2016

Stories related to "Winter 2016". http://www.chicagobooth.edu/magazine/winter-2016/rss

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Field Position

One morning last fall, before the San Francisco 49ers began their second season in a glitzy new $1.3 billion stadium, Moon Javaid, ’12, manager of business operations for the team, took a hard look at concessions. Sure, this is football. Concession sales were going to be strong. But, he asked, could they be stronger? Javaid, with his background in advanced analytics, turned to hard data for the answer. He scoured sales figures from past seasons. This led him to institute one minor but crucial change to the design of the concession stands: he redirected the queues so that they snake around stanchions, like an airport security line, at 75 points around the stadium. By the midpoint of the season, the move had increased sales by one extra transaction per line per minute since—amounting to an extra $20,000 per game, or $200,000 over the course of each season’s home games, including the preseason. It might sound like loose change—beer money—for a franchise that collected $427 million in revenue in 2014, the first season in Levi’s Stadium, in the heart of the fans and fortunes of Silicon Valley. Javaid, however, understands that the small improvements add up, and his is a top-five revenue-producing team. “In the NFL, it’s not tremendously difficult to make money,” he said. “You can do B+ work by not really doing much, and you can still be profitable. But in order to get to the next level, you need to find those little wins.”<br/><br/>

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The Page Turner

When she walks into 57th Street Books, Sara Paretsky, AM ’69, MBA ’77, PhD ’77, is welcomed as an old friend and coconspirator—both of which are true to her legacy in Chicago and in the Hyde Park literary haunt. The best-selling mystery writer, who has just published her 21st book and greets everyone behind the counter by name, is clearly at home here. The city has inspired Paretsky since she arrived by bus at age 19 from Kansas to support the civil rights movement. Since that time—in 1966, what Paretsky calls “the touchstone summer of my life”—Chicago, and largely Hyde Park, has been her second-most-important protagonist. She went on to earn a PhD in history at the university and then an MBA from Booth. All the while she was concocting a unique alchemy of research and storytelling, fact and fiction, analytics and activism, that somehow makes the idea of a mystery writer with a business degree make perfect sense. <br/>

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Lab Results

Marcia Kraniak—79 years old, from the South Side of Chicago—went home from the hospital eight weeks ago. She had been admitted to the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCM) with congestive heart failure and spent three days there. Fluid had built up in her body, and her heart was too weak to pump enough blood. She couldn’t move around easily. Two months after leaving the hospital, however, she’s doing well on her new regimen at home. Shortly after Kraniak arrived in the UCM emergency department, hospital staff identified that her medical condition, her home life, and her mental state made it less than likely that she would get well after she went home. A new admissions algorithm predicted she might have to come back to the hospital soon. So the cardiology and nursing teams at UCM applied a special new protocol on her behalf. They gave Kraniak (a patient invented for this article) a detailed plan to take care of herself—including instructions to eat better, lay off the salt, and try to take a short walk every day—and simplified her medications to help her stay on her regimen and get well more quickly. In the past, hospitals didn’t closely monitor whether patients had to be readmitted shortly after an original hospital visit. If patients returned with the same health issues, they got patched up again, the hospital got paid again, and nobody tracked how many patients made this boomerang trajectory.

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On the Table

Mark A. Leavitt, ’83, the brand-new chief investment officer of New York–based Union Square Hospitality Group, has had a seat at some most-interesting tables. Those in the esteemed restaurants of his Trinity College classmate Danny Meyer are only the latest, including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and the Modern. (Union Square Hospitality Group also launched Shake Shack in 2004, as a permanent kiosk that grew out of a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park. It is now a separate public company with more than 75 domestic and international locations and a market value of about $1.2 billion.) Before joining USHG, Leavitt for nearly eight years led global technology, media, and telecommunications investment banking at Piper Jaffray. He’s been on the boards of the Harlem Globetrotters, Leap Wireless, TSF Communications, Trinity College, and several radio broadcasters, including Citadel Communications and US Radio. He currently serves as chair of the board of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts, and, since Booth, has been working to grow and partner with companies at varied intersections of entertainment, media, and tech.

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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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Back to the Classroom

It’s late October, and students in a packed classroom at Gleacher Center are debating the merits of the Bank of Japan’s implementation of qualitative and quantitative easing. But these are not typical students—they’re already graduates who have returned to the classroom for the first installment of Back to Booth, a new series of two-day courses taught by faculty. The series was born when Sunil Kumar, dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management, envisioned ways to more deeply connect alumni with the school. Back to Booth comes as an addition to existing opportunities that allow alumni to take up to three complementary quarter-long courses, or attend discounted Executive Education programs that are typically five days long.

