Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Spring 2009Kellogg School of Management
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The Chookaszian Prize: A 'great opportunity for an MBA student'

By Amy Trang

Northwestern University trustee Dennis Chookaszian has focused on risk management for most of his career.

As a former chairman and chief executive of CNA Insurance and mPower, Chookaszian had to pay close attention to the potential downside of every business decision. Wanting to raise the profile of risk management in the academic world, Chookaszian endowed the $10,000 Chookaszian Prize in Risk Management at the Kellogg School in 2001.

Judged by Kellogg School finance professors Robert McDonald and Ravi Jagannathan, the prize recognizes the student or group of students who have written the best paper on financial risk management.

"The purpose is to foster creative thinking and insight in risk management and to promote a better understanding of the risks in business," Chookaszian says.

Winning papers have covered topics ranging from hedge fund portfolios to jet fuel hedging strategies. Last year's winning paper, written by Jay Viswanathan '08 and Brent Sacha '08, focused on the effects of trading options at the time of quarterly corporate earnings announcements.

"The Chookaszian Prize provides a great opportunity for an MBA student, because it allows him or her to pursue an in-depth interest in financial risk while helping pay for his or her education," Viswanathan says.

The ongoing financial crisis has intensified the focus on risk management, and Chookaszian hopes the  Kellogg student papers will lead to additional research on the topic. He would also like to see companies put more emphasis on risk management in their decision-making processes.

Chookaszian has served as a director and trustee of many academic, business and civic organizations, including the American Council of Life Insurance, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, Foundation for Health Enhancement and Boy Scouts of America.

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