Investing in the UK and EMEA
The grand-opening celebration of Booth’s London campus put a spotlight on global leadership, the importance of civic engagement, and the role of business schools in social impact.
- May 09, 2022
“We operate with the notion that we are a truly global school. The world is the context for everything that we do. We want to have the best faculty from across the world, and we want their work to have global impact. We want to attract the best students from across the globe, and we want them to be leaders around the world.”
So said Dean Madhav Rajan, as he welcomed an audience of Chicago Booth faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to the Leading in London Grand Opening Celebration of the school’s new campus in London.
Located near St. Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of London’s business community, the stunning new campus space serves as a hub to build on Booth’s commitment to facilitate world-class business education, leadership insights, and partnerships in London and throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). “Our aspiration is that this campus will be a destination for thought-provoking programming and a robust exchange of ideas, as well as a center for alumni, business leaders, and friends from across the region,” Rajan said.
As the only US business school with campuses on three continents, Booth has a global footprint, attracting a high percentage of international students not only to the Executive MBA Program campuses in London, Chicago, and Hong Kong, but also to the US-based Full-Time and Part-Time MBA Programs. Booth’s 55,000-plus alumni live and work in more than 120 countries around the world.
Booth’s physical presence in the EMEA region dates back to 1994, when the school established a campus in Barcelona. The Europe campus moved to London in 2005, to Woolgate Exchange, in the district known as the City of London, before relocating to the new City of London space in Barts Square in 2020. The new campus underscores the importance of Booth’s presence in London and facilitates enhanced opportunities for the school to expand its impact across the region. It’s home to Booth’s Executive MBA Program London and Executive Education courses, and it provides a state-of-the-art location for events and education within one of the world’s leading centers of banking, finance, and tech.
Like Booth’s Chicago and Hong Kong campuses, the London campus features a vibrant selection of contemporary art—on loan from the collection of Katie and Felix Robyns, ’85—that focuses on the work of emerging artists and artists from the African diaspora and reflects Booth’s investment in young minds and fresh perspectives.
“We operate with the notion that we are a truly global school. The world is the context for everything that we do. We want to have the best faculty from across the world, and we want their work to have global impact.”
Booth’s global impact is closely tied to the ongoing work of the University of Chicago, which has partnered with international organizations while launching new programs in molecular engineering, quantum science and technology, biological engineering, data science, and artificial intelligence.
“Chicago Booth has always led the way in building critical connections that augment the University of Chicago’s ability to apply the intellectual power of its scholarship to some of the world’s hardest problems,” said UChicago president Paul Alivisatos. “The new London Booth campus will continue this tradition, opening up new opportunities for important local partnerships that will enhance our efforts to address climate and energy, urban inequality, and many other challenges we face as a global society.”
The grand-opening celebration kicked off with a welcome from Rajesh Agrawal, deputy mayor of London for business, and featured a panel discussion focused on Booth’s commitment to global leadership and investment in the London community. Randall S. Kroszner, deputy dean for Executive Programs and the Norman R. Bobins Professor of Economics, moderated a conversation with Derek R. B. Douglas, vice president for civic engagement and external affairs at UChicago; and Caroline Grossman, ’03, executive director of Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation and adjunct associate professor of strategy.
Their discussion highlighted ongoing civic engagement work at the University of Chicago and Booth, touching on new opportunities for the school to engage meaningfully with the London community. Booth recently announced a new collaboration with London-based charity the PTI, in support of its mission to make “high-quality, rigorous and enjoyable education available to every child, regardless of their background or ability.”
“Booth will provide space at our new London campus and connections to speakers for PTI events, trainings, and board meetings,” said Elizabeth O’Neill, executive director of the London campus. “The PTI’s work aligns well with our mission as an institute of higher education, and we are delighted to be able to leverage our campus and network to support their work.”
