feature

Building on Big Ideas

Though you might not realize it, you’ve likely encountered USG Corporation’s landmark product recently, maybe even today. In fact, it may very well be in the room where you’re sitting right now. That’s because the company’s drywall, flooring, ceiling, and roofing products are part of countless homes and buildings. As the creator of the iconic and ubiquitous Sheetrock brand of wallboard, Chicago-based USG has led the building-materials industry for more than 116 years, with a storied history of innovation and sales of $3.2 billion last year. It made panels for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. It helped build homes for American GIs returning from World War II. And in November 2016, Jennifer Scanlon, ’92, became the first female CEO in the company’s history. “We are a transformed company,” Scanlon said, just days before leading USG’s first-ever Investor Day in New York City. “That transformation came in a number of ways—interestingly, from a lot of the initiatives that I led prior to becoming CEO.” A Chicago-area native, Scanlon joined USG in 2003 after studying government and computer applications at the University of Notre Dame and holding roles at IBM and in operations consulting. In recent years, she has made USG more global and more responsive to its customers. She was named president of the international division in 2010, when it included only Canada, Mexico, Europe, and a small operation in Asia. She went on to lead the divestiture of the European business, and then assembled an Asian joint venture called USG Boral, with $1.2 billion of revenue in 2017.

conversation

How Do You Manage Millennials?

For the rising ranks of millennials in business, 2015 was a watershed year: they surpassed Gen Xers to become the largest generation present in the US labor force. Yet another milestone is on the horizon—Pew Research predicts the 73 million–strong cohort, born between 1981 and 1996, will overtake baby boomers as the country’s largest living adult generation sometime next year. Though millennials are no more or less a monolith than the generations that came before them, many managers have observed that members of this generation are bringing a markedly different set of values to the office than their predecessors. Millennials may be derided as tech-obsessed, approval-seeking job-hoppers, or praised as creative, adaptable idealists, hungry for personal growth. But one thing’s clear: they’re prompting executives across industries to reevaluate the traditional approach to management. We asked three Booth experts what the future holds. William Osborne, ’01 (XP-70), is senior vice president for global manufacturing and quality at Navistar Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in the Chicago area: Millennial employees take a fundamentally different approach to their professional lives, but they’re not the caricatures people make them out to be. They have a different value system regarding the role of work in their lives—work is one component, and not the centerpiece. They value experiences more than what I would call traditional rewards. For example, I just had an employee, an engineer, recently quit the company and move into a completely different position, in purchasing, with another company. It was a fundamental change, and the main reason he gave was that he lived downtown and the new company was downtown. For him, work was a means to support his lifestyle. <br/>This is not necessarily a bad thing. They’re more creative and more innovative—they look at things differently, and that’s what’s driving change. But they’re less willing to compromise personal growth and development for the sake of the corporation. <br/>

conversation

The View From Seattle

Sean Lobo, ’09, will never forget the warm welcome to Seattle he received from the late Nicholas Waltner, ’90, Alumni Club of Seattle president at the time. “He ran it really well,” said Lobo, who moved from New York to Seattle in 2014 to work at Vulcan Capital. Waltner thoughtfully checked in to make sure that Lobo and his wife had a smooth transition to the Pacific Northwest.<br/><br/>“He was willing to open up his heart and time and energy,” Lobo said. “That left a lasting impression.”<br/><br/>Waltner’s life was tragically cut short in a 2016 traffic accident, but his memory lives on in Seattle’s active alumni club. Lobo, now the club’s president, wanted to continue Waltner’s legacy by welcoming Booth graduates who come to work at companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks as well as the many startups with Seattle offices.<br/><br/>“Our vision was to take what Nick had started and take it to the next level. We were focused on getting people back to events, and we did that with exciting and interesting content,” said Lobo.

conversation

Combining Forces

When Andreas Angelopoulos, ’02 (EXP-7), became executive director of the Private Equity Institute at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, he knew he wanted to capitalize on the combined brainpower of his alma mater and his new employer. With the support of Booth leadership and key faculty members, Angelopoulos has developed a triad of private equity–related programs under the Oxford Chicago banner: the Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge for the students, the Oxford Chicago Valuation Program for executives and alumni, and the Oxford Chicago Discussions for students and alumni. To make the programs successful, Angelopoulos called on graduates such as Nick Alexos, ’88, who cofounded Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC and is now executive vice president and CFO of York, Pennsylvania-based dental products manufacturer Dentsply Sirona Inc. We spoke with Angelopoulos and Alexos about the one-of-a-kind relationship between the two B-school titans.<br/>

