2023 MBA To Watch: Samuel Ramil, University of Chicago (Booth)

Samuel Ramil

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Passionate about technology, physical fitness, learning, and service.”

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii

Fun fact about yourself: I once flew in an aerobatic airplane with a Royal Air Force pilot, who let me fly the plane briefly. He told me I had potential as a pilot, but after a few stomach-churning loops and rolls, I realized how much I like my feet firmly on the ground.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Hawaii at Manoa, Finance and Accounting (double major)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Communications Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Newlin Ventures in Chicago

Where will you be working after graduation? To be determined. I’m still seeking an investing role in venture capital.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-leading a Random Walk to Ghana for a group of incoming first-year MBA students.
  • Co-leading Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital (EVC) Group’s 2023 Venture Capital Trek to the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Co-Founder / Co-Chair of the Booth Low-Income / First-Generation Group.
  • Admissions Ambassador / Mentor for the Booth Armed Forces Group (AFG).
  • MBA Ambassador for Service to School.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of my volunteer work as an Admissions Ambassador for the Booth AFG and with Service to School, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that helps veterans and transitioning service members with undergraduate and graduate university applications. Initially, I struggled to navigate the business school application process. Knowing the time and effort I spent, I wanted to help veterans, who often have not had professional roles outside of the military, translate their experiences for business school applications. Mentoring servicemembers can take time to educate them on different corporate career paths and how business school fits into their longer-term goals. However, it’s rewarding to learn about someone’s unique story and help them strategize their career path. It has been incredibly fulfilling to hear that several people I’ve mentored eventually interviewed with and were accepted into top programs.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The most memorable professional achievement for me was my first Marine Corps exercise, a two-week, large-scale exercise called Steel Knight. During Steel Knight, I worked as a communications control center watch officer for the 1st Marine Division. I was one of four Marine officers who oversaw and coordinated the entire communications network for the ~5,000-Marine exercise. I had recently graduated from an introductory communications course and was still learning my role, so “drinking out of a firehose” felt like an understatement.

I quickly had to learn different radio, networking, and satellite systems, which units operated them, and their individual importance to the broader network. I tracked the real-time status of the communications equipment, worked with different units to solve issues as they arose, and briefed the Division general’s staff of significant events. Over the two weeks, I helped coordinate communications across three military bases and eight major units within the Division. The experience profoundly affected how I thought about communications going forward and how a failure to coordinate would drastically affect the broader mission we were trying to accomplish. That became clearer to me during the pandemic when communications technologies helped us maintain business while socially distanced. Later, I decided to come back to the business sector to explore how I could advance similar innovations.

Why did you choose this business school? There are so many great reasons to choose Booth, but I chose Booth because of the people. I had narrowed my choice based on my growing interest in venture capital. However, what set Booth apart was that everyone with whom I interacted – from current students and alumni to my future potential classmates – were simply amazing human beings. Because I applied during the pandemic, I could not visit schools. So, I made an effort to talk with as many people as I could at the schools to which I applied. Whenever I spoke to people from Chicago Booth, I felt like I “fit,” like these people were my tribe. In addition, the pay-it-forward culture is real. During the application process, so many people took time to share their experiences of Chicago Booth with me. Fellow veterans in the AFG helped me with essay advice and mock interviews. When I got into Booth, one student who heard I was looking for an apartment connected me with others who became my roommates.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor has been Scott Meadow. Scott Meadow is a clinical professor of entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth. He teaches Commercializing Innovation and Entrepreneurial Finance & Private Equity, both of which I have taken or am currently taking. He has years of direct investing experience in venture capital and private equity, and he intersperses real-life anecdotes about his past work with the theoretical frameworks he teaches. Learning Professor Meadow’s structure in assessing early-stage investments during Commercializing Innovation in my spring quarter prepared me for a venture capital internship. His method for modeling pre-revenue businesses was different than financial models I built as an investment banker, and now I have more quantitative tools at my disposal. It’s also clear he cares about his students. Professor Meadow offers one-on-one office hours, where you can ask him anything, and he takes time to remember each of his student’s names. At the end of the quarter, he gives an optional class on how to get into private equity and venture capital for anyone interested.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course was Impact Investing by Priya Parrish. Professor Parrish brings real-world experience to the classroom as the Chief Investment Officer and Partner at Impact Engine. The course digs into impact strategies, the nuances of measuring impact, and frameworks for assessing potential investments. Besides learning a ton about impact investing, the progression of the assignments made it feel like I was starting a fund with my study group. If I ever do start a fund, I can point back to this class as providing the structure for how to think about it. Overall, the course has influenced how I think about investing, and I hope to implement the course’s principles as a future investor.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? By far, my favorite tradition at Chicago Booth is Random Walk. Random Walks are trips around the world where incoming Chicago Booth students can meet and bond with their future classmates. In my first year, I traveled to Savannah, Georgia, with a group of people who became my rocks at Booth. Many of the people in RW Savannah are some of the best friends I have in the MBA program. Many of us continue to take classes together or meet for lunches, apartment parties, dinners, and friendsgivings. Recently, the group organized a baby shower for one person who is expecting. The second-year MBA students who led the trip were incredible and helped me with academic or career-related questions, even to this day. Because I had such a great experience, I applied to be a Random Walk leader and was able to co-lead one to Ghana. Once again, I had an absolute blast and had the privilege of getting to know a group of remarkable first-year students.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One of my few regrets about my MBA experience was not developing deeper relationships with my professors and getting to know them personally. Many professors offer office hours and one-on-one meetings, and there are opportunities to meet professors in a social setting, such as Booth’s Liquidity Preference Function (LPF) or other informally organized happy hours. In the few times I have gone to talk to a professor, I’ve always come away grateful that I did. They take time to listen, help me think through my questions, and challenge me to be better.

