Northwestern University
Dean Blount's Blog
  Here I am welcoming our full-time students
  Here I am welcoming our full-time students

Meaning Making
September 2, 2010

The school year is upon us! On Monday, we welcomed 598 new full-time MBA students to Kellogg and 66 new executive MBA students. Last Saturday, 97 new part-time students began. The Evanston and Chicago campuses are abuzz—the energy is palpable and pervasive.

Salman Amin, Kellogg ’85 and executive vice president of global sales and marketing at PepsiCo, joined us on campus and gave a very compelling speech to our full-time students as part of their opening activities. He reflected on the life journey that led him to his current role—one that didn’t necessarily unfold as he would have predicted. He discussed how we all need to learn to accept failure and how one’s response in its wake matters more than the failure itself. You can read Salman’s reflections about these themes in his company's blog.

Prior to his remarks, Salman and I met over breakfast, where we spent much of our time discussing PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose” program. We both agreed that the issue of finding meaning in one's work is one of those enduring themes that seems to fade in and out of popularity with the guru book writers. But it is something that is very important in our increasingly mobile, technology-driven, global society where the stimulation of feeling connected can sometimes overtake attention to true substance. Salman made the interesting observation that the current call for "authenticity" in our leaders seems to reflect this underlying need to reconnect with meaning.

Full-Time Kellogg Students  

This week I joined the Washington Post’s On Leadership Panel as a columnist. In my recent comments, I reflected on how the best leaders understand and embrace their role in helping people to find meaning at work.

In my mind, much of management really is about meaning-making, giving our work lives purpose beyond profits. I hope that all of the eager, intelligent and ambitious students whom we welcomed this week leave Kellogg with a deeper sense of meaning—around why we create and grow companies, products and profits and why paying attention to meaning at work matters.

I welcome your comments, feedback and ideas at

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