2017 Best MBAs: Jennifer Dunn, University of Chicago (Booth)

Jennifer Dunn

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

“Finance to consulting career switcher who loves getting involved the Booth community and exploring Chicago.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Pacific Palisades, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I grew up playing soccer and spent an inordinate amount of time juggling a soccer ball, reaching a personal record of 1,532.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Northwestern University, BS in Economics and Communication Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?
Goldman Sachs, Institutional Equities
– Analyst 09-’12; Associate ’12-’14; Vice President ‘15

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Boston Consulting Group; Chicago

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Consultant; Chicago

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Rath Foundation merit-based Fellowship recipient
  • First Day Team co-chair (Committee of 14 first year students selected to plan the admissions events for admitted students)
  • Admissions Fellows (Selected to help the admissions department with interviewing and other recruiting activities)
  • Business Solutions Group Engagement Manager (Served as a team leader for first years interested in consulting in a consulting-based engagement with a local company)
  • Deloitte Case Competition- 1st place for Booth; 3rd place nationally

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being a member of the First Day team. I was selected as a co-chair for the team that organizes the admissions events for admitted students. This is a perfect example of the opportunities that exist through the “pay it forward” culture at Booth: students are in charge of organizing almost everything on campus. My team worked for months to put together different components of the welcome events. First Day is often a prospective student’s most substantial interaction with the school and is critical in their decision to come to Booth. This involvement was meaningful to me because it represented a very tangible way to impact and help shape the future class at Booth. Hearing students say they selected Booth because of their experience during First Day is a reward of our team’s efforts.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Getting promoted to Vice President in my role in Institutional Equities because it validated the years of perseverance required to be successful in my role. After two years serving predominately a support role as an Analyst, I was promoted to Associate, which meant I was suddenly accountable for many key relationships with large asset managers in the Midwest. As a junior Associate, these clients were not going to be quick to give me their business until I earned it, so I had to be incredibly proactive and creative in my approach to gain their trust, all while facing intense pressure within Goldman to deliver results. At the same time, I had to balance this demanding workload with the stress of completing the CFA program. There were many ups-and-downs during this time and being promoted to VP after a year-and-a-half represented the culmination of these efforts.

Why did you choose this business school?

The people. I attended a number of admissions events and it quickly became apparent that Booth was composed of really accomplished students who are intensively motivated, but also incredibly humble and excited to be a part of the Booth community. This translates into a remarkably supportive environment where students genuinely want to see each other succeed, and go out of their way to help each other do so. I saw this in the classroom with students spending time to help each other understand the material and in the recruiting process through the level of prep and support students show their classmates. I viewed this as the embodiment of Booth’s mentality that “ideas compete, not people.”

The strength of the Booth network. This was visible to me through the amount of student and alumni outreach I received as both a prospective and admitted student. What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time was how powerful this network is when applied in the professional context. During the fairly intense consulting recruiting process, Booth alum were remarkably involved, flying in from their engagements all over the world and spending enormous amounts of time connecting with Booth students.Once I started at BCG, the Booth community came out in full force: a Booth alumna staffed me on her exciting summer project and Booth alumni organically formed a network of mentors across the firm. This instant support system gave me added confidence that I can and will be successful in the workplace.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general?
I enjoyed the opportunity to gain meaningful hands on experiences in a (relatively) low-risk environment.

For example, before going head-on into the consulting recruiting process, I wanted to gain some exposure to the type of work and skill set required in consulting. I spent several months working with a team of Booth students to help a local company develop a profitability analysis to form that basis for a growth strategy. This experience reinforced my view that consulting was in fact the career path I was interested in pursuing.

Similarly, despite thinking that I did not have an entrepreneurial bone in my body, I wanted to gain an understanding of what the startup world looked like. I took advantage of an opportunity to work with a real-estate oriented startup in developing a marketing plan for their business. I saw first-hand the level of impact that your work can have with an early-stage company, and sparked an interest in a potential entrepreneurial career path longer term that I didn’t know I had previously.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How involved you can be at any given time given the never-ending opportunities to explore professional and personal interests. Balancing the desire to explore new interests and try new things with the discipline to stay focused on my specific goals has proved to be one of the most challenging parts of business school.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Get to know the school. The culture at Booth is (in my opinion) the best part and a key differentiator, and that is something that each prospective student is best suited to discover for themselves. They can do this by coming to Booth Live, sitting in on classes, or reaching out to student groups aligned with your interests. Putting forth this effort ensures that prospective students know what they are getting into, and there is no way this knowledge doesn’t shine through in your application.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not gaining more international experience in an academic and/or professional context. Some of my most personally rewarding experiences in business school have been the opportunities to travel with my classmates all across the world and learn from those with international backgrounds. I wish I had further extended that learning by taking advantage of opportunities to work or study abroad.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Ryan McDonnell. Ryan because he is the perfect example of someone who has gotten as involved with the Booth community as possible across a number of different capacities, including being involved in entrepreneurship, VC, consulting, and education sectors at the school.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I talked with friends going through the MBA program and heard about the exciting job opportunities they were considering. Having been previously siloed in the world of finance, this opened my eyes to the diversity of opportunities that awaited MBA grads and how little I knew about many of them. I saw the MBA as an opportunity for exploration that I couldn’t pass up.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…continuing my career at Goldman Sachs. I spent six years in the Equity Sales & Trading division, and was continuously challenged by increased responsibility. While I went to business school to broaden my skill set and expand my experiences, I believe I would still be at Goldman in another capacity similarly expanding my experience set.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would build in more time on campus before recruiting season kicks off for first year students. For more traditional career paths, such as banking and consulting, recruiting kicks off just over a month after school starts, with many students having invested time ahead of that. One of the beautiful things about business school is the chance to leverage the school’s resourcing to learn about career options that might be interesting to you, and having more time to do could make this exploration process even more thorough.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I don’t have a specific long-term professional goal. Part of the reason I wanted to join consulting was that I knew this would provide a number of interesting opportunities should I chose to leave, and I want to stay open minded and evaluate those opportunities as they emerge. What I do know is that I hope to incorporate both substantial international experience and entrepreneurship into my long term plans, though I remain open minded about what form those take.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? They would be my youth soccer coaches. I started playing soccer as a painfully shy and unconfident kid, but was fortunate to have coaches who invested in my development. They pushed me to achieve my goals of playing for a top club team and earning an athletic scholarship to a Division 1 school. As I achieved success on the soccer field, my confidence increased and I began to believe that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to. I believe the confidence and perseverance developed on soccer the soccer field translated into academic and professional success as well.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who genuinely cares about the Booth community and will go above and beyond to “pay it forward” to former, current, and future Boothies.

Favorite book: Losing the Signal because I think you can often learn more from stories of failure than success)

Favorite movie or television show: House of Cards

Favorite musical performer: Adele

Favorite vacation spot: Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Hobbies? While I have mostly hung up my soccer cleats, I do like to remain active and channel my competitive spirit by participating in sports such as volleyball, kickball, and tennis with friends and classmates. Aside from that, I like to take advantage of the Chicago lakefront and exploring the Chicago restaurant scene.

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

“Jenny joined Booth having already earned her stripes as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs’s Institutional Equity Sales division. A college athlete who has competed internationally in youth and college soccer, Jenny is highly respected for her experience and insights. Post Booth, Jenny is headed into strategy consulting at BCG.”

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

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