2016

Stories related to "Consulting".

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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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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/>

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Pioneers in Education

Booth graduates eager to make an impact are finding new ways to apply their MBA—by taking on one of the toughest challenges in the United States today. A growing cadre of Booth alumni are gravitating toward the education sector and applying their business background in a variety of roles, all with the goal of making a difference in the lives of students. It’s an area that badly needs more innovation. In the United States just 59 percent of students who enter a four-year college graduate within six years, according to data from the US Department of Education. And in 2015, 46 percent of scientists rated STEM education for grades K through 12 as being below average, according to the Pew Research Center. For some alumni this less-than-stellar data offers an opportunity to take their careers to different corners of the education landscape—from nonprofit management and school leadership to consulting, investing, and edtech, to name just a few. The combination of addressing some of the nation’s most pressing problems while doing work that’s meaningful on a daily basis is a powerful draw. Meet six alumni advancing bold ideas and envisioning new solutions for the classroom and beyond.

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Call of the Wild

Patrick Wallace, ’12 (AXP-11), wasn’t quite sure what he was getting into when he and his wife, Pamela Wallace, drove down a long dirt road with miles of forest on either side in the heart of the Nova Scotia wilderness. When they finally emerged at Trout Point Lodge, however, the property was a revelation. “It is this incredible log structure where otherwise there would be nothing,” Wallace said. Around the lodge itself stretched 125 acres of densely forested landscape with only the chirping of birds and the rushing course of the Tusket River to break the silence. “It was an island of luxury in the middle of the wilderness.”

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In Search of the New Economy

Day in and day out for four years, Elatia Abate, AB ’99, MBA ’08, interviewed people who were going through the motions. As a senior human resources executive in the corporate world, she met with candidates applying for a position, but whom she suspected weren’t actually interested in the job. <br/><br/>It’s a problem that cuts across industries: a survey conducted of 17,000 American workers in 19 industries by the nonprofit groups Mental Health America and the Faas Foundation found that 71 percent of respondents didn’t like their jobs. Their passions—and, as Abate would come to realize, her passions—lay elsewhere.<br/>“I was tired of meeting people who were fabulous but not interested in the work they were doing,” said Abate, quietly admitting out loud that she wasn’t interested in her work either.<br/><br/>So she did what many people dream of doing but few people actually do: she jumped ship. Abate launched her own freelance executive coaching business. Then, in January 2017, she hit the road, embarking on a year of remote work to get a firsthand perspective on the changing nature of today’s economy. She packed her entire life into a storage unit, with the exception of a carry-on bag and a suitcase, and set off.

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Risk and Reward

After a career progression that took her around the globe, Julie A. McLaughlin, ’13 (XP-82), took a leap of faith when she returned stateside to start a job search that ultimately led her to cofounding Vertex Energía, based in Weymouth, Massachusetts. At the 2015 Booth Women Connect Conference, McLaughlin spoke on a panel about encouraging women to take career risks, along with Alyssa Pei, ’02, who had just made her own international move to Toronto as a partner at consulting firm A. T. Kearney, based in Chicago. Here, McLaughlin and Pei continue their conversation and share what they have learned about risk from their own journeys. McLaughlin: A big risk I took was deciding to leave E.ON in 2013 when I finished my executive MBA. My role was centralized back to headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany, and changed from what I’m the most passionate about, which is negotiating renewable deals on the ground. I had a very difficult time finding an opportunity in the United States. Nobody would take me seriously as a candidate from Europe, so I moved back without a job and then started searching. Pei: Did people take you more seriously once you had a US address? McLaughlin: They did. People asked me how I knew I could do deals in New Jersey, for example, which seemed comical in comparison to many of the difficult countries I had operated in. Well, it stands to reason that if I can figure out how to do it in Indonesia, I can figure it out in New Jersey. However, being able to network locally and easily interview in person made the difference. Pei: I think it’s an interesting reflection of what they saw to be risk, though.

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The View From São Paulo

Fly into São Paulo’s sprawling business hub, and expect a cadre of close-knit Booth alumni to help you get acclimated. Whether they’re wining and dining or simply making time for a last-minute meet-up, the dozens of alumni in the city maintain close ties with fellow graduates, no matter the industry: though Paulistanos with a Booth degree often go into consulting or investment banking, private equity and venture capital roles represent a growing portion of the alumni base. Since arriving in the city five years ago, Leonardo Alves, ’12 (XP-81), has become part of a growing number of alumni attending events—both formal and informal. Recently this meant going to a U2 concert with a handful of alumni; other nights Alves joins former Booth students to experience some of São Paulo’s excellent Japanese cuisine. A Rio de Janeiro–based Booth graduate’s monthly business trip has turned into standing dinner plans. <br/>

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Acquired Taste

The Challenge: Food producer Kellogg wanted to enter the Chinese market, but failed its initial attempts to do so organically or through acquisition. It decided to pursue a joint-venture partner to lower its market-entry risk since Kellogg could leverage the partner’s local expertise and scale the business, saving time and expense. Joint-venture partners also share the required investment to achieve success. While a joint venture might reduce the possible absolute upside of entering a new market, the probability-weighted return is usually higher than with a go-it-alone strategy. Yet finding a solid partner is difficult. Kellogg worked with Dwight McCardwell in 2012 to find the right match.

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The View From the Bay Area

Is the Golden Gate Bridge looking a little maroon lately? Perhaps. More than 2,600 Chicago Booth alumni now live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Though the tech scene dominates, large numbers of alumni also work in consulting, marketing, and investment banking—bringing a data-driven sensibility to the start-up hotspot. Alumni who attended Polsky Center’s West Coast Demo Day at Google headquarters (see “Something Ventured,” page 26) shared how they’re bringing The Chicago Approach to the city by the bay.

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Counting Sheep

When jet-lagged corporate clients approach Nancy Rothstein, ’79, a Chicago-based sleep expert known as The Sleep Ambassador, she’s quick to point out that to feel better on the road, they should skip that extra cup of coffee and find a place to nap. “One of the primary preparations for any meeting is sleep,” said Rothstein, a sleep wellness consultant for Fortune 500 companies. “It’s a foundation to functioning.” As more business travelers are expected to dive into deal-making conversations right off a flight, jet lag can be even more of a nuisance. And while it’s impossible to feel completely refreshed after a night (or day) of flying, there are ways to ease the discomfort of adjusting to a new time zone—a situation familiar to alumni featured in this issue’s “The Jet Set.”<br/>