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What’s a skill or quality you hoped to develop by attending an MBA program and how has it served you since graduating?

I entered the program to focus more on the analytical components of marketing and using data to inform decision making. Everyone always talks about the art and science of marketing, but then spends a tremendous amount of time on the art. I wanted to balance my art with more education on the science end. It was a great decision and definitely paid off right away in my first roles in brand management, including my summer internship. I felt more prepared to dig into and understand data and then be able to turn it into a story to help inform creative selection, market research conversations, programmatic post-mortems, and overall business recommendations. As an example, phrases like statistical significance, correlation, and causation became more prevalent in meetings and I always felt comfortable engaging in these conversations and challenging my research partners, so that we could get to the best outcomes. 

Given the state of the world in 2020 and knowing what you know now, would you make the same decision to get an MBA today?

I would absolutely make the same decision to get my MBA. It not only helped ease my transition from sales to marketing via my marketing focused classes, but it also provided evergreen life skills like negotiation. I can’t think of how many times I’ve thought of my BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) in the last 10 years and used it to structure conversations for work and personal decisions. Booth also exposed me to a point of passion that I never would have been able to articulate before: managerial and organizational behavior. While it is not my day-job, I have spent copious amounts of time drawing on my behavioral economics classes helping to shape organizational culture. So, I’m thankful for that. Of course, the network is also a key benefit of the program. I have built lasting friendships and business relationships that continue to be a part of my life.  

What was class participation like for you?

Class participation, like anything, was most comfortable in the subjects where I initially felt the most comfortable. However, I really embraced the “challenge everything” mantra and took several classes that were super difficult for me. I discovered some subjects that I really liked and felt comfortable enough to ask a lot of questions and engage more in the conversation.  Where I felt more consistently out of my depth, I probably did stay a little more quiet.

What type of support did you receive in navigating Booth’s flexible curriculum?

I talked to counselors, friends, and second years or alumni about classes and professors to help decide which classes to take. I used that information to choose what I wanted to take and when.  The bidding system added an additional layer of strategy to my planning. Fortunately, I think I was 90-100 percent successful getting what I wanted over the two years. I can’t think of any professor that I wanted to take, no matter how many bid points, that I didn’t have enough points to get.  

The flexible curriculum was one of my favorite aspects of the Booth MBA. I loved the self-guided aspect and it allowed me to both get the focus and depth that I desired, but also explore and discover new areas of interest. I think I ended my program with five or six concentrations, which was great!

Which classes or professors had the biggest impact on you and why?

Asian Economies and Business with professor Brian Barry.  This was one of my last classes at Booth. After my final presentation, Professor Barry told me I had a gift for public speaking and presenting in such an unexpected and sincere way, it gave me a new level of confidence that I have carried forward with me. It has bolstered me in the countless marketing presentations I’ve had to give in the decade since graduation.

Negotiations with professor Linda Ginzel. As I already mentioned, learning the basics of negotiations felt like a life skill that I have used in countless scenarios and have talked to other classmates about. Everyone uses the skills we learned in her class.

New Product Development with professor Art Middlebrooks. This experiential class often comes to mind, especially when I was on the innovation side of the business or in conversations about research results. Among the many things I learned, one funny lesson I remember was just how easy it is to ignore consumer input when you, as the marketer, think you have a good idea. I think of that lesson fondly anytime I’m in conversation about research results on creative or products, and try to keep an open mind and ignore the temptation to ignore consumer feedback.

Where did you live when you were at Booth?  

I lived in two different places in school—Bronzeville during my first year and in the South Loop during my second year. They were both good for different reasons, but ultimately, I liked the South Loop more as it had easier access to downtown and some of my classmates. Although I missed the proximity to campus of Bronzeville, I sacrificed my ability to sleep in for a bit easier access to the city.

How did your first position after your MBA align with your short and long term career goals?

I graduated toward the end of a recession, so the job market was still pretty tight and the marketing function hadn’t quite recovered. So, I was excited to find something that allowed me to practice in my chosen profession. My first role was in North Carolina, which wasn’t my preferred location, but it was a good job, from which I gained great experience. It did help me cut my teeth in brand and product marketing and gave me great insight into what the work would be like. The role ended up providing a vast array of experiences, which continue to pay dividends in my career development. Though I was only there for 13 months, I constantly draw on experiences from that role to help inform decisions I make today. It was also incredibly influential in my understanding of which parts of marketing I liked most and what I could do without. Knowing what you don’t like is as important in charting your course as understanding what you do like, and maybe moreso.

If you could visit one of your favorite places in Chicago, where would you go?  

My best friend’s house. It’s like going home to family.

How do you center yourself with everything going on in the world?

I write in my journal. I’m an introvert and very much spend time inside my own head trying to process, analyze, assess, etc. whatever is going on in my life. If things are chaotic, then my mind is probably racing. When things are particularly chaotic, the best solution for me is to write. I need to expel the chaos from my mind onto paper where I can see it and more effectively process all of what’s going on. That helps me calm down, calm my mind, and figure out the path forward.  

What has Booth done since you graduated that makes you proud to be an alumna?

Booth has continued its pursuit of excellence across disciplines and continues to churn out top notch executives. Recently, I appreciate the move toward more public support of diversity and the attempt to drive additional diverse representation within the walls of the school.