Northwestern University

Dean Blount's Blog
Reflections on Kellogg, management education and life in the 21st century

 

The Wormhole to the New MillenniumThe Wormhole to the New Millennium
May 7, 2012

Since the start of the new millennium, the world order has undergone a powerful transformation process. Rarely in human history has such a major chronological marker coincided with a decade of such deep social, economic, geographic and political upheaval. In fact, I’d argue that humankind has been through a virtual socio-economic wormhole since 2000. Read more...

Collaborative Introverts and Reflective Extroverts

Collaborative Introverts and Reflective Extroverts
March 2, 2012

As many people know, I often spend a few days in February at a retreat center at the edge of the Arizona desert. It is a simple place, a bit rustic, designed for people seeking solitude, reflection, wonderful desert views and good hiking. I had a great visit last week — it offered me an opportunity to step back after a busy and productive month. Read More...

ENVISION | KELLOGG

A New Day for Kellogg in the 21st Century Collaboration Economy
February 6, 2012

Since the beginning of this century just over 10 years ago, the world has seen startling transformations—economically, politically, socially, physically, technologically and culturally. The geopolitical power balance has shifted toward the southern and eastern hemispheres. Old ways of wealth creation have fallen away.

Read More...

Courage and Conviction

Passion, Conviction and Self-reflection
January 25, 2012

In my last blog post, I wrote about the high standards that my father pushed me to adopt as a child. As those who live and work with me know, his lessons took. Many would say that I am relentless in how I push myself and those around me. People often ask me why I take on certain issues. “You have a good job and good reputation – why not just coast a bit more?” Read More...

Courage and Conviction

Courage and Conviction
January 17, 2012

I recently had the privilege of being featured in a new book with my sister, Susan Blount, senior vice president and general counsel of Prudential Financial. The book, Courageous Counsel: Conversations with Women General Counsel in the Fortune 500, offers reflections from the first generation of female leaders in the field of law at Fortune 500 companies.   Read More...

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Life

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Life
January 16, 2012

Today we honor a brave man who broke boundaries and challenged convention with grace in order to make the world a better place.   Read More...

 

Kellogg Newsmakers2011: A Year of Conversations
December 29, 2011

What a year 2011 has been for our world and what a year for Kellogg…

Like many of you, I find myself reading year-end lists, synopses and commentaries. As I reflect, I am inspired and humbled by stories of triumph even among the tragedies and losses that our world has seen this year.   Read More...

Kellogg NewsmakersKellogg Newsmakers
December 14, 2011

In several recent posts, I’ve written about the dynamism of the Kellogg culture —something that is not only evident within our walls but radiates outward, making a positive impact on business and society at large. Consider just the last two weeks as members of our community have been honored and acknowledged for their contributions as they’ve moved markets, organizations and communities.
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Building for our FutureBuilding for our Future
December 7, 2011

Now that Kellogg has selected Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB) to design our new building, we’ve moved into high gear. We’re busy fostering detailed discussions among the Kellogg community about what the design needs to accomplish practically, while at the same time looking at the “built” world for ideas and inspiration for what we can accomplish aesthetically. Read More...

Thanksgiving Dinner for 630Thanksgiving Dinner for 630
November 29, 2011

Among the greatest traditions at Kellogg is our annual Thanksgiving dinner, which is open to anyone in our community who spends the holiday in Evanston. This year, 630 students, faculty, administrators, alumni, family and friends joined us at the Allen Center to celebrate. Jeff Muldrow, our amazing chef; Scott Hastings, our lead Aramark manager at the Allen Center;
and the entire Allen Center team produced a wonderful afternoon.
Read More...

A Week in the Life… A Week in the Life…
November 14, 2011

People often ask me, “What does a week in the life of Kellogg’s dean look like?” Truthfully, the weeks are all different, but what ties them together is that each one is always full of rich conversation — both within and outside Kellogg. Below are some highlights from last week. Read More...

7 Billion Plus One7 Billion Plus One
November 8, 2011

The world population hit 7 billion last week. There are ever more people, many of whom are living longer lives. Yet, ironically, it often feels like we have less and less time. Read More...

 

Exciting News to Close the WeekExciting News to Close the Week
October 21, 2011

Last spring one of our own, Professor Janice Eberly, was nominated to serve as the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy. Now, we are pleased to share that she has just been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Read More...

