This is part 2 in a series about the “Chicago Approach.” If you missed part 1, check it out here.
Introducing 4 Chicago Booth Students:
Qi: A female Chinese investment banker (who is also a fashion blogger).
Goals: A leadership role in Chinese PE or VC focusing on consumer goods following a stint in private equity in the US.
Jay: An American male clean energy entrepreneur/independent consultant.
Goals: Join a young clean-energy venture still in growth phase, leading business development.
Sandeep: An Indian male working in global supply chain IT.
Goals: Strategy consulting, with focus on manufacturing.
Marya: A Russian female high school assistant principal.
Goals: Start up an Internet-based language-instruction venture.
As you can see, despite Booth’s reputation as a finance school, it seeks and admits people from a wide range of industries and sectors. And these four examples (to preserve confidentiality, these profiles are fictional composites of successful Booth applicants I have worked with, not actual clients.), from my perspective shaped by 17+ years of experience, together represent the exciting and impressive scope of admitted Booth students.
They’re not all even quant geeks! Then what do they have in common?
• They all demonstrated in their applications an affinity for rigorous analytic exploration of issues, problems, challenges, and opportunities, for two reasons: they are curious to learn the truth, and they find the analytic process itself exciting. E.g., Jay discussed in his essay how his consulting led him to feel that existing business models for wind and solar power were less than robust, even though he deeply believed in the need for these technologies, and he started to analyze the situation. These qualities relate to the INQUIRY component of the Chicago Approach (see preceding post).
• They all conveyed their ability to grapple with the reality that they find – and it was clear that they are energized by doing do, even when it’s difficult. E.g., while Sandeep was delivering efficiencies in global pharmaceutical supply chains, he learned that a plant in Romania was consistently encountering quality failures. Although product quality failure was not his responsibility, he decided to review the plant’s supply process to verify its integrity, and discovered a sourcing inconsistency due to an ingredient shortage. Along with alerting the senior managers immediately, he talked individually and confidentially with parties involved to learn as much as he could qualitatively about the failure. His reaction relates to the INSIGHT component of the Chicago Approach.
• All these successful applicants presented in their applications (in essay, resume, etc.) positive outcomes that they have achieved and constructive differences they have made both at work and outside work. E.g., while leading a key stream of due diligence for a prospective transaction, Qi discovered possible environmental lapses in the African subsidiary of an otherwise attractive company. Citing the potential for liability, she convinced her boss, who dearly wanted the deal, to give her resources for more intensive investigation. She not only prevented a dangerous transaction for her company, but she raised her supervisor’s awareness about the need to address this issue in evaluating companies. This story, and the quality it reflects, represent IMPACT in the “Chicago Approach.”
While I’ve emphasized one element of the INQUIRY–INSIGHT–IMPACT Chicago Approach triad in each of these stories, it’s clear that all these people (and Marya too!) reflect all these elements. Equally important, they have effectively presented that fact in their Booth applications. In doing so, they have made themselves, among other things, INTERESTING – another “i” that Booth greatly values.
Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get accepted to Chicago Booth? Click here to get in touch!