Meet Chicago Booth’s MBA Class Of 2020

Matthew Corcoran

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Former U.S. diplomat and Congo River boat captain who enjoys meeting people over coffee.”

Hometown: Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Fun Fact About Yourself: While I’ve been to nearly 50 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Niger, I have yet to visit the United Kingdom or Mexico.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Notre Dame, BBA in Finance and Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I recently led a Congressional campaign for a former college roommate. After getting into Booth, I quit my job at the State Department and moved across the country to manage the campaign on a condensed timeline. I implemented a start-up mindset across the campaign staff and developed federal policy recommendations and social media content, with multiple posts obtaining more than 100K views. With a limited budget, I diversified ad spending beyond traditional media (TV, radio, print) and focused on digital media to optimize the costs per impression. Overall, it was an incredible opportunity to push myself to quickly succeed in a new industry while supporting one of my best friends.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Supportive. I attended First Day (Booth’s admitted students event) and was incredibly impressed by the caliber of fellow admits and their impressive backgrounds. However, I was more impressed with the generous offers to provide insights into their career fields, on case studies, and even help with moving to Chicago. I’ve already been helped by multiple classmates even before the program officially starts.

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? Booth’s collaborative team environment. This type of environment encourages risk-taking and individual growth, resulting in each student achieving more than he could on her own. As a student from a public-sector background looking to transition to management consulting, having classmates and professors invested in my success will help this transition. I really noticed this during my campus visit to Booth and believe it will greatly impact my two years here. I also have noticed this community in my interactions with alumni, which will continue to have an impact throughout life. Booth linked me up with multiple alumni with similar backgrounds and I was blown away by the responsiveness and helpfulness of Booth’s alumni network.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m looking forward to Booth’s Global Social Impact Practicum (GSIP), a course led by the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation in partnership with India’s Tata Trusts. GSIP includes a visit to India and coursework on a related development project. I’m extremely interested in the intersection of consulting and social impact, and GSIP is a great opportunity for Booth students to gain real-world experience in these areas.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As I continued to grow as an individual, my short-term and long-term career goals no longer aligned with a career within the State Department. I’m pursuing an MBA to make an immediate career transition into management consulting and to continue my development as a leader and a teammate. An MBA is the perfect bridge for me to achieve these goals and grow personally and professionally.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I evaluated it as an investment in myself and reviewed the opportunity cost, the cost of attendance, and prospective future incomes. The access to recruiters during the MBA program and employment opportunities that follow are extremely valuable and absolutely made it a worthwhile investment.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Wharton, Columbia, Kellogg

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I learned as much as I could about each school. This included online research (including websites like Poets and Quants), road shows, speaking with alumni, and campus visits. The campus visits allowed me to compare perceptions with reality, understand the culture of each school, and visualize if I saw myself there for two years. I also prioritized schools that had a strong pipeline into management consulting as well as those with a focus on social impact. I reviewed the school’s employment reports to see where graduates were working and to make sure the school would set me up for professional success.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? It would be adapting to and thriving in difficult situations in unfamiliar (and sometimes dangerous) places. While this was repeated throughout my career at the State Department, my arrival in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 stands out as I started a two-year assignment with no experience in the region, knowing no one, and having a tentative grasp on the language. My ability to develop meaningful relationships, build friendships, and routinely go outside my comfort zone led to an extremely rewarding tour, both personally and professionally, and solidified a confidence in myself to tackle increasingly complex challenges. As I begin Booth and look to transition to management consulting, the skills and personality traits honed in those environments will continue to impact my personal and professional growth.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Management consulting

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself progressing at a management consulting firm and taking on additional responsibility by leading client projects and developing individual team members.

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