perspective

This is Working for Me: Sandra Stark, ’95

Fifteen years ago, Sandra Stark, ’95, went west to Seattle to Starbucks Coffee Company, where she worked with three others in new ventures, a group that behaved like a VC firm: buying Tazo Tea, introducing the Starbucks Card, and looking for other growth opportunities. She wasn’t managing a huge slice of the company’s total $22.4 billion business, as she does these days as a senior vice president managing the global product organization, but it gave her a first glimpse of the fast-growing company’s equitable culture. It’s this culture, she says, that informs “what we do and how we treat people—farmers, suppliers, partners in stores, customers—along the way. It permeates everything we do, it sets the tone, and it helps answer many, many questions. It’s our true north and it’s why I’ve been here 15 years.” A native of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and mother of three tweens, Stark recharges with her kids: skiing and playing tennis and basketball. “I have everything I could wish for in my life. Every single day I think, ‘I am so lucky to have this job.’” Coffee is the heart and soul of our business. Product is my responsibility: beverages, food, merchandise. It starts with coffee and expands from there. What’s the strategy? What’s the right portfolio? What’s the innovation? How are we staying ahead? Currently new to the mix are our Blonde Espresso, made with lightly roasted beans; nitrogen-infused cold brew, which is less acidic and richer tasting; and Teavana Tea Infusions. With merchandise, we’re thinking, what do our customers need to create the right coffee experience at home?

perspective

The Book of Booth: Immanuel Thangaraj, AB ’92, MBA ’93

As managing director of Palo Alto–based Essex Woodlands, Immanuel Thangaraj has helped lead one of the world’s largest health-care- dedicated investment firms in raising over $2.4 billion and building more than 100 companies. In 2015, he spun out its early-stage investment activities into Park Lane Ventures, and he remains managing director at both firms. The 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award winner serves as co-chair of the Council on Chicago Booth and is a dedicated volunteer across the university.

perspective

Pushing Through Turbulence

In 2001, T. D. Arkenberg, ’86, faced a myriad of crises. After keeping his sexual identity private well into his adulthood, Arkenberg made the difficult personal choice to come out to his parents. Only weeks after Arkenberg started a new position at United—a company he had been a part of since graduating from Booth—both the organization and the United States were thrown into chaos when two hijacked United flights, along with two aircraft belonging to American Airlines, were used in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That fall, Arkenberg’s father succumbed to a long battle with cancer, and shortly after, his mother died unexpectedly. <br/>It was a year of learning how to survive. Less than a decade later, Arkenberg left United after 23 years at the company and embarked on a career as a writer.

In this issue
feature

Putting Creativity to Work

These days, companies are deploying creative thinking across departments while replacing strict office policies with opportunities to tinker. Firms are allowing employees time to test out ideas, encouraging new concepts without a fear of failure, and building out collaborative, couch-filled office environments. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, and tapping into the potential of creative thinking can be a challenge. Striking the delicate balance between brainstorming ideas and moving forward on a project is one way Ted Wright, ’00, founder of Fizz, a word-of-mouth-marketing agency headquartered in Atlanta, taps into his own creative abilities. When Wright works with clients, one of his strategies is to use hard data as the backbone for creative thinking without heading straight for the answer. In the beginning of each project, he and his team spend hours gathering data on 53 questions in 18 categories to get an idea of the client objectives. Back at the office, teams set aside time for idea generation based on the results. “If you start to care what the answers are, you throw a lid on creativity. The trick is knowing that it’s a journey,” he said. Wright is not the only one figuring out ways to encourage this kind of open-ended thinking at work. Here are some other ways alumni create opportunities for creativity:<br/>

feature

Distinguished Alumni Awards 2018

Since 1971, the Distinguished Alumni Awards have honored leaders across industries who strive to make the world better by turning ideas into action. This year’s winners have applied their transformative insights to address the challenges of a rapidly changing world—from Singapore, to New England, to Nigeria. Their successes in industries as diverse as oil, biopharmaceuticals, education, and agriculture exemplify the resounding impact of Chicago Booth. Swee Chen Goh, ’03 (AXP-2), is the chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore—the first woman to earn a role that high in the company. Goh wants Shell to continue to play a prominent role in Singapore’s future and contribute as an active member of the Singaporean community. In 2003, Goh joined Shell as chief information officer, oil product, East. Just a year into her tenure, she was promoted to vice president of global IT services, a move that made her the first Asian woman to hold such a senior role. She took on a P&L role in 2011, running Shell’s lubricants and commercial fuels business for Asia Pacific/Middle East. Goh, with her family, relocated to Beijing before returning to Singapore, where in October 2014, she assumed the role of chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore, which currently has 3,200 employees.

feature

Class, Behave!

