The following is an excerpt from an article titled, "Bringing Artistry to Business Thinking," which originally appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of the Chicago Booth Magazine.

John Michael Schert
is bringing the artist's sensibility to the analytical Booth community. Schert, a professional dancer, is serving as the school's first visiting artist. He also is the second social entrepreneur in residence, a program hosted by the Social Enterprise Initiative. And he is serving as visiting artist for UChicago Arts, the university's menu of cultural programs and initiatives. During Spring Quarter 2014, Schert played a variety of roles, including judging the John Edwardson, '72, Social New Venture Challenge, working on a research project about creativity with behavioral science faculty members, and talking with students about their career plans.

"We can show how artists engage in the creative process," Schert said in an interview. "Then entrepreneurs, managers, and executives can channel that creativity in their professional endeavors."

A Georgia native and former dancer with the American Ballet Theatre and Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Schert cofounded the Idaho-based Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) in 2004. At TMP, where he was the executive director and concurrently a dancer, Schert oversaw the company's mission and led global funding and marketing, and was named one of "5 Nonprofit Innovators to Watch in 2013" by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The company helped revitalize Boise and showed that a traveling arts organization can be influential with a base anywhere in the country, Schert said.

While visiting Chicago in November 2012 for a performance at the Harris Theater, Schert met Carroll Joynes, cofounder of the Cultural Policy Center, and Bill Michel, AB '92, MBA '08 (XP-77), director of the Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts. They introduced Schert to Harry L. Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management, and Robert H. Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance, deputy dean for the Part-Time MBA Programs, and faculty codirector of the Social Enterprise Initiative.

"He is innovative and thoughtful about the role of arts organizations and nonprofits," Gertner said. "The role of creativity in society and business is an important question."

Schert said he has served as a resource and a sounding board to students who are wrestling with their career paths. "Sometimes students lay out their master plan and I ask them why," he said. "Are you doing what you want to do or what's expected of you? A key utilization of the creative process is discovering a student's motivations and matching them with possibilities and limitations."

He also is working on a research project with faculty members in behavioral science that explores the idea of creativity. "How you unlock human potential is a key question," Schert said. "What are the roles of wisdom, value, purpose, creative process, and human potential?"

As a judge in the Social New Venture Challenge, which helps students launch ventures that have a plan for social impact and are financially sustainable, Schert offered a fresh perspective by critiquing the student's presentations and body language, Gertner said. - Bethany Biron