Northwestern University
Dean Blount's Blog
The Market and Mother Nature
March 24, 2011

In Sunday’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman wrote that “the market and Mother Nature” are “the two most merciless forces on earth.” That’s an unusual and very powerful analogy, one that made me stop and reflect. Both create enormous abundance and wreak ruthless havoc on humankind. Both are capricious as to when and where they strike—sometimes with force, other times with subtlety. And both are powerful forces that humans work imperfectly to tame.

Last week I was in Mexico, a country that vividly exemplifies the harsh and disparate realities of the market. While there, I met with Kellogg alumni from all over Latin America, including Gloria Guevara, a 2009 graduate of our Executive MBA Program in Miami and Mexico’s minister of tourism. Gloria was our keynote speaker for Kellogg’s IMPACT event in Mexico City on Thursday.

Gloria is an impressive leader, and her current job is a tough one, especially in the current political and economic climate. In the course of her tenure, she’s had to address a slew of challenges, including the H1N1 outbreak and heightened border violence. Reinvigorating tourism, the third-largest source of income for Mexico, amid these challenges is all about harnessing market forces and managing the perceptions that underlay them. Only 80 out of Mexico’s 2,500 counties are currently experiencing the political difficulties that we read so much about in the press. Yet, the stories coming out of those 80 counties are having a disproportionate impact on tourism and the economy more broadly.

Mother Nature and the market clearly favor some regions and people over others, and the reasons are not always clear. Yet, I am proud to see how Kellogg alumni cross geo-political borders every day as they work to harness the power of markets and strengthen economies throughout the world. I was also proud to see Gloria, a Kellogg alumna who has crossed from the private sector into the public sector. As she told me, quoting former Dean Dipak Jain, it was her moment to transition her life from “one of success to one of significance.”


I engaged in many interesting discussions with our Mexican alumni. From left: Adolfo Autrey '70, Fernando Chico Pardo '76, and Miguel Ramirez Barber ’76.

  Gloria saw her transition from the private to the public sector as an opportunity to transition her life from “one of success to one of significance.”

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