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Such courses reflect the breadth of the Kellogg catalog – and perhaps dispel a certain stereotype about the program. For decades, the program has been regaled as the best MBA program for marketing. While the label reinforces Kellogg’s ongoing groundbreaking research and teaching excellence in the field, it can also serve as an albatross, confining the program to being simply a feeder program for consumer products groups. In reality, says Adam Maddock, a 2017 grad and member of P&Q’s Best & Brightest MBAs, it spotlights a deeper benefit to earning an MBA at the school.
“With over half of the students going into consulting or finance, it’s clear that the label is an antiquated remnant of a time when Kellogg put marketing on the map and introduced the concept of being customer-centric to the business school landscape,” Maddock asserts. “Dean Blount said it best during our first days on campus when she addressed being labeled as a “marketing school” by smiling and saying, “If people want to blame us for being customer-centric, it’s fine by me.”
Indeed, Dean Blount has plenty of reasons to smile. In the school’s most recent employment report, Kellogg grads enjoyed a 96% placement rate within three months of graduation, with starting pay packages rising to $139,747. Last week, the program knocked Chicago Booth, its south side rival, out of the top spot in The Economist ranking, thanks to high scores in student survey categories like personal development and educational experience, career opportunities, and alumni effectiveness – not to mention high placement in quant metrics like alumni salaries. In September, Blount wrapped up the school’s first capital campaign, raising $365 million dollars in the process.
NEW DEAN TO INHERIT AN IDEAL SITUATION
With momentum on her side, it was a surprise to some that Blount announced that she would be stepping down in 2018. It was a seven year tenure that was the envy of business academics – one that has solidified Kellogg place among the very best business schools.
“Under Sally Blount’s leadership, the school launched and recently completed a seven-year plan to transform Kellogg and the future of business education, including the construction and opening of a new state-of-the-art home for the school, reshaping its degree portfolio, recruiting dynamic faculty and staff, and setting records for fundraising and alumni engagement,” wrote Professor Jonathan Holloway in a statement. “We have appreciated her exceptional service, her collaborative approach, and her dynamic stewardship of Kellogg and are excited to have her leading the school for one more year.”
Dean Blount would be the first to tell you, however, that it was all a team effort. Not surprisingly, the Class of 2019 is imbued with that same team-driven spirit. For many, it was this spirit that led them to Evanston. Call the Kellogg MBA a true management boot camp, where ongoing teamwork trains students to clearly communicate with very different people; resolve conflicts before they dissolve trust and cohesion; identify ways to maximize strengths and mitigate weaknesses; and foster a welcoming yet disciplined environment that invites creativity, problem-solving, and accountability. At Kellogg, teamwork is like athletic training, where repetition – banding together every day – eventually hones students’ instincts and makes best practices second nature.
PRACTICE TEAMWORK EVERY SINGLE DAY
“You’re not just in one study group a couple times a week at Kellogg,” Merrick observes. “You’re doing it two or three times a day, so there is a frequency in which you are engaging in small group discussion and problem-solving. You have more practice at it because it is across every single course that we do.”
For Si, “business is about people” – and teamwork being the best simulation for the real world. After meeting with faculty, students, and alumni, Si recognized that the team dynamic at Kellogg was the same as the best experiences he enjoyed as an undergrad.
“At Notre Dame, everyone was smart and driven, but never made it a point to step on other people’s toes,” he reminisces. “Everyone helped each other out, both inside and outside the classroom. I loved being in this type of environment, because it not only motivated me to do well, but also gave me the opportunity to become close friends with some of my classmates.”
STUDENTS RUN EVERYTHING…FOR A REASON
The diversity of backgrounds – both professionally and culturally – only enhances the value of Kellogg students’ steady exposure to team dynamics. “It’s hard to explain how it works,” VanHoet concedes, “but Kellogg manages to facilitate this diversity in a way in which we all get along and learn from each other. The collaborative spirit and the way in which Kellogg embraces diversity extends beyond the classroom.”
This team ethos is essential in the Kellogg culture, where the entire experience is student-driven. All clubs and activities are completely run by students, with students having a voice in the curriculum as well. This ownership serves a purpose says Bernie Banks, an associate dean. It gives students the opportunity to take the reins and lead – and experience all of the responsibilities that come with it to accelerate their development.
“One of the advantages that we have at Kellogg is that our set of experiential activities is par excellence,” Banks stresses in a 2017 interview with P&Q. “At Kellogg, one of the differentiators is the extent to which students are involved in every aspect of the school’s operation. They will have, arguably, an unmatched set of opportunities relative to getting their hands dirty as it relates to leading others. That’s true whether it’s helping the school think about advances to its curriculum (such as enacting major programs) or doing those things that address student needs from a developmental perspective (such as joining the consulting club, being a member of student government or helping to organize and operate the orientation for new students).”
SETTING THE FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS
In other words, when something needs fixing, Kellogg MBAs are expected to step forward. As a result, students act as catalysts who can make a bigger impact sooner. This power, coupled with the program’s emphasis on teamwork and experiential learning, made a strong impression on students like Pasternack, who plans to invest heavily in the school’s Analytical Consulting Lab (where students partner with companies like Google and Nike on data modeling projects) and the Kellogg Board Fellows (a program where 50 students are selected to sit on local, nonprofit boards – a perfect bridge to building connections with Second City elites).
Looking ahead, the Class of 2019 has charted out an ambitious agenda for the coming year. For Vargas Amaral, 2017-2018 will be a year to lay the foundation. Her goal: “a clearer view of my strengths and weaknesses, and a structured plan to improve them.” Similarly, Annamalai defines a successful year as one where she has “taken a class that challenges my perspective and finding friends who challenge me to be a better version of myself.” Meanwhile, Feerick dreams of hoisting the intramural flag football trophy…and building a network.
For Pasternack, success would encompass all of the above. “Success after my first year would mean that I put myself out there and tried things outside of my normal comfort zone, built the foundation for lasting friendships, and developed a clear vision for what I want to accomplish in my 2nd year.”
To read profiles of incoming Northwestern Kellogg MBA students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.
DON’T MISS: THE PIONEERING MBAs OF THE CLASS OF 2019
|Sangita Annamalai||Saratoga, CA||U.C.-Berkeley||Doximity|
|Yu-chu (Valerie) Chen||Taipei, Taiwan||National Sun Yat-sen University||Nitto Denko Americas|
|Chuck Feerick||Fairfax Station, VA||College of William and Mary||Healthbox|
|Alyssa Forman||Cleveland, OH||Duke University||Kaiser Associates|
|Stephane Manuel||Miami, FL||U.S. Military Academy||U.S. Army|
|Shizuka Matsumoto||Nagoya, Japan||Waseda University||Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc.|
|Alyssa Pasternack||North Tustin, CA||Cal Poly San Luis Obispo||Zola|
|Richard Si||Ottawa, Canada||University of Notre Dame||Madison Dearborn Partners|
|Albert Soulier||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Florida International University||J.P. Morgan|
|Amanda VanHoet||Canton, MI||University of Michigan||Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Mexico|
|Eric Van Aelstyn||Seattle, WA||University of Southern California||Ant Farm|
|Arthur Vargas Amaral||Brasilia, Brazil||Universidade de Brasilia||Sintec Mexico|