Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Adventures of our Roving Reporter

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all rested up after Thanksgiving! This week I’d like to introduce our Roving Reporter Jessica, who will be reporting to us from various activities and events on campus. Jessica is a first year MBA student at Chicago Booth. She’s actively pursuing a social venture with students from across the University and found “Big Problems, Big Ideas,” a great resource for better defining how to position the group’s idea in the market. She’s excited to participate in more idea generation and community-building events. Today, Jessica blogs about her experiences at the Healthcare Conference, the AAMBA DuSable Conference, and the Social New Venture Challenge Kick-off. Check out her travels!



Spotlight on Healthcare at Booth

With one of the most prominent academic hospitals in the nation, The University of Chicago Medical Center, just a few blocks away it shouldn't be a surprise that Booth has its fair share of students interested in the health care industry. Backgrounds vary from medical physicians to complete novices. Some students take advantage of the school's interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP: while others may just try to tailor their curriculum in other ways. Regardless of past experience and current education pursuits, they can all interact with each other within the school’s Health Care Group (HCG).

HCG puts on a number of events throughout the school year to keep students aware of the ever-evolving field of health care, but its biggest one is the annual Health Care Conference. For this year, the tenth anniversary of the conference, the theme was appropriately, "The Changing Landscape of Health Care." Speeches from key players in health care venture capital, and health care services companies, were complimented by panels that covered a variety of perspectives that were just as diverse as the interests of students in HCG. The first panel was on consumerism in health care, with representatives from all types of firms that influence the patient/consumer experience, including consulting retail pharmacy, health insurance, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

The next set of panels looked specifically at entrepreneurial opportunities in health care. "Entrepreneurial Health Care" offered the opportunity for the audience to hear directly from professionals who started their own health care companies, including the founder of Agile Diagnosis - last year's winner of the New Venture Challenge, and from firms that invest in and consult to health care businesses.

The final panel looked even deeper into the deals that take place within the industry. The "Principal Investing in Health Care" panel featured representatives from banks, private equity, and venture capital firms with a presence in the health care market.

After a day of discussing innovation, consumerism, and venture opportunities within the health care industry, audience members were able to network with each other, speakers, panelists, and sponsor companies, bringing to a close this year’s annual tradition. Till next year's conference!

The panel for Consumerism in Health Care featured representatives from Bain, Walgreens Co., Abbott Nutrition, Biogen Idec, Humana, Accenture, and Intuitive Surgical.


The African-American MBA Association’s Annual DuSable Conference

The start of November marked a big weekend for the black, African-American community at Booth. Both the Chicago Booth Black Alumni Association (CBAA) and the full-time African-American MBA Association (AAMBAA) held their annual conferences. The weekend was a time for members of both groups to come together and network, as well as connect with the greater Booth community.

The weekend kicked off with the CBAA's fifth annual Black Economic Forecast conference. This year's event, "Removing the Barriers to New Opportunities," featured a range of panels covering international and business-to-business opportunities for aspiring and current entrepreneurs, along with a session dedicated to career planning. After time for cocktails and networking, the conference closed with a keynote panel where major economic trends and their impact on the job market were discussed among professionals in economics, city government, and human resources.

Building off the momentum from the CBAA's conference, the following night AAMBAA held its twenty-seventh annual DuSable Conference, presented by Credit Suisse. The evening's theme was "Synergy." During the course of the conference dinner, both the scheduled speakers-- Andre Hughes, Global Managing Director at Accenture and Andrea Wishom, Executive Vice-President and Executive Producer of Harpo Studios-- and the recipients of the alumni awards shared their stories about overcoming challenges to design the professional and personal lives they wanted. The networking hour afterwards was a great culmination to two days of insightful career advice and inspirational stories that benefited not only the black community at Booth but also all students and alums.

Dean Sunil Kumar speaking at AAMBAA’s 27th Annual DuSable Conference.


Social New Venture Challenge Kick-off and Social Entrepreneurship at Booth

The career interests of Booth students have been changing over the years. While the stalwart career paths of financial services, marketing, general management, and consulting are still popular among students, entrepreneurship is also an area that students are eager to pursue now, not years down the road. Students’ eagerness for starting their own venture has led to the success of the now ten-year old New Venture Challenge – Booth’s business plan competition. But students are not just interested in for-profit opportunities, social entrepreneurship—whether a not-for-profit or a for-profit with a social mission—also has a home on campus. The Social New Venture Challenge (Social NVC) started last year in response to students’ interest in this area, and awareness of this opportunity only seems to be growing. This was evident at Social NVC’s kick-off event, “Big Problems, Big Ideas: Idea Generation for the Social NVC.”

At “Big Problems, Big Ideas” students from graduate and undergraduate programs across the University came together to hear and discuss some of the key areas of opportunity for starting social ventures. Seasoned professionals in the fields of health care, local government, the environment, and education each gave a fifteen minute pitch where they covered the key entrepreneurial trends in their field, unaddressed needs, and suggestions on resources to consult. Then the speakers held break-out sessions where students could come and discuss in more detail the unmet and pending needs in that field. Students even shared their own business ideas to solicit feedback from their peers and the experts and to potentially recruit team mates for their venture.

With the enthusiasm and momentum coming out of “Big Problems, Big Ideas,” there’s no telling what insightful and meaningful ventures will come out of this year’s Social NVC and the active social entrepreneurship community at Booth and the University at-large.

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