My Booth Christian Wolff
Photograph courtesy Christian Wolff

Building a Global Network

Executive MBA student Christian Wolff values the emphasis Booth puts on building the alumni community.

“Building a global network” is one of the most often cited objectives I hear from my fellow students since we started our exciting journey in the Executive MBA Program Europe in 2014. It is not surprising that top ranked business schools nowadays are promoting the size of their alumni networks as one of their biggest selling points.

However, the picture is far more complex. The pure size of an alumni network is not the only relevant factor to distinguish it from other institutions when promoting its global reach.

One factor I appreciate most as a student at the London campus is the outstanding level of diversity in our classroom, both from a business experience and a geographical standpoint. This diversity of our executive students from countries ranging from Chile to Japan, and South Africa to Norway, representing a variety of industries, leads to valuable discussions and new angles. I remember discussing with students and faculty possible approaches to alleviate the Greek debt crisis that considered political, strategic, and financial perspectives. The analysis was more prudent and structured than what I saw on TV debates. The exchange of concepts for business solutions that are presented in the Global New Venture Challenge and the interdisciplinary student network group promote both business ideas and friendships.

The pure size of an alumni network is not the only relevant factor to distinguish it from other institutions when promoting its global reach.

Christian Wolff

­­Another key factor for a dynamic and successful network is a framework of regular events. The European campus in London frequently organizes industry roundtables for the energy and the finance sector, fireside chats with faculty and alumni, and inspirational speakers such as Howard Marks, ’69, cofounder and chairman of Oaktree Capital Management. With these events, the European campus successfully serves as the main hub for the Booth community in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Speakers, alumni, and students can regularly engage and discuss the respective network paths they are pursuing.

After participating in several of these London-based events in the past year and gaining further insight from alumni and professionals in other industries, I realized once again that Booth is different from other US business schools. It has built up a local alumni community since the program was launched in Europe 20 years ago. It is fascinating how many of these European alumni are still engaged either through their respective country networks or in small informal groups in the same field or industry.

There is potential to further enhance the Booth alumni network in Europe. As a significant number of current students and alumni in Europe are generally interested in contributing to industry-related groups (such as banking, energy and marketing), we might recognize an even deeper European Chicago Booth network in the future.

Christian Wolff is a director in corporate finance at Helaba, one of Germany’s leading Landesbanks, where he is responsible for the investor markets business and the aviation sector in the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is experienced in investment banking for structured equity and debt solutions, international asset-based tax structures, and structured capital market products.