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David Boddy

With degrees in aerospace and civil engineering, David Boddy had a very technical background prior to business school. He’d been working for just two years when he started thinking about an MBA. As a Chicago native, David was familiar with Chicago Booth. Only it was Chicago Booth’s Chicago Business Fellows (CBF) program that introduced him to new experiences and a supportive environment that influenced his exploration of paths he’d never imagined.

For David, CBF opened doors to unexpected opportunities in career, leadership, community, and travel. He came to Booth with an interest in corporate finance. However, the exposure he had to classes outside of his intended concentration and CBF program led David to his true calling.

“I’d been at Booth one week and threw everything I thought I knew completely out the window,” says David, who credits the program and his CBF connections with his “stumbling” into entrepreneurship. “A very defining moment for me was going through the New Venture Challenge. It will have the most lasting impact on my career and personal development.”

Since it began in 1996, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge at Chicago Booth has helped launch more than 90 companies, which have gone on to raise over $300 million in funding and created thousands of jobs. As with many students, the experience was life changing for David.

He learned business development skills, market entry strategy, and how to run a team. “It’s applicable no matter where you are, not only for start-ups, but even if you are in a Fortune 500® company.” David is a group manager at Leidos, where he was tasked with starting an office group in Chicago. His group specializes in transmission line engineering services for investor-run utility providers such as ComEd.

“Due to the leadership courses at Booth, I learned so much about how to assemble a team for a new venture or group,” says David, founder of the Chicago Booth CBF Alumni and Student Network. “Booth taught me how to put a team together by focusing on the roles for each employee. I often think of it now like casting a play and thinking of the actors I need for certain parts.”

The CBF program is cohorted through a seminar, making it easy for students to make friends, form study groups, and network.

“It was nice already knowing some people and having a connection with a group,” says David. “To come in and have a great network, connections, and friendships is a huge advantage of CBF.”

The CBF network also helped David secure interviews and informational meetings with other professionals. “One of the aspects that truly amazed me, was how open CBF alumni where to talking with current students,” says David. “And now as an alumni, I know anytime I see ‘CBF Student’ in an email title, I will definitely respond.”

Chicago Business Fellows does more than just enable young professionals to get a jump-start on their MBA journey; it allows students to find their own way with the support and loyalty of CBF students, staff, and alumni—throughout their entire careers.