CLUES TO KELLOGG’S FUTURE DIRECTION.
Though not yet ready to articulate a new vision for Kellogg (“You never want to be ahead of your faculty,” she says), the new dean drops plenty of clues. They include:
* A greater focus on organizational renewal and growth. “If we knew how to do that, the Fortune 100 wouldn’t turn over as much as it does,” she says. “We need to understand how to build truly robust organizations.”
* A renewed effort on global business. “Higher education,” she says, “is the last industry to globalize. Our heart and our soul still resides in our home campus, but if we are truly going to prepare people for a global world, we have to develop a much more global mindset. Right now, to the extent business schools do global, they send people out to teach. We have to think about how we can do research across the world and how to do truly provide students with a real global perspective.”
* An increased emphasis on social enterprise. “The conversation is beginning to suggest that we shouldn’t only organize around consumer wants and maximizing profits,” she says. “Maybe we should organize around consumer needs and the ability to generate enough revenue to meet those needs. A lot of people in this young generation are interested in generating revenue about consumer needs and not just wants. This is again a nuance of our culture that we are going to craft over the next five to ten years.”
Blount thinks that business schools have focused too much on markets and not enough on people and organizations. “I personally believe that business schools have overemphasized the study of markets,” she says. ‘We are also about the study of management which is building effective organizations. It’s effective organizations that create jobs and participate in markets in productive ways. I am a big believer that we have to invest in organizations and talk about the power of them. Management matters. It gives meaning to life. It’s what you talk about at the dinner table when you’re at home. It’s not just the market and what price the market says something is worth. If we can change the dialogue, I hope the world will be a better place for it.”
DAUGHTER OF A BELL LABORATORIES’ PHYSICIST.
When Blount addressed Kellogg’s incoming MBA students this fall, she was able to tell them that she had been in their shoes 22 years earlier. That is when she arrived on campus to study for her Ph.D. in management and organizations. Her father, a Bell Laboratories physicist, may have influenced her early academic choices. At Princeton University, where Blount earned a joint bachelor’s degree in engineering and public and international affairs, she began working with a professor over the summer months. “I loved the intensity of the school year and the reflection during the summer months,” she says. The experience opened her up to the idea of an academic career.
First, after graduating from Princeton in 1983, she went to work for a design and architecture firm. She also did a stint as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group. Then, in 1988, she came to Kellogg’s Evanston, Ill., campus for her Ph.D. “I had a kid after my first year of graduate school and another in my third year and graduated in my fourth,” she says. With her Kellogg doctorate in 1992, she joined the faculty of rival Chicago Booth School of Business. For the next ten years, she buried herself in research to get tenure.
Ultimately, New York University hired her away from Chicago in 2001 as a full professor with tenure. Three years later, Blount was named dean of NYU’s massive undergraduate college, with 2,300 students, and vice dean of the school. During her tenure there, Blount set fundraising records at the college, securing its first-ever $15 million gift, and led the college to become a recognized innovator in undergraduate business education. Under her leadership, the average SAT score of the entering freshman class increased by nearly 50 points, and student participation in global semester study abroad rose from 25 percent to 75 percent.
INITIALLY, SHE HAD NO INTEREST IN THE KELLOGG JOB.
She had been in that job for nearly six years when the telephone rang. Originally, says Blount, she had no interest in the Kellogg job. She felt both happy and fulfilled at NYU and fortunate to work for university president John Sexton. “Not many John Sextons come along in a lifetime,” she says. “He gave me a model for how to dream big and make change happen.”