Stories related to "Perspectives".


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.


Are You Convinced?

Picture a salesman. I won’t take it personally if you’ve conjured an image of a slick talker hawking a used car or an overly enthusiastic promoter of super-absorbent towels. As a middle-market lender here in Chicago, I sell, or more accurately, rent money. It may not be the stereotypical form of sales, but make no mistake: I am a salesman. When I started at Booth in 2014, I was an experienced banker who had just transitioned into a sales role. Several current and former students highly recommended professor Craig Wortmann’s Entrepreneurial Selling class. During the first session, Wortmann asked, “What word comes to mind when you hear the term salesman?” I’m cognizant of public perception of sales, so I expected some degree of negativity. Even so, I was surprised by the results. The most common response was “pushy.” Others included “manipulative,” “sleazy,” “aggressive,” “slimy,” and “annoying.” There were a few suggestions of “persistent” and “confident,” but those were by far the minority.


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.


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


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,


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


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?


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


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


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


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.


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.”


A Workday With Shilpa Gadhok

Shilpa Gadhok, ’13, is a strategic brand builder. Blending creative ideas with analytics, she has amplified the reach of Hershey brands and revitalized its iconic Kit Kat bar. When Chance the Rapper sang his own spin on Kit Kat’s famous jingle, Gadhok was behind that. Now the brand manager of barkThins, a craft snacking chocolate that Hershey recently acquired, she relishes the challenge of creating an appetite for a new product category. “I’m at a point where I know what I love and what I want to do, so I try to be intentional about myself and my career at every moment,” said Gadhok, who moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania, last summer. <br/>


Experimenting with Failure

When students take Booth’s Strategy Lab, an experiential learning course, they are sure to encounter failure. That’s because reconciling setbacks is one of the goals, according to professor Harry L. Davis. Davis teaches the MBA course in partnership with consulting firm A. T. Kearney, and he also presents the curriculum as a semester-long exercise in Executive Education leadership courses. “Most people overestimate the downsides of failure,” said Davis. Students participating in the course use a 20-cell board with experiential commands that allow them to practice basic skills, such as seeking input from a stranger, practicing active listening, and playing devil’s advocate when they’re part of a consulting team. Students take turns rolling dice to determine which approach to experiment with that week. Results are written down and used to track progress—or setbacks. Often, only a small portion of the experiments turns out well; other portions get chalked up as learning experiences. This kind of personal experimentation is critical when building the soft skills required for leaders, added Davis.<br/>


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.


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.