Meet Chicago Booth’s MBA Class Of 2020

Vanessa Buie

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Honest, passionate, and driven.  Outgoing, fun-loving and excited about new adventures and opportunities.”

Hometown: West Des Moines, Iowa

Fun Fact About Yourself: Former Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities: Biomedical Engineering.  Vanderbilt University School of Medicine: Doctor of Medicine

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  University of Chicago Hospitals, General Surgery Resident

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am given the greatest privilege on a daily basis to take care of people in their most vulnerable state, asleep, in the operating room. My greatest accomplishment thus far was my role on the night team as a trauma surgery resident during the opening month of the University of Chicago Trauma Center. The experience was rewarding in the tangible lives saved, but also extremely challenging as I learned to lead and motivate an inter-professional trauma team; teach our junior trauma residents, manage and mitigate the systems issues that arise with any new system implementation; continue to improve myself through the education and feedback my superiors had to offer; and learn to manage the emotional stress that comes with seeing extreme violence and trauma on a regular basis.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?  Full. The new Boothies I have met are full of life, energy, passion – you name it, they’ve got it, in abundance.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?  Opportunity for scientific collaboration. The University of Chicago has some of the greatest minds in the world and the potential for collaboration with the other graduate schools and medical center presents endless opportunities for scientific innovation.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? LEAD (Leadership and Development Program). As a physician I do not believe our training gives enough emphasis to developing hard leadership skills. I am looking forward to learning more about myself, how my personality and behaviors impact the way I lead, and ultimately how to become an effective and inspiring leader.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As a general surgery resident, we traditionally take two years to do full time research, often basic science or clinical research. I have always had a desire to obtain my MBA, but did not feel I had enough experience previously to make it worthwhile, for example, as a medical student or prior to medical school.  I now have three years of real work experience practicing medicine at both a large academic center and university affiliated hospital. I have a clear picture of what I want my future to look like and what skills I need to learn to get there.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment?  Everything has a cost, but the impact I hope to have on an institutional level with my MBA is well worth that cost.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I am who I am today because of many moments, and who I am continues to change as I experience new moments. We are ever-evolving and I hope that my experience at Booth creates multiple moments that I can look back on in ten years and recount as one of many defining moments. Up until now, my time as a cheerleader has had a significant impact on my views about teamwork, self-image and grit. I worked as a diabetes educator in Nashville during medical school and had the opportunity to work with patients and transform their lives by learning about the constraints of their situation (food deserts, transportation deserts, literacy, etc.) and then finding ways to work around a system that was built against them. That experience is what drives my passion for community healthcare. As a medical student on my general surgery rotation, I had the opportunity to observe a surgeon make the decision to NOT operate on a patient, as well as participate in the gift of organ donation through an organ harvest operation. It was that night that I decided to become a general surgeon. Those surgeons taught me that it is easy to say yes and to operate, but it is hard to say no – and a great surgeon knows when to say no.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? After I graduate, I will return to surgical residency to complete my training.  I hope to continue to use all of the skills Booth will have taught me and integrate them into my daily practice.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years I will have completed a surgical fellowship and will be a new attending practicing surgery and working to improve healthcare delivery systems on a departmental, institutional or possibly national scale.

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