A Global Crossroads
Engaging with and supporting the cities in which its community resides is central to the University of Chicago’s identity as an institution. The new campus will allow Booth to dramatically expand its presence and impact in London, which Alivisatos called “a true global crossroads for finance, business, markets, and so many other things.”
Expanding on the mutually beneficial relationship between Booth and the business community in London, Deputy Mayor Agrawal welcomed Chicago Booth’s renewed investment in London through the opening of the new campus.
“The campus is at the very heart of our great city, illustrating the enduring trade and investment links between the UK and US, and London and Chicago,” he said. “I’m proud that Chicago Booth continues to recognize and contribute to London’s global talent and world-class innovation ecosystem. Booth has already used its new campus to engage the governor of Illinois and executives from Chicago and London companies, and I look forward to the university playing an increasingly vital role engaging leaders and expanding business and innovation links between Chicago, London, and the wider EMEA region.”
The Role of Business Schools in Social Impact
The topic of community engagement raises questions about whether business schools should be involved in social impact at all. As Kroszner put it, “Some people would say, ‘Well, business school is about business and making money. Why are you thinking about civic engagement?’”
Grossman countered that most MBA students and alumni are eager to make a difference on the issues that are close to their hearts. At Booth, the Rustandy Center offers hands-on learning opportunities, supports innovative courses, and pursues research—all with the goal of developing people and practices with the potential to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Grossman also noted that fields such as impact investing are relatively new. “How do you unpack that and understand something that is now part of finance that previously did not exist?” she said. “It was niche 10 years ago and certainly wasn’t part of mainstream conversation 20 years ago.”
As Booth and other business schools pivot to include an impact point of view, Kroszner said, the world is taking notice. “The Financial Times, for example, recently put out a responsible business report,” he said. The report included a section on awards, celebrating the institutions, researchers, and alumni helping to change the way the world does business.
Sendhil Mullainathan, the Roman Family University Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science, won a Financial Times Responsible Business Education Award in the best business school academic research category for his work studying how imperfect data can lead to unintended bias in artificial-intelligence applications. George Boghos, ’18, won it in the alumni change maker category for Autism in Motion Clinics, which provides applied behavior analysis therapy to children in underserved areas. AIM Clinics won first place in the Rustandy Center’s John Edwardson ’72 Social New Venture Challenge in 2018, and Boghos received additional support through the center’s Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship.
“I was thrilled that Chicago Booth was the only business school that won in two categories,” Kroszner said.
Many other Booth faculty and alumni are deeply engaged in impactful work on a variety of topics as well. For example, Pradeep K. Chintagunta, the Joseph T. and Bernice S. Lewis Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing, has demonstrated the benefits of coaching on micro-entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Uganda.
The Engaged University
A key focus of the new campus will be supporting and amplifying Booth’s work around the world. Booth teams will extend education, advance urban research, and spur innovation to address the complex challenges facing communities throughout London, the United Kingdom, and the wider EMEA region.
This will build on the work already underway in Chicago, with Douglas noting that university faculty are deeply involved in research on some of Chicago’s toughest challenges, and adding that students have extensive opportunities to engage with and contribute to community-based organizations, small businesses, and local schools.
“Universities are anchors in our communities,” Douglas pointed out. “Globally, there’s an opportunity there. We have these centers around the world where the University of Chicago has a presence. How do we work with the communities that are local to those centers?”
Douglas emphasized the importance of universities engaging in a “bidirectional” fashion with the local community. “It’s very important that when you’re doing engagement, you don’t do it where it’s one directional, where the university shows up and says, ‘We have all the ideas. You need this program and that,’” Douglas said. “We need to start by engaging with the community and the local stakeholders and understanding what they see as some of the most important challenges that they would love to have the University of Chicago play a role in helping them address.”
Kroszner echoed those themes, saying the school is committed to building long-lasting partnerships with the communities Booth serves. “It’s not about coming in with the answers,” he noted. “You need to learn, you need to collect data, and you need to understand and really build a long-term, sustainable relationship.”
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