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 environmental engineer working for a wind-power startup.
Goals: Join a similar, young clean-energy venture still in growth phase, leading its business development.
- Sandeep: An Indian male working in global supply-chain and IT consulting.
Goals: Strategy consulting, with focus on pharma 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. From my perspective shaped by 20 years of experience, these four examples (to preserve confidentiality, these profiles are fictional composites of successful Booth applicants I have worked with, not actual clients) together represent the exciting and impressive scope of Booth students.
They’re not all even quant geeks! So, what do they have in common?
- They all demonstrated in their applications an affinity for intellectual exploration (aligning with Booth’s academic freedom, freedom to define one’s impacts, and intellectual culture – see preceding post). This affinity originates in their curiosity to learn the truth (or varied perceptions of the truth) and their enjoyment of the process of intellectual exploration itself. E.g., Jay discussed in his essay how his experience led him to feel dissatisfied with his and his company’s impact, which in turn prompted him to explore the current state of the clean energy sector, its main players, its technologies and markets, and the existing business models for wind and solar power. He concluded that he could have greatest impact in the future through leading business development.
- They all conveyed their inclination and ability to work, play, grow, and contribute as part of a community (aligning with Booths’ focus on culture of community in all facets, from intellectual to social). 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, communicating that “we’re all in this together” he contacted the plant’s supply-chain manager and together they reviewed the plant’s supply process and discovered a sourcing inconsistency. He supported the supply-chain manager in alerting the senior managers, and together they talked confidentially with parties involved to learn as much as possible about the failure. His approach reflects the “community culture” of Booth and also the “freedom to take risks” it offers, for there were indeed risks. E.g., the risk of going beyond job parameters led Sandeep to be particularly mindful in his interactions with the supply-chain manager to apply social and emotional IQ so as not to step on toes or raise turf concerns.
- All these successful applicants presented in their applications (essay, resume, interviews, etc.) positive outcomes they have achieved and constructive differences they have made that were the result of group effort. E.g., while leading a stream of due diligence for a prospective transaction, Qi discovered possible environmental lapses in the African subsidiary of an otherwise attractive company. She convened an informal group of people with relevant experience and knowledge to analyze and provide perspective on the situation and its ramifications for the prospective deal. While the group did not reach consensus on the actual risk, they did agree with her encapsulation of their contrasting findings, which she presented with her recommendation to pursue the deal and factor in cost for environmental remediation – and they agreed to be available should further questions arise. Qi in turn offered to give a “third eye” review of her colleague’s evaluation of the Chinese cleantech sector about which she knew a good deal. This story portrays Qi exercising her freedom to define her impact on the world and performing with a community-oriented mindset, both elements of Booth’s approach.
While I’ve emphasized certain elements of the Chicago approach 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. And given the outcome of those applications, the adcom clearly saw their fit with and understanding of the Chicago Booth MBA program.
Do you want to ensure that your application demonstrates your fit with Chicago Booth? Do you need help highlighting your strengths and proving that you truly encapsulate the Chicago approach? I would be happy to work with you on your application and guide you to acceptance at Chicago Booth or any other of your top-choice MBA programs. Click here to get started.Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 20 years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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