, the annual Alumni Angel Awards are not just a celebration of alumni who go above and beyond in giving back to the school. They’re also an opportunity to strengthen the connections among Booth graduates and current students. “The Alumni Angel Awards reinspire alumni. They’re a way of saying, ‘Hey, here’s what your classmates are doing to help others. You should give it a try,’” said Trevor Gingras. He, along with fellow Full-Time MBA students Lexi Messmer and Jackie Yuh, is part of the Dean’s Student & Alumni Representatives group, which oversees the awards. And this year, there was no shortage of exemplary alumni to choose from.

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The View From Tokyo

No matter your industry, the draw to live in Tokyo is readily apparent: ultramodern transport, a fast-paced yet family-friendly lifestyle, and so many great restaurants that residents can hardly agree on a top-10 list. Add in the active contemporary art scene, buzzing nightlife, and neighborhoods brimming with longstanding cultural traditions, and it’s clear why Tokyo’s population is nearing 14 million, and growing. <br/>More than 500 Booth alumni live in Japan, many of whom call this modern-meets-traditional metropolis home. Almost 20 percent of Booth’s tight-knit alumni here work in the banking industry, with other contingents in general management, consulting, and marketing. Those that work in Tokyo are increasingly focused on connecting with prospective students.

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The Book of Booth: Tandean Rustandy

With a $20 million gift to Booth in 2017, Tandean Rustandy, ’07 (AXP-6), committed his support to expanded research and programming in social innovation and entrepreneurship. Previously known as the Social Enterprise Initiative, the newly named Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation will serve as Booth’s hub for students, alumni, and faculty tackling complex social and environmental problems. Rustandy founded Jakarta, Indonesia-based PT Arwana Citramulia Tbk, one of the best-performing ceramic tile manufacturing companies in the world. Winner of Booth’s Distinguished Alumni Entrepreneurial Award in 2011, he is a member of the Council on Chicago Booth and Global Advisory Board Asia cabinet. CBM: Why did you make the gift to the Rustandy Center? Rustandy: With the center, we can attract the best and brightest minds—people capable of winning Nobel Prizes—to bring creative and innovative thinking and improve the world.

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Coffee Futures

Back when he worked in finance, Paulo Siqueira, ’04, used to wake up in the middle of the night worried that some market event would spoil his investments. But in 2010, Siqueira and his wife, Juliana Armelin, ’04, left corporate jobs to take the plunge into coffee, starting a farm some 400 miles north of their hometown of São Paulo. “Now, we wake up at night afraid there is going to be a frost in the morning,” Siqueira said.<br/>Despite the occasional weather-related insomnia, the couple has thrived in the coffee business. Two years ago, their farm, Fazenda Terra Alta, won the highest prize for espresso coffee in Brazil. Last year, it won again. Of course, that doesn’t mean the couple’s transition from business to beans has been easy. In growing their farm, they’ve faced a steep learning curve in a business just as volatile as stocks and hedge funds. “If we had known all the risks beforehand,” said Siqueira, “I don’t know if we would have had the guts to start.”

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Soar Winner

Having a biology teacher for a father has its perks. “As a kid, I always enjoyed going into the classroom and putting a snake around my neck,” said Louise Shimmel, ’77, executive director of the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. Watching her father rehabilitate injured tortoises and bobcat kittens left a lasting impression on Shimmel. “I really credit him with my deep and abiding respect for animals.” This respect grounds Shimmel’s work at the center, which helps rescue more than 300 animals per year. The center also creates teachable moments for the 30,000 visitors who come each year to see the 50 birds of prey on site, including eagles, hawks, owls, ospreys, vultures, and falcons.

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Flights of Fancy

Twice a month, Yves Dehouck, ’10 (AXP-9), lugs a two-pound mass of finely tuned propellers, circuitry, and a lens out to a plot of land near his home and sends it off into the heavens. Well, not heavens. As an enthusiastic amateur drone photographer, Dehouck is well aware of the safety regulations that come with his chosen hobby. The rule, he said, is “if you fly the drone, you should be able to see it.” So he aims for the sweet spot: low enough to keep out of trouble, but high enough to capture the sweeping vistas of the world below. It’s a pastime he discovered by way of a lifelong fascination with aviation. Born and raised a stone’s throw from Koksijde Air Base in Belgium, Dehouck grew up wanting to fly helicopters. However, as a young child, Dehouck wore glasses, which was a no-go if you wanted to fly. He thought his dream of becoming an aviator had already crashed and burned.

