Meet Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2019

To celebrate the building’s lakefront location, Kellogg’s new 415,000 square foot Global Hub pays pays homage to the environment in two ways – the curved exterior walls reflect the wave movement on the lake, while the glass reflects the blues of the water as well as the sky.


Two minds are better than one, as the cliché goes. In Kellogg’s case, brighter minds working towards a common purpose make the program all the more formidable. That’s the case with the Class of 2019, which produced an all-time high average GMAT of 732 – a four point improvement over the previous class. To put this average in context, it is two points higher than both Wharton and Chicago Booth, not to mention a full 10 points better than MIT Sloan. In fact, Kellogg’s incoming class ranks 2nd to just Stanford GSB (737) in the GMAT arms race. Even more, this average GMAT marks a huge leap for Kellogg historically. Just five years ago, the 2014 Class started up with a 708 average – nearly 25 points lower!

At the same time, the 478-member class mustered a 3.6 GPA, an average equal to Wharton and Chicago Booth.

42 is a common number in the 2019 Class. For one, the program received 42 more applications during the 2016-2017 cycle, going from 4,553 to 4,595. At the same time, the class maintained a 42% representation of women. This marks the 3rd straight year where over 40% of its class is comprised of women. For the 2nd straight year, 35% of the class hails from overseas, with U.S. minority students composing another 25% of the first-year class.

Academically, Kellogg skews towards business fundamentals, with 49% of the incoming class majoring in business and economics, up 4% over the previous year. Another 30% majored in STEM fields, with humanities-related majors taking up the rest of the class. The big difference, however, comes in professional backgrounds. This year, 27% of the class worked in consulting, up a noticeable 8% from the previous year (though more in line with the Class of 2017’s 25% share). Some of this difference fell on financial services (20%) and technology (12%), which each lost 2% over the 2018 Class. Government, education, and non-profits (7%), healthcare and bio technology (7%), and consumer products (6%) also make up substantive blocs of the 2019 Class.


You might excuse the Kellogg community if they seem like they suffered a case of whiplash. 2016-2017 could be described as a year of transition, capped by the opening of its 415,000 square foot Global Hub along the banks of Lake Michigan in March. A curvy glass-and-steel marvel defined by spacious walkways, rich natural light, and every conceivable amenity, the Global Hub replaces “The Jake” – a dark and cramped space that could’ve doubled for a John Hughes high school.

In the Global Hub (which cost $250 million dollars to build), students enjoy a breath-taking three story view of the Chicago skyline and the nearby glittering lake and tranquil lagoon. It includes tiered classrooms to accommodate any teaching style; design and tech studios for testing new ideas and launching businesses; roomy study lounges where students can relax next to a gas fireplace; terraces for students to absorb the cool lake breezes and comforting sunshine; a window-lined dining hall with menu fare ranging from supper club style meals to bistro sandwiches to pizzas; and a fitness center with enough bells-and-whistles to render a gym membership pointless.

More than that, the Global Hub was designed to amplify the “high impact and low ego” Kellogg culture. Notably, the layout is “excessively public” with wide plazas on the main floor designed to funnel students and faculty into spaces where they can easily see each other and interact. Such criss-crossing enables community members who might not normally mix to share ideas and collaborate – creating what the school calls a “culture of closeness.” “We are fundamentally transformative,” says Dean Sally Blount. “That’s what this building celebrates.”

Even more, it offers the Kellogg community greater flexibility than ever before, says Kate Smith, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at the school. “Our classrooms are equipped with telepresence technologies, for example, meaning that students at our Chicago and Miami campuses can beam in to participate in a classroom discussion, or that guest lecturers based anywhere in the world can give a talk. On floors two and three, the building has a 300-seat auditorium with a backdrop of Lake Michigan to the east and the Chicago skyline to the south. The venue will host CEO fireside chats as well as conferences and panel discussions that bring academic, business and civic leaders together from around the world.”

