2015

Stories related to "Editor Pick".

feature

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

feature

A Bowl of Cashews

Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you wish you didn’t have to decide. A quiet revolution in economic thinking instigated by Richard H. Thaler traces its beginnings to a dinner party he hosted in the 1970s. As Thaler explains in his latest book, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, the guests while waiting with cocktails for the meal, were devouring the cashews—the entire bowl half-eaten in minutes. So Thaler, worried that his guests would fill up on the salty snacks, whisked the bowl away. He recalled that when he came back, his friends thanked him for it (and found themselves with room to enjoy a big dinner). “But then, since we were economics graduate students,” Thaler recalled, “we immediately started analyzing this. Because that’s what economists do.” Even cashews could hold the key to unlocking insights about our idiosyncratic behaviors. Without the temptation of the nuts, he said, “We realized that a.) we were happy, and b.) we weren’t allowed to be happy, because a first principle of economics is more choices are better than fewer choices.”

feature

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

conversations

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,

perspectives

Craig Bouchard, '81

I spent nearly 20 years in banking. I was lucky having been chosen for the First Scholar Program at First Chicago. Every six months I chose a rotation and a new boss. I was a sponge. Landing in television, newspapers, and movie finance, the bank gave me a very high lending limit. We did a lot of deals. I was 23 at the time. Young bankers don’t have enough responsibility today. I learned the importance of making zero mistakes. Set the leadership bar really high and jump over it. They will follow you. I never had a sales job. Instead, I’ve been a risk manager much of my career. I think about business like this: How do you reduce the risk? Eliminate all the risk and you reach nirvana. A business is fascinating in its first few years. Knowing most start-ups don’t survive, you live on the edge. You find out how good you really are. My handshake is my contract. Old fashioned, you might be thinking. Wrong. If people trust you, it’s powerful. Trust and ethics create an oasis of opportunity. When I submitted our $525 million bid to purchase Real Alloy in March, the company’s CEO trusted me to get to the finish

perspectives

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

feature

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.

feature

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.

conversations

On Exhibit

Besides being three of Chicago’s most iconic museums, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry have something else in common: their CFOs are Chicago Booth alumnae. Joyce Simon, ’75; Marcia Heuser, ’87; and Rose Fealy, ’89, each spent at least part of their careers working at for-profit corporations before assuming their respective roles at the Shedd, the Adler, and the MSI. Chicago Booth Magazine brought the three women together to talk about the complexities of balancing the books at a world-class museum, the rewards of contributing to the mission of each organization, and how more women can join them in the C-suite.

conversations

Judgment Call

In many disciplines—financial accounting, for example—if you try to practice without any sort of formal education, you could very well end up in jail, says Jane L. Risen, professor of behavioral science. But when it comes to decision making, everybody is making personal and professional decisions all of the time without any formal guidance. Risen's class Managerial Decision Making is designed to provide that: a framework to actively recognize when decisions are likely to go wrong so that you can identify what you might be able to do to make them better.

conversations

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.

perspectives

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.

conversations

CAN Do Attitude

Let’s say that you are a smart, driven entrepreneur with a groundbreaking idea to revolutionize food packaging and eliminate all those Styrofoam containers littering the landfill. You’ve got a patent. You’ve got passion. What you don’t have is money. Plus you are in Europe, where early-stage investing tends toward the risk averse. What to do? If you are startup ValueForm and your CFO is Mandar Kulkarni, ’10 (EXP-15), you put your pitch together and take it to CAN, the Chicago Angels Network in London. Founded in 2012 by Shehreyar Hameed, ’05; Jonathan Weiss, ’00, MD ’01; and Rama Veeraragoo, ’12 (EXP-17), the global network of domain experts, mentors, and angel investors gives Booth graduates a chance at early-stage investment opportunities with entrepreneurial startups and extends the school’s commitment to innovation. In early 2012, Hameed had started investing in startups, and developed the idea of CAN to provide access to compelling investment opportunities to the Booth alumni network in London, elsewhere in Europe, and globally. “I wanted to invest and help entrepreneurs harness our strong, global, and diverse network of deep domain expertise to build successful businesses,” said Hameed, a senior financial professional based in London. “Hence the motto, ‘Engage! Mentor! Invest!’ It’s about setting young companies on the right path and opening doors for them. That’s where the real value comes from.”<br/>