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Toasting Worldwide Booth Night

Mar 27, 2013

The idea for Worldwide Booth Night came to Rajesh Krishnan, ’01, about a year after he graduated. 

Krishnan, now director of product marketing at San Francisco software company GroundWork Inc., thought it would be fun to put on multiple simultaneous happy hours around the world “to remember the great depth and breadth of the GSB worldwide community.”

The first Worldwide Booth Night on September 4, 2003, reunited alumni in
17 cities, including 10 cities outside the United States.

Eleven years later, Worldwide Booth Night is a major event on the Booth calendar. On April 11, alumni in more than 80 cities in the United States and around the world will get together to make new connections, catch up with former classmates and revisit fond memories. They’ll also host prospective and admitted students, providing an inside look at the journey to a Booth degree. Besides world capitals such as London, Rome, and Hong Kong, gatherings are scheduled for less traveled destinations such as Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Lima, Peru.

That first event in 2003 was called “Worldwide Pub Night.” “The idea came fully formed instantly, not in dribs and drabs,” Krishnan said in an interview. 

With help from Alumni Affairs, which set up a web site, he and friend Iain Drummond, ’01, managing partner at management consultancy Woodlawn Associates, persuaded alumni to sponsor events in their home cities.

At the first event in San Francisco, “I was amazed how many people showed up,” Krishnan recalled, referring to the more than 10 alumni that attended. “I was standing on a chair with a Champagne flute, giving a St. Crispin’s Day speech.” Since then, the Bay Area Alumni Club has hosted Worldwide Booth Night events in Oakland and Palo Alto as well as San Francisco.

Since that first night, the event has mushroomed, to the point that last year 1,871 people joined in around the globe. Participants also have contributed $7,000 to the Annual Fund.

The biggest crowd, around 270, gathers in Chicago, and because of its location at home base, includes current students as well as prospects. New York usually gets around 150 to 200 who gather at a popular Irish pub, according to Michael Rosen, ’05, who’s attended every year since 2004.

“It’s the easiest way to maintain contact with friends from school,” Rosen said. “It’s also a great avenue for recent graduates to get connected to the alumni club.” Rosen’s wife Adelina Oh, ’04, also attends. 

The Booth Alumni Club in Warsaw, Poland, has incorporated WWBN into part of its regular monthly meeting schedule, where invited subject matter experts lead a topical discussion, said Tomasz Marszalek, ’10. Recent subjects have included trends in mobile technology and starting a cider business in Poland. The discussions are valuable, Marszalek said, “but it’s more about the network.”

For her first Worldwide Booth Night event two years ago, Christy Harris, ’97, a member of the Chicago Booth Alumni Club of Atlanta, landed a major “get,” Roman Weil, the V. Duane Rath professor emeritus of accounting. “I think people wanted to come to see if he had softened up any,” she said of the demanding professor.
Weil, a wine expert, used the occasion to gather empirical data for a paper he was writing on wine preferences and pairings with food.

“You took a taste of wine, you ate a lemon or a cracker, then filled out some paper work,” Harris recalled. “It was like we were back in school.”— J. Duncan Moore, Jr.

To learn about a Worldwide Booth Night event in your area, go to
http://www.chicagobooth.edu/wwbn/2013/