GRADUCon 2019 - Keynote Conversation: Career Decision Points


While most of GRADUCon is devoted to thinking more acutely about next steps within specific sectors and industries, the Keynote Conversation seeks to engage some bigger-picture topics related to careers and planning for professional life. Vice Provost Daniel Abebe will interview two distinguished alumni about their experiences beyond graduate school. They will look back on key decision points in their careers and will provide some perspective on what senior managers are really looking for when they hire advanced degree talent.


Margaret Mueller, President & CEO, The Executives’ Club of Chicago (MA Social Sciences 1997, PhD Sociology UNC 2002)

Margaret Mueller is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Executives’ Club of Chicago, the city’s premier membership organization and business forum. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing Club operations and execution of over 60 programs annually. As CEO, she is responsible for engaging with the Chicago business and civic community and other key stakeholders to promote the mission of the Club. After receiving her Ph.D. in Sociology, Margaret left academics to pursue a career in market research and brand strategy.  In 2012, she launched “CarbonSix” into one of the most successful Health and Wellness strategic research firms in its space.  After helping bring the company to sale, Margaret facilitated a roll up of four companies into a single brand, “Shapiro+Raj.”  She later took the helm as President of Shapiro+Raj in 2016 and was instrumental in a significant transformation and reinvention of the firm into what is now the sixth largest independent insights company in North America. Margaret has guest-lectured and taught graduate business courses at top schools such as University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago, and has appeared on various media outlets speaking to issues such as consumer sentiment, marketing trends, and the economy.

Rene Mora, Chief Scientific Officer, SVB Leerink (MD/PhD 1989)

Following the completion of medical school at Pritzker School of Medicine, Dr. Rene Mora, PhD’88, MD’89, has been an exemplary volunteer. Mora was the founding member and first president of the New England Life Sciences Affinity Group and serves on the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Council and the Visiting Committee for the Biological Sciences Division. Outside of service to the University, Mora also serves with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts, A Better Education, the American Thoracic Society Foundation, and Little Compton Community Food Bank. Beyond dedicating his time to volunteerism, Mora finds time to enjoy reading, music, wine appreciation, gardening, running, cycling, and swimming. Mora currently works for LeerInk, combining his understanding of the intersections between science, medicine, and finance. He hopes to bring this experience to his service on the Alumni Board as he represents the Biological Sciences Division.


Daniel Abebe, Vice Provost and Harold J. and Marion F. Green Professor of Law, University of Chicago (PhD Political Science 2013, JD Harvard Law 2000)

As Vice Provost, Daniel is responsible for UChicagoGRAD, including the Chicago Center for Teaching, providing faculty leadership for this important resource for our graduate students. In addition, he oversees such units as the UChicago Press, the University Library, and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. Daniel also manage academic compliance matters, including academic fraud, conflict of interest and conflict of commitment, and accreditation, and work with divisions and schools to enhance master’s programs. Daniel’s scholarship focuses on the relationship between the constitutional law of U.S. foreign affairs and public international law. His research has been published in the University of Chicago Law Review, the Supreme Court Review, and the Virginia Journal of International Law in the areas of foreign affairs, human rights law, international institutions, and institutional design. He has also written about international water law, China and climate change, and cyberwar. Daniel’s current research projects include examining the President’s authority to withdraw the U.S. from a treaty, evaluating ethnic federalism as a form of constitutional design, and considering the impact of dejudicialization in international politics.