In France, the education system is set up for students to listen to the professor. You don't exchange a lot of ideas. It's more of a top-down model of knowledge dissemination. But when I came to Booth, I found that I really had to read and study before class, and to participate during the classes. The discussion is where much of the learning takes place. It's definitely not a top-down style of education.
It was a challenging program, because you have to work and study at the same time. I'd often be up quite late working on finishing reports and projects, but that also made it very rewarding. There are no silly questions. You really feel like you're part of the group, challenging each other, and being a part of that style of learning - it really was one of my best experiences during my MBA.
The program gave me a lot more self-confidence, particularly through the study groups. Working with classmates who are so clever, you're able to discuss so many different areas and really learn from one another. You start to rely on one another's expertise in specific fields, and it really helps you to develop confidence in your presentations, or when you encounter a challenge in an area that isn't your specialty.
For example, I remember, after taking a class on managing the workplace, I was working on an incentive plan for my organization's salespeople. I started to challenge my colleagues about the incentive model that we'd been using for years, and one of them responded that it was already up and running, so why would we want to change anything? But after studying at Booth, I had the confidence to stand my ground and foster a discussion about the efficacy of our model. Ultimately, we decided to change models, which was a really rewarding moment for me. And I really credit Chicago Booth for this success, because I wouldn't have been willing to challenge my colleagues like this before completing the program. That confidence is part of what allowed me to transition into my dream career, after finishing my MBA.
The community is also a great part of the Booth experience, because you really have a social life during and after the program. I remember we'd have difficult weeks, working and studying really hard, but on Saturday nights, I remember feeling like I was 20 years old again, going out with my new friends. You develop friendships with other classmates and alumni that last, even after you've graduated. You really feel that you're part of a group of more than 40,000 alumni, all around the world. That was very useful to me when I decided to join the pharmaceutical industry. Some of my classmates helped me to prepare for this transition by giving me information and white papers about pharma business, which prepared me for interviews and negotiations. I also had the opportunity to meet with an alumna who was already in a top position within the industry and she gave me lots of advice and contacts to follow up with, which allowed me to meet the managing director at Merck, who ultimately became my current boss.
I chose Chicago Booth because I wanted to transition out of my position in a strategy consulting firm, into the health care market. I believed that Chicago Booth would enable me to do that. And by the time I'd earned my degree, I was working in a new role, within the industry I'd targeted.