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A World of Connections

The United States has just recovered from the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression. The European economy is still in deep trouble due to the euro crisis and, in particular, the Greek sovereign debt crisis. China’s growth is slowing, and the Chinese stock market just went through a meltdown this past fall. The main objective of my class is to give students the basic analytical tools to understand these types of macroeconomic events. I also want them to be familiar with phenomena such as growth, unemployment, and inflation, as well as with the impact of monetary and fiscal policy. Why do some countries grow faster than others? What determines economic fluctuations? How does being part of a global economic system affect the economy of a country? The challenge is to provide students with a unified framework to answer these questions and to critically assess the pros and cons of a variety of economic policies.

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The View From Houston

A city once known for strip malls and sprawling suburbs has grown into a sophisticated metropolis in recent years. With a serious art scene, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and luxury condominiums going up in the city’s more pedestrian friendly areas, there are suddenly more reasons to leave the office a little earlier and experience some of Houston’s Southern charms. Almost 40 percent of the 655 Booth alumni in the Houston area work in the city’s energy sector. Many visit the city’s historic private clubs and more-casual dining spots for networking. Others use the well-connected airline hub as a springboard for sector-related international work travel.

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Getting Real

The Challenge: In late 2010, Seth Hewitt was a senior vice president of asset management with Chicago-based ST Residential, which managed (and whose investors owned) a $4.5 billion commercial real estate loan and asset portfolio, including the defaulted loan on a high-rise condominium property in Chicago’s South Loop. The property was saddled with cost overruns, unpaid bills, ongoing contractor litigation, and significant water damage in the building from a burst pipe. Upon taking ownership, ST considered selling the building as is for approximately $40 million, which would have been profitable and reduced risk.

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Data and Healthcare Diagnostics

Nearly a year before his spring 2015 course began, professor Dan Adelman queried medical directors at Chicago-area hospitals to put forward their most pressing, most intractable issues—real-world problems for his MBA student teams to solve. These four challenges, from three institutions sharing unprecedented access to their data (normally a top-secret strategic asset), formed the foundation of last year’s Healthcare Analytics Laboratory: University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) wanted to evaluate a brand-new intervention—then in practice for only a few months—designed to reduce heart-failure readmissions within 30 days. Were patients leaving the hospital healthier? Was it saving money? And if it was working, could it be expanded across the hospital? UCM also sought to optimize the case mix in its vascular-surgery practice. What kinds of procedures should be their focus and specializations? How should the doctors grow their practices? What skill sets should they invest in or hire for?

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Fan Favorite

Is it gambling? Is it skill? Or perhaps the bigger question about daily fantasy sports, FBI investigation notwithstanding: Could the NFL actually learn something from the avid at-home data analysts winning big at DFS? Vince Gennaro, ’77, president of the Society for American Baseball Research, thinks so. He credits some of the current DFS boom to the popularity of the fantasy baseball played on a less-than-daily basis in the 1990s. Fans intent on winning their fantasy leagues ushered in a mainstream interest in advanced metrics. This appetite spawned a generation of websites devoted to analytics. And MLB teams actually wound up using data from those sites to support real-world decisions. “If the data is out there and in the public domain,” Gennaro said, “teams will absolutely learn from the fantasy players. But that also depends on the sport.”

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The Book of Booth: Patrick Doyle

Patrick Doyle combined marketing expertise and an understanding of analytics to lead a turnaround as president and CEO of Domino’s Pizza. Today, Domino’s, headquartered near Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the world’s second-largest pizza chain. Go where the action isn’t. I think there are just too many people in business—particularly earlier-career or mid-career people who are coming out of school—who want to go into an industry or sector that’s hot, where all the value is being created. But how are you going to prove that you’re bringing incremental value? You’re just one more person on that train. Understand the data. To be a highly successful marketer now you have to understand the analytics. Ten, 20, 30 years ago, marketing departments were largely made up of right-brained, creative types. They were coming up with advertisements, and a lot of it was around gut. You still need those people—breakthrough creative material is still going to come often from somebody on the right-brained creative team.

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This Is Working For Me: Vera Calasan

CEO Vera Calasan, ’08 (EXP-13), dismissed the widely held thinking that there aren’t enough engineers in Europe and cofounded Excellence AG–German Engineering two years ago to prove her point. Coming from a family of engineers, she saw the need for a McKinsey-like company that would employ engineers and source them by project to companies that need specific skills. Her vision paid off. She employs 200, and revenue hit €10 million this year. Buyers are interested, but she plans to hold off on an IPO until 2020. Calasan lives with her partner outside of Düsseldorf, Germany.

