2018

Stories related to "Features".

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The Next Generation of Enterprise

On the day of the NVC finals in May, David Rabie, ’15, and his team stood in front of a panel of judges in a Booth classroom and passed out samples of Thai chicken curry, quinoa, and ginger soy broccoli. The meals had been cooked in a futuristic countertop device—similar to a crockpot—called Maestro. Rabie’s vision of simple, healthy meals calls for customers to pop pods of raw vacuum-sealed vegetables, grains, and proteins into the machine and scan the QR-coded cooking instructions on the package. In a half hour, a well-rounded meal is ready to go. The judges tossed out plenty of questions: How did Rabie plan to grow the company? Who would develop the recipes? Rabie had answers, which is why the judges awarded Maestro first place in the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), Booth’s signature startup program. With a cash prize of $70,000, business services, and enviable industry connections, Maestro has a good start in life. Four months later, the start up is fine-tuning the product, building a

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The Survivor

José Antonio Álvarez, ’96 (EXP-1), has seen some of banking’s darkest hours. He was elevated to CEO of Madrid-based Banco Santander a year ago—with Europe still struggling to climb out of an economic malaise and the Greek debt crisis threatening to destabilize the fragile eurozone. Álvarez had been through worse. He was named CFO of the bank 10 years earlier, as the housing bubble was about to peak, then burst, hobbling highly leveraged US and European banks. Yet Santander emerged as Europe’s seventh largest bank, with assets of more than $1.5 trillion. Of course Santander was by no means immune to the crisis that engulfed Europe and its banks, with Spain’s overleveraged construction industry contributing to the frenzy. “The worst was summer 2012,” Álvarez said. It’s when Spain was downgraded by the three major ratings agencies, “a few notches in one shot” from Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s. However, through it all, Santander never posted a quarterly loss, unlike many of its European peers, including BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole Group, and Deutsche Bank. Royal Bank of Scotland suffered such steep

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A Bowl of Cashews

Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you wish you didn’t have to decide. A quiet revolution in economic thinking instigated by Richard H. Thaler traces its beginnings to a dinner party he hosted in the 1970s. As Thaler explains in his latest book, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, the guests while waiting with cocktails for the meal, were devouring the cashews—the entire bowl half-eaten in minutes. So Thaler, worried that his guests would fill up on the salty snacks, whisked the bowl away. He recalled that when he came back, his friends thanked him for it (and found themselves with room to enjoy a big dinner). “But then, since we were economics graduate students,” Thaler recalled, “we immediately started analyzing this. Because that’s what economists do.” Even cashews could hold the key to unlocking insights about our idiosyncratic behaviors. Without the temptation of the nuts, he said, “We realized that a.) we were happy, and b.) we weren’t allowed to be happy, because a first principle of economics is more choices are better than fewer choices.”

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Of Like Minds in the C-Suite

When an organization’s CEO and CFO both hail from Booth, there’s a common methodology to problem solving that cuts to the chase. In a fast-moving environment, according to Byron David Trott, AB ’81, MBA,’82, founder, chairman, and CEO of BDT & Company, applying “the same disciplined approach” as his Booth-trained CFO Mike Burns, ’03, speeds decision making and removes unnecessary drama from the equation. This doesn’t mean that they always agree—far from it. Maria Kim, ’12 (XP-81), CEO of Chicago-based the Cara Program, describes her CFO Carla Denison-Bickett, ’04, as “a healthy agitator.” But in many ways, the open debate leads to increased dynamism that infects the entire leadership team. At BDT & Company in Chicago and Oaktree Capital Management in Los Angeles, the CFOs were the first and most significant external hires by the founding CEOs—and the pairs are still together. At Oaktree, it’s been 20 years as a team for CEO Howard Marks, ’69, and David Kirchheimer, ’78. Kim and Denison-Bickett have led nonprofit the Cara Program for the past year, but previously worked at the organization

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Kernels of Wisdom

Chicago Booth was founded in 1898. When it comes to longevity, however, Tokyo-based Japan Corn Starch Co.—a privately held comprehensive corn starch manufacturer founded in 1867—has even the second-oldest business school in the United States beat. This July at the beautiful Hotel Okura Tokyo, the company’s president and CEO, Soichiro “Sean” Kurachi, ’85, hosted a celebration for the 150th anniversary of his family-owned business. The guest list for the event evidenced the company’s global reach—it has strong ties to the United States, sourcing all its corn from US farms and partnering with US academic institutions for research and development, and serves as the corn starch provider throughout Asia for many major companies, including Coca-Cola. Kurachi welcomed guests from around the world: representatives of suppliers, buyers, associations, farms, corporate partners, and academic institutions that have had partnerships with JCS, many of whom have had long-standing, close relationships with both the company and the Kurachi family.

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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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From Fail to Prevail

When Lotika Pai, ’08, arrived for her first day on the job, she was told to leave. Her role had been eliminated. It wasn’t personal; Pai’s start date was September 15, 2008—the same day that Lehman Brothers, her would-be employer, filed for bankruptcy. After enduring a competitive recruiting process and graduating from business school, Pai looked forward to switching into the fast-paced world of investment banking. The setback was understandably terrifying. “It was the sense of being overwhelmed by something that I had no control over,” she recalled. “I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” In the next few years, Pai got valuable experience as an investment banker at Barclays (which acquired Lehman Brothers days later), but she never forgot the anxiety she felt during the turmoil. “That situation was pivotal for me, in terms of wanting to change the trajectory of my career,” said Pai. That first setback with Lehman inspired Pai to consider entrepreneurship once she had finance experience under her belt. Last year, she cofounded Powwful, a Chicago-based women’s activewear brand that aims to change the conversation around fitness and empowerment. “Ultimately,” Pai said, “I wanted to be more in control of what happened to my career.”

