The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is the second-oldest business school in the world. “And second to none when it comes to influencing business education and business practices,” so believes Sunil Kumar, the dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “Our mission is to create knowledge with enduring impact, and to influence and educate current and future leaders,” he says. Established in 1898 as the College of Commerce and Politics at the University of Chicago to offer practical business instruction, today the school’s MBA programmes rank among the best in the world. Kumar, who joined the Chicago Booth faculty on January 1, 2011, has since then concentrated on broadening and strengthening the intellectual footprint of the school, including expanding the faculty, supporting increasingly diverse student aspirations, and expanding the reach of the school’s programmes. The school’s another Indian connection is in the form of Raghuram Rajan, the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, who is on leave from the University of Chicago, where he is the Eric J Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the Booth School.
In an email interaction with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, the dean shares, among other things, how the school is strengthening its presence in Asia. Excerpts:
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is relocating its Asia Executive MBA from Singapore to Hong Kong. What does this mean for Indian students?
From Chicago Booth’s perspective there should be no change at all for Indian students other than just the location of the programme. We have always had very strong interest in all of our programmes from Indian students and we certainly look forward to welcoming more students from India to the programme at our new Hong Kong campus. The programme is exactly the same as it was before, Pure Chicago, taught by our professors who fly in from Chicago to teach the same MBA classes with the same rigorous Chicago Approach.
What are the academic highlights of studying at Booth School? What unique opportunities can the school offer Indian students?
There are a few distinctive elements that Chicago Booth provides its students from an academic perspective. Aside from having some of the most talented faculty in the world teaching our classes, we offer a highly flexible academic environment. Of the 21 courses needed to complete the MBA programme, only one is required; couple that with 11 electives—six of which can be can be taken anywhere at the University of Chicago—and our students literally have thousands of courses to choose from to fulfil their academic requirement. The opportunity to customise an MBA experience specific to the needs and interests of each individual student is unmatched among top MBA programmes. It is also worth pointing out that our coursework itself is diverse. Not only does the curriculum cover 14 areas of concentration, international MBA options and several joint-degree possibilities, it also highlights many experience-based courses. Those courses partner with top companies and nonprofits to bring real-world learning into the classroom setting. Chicago Booth’s academic setting is grounded in a deep understanding of market fundamentals and coupled with an experience-based entrepreneurial curriculum that compels our students to take risks and stretch beyond any perceived limitations they might have. Our students get a world-class education and, more importantly, this environment absolutely inspires a personal transformation.
What are the most popular courses at Chicago Booth?
There are more than 200 elective courses available to students but some of the more popular electives among all students at Chicago Booth include Business Policy, Sports Analytics, Cases in Financial Management, Consumer Behaviour, Entrepreneurial Selling, The Analytics of Financial Crises, Commercialising Innovation, Managerial Decision Making, Pricing Strategies, The Firm and the Non-Market Environment, Entrepreneurial Finance, and Strategies and Processes of Negotiations.
What kind of scholarships are available to Indians?
Merit-based scholarships are available to all students, but the school does have two fellowships specific to Indian students—The Indian Trust Fellowship and the Akhtarali H Tobaccowala Fellowship.
Recently, the PhD students from the Booth School concluded a research on cheaper drug trials. How far does it generally take to move from a mathematical model to reality in such a scenario?
Yes, that research was carried out by Jon Birge, Jerry W and Carol Lee Levin Professor of Operations Management.
Actually, it depends, first on regulatory approval and then on the size of the trial. For the approval, I would imagine this would also be easier for smaller trials including hundreds of patients (for example, for medical device approvals) as opposed to thousands of patients for broad indication drug trials. The main implementation issue in these cases is the computational capability. The current research is addressing that.