In 2017, Chicago Booth professor Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Thaler’s students describe him as “a luminary,” “a guru”—someone who changed their lives and set their careers on a trajectory to success. So it might be surprising to hear that those superlatives contrast amusingly with the way Thaler’s close friends and admirers—and even Thaler himself—have described the newly minted Nobel laureate: “We didn’t expect much of him,” said Sherwin Rosen, AM ’62, PhD ’66 (Economics), his thesis advisor at the University of Rochester. Daniel Kahneman, the 2002 Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences and one of Thaler’s closest friends, described Thaler as “lazy.” Early on in Thaler’s career, his fellow Booth professor and future golf buddy Eugene Fama once quipped, “His work is interesting, but there’s nothing there.” Thaler’s own self-assessment is hardly more glowing. He considers himself “at best, an average economist.” How did an “average economist” change the field of economics, gain a worldwide reputation, and influence public and corporate policies for millions of people—and win the Nobel Prize? It turns out that Thaler’s ability to spot anomalies, tell stories, and share credit for his successes have made him not only a great researcher, but also a great teacher.<br/>

perspectives

This is Working for Me: Sandra Stark, ’95

Fifteen years ago, Sandra Stark, ’95, went west to Seattle to Starbucks Coffee Company, where she worked with three others in new ventures, a group that behaved like a VC firm: buying Tazo Tea, introducing the Starbucks Card, and looking for other growth opportunities. She wasn’t managing a huge slice of the company’s total $22.4 billion business, as she does these days as a senior vice president managing the global product organization, but it gave her a first glimpse of the fast-growing company’s equitable culture. It’s this culture, she says, that informs “what we do and how we treat people—farmers, suppliers, partners in stores, customers—along the way. It permeates everything we do, it sets the tone, and it helps answer many, many questions. It’s our true north and it’s why I’ve been here 15 years.” A native of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and mother of three tweens, Stark recharges with her kids: skiing and playing tennis and basketball. “I have everything I could wish for in my life. Every single day I think, ‘I am so lucky to have this job.’” Coffee is the heart and soul of our business. Product is my responsibility: beverages, food, merchandise. It starts with coffee and expands from there. What’s the strategy? What’s the right portfolio? What’s the innovation? How are we staying ahead? Currently new to the mix are our Blonde Espresso, made with lightly roasted beans; nitrogen-infused cold brew, which is less acidic and richer tasting; and Teavana Tea Infusions. With merchandise, we’re thinking, what do our customers need to create the right coffee experience at home?

perspectives

A Toast to Data-Driven Marketing

We had just 48 hours. None of us got much sleep. It was 2015, and I was part of a team of Booth students tasked with digging into Kraft consumer data to come up with an actionable solution to a real marketing problem—revitalizing its beloved Capri Sun juice drink. It was a crash course in real-life brand management. Participating in that Kilts Center Marketing Analytics Case Competition emerged as a standout experience for me at Booth. I found this experience so valuable that I wanted to pay it forward after I graduated. When I heard Kilts was looking for new case competition sponsors, I rallied my fellow brand managers at MillerCoors to participate. People were at first a little wary and were unsure about what we would get out of it. Though the investment in terms of cost was minimal, this would require time from our CMO, our vice president of innovation, and other team members. But I knew how to sell this—especially because I had been a participant myself. Even though I had never organized anything like this before, I was confident the partnership would be equally valuable to Booth students and MillerCoors. Students would get a crack at exploring real data-driven marketing. For MillerCoors, it would be a recruiting opportunity as well as a way to bring fresh ideas to a difficult marketing problem. It turns out we had a pretty big one: we had to figure out how to market a new beer brand to an audience that’s trending toward wine and spirits.

perspectives

A Workday With David Lee, ’11

As the vice president of innovation and UPS ventures at Atlanta-based United Parcel Service, David Lee, ’11, helps one of the world’s largest logistics companies think like a startup. He doesn’t fear a robot-filled future. Robots can have the boring jobs, according to Lee. Humans have more important creative and problem-solving work to do. Lee believes anyone can bring forth game-changing products and technologies, no matter his or her job title. He even gave a TED Talk (which has 1.6 million views and counting) on the topic. Here’s how Lee inspires innovation at UPS throughout a typical workday.

perspectives

The Book of Booth: Immanuel Thangaraj, AB ’92, MBA ’93

As managing director of Palo Alto–based Essex Woodlands, Immanuel Thangaraj has helped lead one of the world’s largest health-care- dedicated investment firms in raising over $2.4 billion and building more than 100 companies. In 2015, he spun out its early-stage investment activities into Park Lane Ventures, and he remains managing director at both firms. The 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award winner serves as co-chair of the Council on Chicago Booth and is a dedicated volunteer across the university.

conversations

How Do You Manage Millennials?

