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Rahman Irvin

Nearly five years after his graduation from Chicago Booth, Rahman Irvin still pulls from his Chicago Booth classroom experiences almost every day. As senior manager of the Data Products Team at Cars.com, Rahman (who goes by Rock) recalls conversations and lectures with classmates and professors as if it were yesterday.

Rock was in one of the first classes of CBF graduates. By the time he was a senior at Howard University, he had already researched business schools and honed in on Chicago Booth’s opportunity for early career candidates. A school that offered a program for younger professionals was essential for someone his age, but even more important was an environment that cultivates the top echelon of experts in their fields. Rock was looking to build up his business acumen from an analytics standpoint, so Booth was his first choice when it came to selecting an MBA program.

“The best people in the business teach at Booth,” says Rock, “the ones quoted in academic journals and winning awards for their research, the economists—Gene Fama and Robert Fogel. It was my only choice.”

Among the most influential professors for Rock were Sanjay Dhar, James H. Lorie Professor of Marketing and Scott Meadow, clinical professor of entrepreneurship.

“In their classes, we were submersed in the culture of using the data and imperfect information, questioning it, pushing it further, digging to where the logic breaks,” says Rock. The reliance on data and critical thinking is something Rock uses in his job today, recognized within his company for his effective approach to product solutions. The president of Cars.com was so impressed with Rock’s research in identifying new opportunities that Rock was asked to cofound the company’s Data Products Team, which he now leads.

Rock is quick to acknowledge Chicago Booth’s role in his professional success. While there’s the benefit of a cohorted weekly seminar in CBF, it is no different than any of the other Booth MBAs. Students experience the same flexible curriculum, world-class faculty, rigorous coursework, and leadership skill building.

“It’s not a watered-down version of the program,” says Rock. “It’s the exact same thing, you’re expected to do the work just like everyone. And that may mean reading the material an extra time because we don’t have the same real-life work experience. But other students respect that and want to be in our study groups and team up with us for projects because of it.”

Chicago Business Fellows earn the same degree as any Booth student. The difference is the cohort structure, which provides a close-knit support system from day one. “CBF gave me that core group of people I could lean on for assistance through all my MBA coursework and I continue to depend on them as resources in my career growth.”