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All in the Family

When a family business has multiple generations and hundreds of stakeholders, how does an individual stand out? Create meaningful change? Carry the business into the future? We talked with Booth alumni who lead or manage family-owned businesses, from a conglomerate in Thailand to a national baker of breads that got its start in a Chicago basement. They all sought a Booth education because of its reputation for intellectual rigor, lessons in analytic problem solving, and world-class faculty. The family members who run these businesses have more than one generation schooled in The Chicago Approach™. They reached a point in their professional lives—inside or outside the family firm—when they saw the need to boost quantitative skills. For some, that time came after a world event such as the 2008 crash, which upended commodity prices. For others, the education was a way to step up and assume new roles. Relying on data instead of emotion eases decision making, they say. This doesn’t mean they’re bloodless. Always they have in mind their founders, most of them immigrants, who created what they now run. They share holidays with generations of stakeholders: there’s no ducking a failed venture. <br/>

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Entrepreneurs without Borders

In June 2014, after five years in the marketing department at Coca-Cola, Jonas De Cooman, ’16 (EXP-21), felt stalled intellectually. He was ready to push his boundaries. He planned to pursue his MBA while continuing at Coca-Cola. Then unexpected policy changes at work eliminated continuing education support for De Cooman, and it looked like his plans were crumbling. So he sold his apartment. With two small children, De Cooman and his wife carefully weighed their options and the risks involved. Selling their apartment in Belgium provided the only way to afford his MBA. “I decided to pursue an MBA to kickstart my personal learning curve,” he said. De Cooman realized that he wanted to gain more control over his career and make his own mark in the global marketplace as an entrepreneur. With an extensive consumer marketing background, a global perspective, and a promising business idea, he also saw knowledge gaps he needed to fill in order to launch and operate a scalable new business. “I am driven by personal growth and I felt that I was not learning at the same pace that I used to be learning at the start of my career,” he said. “I chose to study again because I didn’t feel equipped enough to be an entrepreneur.”<br/>

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How Do You Avoid Paralysis by Analysis?

Knowing when to stop looking at data comes up constantly in my Algorithmic Marketing class. In this class, one of the main goals is to be able to develop tools that would help someone make better decisions. Building these tools relies on knowing what exactly the decision is or what the question is. Very often people don’t specify their question in a precise enough form. You need to write down a specific question—it can’t be a vague goal or a vague statement. It’s important to thoroughly articulate your question and your research plan. The more precise your question, the easier time you will have looking for an answer. The question in itself isn’t enough, though. We also need to specify the exact parameters of an acceptable answer. It doesn’t occur to people to write down specs of an answer, but that’s another thing that needs to be done before you get started. You need to give yourself some set of parameters to help you understand when you’re going to stop even before you start. These parameters could be a set of rules you have to satisfy. For example, if I’m looking at how advertising impacts sales, it might be that I am looking for a set of parameters in the context of a particular model. Knowing that helps you look in the right direction. You have to chart out what the ideal answer would be, and you have to chart out what you’re going to be satisfied with in the findings<br/>

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The View From New York

New York has the highest population density of any major city in the United States, with more than 27,000 people per square mile. Yet Booth alumni bump into each other regularly. “You come across them at work, on the street,” said Kate Gusin, ’07. “There are a ton of people from Booth here—everyone who moves here has this premade network of people coming from Booth.” More than 2,200 Booth alumni live and work in the New York metropolitan area. While they work mainly in investment banking and finance, they also delve into other fields, including marketing, sales, and publishing. Booth graduates appreciate the networking possibilities in New York. Jacquie DeSimone, ’97, described meeting a fellow Booth graduate at a happy-hour event and starting a conversation about skiing over a cocktail. By the time the night was over, they were talking business, and it turned into an opportunity for both of them. She isn’t the only one with that type of experience. “I was interviewing for a job and it turned out a Booth friend of mine worked there,” said James Reeves, ’13. “She was able to counsel me on the interview process, and I was also able to shortcut a lot of conversations about my knowledge and the breadth of my skills. The degree from Booth spoke for me.” Anya Gezunterman, ’01, agreed. “People here know Booth.” <br/>