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A Workday With Sonny Garg

Life at predictive analytics start-up Uptake is a far cry from the buttoned-up corporate world. Sonny Garg, AB ’89, MBA ’00, held senior positions at Chicago utility Exelon for more than 13 years, most recently as chief information and innovation officer. Earlier this year he was recruited to head the energy solutions team at the fast-growing company headed by Chicago entrepreneur Brad Keywell. Uptake already has 300 employees at its headquarters in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and partners with manufacturing giant Caterpillar. Less than a month into the job, Garg reflected on the different way he does business every day.

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A Long Journey Made Short

My journey to Booth has been a very long one, yet somehow also short. It is just as my business professors emphasize: in the globalized landscape, time seems to move faster, and distances between places feel closer. So yes, it seems very far away, my childhood village in northern India, the slant-roof hut I shared among a dozen family members. During heavy rains all of us huddled together under the same dry strip to avoid the leaks. But small steps have brought me far. At the age of 13 I moved out of town with my younger brother, who was just 10, to attend primary school. We stayed in a lodge where we cooked and took care of ourselves. This would be our only hope to eventually get into college. Engineering was all anyone was talking about at the time, and my strength was math. But even the cheapest university engineering program would have cost about $2,000 a year, which my family could not spare. Today, just over a decade later and at Booth, I’m specializing in marketing strategy. The way I think about the subject is this: do not worry about figuring out how to sell things to people. Figure out what people need. That is where the demand is.

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A Personal Connection

During her keynote address at the 2015 Booth Women Connect Conference, Joyce Frost (on Twitter at @JFrostNYC) shared a piece of advice that has guided her like a beacon: “Follow your heart and see where your skill set can make a difference.” Easter always meant assembling baskets at her father’s Lions Club in her hometown of Chicago, she says, and after moving to New York, she pitched in with a nascent volunteer group, New York Cares. It’s now the city’s largest volunteer management organization, serving more than 400,000 at-risk New Yorkers, and Frost serves as secretary of its board of trustees. A passionate advocate for charter schools, Frost is also founding board chair and current vice president of Bronx Charter School for Excellence, and chair of the board of directors for Friends of Bronx Charter School for Excellence. Learn more at newyorkcares.org and bronxexcellence.org.

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From Chicago to Tirana

When is the right time to follow a dream? For Suzanne Weiss, it came near her 60th birthday. After a divorce, and with a daughter grown and out of the house, the senior marketing lecturer and former associate director of administration at the Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business quit her job, sold her house, and packed her bags for a stint in the Peace Corps. In the spring of 2015, she found herself in the tiny Albanian farming village of Shushicë, “15 minutes and 40 years” from the nearest big city.

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Getting Back on the Beat

In 2002, 30-year-old Michael D. Armstrong, brand new to management with a brand-new MBA in strategy and marketing, made a radio buy without doing his research— making a few hundred thousand dollar mistake in his first managerial job. It nearly derailed his career. Today, as executive vice president and general manager of international brand development for Viacom, Armstrong tells us how he recovered—and shares his hard-won lesson about the importance of research.

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In It for the Long Run

Hong Kong is famous for its glinting skyscrapers, many designed by the world’s most famous architects, and its collection of luxury retailers and five-star hotels. Yet there is another side to the city—a huge network of trails forged through the lush tropical landscape, where palm-sized orb weavers spin webs across the paths, deadly pit vipers and cobras slither, and monkeys, feral dogs, and wild buffalo roam. Perhaps it is a testament to the intensity of navigating Hong Kong’s busy and hyper competitive financial sector that ducking under spider webs and hopping over snakes can seem relaxing in comparison.

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A Recipe for Success

Ask P.F. Chang’s CEO Michael Osanloo, ’96, how he defines his role as head of the polished casual restaurant chain, and he’ll tell you: “CEO is ultimately your general manager, but you’re a general manager with some majors. I view my majors as marketing and strategy.” “My background at Booth allows me to ask the tough questions that make a lot of marketers fidget a little bit,” Osanloo said at a recent visit to campus to speak to students. “That’s when you know you’re asking good questions.” Like fellow alumnus Mark Leavitt, ’83, ("On the Table") Osanloo is looking to innovations in technology to enhance diners' experiences. Learn more about what the former Kraft Foods executive had to say to current students during a visit to Gleacher Center. <br/>

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My Culture Collection: Meenakshi Dash

With a BFA in painting from the Art Institute of Chicago and an MBA from Booth, Meenakshi Dash is as adept at making business decisions as she is at making neon street murals in New Jersey or necklaces of melted-down silver she procures from Indian pawn shops. At Balderdash, the one-woman multidisciplinary art and jewelry studio she founded in 2009, Dash draws on influences from her international upbringing—from Delhi to Brooklyn, Chicago to London, Singapore, and China. Now based in Jersey City, she’s equally omnivorous in her cultural samplings. We asked her what she’s into this winter.

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Building a Global Network

“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.<br/>