Chicago Booth Magazine Fall 2016 cover

Features

Personalities, characters, visionaries, trends, emerging ideas, industry insight, history, evolution and more… Features explore the topics that matter most to the Chicago Booth community with memorable storytelling and insightful reporting.

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Grace Under Pressure

On a warm day in July, Joel Gay, ’10 (XP-79), walked through the manufacturing and corporate headquarters of Energy Recovery, where he is president and CEO. Pausing periodically in the 175,000-square-foot facility located in San Leandro, California, on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, Gay talked about the production, value, and profit margins of Energy Recovery’s PX Pressure Exchanger, its current flagship product.

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Paper Work

It’s a humble brown and white pamphlet, no bigger than the size of a small notebook. Its pages are few, but its contents bear witness to a landmark in the history of business education: the world’s first executive MBA program. The pamphlet, labeled “Executive Program Directory,” was distributed to the students of this new, innovative curriculum when it debuted in 1943 at Chicago Booth, then known as the School of Business. A one-stop info shop, the book answers many questions a new student would have had: Where is my accounting professor’s office? When is the library open? And where is the designated smoking room? This special piece of Booth’s history had been stored with the rest of the XP program archives until recently, when Deb Fallahay, associate director of operations for the program, brought it to the attention of Russ Maki, ’95 (XP-64). This encounter gave the 73-year-old document a new lease on life. “This is incredible,” enthused Maki, as he showed off the pamphlet before its restoration, its pages stained and wrinkled with age. “I mean this is XP-1. This is the origin. This was the first executive program ever.”

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This is Not a Spectator Sport

When the late Howard Haas became CEO of Sealy in 1967, he had been with the mattress maker for 11 years, seven of them in leadership positions. Over the next 19 years, he grew the company by an astonishing 17 percent a year, from $32 million in revenues to $550 million, without making an acquisition. He turned 34 different licenses into a unified brand and made Posturepedic a household name. Under his leadership, the company had the best return on capital in the bedding industry, and its in-store displays foresaw the stand-alone sleep store. Haas learned to lead on the job, there being no graduate programs in leadership at the time. When he joined the faculty of Chicago Booth in 1988, two years after retiring from Sealy, the only leadership course taught at the school was professor emeritus Marvin Zonis’s Theories of Leadership. Haas spent hours in the Regenstein Library but could find nothing that spoke to his experience leading Sealy. He began to fill the giant “knowing-doing gap” with a new course called Leadership in Practice. Haas said he felt “like someone in the desert carrying a canteen of water to the very thirsty.”

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Business + School

Over the decades, seven Chicago Booth faculty members have won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Alumni have helmed the world’s biggest companies and launched unicorns. The school regularly ranks among the most elite business schools in the world. What continues to set Booth apart is the school’s distinct educational philosophy. Based on the fundamental scientific disciplines—mathematics, statistics, law, psychology, sociology, and of course economics—The Chicago Approach provides a framework for thinking about any business problem, in any industry, in any economy, even as the global marketplace continues to evolve. <br/>

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Taking a Bite

When grocery store shelves and fast-food drive-throughs didn’t have what they were looking for, Booth students and graduates didn’t get frustrated. They got inspired. Sensing gaps in the fast-growing world of healthy eating, many of them are capitalizing on the booming good-for-you food movement to start, grow, run, and invest in businesses that bring nutrient-dense, locally sourced products to market. Booth grads are becoming thought leaders in the healthy-food business—a sector that’s growing exponentially and is expected to hit a record-high $1 trillion in sales worldwide next year. Healthy eating is hard to define. For some, it means buying whole foods free of additives; for others it means eating only organic fruits, vegetables, and meat from humanely raised animals; and still others focus on buying directly from farmers they know.<br/>