Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2020

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.

As with applications, Kellogg also dodged the plunge in international students that dogged many other business schools during the 2017-2018 cycle. 34% of the 2020 Class hails from overseas, just a point down from the past two classes. In addition, the percentage of U.S. minorities set another school record at 27%, making the incoming class one of the most diverse in Kellogg’s history.

Looking at the class’ backgrounds, they are remarkably similar to the previous year. The school reports that 50% of the class majored in business and economics, just a point higher than the previous year. The remainder of the class is broken into two segments: STEM (29%) and humanities (26%)…numbers that noticeably add up to 105%. Like the 2019 cohort, the largest bloc of incoming students worked in consulting. They account for 24% of the class – down from last year’s 27% share. Financial services represented another 19%, followed by technology and communications (13%), government, education and non-profits (9%), consumer products (8%), and healthcare (4%).

NEW LEADERSHIP, SAME DRIVE

Despite its Top 5 ranking, Northwestern Kellogg is an ascending program, with a momentum that’s represented by its Global Hub. Opened in 2017, the $250 million dollar, 365,000 square foot glass and steel masterpiece, is a monument to the work of Sally Blount, who recently stepped down as dean. Spacious and bright, the Global Hub features every amenity imaginable, from a fully-equipped exercise facility to gas-lit fireplaces in study areas. It is a place where students can bathe in the calming natural light and take in the beauty of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. The central plaza and atriums are also designed to spur “collisions” between stakeholders who normally wouldn’t cross paths – reinforcing the collaborative nature of the program.  Such interactions also reinforce the cross-disciplinary nature of the Kellogg experience – another hallmark of Blount’s tenure.

“The school feels like a different place,” observes Betsy Ziegler, the school’s chief innovation officer in a 2017 interview with P&Q. “The co-created, supportive, and innovative culture that Don Jacobs had created is still very much in fact, but it feels different. It feels like a place that doesn’t sit still. There is this relentless focus on getting better.”

Kate Smith, Kellogg Admissions Director

Replacing Blount, in the interim, is Kathleen M. Hagerty, a 30 year veteran of the program. Don’t expect the program to rest on its laurels during the transition. Notably, the program has been investing heavily in programming, with 30 new courses added over the past three years, says Kate Smith. This includes experiential-driven courses in areas like investment management, healthcare ventures, data analytics, social impact, business ethics, philanthropy, and virtual negotiations.

DOES THE MMM DEGREE REPRESENT THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS EDUCATION?

Despite the influx of new programming, Catalina Asmar, who’ll be returning to her native Colombia after graduation to pursue a career in sustainable energy, is looking forward to two of Kellogg’s best-known courses. “I am very excited to take New Venture discovery this fall,” she says. “This course allows students to work in teams to use business tools and techniques to translate a problem into a viable business project. I am also looking forward to taking Global Lab course in the winter quarter, in this course students get to work as consultants to international companies in a real business project. At the end of the quarter we get to travel to the host company’s country to present the project’s results. This is a great opportunity to learn more about a different company, industry, and culture.”

Along with beefing up programming, Kellogg has also laid claim to the Bay Area to enhance student networks and job prospects. We offer a San Francisco full-immersion winter quarter program for students with interests in entrepreneurship, technology or venture capital,” Smith writes. “As part of the three-month experience, students take courses with Kellogg faculty, pursue an internship for course credit with a venture capital firm or growth-stage company, and participate in frequent events to meet Kellogg alumni entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. We will be sending our third and largest cohort to the Bay Area this winter. Given that Kellogg students’ interest in tech careers remains strong, we’re excited to provide them with valuable internship exposure and networking opportunities with our large Kellogg alumni network on the West Coast.”

What was Kellogg’s allure for the Class of 2020? Charlotte Hamelin, for one, touted Kellogg’s accelerated, one-year MBA program, a 50 year-old program with 3,500 graduates that boasts high powered alum like Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson and Symantec CMO Emmanuel Kostas. In contrast, Miles Olson cites its dual degrees, such as the acclaimed MMM program, an MBA that is paired with a MS in Design Innovation from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“I truly believe it’s the future of MBA programs,” he asserts. “It’s one of the only programs out there that focuses on teaching professionals to operate at the intersection of the many different functions that touch a product – engineering, design, operations, marketing and finance, among many others… When we graduate, we’re going to be expected to wear many hats, and the MMM program stands out to me for its emphasis on creating whole-brain thinkers capable of managing everything from user-focused design research, to complex data-driven analyses, to elaborate execution plans.”

“MARKETING SCHOOL” LABEL MASKS PROGRAM’S MANY STRENGTHS

Alas, Kellogg does come with a certain reputation. Some have dubbed it a “marketing school” – a label that has stuck for decades. On one hand, the school’s marketing program is universally regarded as the best in the world. It consistently ranks first in U.S. News’ specialization ranking and makes headlines with its annual Super Bowl Ad Review. That said, it doesn’t represent reality, with just 19% of the 2017 class entering marketing. Even more, the label discounts the program’s many strengths, says Kathryn Bernell, a 2018 MMM grad and a member of P&Q’s Best & Brightest MBAs.

