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Management Conference 2014

May 30, 2014

Applying artistry in business. The journey of hedge fund pioneers. Not getting caught in the weeds of minutiae.

These are among the topics that more than 600 attendees considered at Chicago Booth’s 62nd annual 2014 Management Conference on May 16—an annual event that showcases research and ideas of Booth faculty and alumni who are leaders in their fields. For the second year, Management Conference was held during Reconnect, which drew more than 2,000 for the festive weekend that also included Alumni Celebration and reunions.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave the keynote talk in the form of a conversation with journalist Phil Ponce, the host of WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” and a neighbor of the mayor in the Ravenswood section of the city.

“The quality of the city is crucial for us to attract students and faculty,” Sunil Kumar, dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management, said in introducing the mayor at the lunch program at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Chicago.

Emanuel said he wants Chicago to improve its global competitiveness by boosting the key factors that affect residents’ quality of life, including education and safety.

Afternoon breakout sessions at Gleacher Center enabled attendees to chose from a dozen different panel discussions led by Booth faculty members, including Biotechnology, Cross-Cultural Management, Emerging Markets, Entrepreneurship, and Private Equity.

  • In “Creativity in Business,” Harry L. Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management, expanded on the relationship between artistic performance and leadership, noting, “much like in theater, we’re all in different plays every day.” Davis said three personas are essential to an effective business leader—the analyst, the pragmatist, and the artist. “The artist enables us to think more broadly and to think more contextually, and I suggest that this is a voice we need to hear more of in business organizations,” Davis said. For more, see Applying Artistry in Business.
  • Three prominent alumni who launched their own quantitative hedge funds—Mark Carhart, PhD ’95; Ray Iwanowski, ’97; and John Liew, AB ’89, MBA ’94, PhD ’95 discussed how they applied their Booth knowledge to their investment strategies and what it was like to endure the financial crisis. Iwanowski recalled managing the Global Alpha quantitative fund at Goldman Sachs through some of its best years (at one point becoming the world’s largest hedge fund)—and some of its worst. 2007 was particularly difficult when quantitative hedge funds faced a massive liquidity crunch. “When I walked in one morning, CNBC was on, and my name was up there, saying that these guys are doing terribly,” Iwanowski remembered. “When things are good, there’s a black-box mystique. But the acclaim you get from that is more than offset when things are going poorly.” For more, see The Remarkable Journeys of Booth’s Renowned Quants.
  • In “Women in Leadership,” three alumnae—Leandra Knes, ’84, president and CEO of investment manager PPM America; Rachel Kohler, ’89, president of Interiors Group at Kohler Co.; Janet Pucino, ’94, CIO of Prolacta Bioscience—discussed the challenges of corporate management. Pucino noted that it’s important for women mangers not to get caught in the weeds. “Women in particular are often overburdened with things that do not contribute to the objectives of the company,” said Pucino, who gave the example of being asked to coordinate the office holiday party—a time-consuming task that she later learned five of her male colleagues had turned down. The moral? Focus your efforts to directly impact career goals.