What is the biggest myth about your school? When I first drafted my list of schools during applications, I initially didn’t consider Chicago Booth because its finance and quantitative reputation made me think it was lacking in social aspects. In fact, I couldn’t have been more wrong. From apartment parties to exploring Chicago’s extraordinary food scene to international travel, there is no end to opportunities to meet people, build relationships, and have fun.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? There’s so much to love about Chicago, but one thing I particularly appreciate is the lake shore. One of my favorite ways to unwind is by going for a jog, and there are roughly 18 miles of lakefront trail. While I haven’t run the entire lake shore (yet), I appreciate that the city maintains the trail very well, even plowing the snow during the winter for those who enjoy (suffer through?) outdoor winter jogging.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by the quality of class discussions. It speaks to the quality and diversity of Booth students’ work experiences and backgrounds. I appreciate learning from my peers and their perspectives on the subject matter. In some case discussions, I was surprised to find out that people in my class had actually worked at the companies involved and were able to add an insider’s context to the course materials.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? One thing I think I did well was drawing a direct line between my personal and professional experiences with my stated career goals and articulating tangible ways Booth would help me achieve those goals. For each class, student group, or intended contribution to the Booth community, I related how my participation would help me in my career.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I greatly admire Carlos Peniche. I had the pleasure of first getting to know Carlos when we were in the same Commercializing Innovation study group. Not only did I find out that Carlos has some serious financial modeling and analytical skills, but I also learned the depth to which he is involved in the Booth community. Carlos balances leading two student groups (Latin American Business Group and Wine Club) as a co-chair with representing the ~65 people in his cohort to Booth’s Graduate Business Council. In addition, he was a LEAD facilitator, teaching team-building and communication skills to two cohorts of first-year students. Finally, and most importantly, he’s a dedicated husband and father. When I think of the model student at Chicago Booth – incredibly smart, thoughtful, hard-working, yet humble and warmhearted – I think of Carlos.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Start something, either a for-profit or non-profit enterprise, from zero to one.
  • Influence a growing company as one of its board members.

What made Sam such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Sam was a top student in my Impact Investing class this past autumn quarter. During class, he worked collaboratively with his study group of part-time and dual-degree students. In addition, Sam is highly involved in the entrepreneurial and venture capital scene at Chicago Booth and has participated in several venture-related internships and experiences. During the same time as our class, Sam was also involved with the Chicago:Blend venture fellowship, where he connected with venture capitalists, including members of my firm, Impact Engine. His diverse experiences showed when he and his fellow classmates presented his group’s final project about a hypothetical fund providing debt financing to agriculture companies in the Midwest. It was a pleasure to teach him, and I look forward to his future success!”

Priya Parrish
Chief Investment Officer and Partner, Impact Engine
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Strategy, Chicago Booth


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