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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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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.

conversation

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.

conversation

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.

conversation

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.

perspective

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.

In this issue
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.

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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.”

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.

perspectives

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.

perspectives

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.”

perspectives

Med Students without Borders

Like any successful entrepreneur, AMOpportunities cofounder and CEO Kyle Swinsky has developed a business that fills a need in an untapped market. In his case, it’s connecting international medical students to rotations in the United States. Swinsky’s Chicago-based startup is the 2017 winner of the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge. Run by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the New Venture Challenge is one of the top accelerator programs in the country, and the competition this year was stiff. But Swinsky’s business model, which presented an original and profitable solution to a unique demand, pushed Evening MBA student Swinsky and AMOpportunities to the front of the competition.

perspectives

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/>

conversations

Why Is Productivity Stuck in Neutral?

When we talk about the global economy, we tend to turn to automotive metaphors. A recession brings things to a “screeching halt.” Boom times are said to be “in overdrive,” to have “found a higher gear.” And since the recession, one of the major components of the economy has been stuck in neutral. According to the Conference Board, productivity has barely budged since 2007, was flat in 2014 and 2015, and fell last year. We asked professor Chad Syverson, alumnus Matt Tracey, and Executive MBA student Crystal Lam to tell us why it’s stuck and what might kick it into gear. Chad Syverson, J. Baum Harris Professor of Economics, is the author of “Challenges to Mismeasurement Explanations for the US Productivity Slowdown,” published in the spring 2017 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives: Is productivity stuck in neutral? The short answer is yes. It’s been slow for the last decade—truly slow, not mismeasuredly slow or illusorily slow. The mismeasurement hypothesis says that although productivity has been slow since the mid-2000s, that isn’t real. The hypothesis argues that what’s actually going on is that our ability to measure economic growth has gotten worse. New things that people like and use a lot—Google, Facebook, Snapchat—are all free. We calculate GDP by adding up what people spend money on. Those things don’t show up because they’re free, so it looks like output per worker hour isn’t going up much. In my recent paper I asked, if that’s true, what else would it be true of? The patterns I found were consistent with an actual productivity slowdown rather than with mismeasurement.

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.