At the Global Hub, incoming students are welcomed by two hanging banners in the university’s trademark purple color that proudly announce the school is “Leading Bravely Into A New Era.” Gone is the formal oil portrait of legendary Dean Don Jacobs who had welcomed visitors to “The Jake” for years in a humble, low-ceiling vestibule. Instead, to the immediate right of the entrance at the Global Hub, there’s a new Don Jacobs wing.

The overarching goal of the Global Hub, adds Smith, was to enhance the program’s trademark “collaboration, creativity and team-based learning.” For first-years like Pasternack, it helped to synthesize and symbolize exactly what Kellogg stood for. “It is not only a gorgeous building, but is designed to reinforce Kellogg’s collaborative learning style,” she notes. “I’m excited to be able to fully take advantage of it over the next two years.”


The Global Hub may have made headlines, but that wasn’t the only big news that Kellogg made. Last year, the school also opened its San Francisco Winter Quarter Pilot – a boon to a program where over 20% of its graduates move to the tech sector. Over 10 weeks, students perform an internship, while completing three courses on scaling, innovation, and investment at Kellogg’s campus in the Bay Area’s financial district. In the process, students are exposed to both the startup and venture capital sides of the ecosystem, all while networking with Kellogg alumni in the area.

A quarter-long pilot is a rarity among business schools. According to Linda Darragh, the director of Kellogg’s innovation and entrepreneurship initiative, it gives Kellogg students a chance to test out what the market is like before they commit to it. “A good number of our students head out to the valley after graduating, and while some go to the large tech companies, many are interested in growth-stage firms and VCs,” Darragh tells P&Q in a 2017 interview. Being in the Midwest, we felt there was an opportunity for people to be out there in the winter quarter when companies are thinking about who to hire for internships and full-time jobs.”

The program comes with another advantage that students sometimes underestimate, adds Ruchi Jhaveri, a 2017 grad who ultimately landed a position with Uber as a strategic sourcing manager. “You really see the value of being here and going to a coffee chat or a conference,” she says. “Being here as a student makes everyone want to talk to you. It’s all very friendly.”


Kate Smith

Back in Evanston, Kellogg’s vaunted 1-year MBA program has grown, with the most recent cohort topping 130 students. The school’s KWEST program (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips) continues to rank among Kellogg’s defining events, as nearly 80% of first-years get a jump on networking and bonding over the summer on trips to lands as diverse as Chile, Egypt, and Rwanda. Initiatives like KWEST, says Christopher Aleman, the school’s assistant director of MBA admissions, reflect the truly global and experiential nature of the Kellogg MBA program.

“In your first course, you are going to realize you are in a class with students from 50 different countries all over the world,” he tells P&Q in a 2017 interview. “In your very next term, you have the opportunity to study abroad at one of the 37 partner institutions for exchange across 20 different countries if that is what you want to do for ten weeks. If not, you can take advantage of one of the classes that offer a global experience. One of the more popular ones is Global Initiatives in Management, which is an opportunity to go to a different part of the world and study a particular problem area in business.”

Along with the traditional favorites, Smith points out that the program is continuously broadening its academic by listening to students and integrating the newest research and best practices. This fall, she notes, the program has added several new courses into the curriculum.

“One example is The Economics of Energy Markets, taught by Professor Megan Busse. This strategy course will address supply and demand drivers in competitive energy markets, antitrust concerns, market power, and the rationale for economic and environmental regulations.  Another is Leadership Development Models and Practices, taught by Professor Bernard Banks, our Associate Dean for Leadership Development and a retired Army Brigadier General who formerly led West Point’s Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership. The course taps into the science of leadership to explore how leaders can develop their employees to realize their potential. Social Impact and Technology Innovation, meanwhile, is taught by Professor Megan Kashner and explores how corporate or mass-market technology is leveraged or adapted for social impact.”

Go to page 3 to see in-depth profiles of incoming Northwestern Kellogg MBA students.

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