For the rising ranks of millennials in business, 2015 was a watershed year: they surpassed Gen Xers to become the largest generation present in the US labor force. Yet another milestone is on the horizon—Pew Research predicts the 73 million–strong cohort, born between 1981 and 1996, will overtake baby boomers as the country’s largest living adult generation sometime next year. Though millennials are no more or less a monolith than the generations that came before them, many managers have observed that members of this generation are bringing a markedly different set of values to the office than their predecessors. Millennials may be derided as tech-obsessed, approval-seeking job-hoppers, or praised as creative, adaptable idealists, hungry for personal growth. But one thing’s clear: they’re prompting executives across industries to reevaluate the traditional approach to management. We asked three Booth experts what the future holds. William Osborne, ’01 (XP-70), is senior vice president for global manufacturing and quality at Navistar Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in the Chicago area: Millennial employees take a fundamentally different approach to their professional lives, but they’re not the caricatures people make them out to be. They have a different value system regarding the role of work in their lives—work is one component, and not the centerpiece. They value experiences more than what I would call traditional rewards. For example, I just had an employee, an engineer, recently quit the company and move into a completely different position, in purchasing, with another company. It was a fundamental change, and the main reason he gave was that he lived downtown and the new company was downtown. For him, work was a means to support his lifestyle. <br/>This is not necessarily a bad thing. They’re more creative and more innovative—they look at things differently, and that’s what’s driving change. But they’re less willing to compromise personal growth and development for the sake of the corporation. <br/>

conversations

The View From Seattle

Sean Lobo, ’09, will never forget the warm welcome to Seattle he received from the late Nicholas Waltner, ’90, Alumni Club of Seattle president at the time. “He ran it really well,” said Lobo, who moved from New York to Seattle in 2014 to work at Vulcan Capital. Waltner thoughtfully checked in to make sure that Lobo and his wife had a smooth transition to the Pacific Northwest.<br/><br/>“He was willing to open up his heart and time and energy,” Lobo said. “That left a lasting impression.”<br/><br/>Waltner’s life was tragically cut short in a 2016 traffic accident, but his memory lives on in Seattle’s active alumni club. Lobo, now the club’s president, wanted to continue Waltner’s legacy by welcoming Booth graduates who come to work at companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks as well as the many startups with Seattle offices.<br/><br/>“Our vision was to take what Nick had started and take it to the next level. We were focused on getting people back to events, and we did that with exciting and interesting content,” said Lobo.

conversations

Improving Your Outlook

Randy Bellows, ’88 (XP-57), has been attending Economic Outlook for a decade. Established in 1954 as Business Forecast, Chicago Booth’s annual event provides a forum for professors to evaluate emerging trends and share key insights about where our economy is headed. Having retired after a long career as an ophthalmologist, Bellows is an avid investor, and he considers the event one of his most important resources for information—which was his motivation to attend both the Chicago and New York events last January. “Booth faculty are a step ahead of the ordinary media,” said Bellows. “These people are leaders whom I respect, and when I have the privilege of sitting in front of them and hearing what they have to say, it’s valuable enough that I sit there, take notes, and look at those notes all year long.” At the two sessions, with over 1,300 total attendees, leading Booth economists discussed critical issues facing the global economy. They shared their insights into the outlook for Wall Street and Main Street 10 years after the financial crisis, and discussed whether we might be headed toward another. The events were covered by a number of media outlets, including CNBC, Financial Advisor, and the Chicago Tribune. During the event in New York, John Authers, senior investment commentator for the Financial Times, moderated a discussion between Randall S. Kroszner, Norman R. Bobins Professor of Economics; and Erik Hurst, V. Duane Rath Professor of Economics and John E. Jeuck Faculty Fellow. Both economists said they anticipate strong growth this year, and neither believe there to be a threat of inflation or recession on the immediate horizon.<br/>