| | Zac Bleicher MBA Candidate 2012
Q & A with Zac...
- What prompted you to return to school to achieve your MBA?
After seven years in the field, I decided that I was ready to learn more about the details of business management. My academic background was steeped in liberal arts, and I lacked a foundation in economics, accounting, management theories, and other important business-related studies. Essentially I was tired of not being able to fully understand the "business conversation."
- What was the most important factor for you in choosing an MBA program (or factors you considered)?
To me, location and value were the most important factors. I wanted to stay in Chicago and attend a school where I would network with students who would be most likely to stay within the Chicagoland area after graduation, and I also wanted to get a good, affordable education so that I wouldn't need to "sell my soul" after I was done just to pay off my student loans.
- Why did you choose UIC Liautaud for your MBA?
It is a center-city campus with access to everything Chicago has to offer. There is a great alumni network of down-to-earth professionals who are candid with current students about their professional stories and can help you chart your own path. The faculty is strong, the price is half of that of the private business schools in the area (in-state tuition), and the student body comes from a variety of backgrounds, both domestic and international, bringing much-needed diversity to a graduate pursuit that often breeds conformity.
- We all know that people pursue the MBA to increase their business knowledge, but since you have started the program, what has been the most unexpected gain the MBA has given you?
I have learned that business school is absolutely nothing like what I expected, and that there is much value in a business education, especially in today's world. Instead of being stuffy and overly theoretical, I have found it to be quite applicable to everyday life. I have also found the student body, at least at UIC, to be quite worldly.
- The UIC Liautaud MBA professors are continuously involved in researching new business trends and innovations. How have you felt the professors have been able to integrate their theoretical knowledge into practical applications? Do you have any examples?
A great example of this would be Prof. Shelley Brickson and her class Leading for Impact. In this class Prof. Brickson introduces students to her theory of organizational internal and external relationships, and whether they are individualistic, relational, and/or collectivistic. Using countless examples in readings, cases, and videos, she proves that there are fundamental organizational relationship mechanisms, and that these mechanisms can be harnessed depending on the type of culture one desires in a particular company.
- Which class/professor has been your favorite thus far and why?
Again, Prof. Brickson, and her Negotiations class, is probably the best class in the program. What at first sounds like a wishy-washy course, where one "learns how to negotiate," turns into an all-out immersion in altering one's thought process when it comes to not just direct negotiating, but indirect negotiations where we don't always assume we are negotiating at all. Prof. Brickson is so engaging that almost the entire class participates each time one meets, and she encourages role playing so that one gets to test out negotiation tactics and see for oneself their efficacy.
- What is your favorite aspect of the UIC campus and why?
I like that it's centrally located near the heart of Chicago. It is easily accessible by train, bus, bicycle, or car. There is a lot to do around campus, from bars and restaurants, to art centers and performance spaces. It's also fairly compact, making it easy to get around.
- How would you define the Liautaud student?
Down-to-earth, friendly, experienced, inquisitive, fun
- What advice would you provide to incoming UIC Liautaud MBA students?
Research your classes and email professors before you show up on the first day. Have a sense of what you're getting into before you get blindsided. The truth is not every professor can be right for you, and not every course is exactly what was advertised in a one sentence blurb on the upcoming schedule. No one is more responsible for your education than you, so take the bull by the horns and make it the best experience you can with research, planning, and dedication.
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