Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Lilli Wang, University of Chicago (Booth)

Lilli Wang

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Continuously curious, an analytical thinker, an artist.”

Hometown: Munich, Germany

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m an expert IKEA furniture builder!

Undergraduate School and Major:
Barnard College, Columbia University; Political Science Major

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:
Dancer, Axons Dance Theatre
Founder and Director, L.L.K.G. LLC.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Chicago Booth’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? First, it was the flexible curriculum. Coming from a non-traditional background, I have what you can call a “self-taught ” business acumen; I’m excited to tailor my course selection to fill the gaps in my business knowledge while simultaneously pursuing my interests and challenging my weaknesses—all within my first year. Secondly, Booth’s world class faculty and their research is particularly inspiring. A big element in my decision making was the Rustandy Center, as it has produced some of the most interesting work in the social impact sphere. Being able to not only learn from the greats, but also hopefully be a part of the center’s work, made Chicago Booth the clear front-runner.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Chicago Booth? There are far too many to name! Any course taught by Prof. Marianne Bertrand—I’ve been following her research since I was an undergrad. I’m also really excited for Merger and Acquisition Strategy with Prof. Stephen Morrissette and the Art + Business Lab with Prof. Mary Ittelson. Outside of class I cannot wait to test out my skills on the slopes with the Ski Club!

What has been your first impression of the Booth MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Booth story so far.
The students and alumni are incredibly generous; to sum it up as simple “pay it forward” culture would be an understatement. Coming from a non-traditional background, an MBA was so far removed from my day-to-day in the world of dance that I would’ve never dared to apply, had it not been for a Booth alumnus reaching out and encouraging me to do so. Throughout the application process, I got to know countless Boothies who lent me their time and words of wisdom, while answering my questions, regardless of how busy their days were. They took interest in my story wholeheartedly, invested in me as a person, and were sincere in their words of advice. I can’t overstate how touched I am by the humility and generosity of the Booth community—earnestly, it’s a very special place.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? I was so very excited by Booth’s location in Chicago—a bustling city nestled along the shore of stunning Lake Michigan! Of course, access to a huge collection of impressionist art and the extraordinary city architecture doesn’t hurt.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Becoming a professional dancer. For me, dancing professionally was always a childhood dream; when faced with a “When I grow up I want to be…” worksheet in primary school, every time, without fail, I’d draw a ballerina. As I grew up, giving up on this dream became tempting as my body moved away from the specifications of the industry. Shaping your body to do things that are fundamentally unnatural takes extreme discipline over time, but allowing yourself to be emotionally and physically vulnerable in your profession takes a different type of determination. Fulfilling a childhood dream of mine was a simple accomplishment. Through the process, learning who I am as an artist, and as a human being, has been a far greater honor.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Columbia, NYU Stern, Dartmouth Tuck, LBS

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Chicago Booth’s MBA program? Be brave. Be true to yourself. It’s easy to feel the pressure and frame your application according to what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Truthfully, there is “no one size fits all”; share your most authentic self during the application process and trust that your skills and abilities will shine through. Being your true self can be scary, but don’t undervalue the qualities that make you your unique self. Trust.


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