Northwestern University
Dean Blount's Blog


Reflections on Life, Learning and Lunch
April 22, 2011

I’ll be stepping away from blogging for the next few weeks as it’s an extra-busy time. Reunions, graduations, trips to San Francisco, Kansas City, Houston, New York, and Asia, and I’ve agreed to host an academic conference here on campus on the study of groups and teams.

But before I do, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on these last three months—which have been a deep growth phase for me as a manager and leader. Coming off of my fall listening and data gathering tour, we have set an aggressive 18-month agenda for Kellogg. It includes designing our new lakefront business campus, crafting a major capital campaign, reorganizing our administrative operations, repositioning our brand, and initiating a five-year strategic plan.

In teeing up this agenda, I have been challenged to grow in ways that I never imagined or thought possible. When I reflect back on the progress that we have already made, I find myself feeling grateful to the Northwestern and Kellogg faculty, administrators, alumni and friends who have stepped up to help us on these tasks.

Building a network of trusted advisors

First, my thanks to the small handful of faculty and seasoned executives, some Kellogg alumni and some not, who’ve become my trusted advisors—willing to meet one-on-one, offer me encouragement, frank feedback and wisdom. Their generosity of spirit and time has meant the world to me. From these men and women, my new watch-word has become leverage—as in, how can we work creatively to find the resources that we need to pursue our ambitions. With their partnership, we’ve come up with some inspired solutions.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

If you’re an alum, beware of inviting me to breakfast or lunch, as my mantra for each interaction is, “How can I engage this person in helping us move Kellogg’s agenda forward?” So my second round of thanks goes to the many Kellogg alumni who’ve said yes to my requests to serve on task forces, undertake pro bono consulting projects, forge new corporate partnerships and host small group dinners on behalf of Kellogg. What we’ve been able to accomplish in the last four months is just stunning. I am feeling awe and gratitude for the power and impact of the Kellogg network.

Life’s wonderful surprises

Which gets me to my last point—my deep thanks to the administrative team that we’re assembling here at Kellogg, including some seasoned and some new members. It’s been a delight to meet all of the incredibly talented people who’ve been put in my path, people who care deeply about the future of our school. It is an honor and a privilege to go work each day. I love the energy and inspiration—the brainstorming sessions, the probing questions, the babies, the engagements, the tough dialogues, the quick wins, and the times when we just sit back and laugh.

My thanks to all as this wonderful journey continues . . .

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