By Tyler Benavides (Marketing, ’19)
Team Chaplin (now QuanTâm) is a name business professors and students have heard throughout the last few years. The team is led by Professor Lan Nguyen Chaplin, who was selected by Poets & Quants (the most read news website on business programs with 100 million visitors) as one of the Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professors.
Professor Chaplin selects students to join the high-performing team, as well as who can come back next semester. Her selection criteria includes professionalism, resiliency, strong work ethic, self-motivation, creativity, kindness, and most importantly, having GRIT! Students can make straight A’s, but if they are unkind along their way to achievement and unreceptive to criticism, she will not invite them. She has high expectations, but fosters a family-like environment to provide the support for students to dare to challenge themselves. With the semester winding down, Professor Chaplin will be onboarding new students soon.
Professor Chaplin has been building a strong and compassionate team. In an effort to test the skills of the students, Team Chaplin has rebranded into “QuanTâm,” and it is time to reintroduce the team.
QuanTâm began as Team Chaplin five years ago. Professor Chaplin built this team out of several students that came to her office hours to seek career advice. The team was informal and unstructured, with its main purpose focused on professional development. As the semesters passed and new groups of students made their way in and out of her classroom, she expanded the team. Structure was built and the students she now handpicked for the team vocalized what they wanted this group to be, what they wanted to learn, and what they wanted to accomplish. Professional development workshops took on a formal setting and became mandatory. Topics like transitioning from the classroom to the boardroom, women in business, and personal branding were discussed in depth. Community service projects were introduced. The Fall semesters became dedicated to partnering with Cradles to Crayons, a nonprofit in Chicago that helps low-income and homeless children throughout the city. The Spring semesters led the students to the doors of businesses across Chicago, asking for donations of food and personal care items for the creation of care packages for the homeless people. It was in Spring 2018 that Professor Chaplin wanted Team Chaplin to rebrand to bring her students to the fore. She trusted her team to develop a new brand and logo. After all, the team is comprised of marketing students.
The team changed its name to represent one of its core values. “Quan Tâm,” in Vietnamese (the roots of Professor Chaplin), means to do something with heart and to pay attention to small details. Pronounced like “Quantum,” the team is also high energy. This name, QuanTâm, is the perfect name for the team, and creates a powerful brand to build and authentically represent who the team is. That goes for their civic engagement and for the bonds they have built with each other and with Professor Chaplin.
With these values and practices, QuanTâm has sought out to make the lives of the homeless and poor a little easier, and as a consequence, many team members have found something bright within themselves from helping others. The leader of QuanTâm, Laura Nicolescu (Marketing ‘18), describes what the team means to her, “Joining this team made me hit the reset button on my life, allowing me to become the person I was meant to be.”
Even alumni of the team still benefit from what they learned as an active member of what was then Team Chaplin. QuanTâm is designed by Professor Chaplin to teach “real world” skills and values that are used in the workplace. Some of these skills are organically learned as the team goes through the service missions, and others are imparted from Professor Chaplin during professional development workshops. Sierra Saulsberry (Marketing ‘18) shares, “Being a part of Team Chaplin helped me gain the confidence to walk into meetings knowing that I belong, and what I have to say matters.”
“My main takeaway was the overarching importance of teamwork. I learned how to work with a team effectively in order to exceed expectations and expected results. Communicating and being transparent with team members was a key to success then and it is like that now in my career,” states Alan Gomez (Marketing ‘18).
QuanTâm is granted a lot of freedom to experiment with new ideas. Failure is a frightening reality, especially when it comes to being on a team with such high standards, one where continued membership is not guaranteed simply based on tenure. On this team, members are expected to dare to challenge themselves, to fix their mistakes, and not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. Professor Chaplin also takes the time to share her mistakes so the team can learn alongside her. This shapes everyone to embrace the reality of imperfection, and to grow from it.
This team sounds quite complicated in its expectations and goals, but this is only the surface for every team member’s day-to-day life. Every member juggles multiple projects and work outside of QuanTâm, further reinforcing the skills of time management and having a strong work ethic. Several students work 35 hours per week while holding leadership positions on this team and other organizations, some have internships and long commutes, and some have an overloaded course schedule along with a combination of anything mentioned previously! All members have demonstrated to Professor Chaplin that they can manage their work and the team’s work in a manner that inspires everyone.
The team’s impact on its community is on the rise. The number of Professor Chaplin’s current students that are intrigued by QuanTâm has increased. Resumes are emailed to her, students reach out to the QuanTâm social media, or find team members around campus to express their interest in joining. Ultimately, QuanTâm has solidified its place here at UIC; there is no doubt about that. There are many ideas about what will come next for QuanTâm floating around between current team members, alumni, and Professor Chaplin herself. Robert Grilli (Marketing ‘17) shares, “The team not only physically, but mentally prepared me for the future, specifically by opening up a new perspective of life that I had not realized before. I want everyone to feel this way, so I would love to see the team become more of a staple at UIC than it already is, and maybe one day, QuanTâm can help others not just in Chicago, but around the world.” Allan Rodriguez (Marketing ’18) says, “I want QuanTâm to become a household name that people on campus admire.”
It looks like QuanTâm’s reputation is on the up and up. The team, including graduates from 2015, enthusiastically continues with its civic engagement, and there is a new wave of QuanTâm members to be inducted in just a few weeks. The team continues to grow but Professor Chaplin, a branding researcher, is cautious-- “We’re a young brand. We can grow very quickly, but I’m not in a hurry. I want to preserve the integrity of our brand. For now, I’ll increase the number of members by having a larger alumni base, rather than onboarding a large number of new members. I’ll also trust the team to increase our social media presence to allow members to have ownership over our growing brand.”
So, keep your eyes open for QuanTâm on campus, in your community and on social media . . . this is a team to watch!