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Meet the Dean

Incoming dean Madhav V. Rajan shares his personal story and lays out his vision for Chicago Booth’s future—including the critical role that Booth’s global alumni network plays in building on the school’s successes. Chicago Booth Magazine: You’ve called yourself a “lifelong learner.” Can you take us back and share an anecdote about a moment in your childhood or school years that sparked your interest in business and/or academia? How can Booth instill a similar love for learning in future generations? Dean Rajan: Steve Jobs famously noted that you can only connect the dots looking backward, and that is certainly true in my case. I did not think through or plan out my career. My decision to study business for my undergraduate degree was based purely on the fact that my older brothers were engineers and I wanted to learn something different. I then moved to pursue a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University, for the simple reason that my father worked in Pittsburgh. I did well in my first-year courses and was approached by a faculty member, who asked whether I had considered doing a PhD. I had not, but he persuaded me by noting that I would get paid to study, which seemed an amazing concept! This particular professor was in accounting, and that’s how I ended up in that field. However, Carnegie was unique in not having an economics department separate from the business school. Every student in accounting, economics, and finance did virtually the same coursework. Looking back, I have benefited immensely from the breadth of study and interdisciplinary training I received at Carnegie. Even then I wasn’t sure I would become an academic. Many of my PhD friends ended up in consulting, and I always thought the same would happen to me. But I liked academic research and teaching and was successful at it, so when I got a job offer from Wharton, it was an opportunity to keep going. Coming to Booth, I am firmly of the view that the school should support lifelong learning for its alumni. Two years ago, the school launched Back to Booth, which are short, nondegree classes for alumni. These courses provide opportunities to relive the Booth classroom experience with fellow alumni, and to learn about the latest ideas from faculty across the school. I cannot imagine a better way for alumni to keep connected with the school and to continue to learn from our great instructors and the latest ideas they are working on.

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On the Ball

David Han, ’02, CEO and cofounder of Yao Capital, long dreamed of starting his own private equity shop. It’s unlikely, however, that he initially envisioned that that venture would pair him with NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Yao Ming, one of the tallest men ever to play in the National Basketball Association. Yet in January 2016—along with close Booth friend and Yao Ming’s longtime business partner, Erik Zhang—Han cofounded Yao Capital with the renowned Chinese sports icon. Their firm focuses on investments in the sports industry in China and around the globe. Considering that Yao is seven feet six and Han more the height of a point guard, the two men would be quite a mismatch in a game of one-on-one hoops. When it comes to investing, they just might be the ideal teammates.<br/><br/>Promising early Yao Capital deals involving the world’s leading kickboxing league, a booming North American sports nutrition company, and a fast-growing auto-racing championship featuring 140-miles-per-hour electric cars have put a smile on Han’s face. “We’ve made very good investments in the early stages, in and out of China,” he said, sitting in a sunny conference room of Yao Capital’s 10th-floor offices in central Shanghai. “We’re in the right time and the right place. And so far, it’s on the right track.

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All in the Family

When a family business has multiple generations and hundreds of stakeholders, how does an individual stand out? Create meaningful change? Carry the business into the future? We talked with Booth alumni who lead or manage family-owned businesses, from a conglomerate in Thailand to a national baker of breads that got its start in a Chicago basement. They all sought a Booth education because of its reputation for intellectual rigor, lessons in analytic problem solving, and world-class faculty. The family members who run these businesses have more than one generation schooled in The Chicago Approach™. They reached a point in their professional lives—inside or outside the family firm—when they saw the need to boost quantitative skills. For some, that time came after a world event such as the 2008 crash, which upended commodity prices. For others, the education was a way to step up and assume new roles. Relying on data instead of emotion eases decision making, they say. This doesn’t mean they’re bloodless. Always they have in mind their founders, most of them immigrants, who created what they now run. They share holidays with generations of stakeholders: there’s no ducking a failed venture. <br/>

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Entrepreneurs without Borders

In June 2014, after five years in the marketing department at Coca-Cola, Jonas De Cooman, ’16 (EXP-21), felt stalled intellectually. He was ready to push his boundaries. He planned to pursue his MBA while continuing at Coca-Cola. Then unexpected policy changes at work eliminated continuing education support for De Cooman, and it looked like his plans were crumbling. So he sold his apartment. With two small children, De Cooman and his wife carefully weighed their options and the risks involved. Selling their apartment in Belgium provided the only way to afford his MBA. “I decided to pursue an MBA to kickstart my personal learning curve,” he said. De Cooman realized that he wanted to gain more control over his career and make his own mark in the global marketplace as an entrepreneur. With an extensive consumer marketing background, a global perspective, and a promising business idea, he also saw knowledge gaps he needed to fill in order to launch and operate a scalable new business. “I am driven by personal growth and I felt that I was not learning at the same pace that I used to be learning at the start of my career,” he said. “I chose to study again because I didn’t feel equipped enough to be an entrepreneur.”<br/>