North of the plaza in Kellogg’s new global hub is a 7,800 sq. foot space called the Galvin Family Design Wing & Conference Center. Among other things, the wing includes four design studios: a company in residence studio, an artist in residence studio, a tech student where virtual reality-assisted brainstorming can occur and a makers space where design prototypes can be built.

“I have had some wonderful marketing classes. Truthfully, I have found my entrepreneurial courses and finance classes to be some of my favorite classes at school. The Kellogg finance department is rich with exceptional professors and courses; I even found myself in a Capital Markets elective and am currently in a thought leadership Finance class. Old reputations die hard, and Kellogg has an excellent Marketing program, but it doesn’t get credit for the robust offerings in their finance and entrepreneurial pathways.”

In recent years, entrepreneurship may be the area where Kellogg has made the biggest strides. One of the key drivers is the Zell Fellows program. Founded in 2013, Zell Fellows is a year-long, non-credit, fast track accelerator designed to help student entrepreneurs build businesses they can run after graduation. The 30 hand-picked students receive a $10,000 stipend to support their venture, not to mention free space and supplies and access to legal services and investors.

“We are also incredibly proud of our Zell Fellows Program, which is essentially a Kellogg incubator for students planning to launch businesses after graduation,” says Kate Smith. “We provide students with mentorship to help them not only operate their business effectively, but develop professionally as founders. Students have access to executive leadership coaches who focus on topics like developing emotional intelligence, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and building effective teams. To date, Zell Fellows have raised more than $92 million dollars in funding and awards and created more than 800 jobs by launching and leading companies.”

ZELL FELLOWS SEEK TO CREATE A “YPO-TYPE COMMUNITY”

Zell Fellows often act as sounding boards for each other, lending support and fostering accountability as much as supplying expertise to their peers. With alumni engagement part of the expectations for Zell Fellows alumni, the goal is to produce a network who’ll lend a hand to students who follow in their footsteps.

“What we’re trying to create is something not unlike a YPO-type community where if you are a Zell alum or student, there is no hesitation ever of picking up the phone and calling another Zell, knowing your phone call or email will be returned,” says David Schonthal, the program’s faculty director, in a 2018 interview with P&Q.

Zell isn’t the only path to entrepreneurship at Kellogg, however. Along with robust coursework, the school also operates the Levy Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with programming that includes writing business plans, prototyping and pitching investors. And there is more where that comes from adds Carr Lanphier, a 2018 grad and Best & Brightest MBA.

Kellogg students are defined by collaborating in teams.

“Kellogg has the best “resource-to-competition” ratio of the top MBA programs, and its programming is tailored to the needs of the next generation of entrepreneurs. From the Growth and Scaling Program (headed by Karin O’Connor) that is leading the evolution in Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA), to the Sales Institute (headed by Craig Wortmann, Kellogg is providing real-world opportunities and tactical, applicable skills (like the fundamentals of selling and how to manage a sales team) that entrepreneurs and small business owners must learn to be successful.”

“I HAVE A LOT TO LEARN”

That’s exactly what Braden Schrock is hoping to learn. Armed with a Kellogg MBA, he plans to return to the U.S. Navy and apply what he learns to making it more effective. “I’ve noticed during my career that the military suffers from certain problems that the private sector seems to have already solved,” he explains. “I’m at the perfect inflection point in my career where with added responsibility and authority, I’ll be able to create lasting change.  The MBA has no equal in terms of flexibility and breadth of experience it offers; it can be applied in any leadership situation, in any industry.”

Katie Schwartz also hopes to make an impact? Her goal: “driving change in the male-dominated technology investing world” and boosting the number of women in the sector. Sable Worthy, already a successful media entrepreneur, plans to branch out by “writing and producing a television series centered on a friend group of young, high-powered LGBTQ people of color.” In Miles Olson’s case, he has plenty of ideas, ranging from running an early-stage tech startup to making advances in areas like machine learning “more humane.” He admits that he hasn’t figured it all out – and that’s exactly why he came to Kellogg.

“I have a lot to learn. I can’t wait see how my self-awareness, vision and direction evolve over the next couple years.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates. 

StudentHometownAlma MaterLast Employer
Catalina Asmar Barranquilla, ColombiaUniversidad de los AndesPromigas
Yasmina Maria Andrea ChalhoubPlano, TXUniversity of Texas at AustinOracle
Eric DoddsNew York City, NYPrinceton UniversityRossoff & Company
Miles OlsonCerritos, CAU.C.-BerkeleyWilliams-Sonoma Inc.
Charlotte HamelinParis, FranceESCP EuropeRoche France
Justin HendrixLondon, UKAmherst CollegeBain & Company
Braden SchrockFarmington Hills, MIUniversity of MichiganU.S. Navy
Katie SchwartzAtlanta, GAPrinceton UniversityCrosslink Capital
Ricardo SuárezCaracas, VenezuelaUniversidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB)Evolvere Capital
Sable WorthyLos Angeles, CAYale UniversityGetWorthyMedia.com

SEE THE ENTIRE MEET THE CLASS OF 2020 SERIES