2017 Best MBAs: Andrew Ward, University of Chicago (Booth)

Andrew Ward

The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Passionate about driving innovation in healthcare and advocating for health and gender equity.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Costa Mesa, California

Fun fact about yourself: I am currently training for my first amateur Muay Thai fight this spring.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Tufts University, BS in Mechanical Engineering and MS in Biomedical Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

I spent 3.5 years working as a strategy consultant at The Amundsen Group (a QuintilesIMS company) where my work focused on making pharmaceutical products more accessible and affordable for patients who really needed them.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? I spent my summer at Bain & Company in their Boston office where I worked with a client in the elevator industry.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for 12 months as a Deland Fellow. After that, I will transition to the Boston Consulting Group in their Boston office where I will focus in their “Biopharmaceuticals” and “Health Care Payers and Providers” practices.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • George Pratt Shultz Distinguished Scholar – I was lucky to have been selected as 1 of 5 students to be awarded Chicago Booth’s most prestigious fellowship which includes a full tuition scholarship, stipend, and a two-year leadership practicum with the great Professor Harry L. Davis.
  • Co-founder and co-chair of Common Chromosome – With tremendous support and guidance from the Chicago Women in Business Group and the Booth administration, I helped to co-found and now co-chair Common Chromosome. This is the only club at a major US business school to have as its primary goal the aim of bringing together students across all genders to discuss the issue of gender inequity in the workplace.
  • Co-chair of the Food and Drug Law Society – As the lone business school student sitting on the board of this law school club, I have become the unofficial liaison between the two schools on all things healthcare. Last quarter I brought a former co-worker to the law school to give a talk on the economics of the pharmaceutical industry.
  • 2nd place in the 2016 Chicago Booth New Venture Challenge start up accelerator – As part of team Coronado Conservation (a.k.a., “the toilet guys”), I spent 3 months trying to develop and bring to market a more water efficient toilet using our patented technology. We placed 2nd out of 30+ teams and were awarded $70k in seed money.
  • BoothInsights Group Leader – Every other week I organize and moderate small group conversations among ~8 classmates on topics such as, “how many lifelong friends do you have?” or “how has your family’s wealth shaped the opportunities you’ve had?” The goal of these group discussions is to encourage deeper relationships among Boothies, deepen interpersonal awareness, and foster an environment that encourages curiosity and interactive discovery.
  • Admissions Fellow – Interview team
  • Co-TA for Professor Lindsey Lyman’s “Building the New Venture” course
  • Chicago Booth Rugby team – Devout member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? This past quarter I helped to co-found and now co-chair Common Chromosome (CC), a new club on campus that brings Boothies from all genders together to discuss the issue of gender inequity in the workplace. We wanted to expand on the traditional “Women in business” groups (primarily women) and “Manbassador” groups (primarily men) that exist at other schools in order to create an on campus experience that actively brings all genders to the table to discuss gender bias.

Married to a fellow MBA and having been raised for many years by a single mom, I care immensely about the issue of gender equality. My primary responsibility with CC has been organizing and facilitating group discussions among male and female Boothies. I choose topics that I think are relevant to combating gender inequity in the workplace, such as non-conscious biases and parental leave. I have been truly blown away by not only the support we have received from the Booth administration, but also by the immense appetite and enthusiasm my fellow Boothies have shown for these discussions.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am still pinching myself over the fact that I was able to defer BCG for a year in order to spend 12 months working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) as a Deland Fellow after graduation. I’m incredibly enthusiastic about the healthcare space, particularly the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers, and feel incredibly lucky to be spending next year learning and experiencing everything that an academic medical center has to offer (BWH is a major teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School). As a Deland Fellow, I look forward to shadowing nurses while they make their daily rounds, scrubbing down and sitting in on kidney surgeries, optimizing operations in surgery centers, and sitting across from the CEO while discussing potential acquisition targets and long-term growth strategies for the hospital.

I am also very excited and proud to be joining BCG after BWH. Not only was BCG incredibly supportive of my decision to postpone my start date one year so that I could continue my development and education in the healthcare space, but their Boston office also offers a ton of opportunities for me to work in both the pharmaceutical and healthcare provider industries.

Why did you choose this business school? I came to business school primarily to learn, which made Booth’s emphasis on academic rigor a key selling point for me. The flexible curriculum enabled me to skip the classes I didn’t need and instead focus right away on the strategy and healthcare courses that would help prepare me for recruiting and my internship.

