One of the things I was quite impressed with upon coming to Chicago Booth was the intellectual rigor of the program. Sure, I knew about the powerhouses that come out of here, but - coming from an engineering background where I'm usually able to move pretty fast and pick things up quickly – I didn't anticipate how hard you have to work for what you get here. It's intense, but that's a good thing. It's very analytical, methodical, and structured. It's incredible being surrounded by such a bright group of professors and students - there's so much more to learn at the end of every day. You're humbled coming out of every class.
If you're looking for a program that's rigorous, analytical, and concrete, then Booth is the school for you. But it does require a significant commitment. I mean, my golf handicap dropped quite a bit. In all seriousness, finding a balance between school, work, family, and life… it can be challenging. Having the support of your family and employer are critical. I was very fortunate and had a really supportive wife and a boss who supported me financially and by providing me with the time I needed to succeed, but you have to make sure that you're in a situation where you can commit the time and energy that the program requires, in order to get the most out of your time here.
At Booth, there's a focus on the fundamentals - everything is based on frameworks and data. I used to see financial information and it just looked like a bunch of numbers. But now, I process that information differently. We spend a lot of time understanding different frameworks that can be applied to a multitude of problems. We try to look at things through all dimensions of competitive strategy and factor in our knowledge of macro- and microeconomics to better inform our current business decisions. It's less about the what, and more about the how, which makes it relevant to day-to-day life. So now, when I'm faced with a question, I immediately look to see where the data came from to find out whether it's actually someone sharing conclusions that are based on sound methodology, or if it's just based on someone saying something without the data to back it up. That's something I just didn't do before coming to Chicago.
The professors are the real deal. They have Nobel prizes and have been awarded honors for their research in the areas we're studying. They're also surprisingly easy to connect with and very, very humble in the way that they share information with us. When they're in class, it's an interactive environment, but they also share a lot of their ideas and insights with us, too. It's incredible. It's like having a walking encyclopedia on business in front of us. Professor Nicholas Epley, in particular, was instrumental in providing us with a set of frameworks that apply to different aspects of leadership, like in the areas of employee motivation, for instance. He gave us a series of different models for how to manage a team successfully.
One of the major factors in my coming to Booth was its global network and its physical presence in three core pillars of the global economy. I work in the financial services industry, so it's important for me to have connections overseas, particularly in London and Asia. Our classroom is so diverse. Whether it's in terms of gender, geography, or industry, it's just incredible. Even within one industry, we have so many different functions represented in the classroom. I mean, out of 90 students, each one of us has 12 to 15 years of experience. That is a huge opportunity. The potential to grow and learn from one another is huge.
Being part of the Booth family has changed the way I look at things. You start to question everything, which is what Chicago thinking is all about.