2017

Stories related to "Conversations".

conversations

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.

conversations

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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A Solution for the Caring Economy

Most nights, Chelsea Sprayregen gets a good six or seven hours of sack time—no small feat for a woman juggling being a student at Booth and the CEO and cofounder of the promising startup Provide. “I don’t do anything else besides work,” Sprayregen said without a hint of regret. But, she said, “I can’t function without sleep.” On May 22, however, nerves would keep her tossing and turning all night. It was the eve of easily her most important professional moment, one that would help turn her dream into a reality: overhauling and simplifying how childcare business owners operate. The next day, along with her fellow Evening MBA students on the Provide team, Sprayregen would present to a room full of business-savvy judges (including several Booth alumni), as well as six other finalist teams competing to win the 2017 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge. <br/>

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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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Six Days to Pitch

The History: The Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC) is the Executive MBA track in the New Venture Challenge process, which began 21 years ago. We kick off the GNVC in August when all of the Executive MBA students are in Chicago for their electives. The entrepreneurs put together a feasibility study about their businesses, encourage others to join their teams, and submit an application in October. We choose about six teams from each cohort—Chicago, Hong Kong, and London—to participate in the class. The Preparation: Because the course is so short, it actually starts as soon as we choose the teams. I have a kick-off WebEx call in the fall with the teams, who are located all over the world, to start working on their business models. I then host webinars for all of the teams on business plans and presentations. Finally, I have a second, one-on-one call with each team in the winter. Business plans are due a week before class starts, because I want the teams to have written their story and really gotten it down. The Curriculum: The weeklong class is stressful. It’s intensive, and it doesn’t look like a normal class. On the first day, students present to a group of coaches, judges, and outside mentors, and they get a lot of feedback. We handpick mentors for each team based on industry, business model, and startup experience to get them started working with outside people on their model and story. <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/>

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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/>