I was also attracted to Booth’s discipline-based approach to teaching. I wanted to learn from academics who were experts in their fields of study, but who didn’t come with a particular industry bias. I liked that Booth hired PhDs rather than former CMOs to teach its Marketing Strategy courses because I knew that the lessons I would be learning would be rooted in solid economic fundamentals and would be easily transferable across all industries.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I have really enjoyed the interpersonal development and growth that I have experienced at Booth. A common misconception about business school that I carried with me to Booth is that all of the learning occurs in the classroom. For most of my life, I was always very forward looking and hardly ever took the time to be introspective or reflect on anything important. However, through its standard leadership training program (LEAD) and the Distinguished Fellows program, Booth has encouraged me to take a deep introspective look at understanding myself. I used to think that self-awareness meant simply looking in a mirror and being able to catalog every one of my traits. I now define self-awareness as also being able to answer the question “why?” for every trait. Why do I feel this way or behave that way? This level of reflection was initially sparked during the Booth admissions process, when the essay I chose to write really forced me to take a deeper look at myself and unpack many things that had previously been swept under the rug. I believe that these personal developments have played a large part in my decisions to get involved with Common Chromosome, become a BoothInsights Leader, and an Admissions Fellow.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? It is amazing to me that you can take 600 people who are individually very ambitious, throw them into a 2-year MBA program with all the competitive drivers of classes and recruiting, and still have a school culture that is incredibly supportive. Booth has an amazing “pay it forward” mentality that generates a tremendous amount of goodwill and support for students. Every single Boothie truly wants every other Boothie to succeed and I have never heard of one Boothie asking for help and not receiving it. Some of my closest friends from my first year were people who I was directly competing against for healthcare and consulting jobs, but we still supported one another by giving each other practice case interviews and making sure we all made it to networking events on time. I also received tremendous mentorship and coaching from students who were in the year ahead of me. As part of my “paying it forward,” I gave over 30 practice case interviews to first year students during the first 2 weeks of winter quarter. This level of paying it forward is entirely normal at Booth and even extends out to our incredibly supportive alumni community.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  I have heard that some people think that we don’t have a very tight knit community because most students live off campus. This couldn’t be more of a myth. Nearly the entire class lives within the same 2-block radius in downtown Chicago in what I consider to be one of the most exciting and fun neighborhoods that you can live in while attending business school.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I will be graduating from Booth with six concentrations, but I still wish that I could have taken more courses here. After this spring, I will never again be a student at Booth, which means that I will never again have the opportunity to learn from as high of quality professors as I have over these past two years. There is so much learning to be done here, but I only had so much time!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I had the privilege of working on a startup last year with Shane Durkin. A Navy SEAL turned furniture entrepreneur turned business school student, Shane showed up at Booth with a patent for a new way to flush a toilet and has since had a tremendous amount of success building up a startup around his idea. Like many people at Booth, he has such an incredible background and can truly do anything he sets his mind to, yet he still conducts himself with an incredible amount of humility and modesty, which is hard not to really admire.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I left the engineering world and moved into the business world. I was now living in a new domain in which I didn’t really speak the language because I had never taken an accounting, marketing, or finance course. I took the CFA level I and bought a finance textbook to try and “get smart,” but found that these would never be enough. I needed to go back to school.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be pursuing a PhD. If I had stayed in engineering, my dream would have been a career in bioinformatics (hybrid of computer science and biology).”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to make pharmaceutical products available to every human being on the planet who needs them. I think it is ridiculous that people in the US (and the world) suffer or die from preventable diseases simply because they are not able to buy the drugs they need because of either a lack of access or funds. For most of my life, my mom suffered from a very preventable disease and I saw first-hand the impact that has on not only the individual, but also their families and communities. One person who is left to suffer is never an isolated incident.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mom always told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. It sounds generic, but I owe any successes I’ve had to the confidence that she instilled in me.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? An independent thinker who worked hard and was fun to grab a beer with.

Favorite book: The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Favorite movie or television show: Dexter

Favorite musical performer:The Beatles

Favorite vacation spot: South Africa. Growing up, South Africa was always my answer to the question, “if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” So when I finally left North America for the first time, I skipped the usual travel destinations and headed straight to Cape Town. The country has everything I look for when I travel: a fascinating history, interesting wildlife (I went through a huge Animal Planet phase in middle school and an even bigger Crocodile Hunter phase in high school), rugby, and the opportunity for me to conquer my greatest fear by cage diving with great white sharks.

Hobbies? I am an avid combat sports fan. I became a fan when I was in college and have spent an embarrassing amount of time blogging on the MMA pages of Bleacher Report. Before business school, I was offered a play-by-play commentator position at what was then the largest MMA fan page on Facebook.

What made Andrew such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“A biomedical engineer by training, Andrew has combined his passion for healthcare with outstanding preparation for a career in healthcare consulting. In an unusual twist, Andrew has deferred his start at Boston’s BCG office to spend a year as a Deland Fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. This fellowship is awarded to “accomplished individuals who aspire to shape the future of health care delivery.” At Booth, Andrew was one of five Distinguished Fellows selected for their leadership potential. He is a vocal leader of Common Chromosome, Booth’s student group focused on gender parity in the workplace.”

Stacey Kole
Deputy Dean, Alumni & Corporate Relations, and Full-time MBA Programs
University of Chicago Booth School of Business

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017