How do you quantify the value of Chicago Booth’s MBA network?
After graduating in 2012, Executive MBA alumna Mary Furto's Booth network was primarily grouped around personal and social benefits. “The people I went to Booth with are my closest friends,” Furto says. “I have a core group of women from Booth who have a very strong bond. We talk about how to be successful at work as well as important issues in our personal lives--we connect on every level.” Yet Furto had never tapped into the larger Booth network, an alumni base of more than 53,000 members living in 120 countries, to help her professionally.
Until recently, that is, when Furto’s calculations changed. She soon discovered that the professional benefits of the Booth network increased her sum total.
After spending sixteen years at Boise Paper, Furto decided it was time to pursue a new challenge. She had continuously moved up in the organization and had excelled in nine different roles but felt compelled to expand her horizons, even considering relocation to do so. The idea of working with a new company, in a new city, after such a long time, seemed exciting but also daunting; Furto imagined that an external job hunt might take anywhere from six months to a year.
She began her initial search on LinkedIn, where she found a promising position at Honeywell in Charlotte. Furto recalled that a member of her EMBA cohort—in fact, a student in her study group—worked at Honeywell in the Chicago area. She reached out to her former classmate, Kelly Seibert, to see if he had any advice. Seibert is the Vice President of Engineering at Honeywell, and although his work is not directly related to the marketing position that piqued Furto’s interest, he was able to answer questions about the company and role and connect Furto with another Booth alum he knew at Honeywell.
Within a few days, Seibert helped Furto secure an initial phone interview and connected her with Carrie Eppelheimer. Eppelheimer, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at Honeywell, attended Booth’s Full-Time Program and had never met or spoken to Furto before but agreed to take a meeting with her. “The Booth connection instills a sense of trust and credibility,” Eppelheimer says. “These are things that I can already expect from a Booth grad.”
In two hour-long conversations with Furto, Eppelheimer detailed how the marketing organization operated and described its core values and needs. “I understood their culture, their metrics, and how they approach problems,” Furto reflects. “My interviews were much more informed because most of my research was directly with people at Honeywell who I could trust.”
Needless to say, Furto eventually received a job offer. Her estimated timeline for finding a new role went from six months or a year to weeks.
“I heard that the network could help you make career changes but didn’t believe it until now,” Furto says. “And you don’t get such a strong network unless you go through a program where you meet people face to face and travel together. That’s what really strengthened those friendships.”
When asked, Seibert expressed similar thoughts on how Booth connections have impacted his personal and professional life.
“This bond,” Seibert says, “manifests itself in many ways. These can include the pleasure of meeting one of your classmates running to a gate in O’Hare; the yearly get-together where you spend hours reminiscing about the day/night-life of the cohort; to the more tangible interactions where you will always drop what you are doing and respond to a question from one of your fellow Booth alumni.”
Eppelheimer also attested to the value of the network outside of immediate connections. Meeting another Booth graduate, Eppelheimer explains, means that they “understand the rigor, the shared experience, the way of speaking, the way of approaching problems, the way of framing global trends. There’s a philosophy and way of thinking that makes it much faster to innovate and collaborate and build with people that come through Booth.”
Mary Furto's story is just one of thousands each year, where professionals all over the world find that their Booth education proves itself to be more than the sum of its parts. Chicago Booth's MBA program is known for the invaluable skills and training it provides for the professional world, but one of its greatest assets is the connection to a network of other people guaranteed to possess those same skills and drive for success.