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Modern innovations in the EMBA program at Chicago Booth School of Business

Richard Johnson

Responses from Richard Johnson, Associate Dean for the Executive MBA in Europe and Asia at Chicago Booth School of Business to MBA.SU

- Traditionally it was thought that the EMBA program was designed for top managers of medium to big companies. Most cases were from the business practices of such companies. What kind of changes did Chicago Booth make to the traditional EMBA program in order to adapt it for entrepreneurs and business owners?

The Executive MBA program, which began life three-quarters of a century ago at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, was created to build a new generation of leadership talent that could expand industry in the middle of the second world war. For the first time, there existed a program tailored to the specific needs of mid-career managers and based on teaching a set of fundamental, discipline-based tools to solve business problems.

Today, Chicago Booth maintains a steadfast focus on teaching the business management fundamentals, accompanied with program curriculum that builds in themes such as entrepreneurship, behavioral economics and behavioral sciences. Students are grounded in what we call the ‘Chicago Approach', which is a focus on the rigorous, data-driven application of fundamental academic disciplines to everyday business management problems. Students refine and supplement the general management curriculum through a set of elective courses. Through these focused and more specialized courses, we enable students and alumni to innovate and adapt to tomorrow's business environment, no matter what changes or industry disruption lie ahead. Elective courses complement the general management curriculum by delving further into specific areas ranging from capital markets, fin-tech, entrepreneurship to real estate investment, for example. The courses offered vary from year to year but include cutting-edge or advanced topics relevant to the world of business.

Another innovation at Chicago Booth included the introduction of a business competition called Global New Venture Challenge. As more students enter the Executive MBA Program with business ideas they want to develop, Chicago Booth has expanded avenues for entrepreneurs to hone their plans, get feedback, receive coaching and win funding for their business concepts. The Global New Venture Challenge class, taught by Waverly Deutsch, clinical professor and academic director of university-wide entrepreneurship content, is an intensive six-day experiential course in which teams of students develop business and financial models and present to panels of investors.

- What is the official composition of a group of students at EMBA programs and how many entrepreneurs are among them (what kind of companies they are from: big, medium, small)?

Entrepreneurs who enter the Executive MBA Program come from a wide-range of backgrounds including small-to-medium sized companies or large corporations. For example, students often study at Chicago Booth to make an industry switch from a large corporation to a small start-up of their own using the Executive MBA as channel through which to test their idea, launch their own company and join a global community of 52,000 alumni united in their desire to make an impact in the business world.

More broadly, student demographics in the Executive MBA Program have evolved dramatically since its creation. Students today come from a wider range of backgrounds and industries from banking to healthcare, technology and aerospace. The average age of the incoming class of 2018 was 37, and students had an average of 13 years of work experience; the cohort represented 46 nationalities. The high caliber of students at Chicago Booth has remained a constant since Chicago Booth founded the Executive MBA in 1943.

- Who is the teaching staff for the EMBA program for entrepreneurs? Are there any differences from what they teach hired managers?

All students are exposed to the fundamental business management foundational curriculum, but the students wishing to specialize in entrepreneurship have the opportunity to study elective courses in this field. We have a number of renowned professors in entrepreneurship and venture capitalism, including the following faculty members listed below. The curriculum created for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs is wide-ranging including a focus on how to start your own company and raise the necessary seed funding; how to buy and run a business; how to value a company; and about new technologies within the start-up world such as fintech, blockchain and virtual currencies. Popular elective courses and faculty include:

Waverly Deutsch, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Academic Director of University - wide Entrepreneurship Content at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Professor Deutsch teaches an entrepreneurship elective entitled ‘Building a New Venture'. This course is intended for students who are interested in starting new businesses with a lesser emphasis on investing in start-up companies or buying existing firms. Students learn how to raise initial seed funding, compensate for limited human and financial resources, establish initial brand values and positioning, leverage a strong niche position, determine appropriate sourcing and sales channels, and develop execution plans in sales, marketing, product development and operations.

Brian O'Connor, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship
Professor O'Connor teaches ‘Entrepreneurship through Acquisition', an elective course with a focus on the buying and running a business. It is designed to be applicable to many career paths including private equity, venture capital and entrepreneurship. The final exam for this course is a pitch presentation to a panel of actual investors in each of the three markets in which the course is taught.

Scott Meadow, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship
Professor Meadow teaches ‘Entrepreneurial Finance and Venture Capital', an elective course that covers issues of private equity finance from seed stage through growth equity to recapitalization. Covering a broad range of sectors, the course teaches students theoretical valuation techniques, deal structure, the design of securities, creating incentives for all constituencies and financial management in private, rapidly growing enterprises as well as exit strategies including initial public offerings, mergers and strategic partnerships.

Luigi Zingales, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance
Professor Zingales teaches ‘The Fintech Revolution, an elective course that walks students through the challenges and the opportunities of blockchain, virtual currencies and smart contracts, as well as the regulatory problems raised by such technologies.



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