Attending Chicago Booth has been a life-changing event for me, professionally. I think a lot of people interested in MBAs often wonder if the financial investment is worth it, and, for me, it has been absolutely worth it. Going through the program trains you and builds your confidence to face adversity in the future, so when you do encounter stressful moments, you're able to tell yourself, "I've done this before." I simply couldn't have gotten to where I am today in such a short period of time had I not come to Chicago Booth.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about Booth is that it's just a "quant" school. We get a very quantitative training, but it's a much more balanced approach than people realize. They really emphasize leadership, collaboration, and teamwork as well. I picked up a lot of "soft skills" in regard to the way I influence others. It's a very dynamic learning environment. The professors are always engaging students in conversation and soliciting feedback from them about their own experiences to test the theories they're developing. I appreciate that about the education. It's not just one-way learning.
The faculty are all practitioners of the theories they're teaching. They're at the cutting edge of business research, and they're able to share with us their latest observations on new challenges and trends. They use real-life examples to demonstrate economics. I used to hate economics before coming to Booth, but after just three hours of class, I loved it! Once you understand the concepts they're talking about, you can apply them all over the place to help you make sense of the messy world we encounter every day.
I found that I benefited from the study groups as well. At the beginning of the program there are 80 students all thinking very highly of themselves, so that when a professor asks a question, everyone wants to answer. But after a few months, it becomes very clear to everyone in that classroom that you'd better have some quality input to share if you want to speak up.
For example, in one class, we were asked to play a survival game that, for me, was a lesson in collective wisdom. We had to develop plans to survive an arctic accident, and then we were scored individually. Afterward, we had to complete the same exercise in small groups. At first, I was skeptical of the exercise. I mean, I have a background in military service. I assumed I knew a lot about survival. But, as it turned out, the team scores consistently beat out all of our individual scores, which was a profound learning experience for me. That really changed my thoughts about decision-making and helped me to see the value in collaborative investigation.
The study groups help facilitate this, too. You're put into small groups with other mid-level managers from diverse backgrounds, and we didn't have rank or wage. We were all just peers. So we had to learn how to influence one another in a more collaborative way. We learned to respect each other for one another's intellect. We started exchanging ideas instead of just persuading each other. That lesson made a big difference in my career. Once you're open and willing to accept different views, then that's the first step to becoming a leader.
Chicago Booth inspired me to want to be consciously inclusive of other opinions when making decisions, as I've seen firsthand how that clearly produces higher-quality outcomes. I think that's really contributed tremendously to my success.