Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Ryan Hall, University of Chicago (Booth)

Ryan Hall

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Extreme extravert. Resolute, mission-focused, teammate.  Dad and husband who is always ready for fun.”

Hometown: Leesburg, Florida, a small town in northern Central Florida.

Fun Fact About Yourself: Last year I had a chance to dive on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The connection you feel with history is so powerful, and the ship still leaks heavy fuel oil into the harbor, which we were covered in by the time we surfaced.

Undergraduate School and Major: (Include Previous Graduate School if Relevant)

University of Florida – B.A. in Political Science

University of Florida – M.A. in International Relations

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Executive Officer in the US Navy

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far? A few years ago, I was fortunate to lead a developmental, interoperability project with a submarine.  The project required collaborative team-building across vastly different cultures of the Navy’s warfare communities. We encountered dozens of challenges over the project’s several months, ranging from the benign to the catastrophic.  The project ended up as a huge success and is a great testament to the resiliency that can be built into an organization with the proper planning, training, and effective leadership at all levels.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I entered a new phase of my career, turning from tactics and projects to logistics and process.  I knew I needed to grow and refine the analytical and human tools in my inventory if I was going to continue to develop into the leader I wanted to be.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I am a very non-traditional business school student – I will continue my Naval service after I finish at Booth.  Because of this, I had very unique requirements when I began exploring my business school options.  As I began to get to know Booth, I fell in love with many aspects of the program; however, Booth’s academic autonomy truly sets the program apart from its peers. Booth allows me to craft a precision guided MBA, acutely tailored to my unique requirements and allowing me to explore parts of the business environment that I haven’t been exposed to before, all at my discretion.  Booth was the only school I researched that respected each individual’s needs in this manner.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I believed strongly at the start of my search that whatever program I chose needed to be aligned with my values as a person and a leader. Booth quickly emerged as the natural fit for me early in my research. When I read Booth’s mantra that “ideas compete, and people collaborate” it really resonated with me and my professional identity.   I also felt the Chicago Approach would give me the tools to solve complex problems that I would encounter in Naval service, outside of the traditional business school curriculum.  When my wife and I did a campus visit, we were so inspired by the sense of community among the students, and how genuinely helpful and friendly every student, faculty, and staff member was.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None. After I did a campus tour with my wife and I got to know more about Booth, I knew this was the program for me.  I put all my focus towards my first-round application; thankfully, my gamble paid off!

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Booth? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? Stepping into this program alongside such a diverse, experienced, and talented cohort, all driven to succeed and bought into each other’s collaborative success.  It is amazing.

It sounds silly, but for nearly my entire professional career I’ve put a uniform on at the start of the day.  Taking off the uniform for 2 years and stepping away from the Navy seems a little surreal.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school?v It is built into my professional ethos that we earn our place on the team every day, and that our work and training are never complete.  Who I am as a leader and teammate is not defined from a singular event, but from the habits, values, and experience built by years of effort and discipline in a high tempo environment. While returning to the classroom at such a rigorous school is daunting, I have full trust in these habits to carry me through the challenge of this program.


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