Making Peace and Motivating ActionMaking Peace and Motivating Action
October 17, 2011

The Norwegian Nobel Committee recently sent a powerful message to the world when it awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to three women. The written statement was quite clear: “We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.” I am in awe of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, who have taken on so much in environments far less supportive of women than I have experienced in my life. Read More...

September 12, 2011


As this week starts, I find myself feeling immense relief and gratitude. First, I am grateful that our country got through our 9/11/11 anniversary safely. In August 2001, I had moved back east to join NYU. On 9/11, I had just gotten off the PATH train from New Jersey and was walking through Washington Square Park to my office on Fourth Street when I saw one of the planes hit. Like many others, I have and know many poignant stories about what happened next. I still can’t talk about my own story without tearing up. This weekend, I found that I couldn’t watch any of the commentary on TV, as my mind still holds plenty of its own from that day. Read More...

Blame Game

September 2, 2011


As my friends and family clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and I read about the discussions that recently took place at the central bankers’ conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., I cannot help but reflect on how we, as humans, prepare for and deal with threats and disasters. Read More...

While in São Paulo, I had the chance to meet with 80-plus Kellogg alumni based in the region.
 
 

August 23, 2011


I was in São Paulo, Brazil this past week. While there, I had the chance to meet with 80-plus Kellogg alumni based in the region. I also participated in a meeting of the International Advisory Board for Fundação Dom Cabral, a long-time Kellogg partner in Executive Education. Read More...

Volatility and Psychology


The one thing that all of the economists I know agree upon is that we are in an era of increased market volatility. The errant notion of the “great moderation” has long passed. We all have deeper respect for the interconnectedness and uncertainty that comes from the markets, currencies, political turmoil and daily lives of the nearly 7 billion sentient beings who now occupy our world. On a simple numbers level, humanity confronts more complexity and uncertainty every day with each uptick in the world population. Read More...

Reflections on life, learning and lunch

July 26, 2011


Let’s be honest—the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling is not really a deadline. It’s hard to imagine that anyone in Washington is going to allow the U.S. government to shut down. This is about both sides using this moment, this punctuation point in time, to gain legislative advantage. Read More...

Reflections on life, learning and lunch

July 21, 2011


My 50th year has been a big one — not only symbolically, but materially. During this period, I not only returned to Kellogg to serve as dean, but also sent the last of my three children to college, moved away from the home in which I raised them, as well as from my sister and her family, and experienced the passing of two friends unexpectedly. Read More...

One Year Later
It’s hard to believe, but July marks my one-year anniversary as dean of Kellogg. This milestone has inspired a great deal of reflection as I look back on the past 12 months and look forward to where we’re taking Kellogg next.
Reflections on life, learning and lunch

July 15, 2011


I’m sitting on a rocky ledge on a small island a few miles off the coast of northern New England. Coming to the island has been a time for regrouping. I have caught up on sleep, spent time with old friends, enjoyed homemade bread, good wine and great views, and taken many walks. Between the salt air and the days full of exercise and laughter, it’s been a great time to recharge. Read More...

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. Read More...

Anything is Possible at Kellogg

March 30, 2011


Today I celebrate a year since being announced as the dean of Kellogg. It’s been a transforming, invigorating and hectic year. I have met so many incredible people connected with Kellogg who energize me every day, as we work to set our trajectory for 2030. Read More...

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. Read More...

Blount

March 16, 2011


I was in New York City last week, where I met with many Kellogg alumni and friends. We hosted our annual Kellogg IMPACT event that featured alumnus Pete Peterson ’47, former Secretary of Commerce, co-founder of the Blackstone Group and chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. I also had the chance to catch up with Judy Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program. Read More...

On a Culture Note

March 10, 2011


At Kellogg’s Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference last month, I learned that building a strong venture capital firm and a strong business school have far more in common than I ever realized. The conference had a terrific line-up of speakers. Kevin Efrusy was one of them. He’s a partner at Accel Partners, early investors in both Facebook and Groupon. Read More...

Reflections on Watson the Computer

March 1, 2011

The gap between human and artificial intelligence seems to be getting smaller. . .on Feb. 16, IBM’s “Watson” computer outsmarted two Jeopardy champions. A recent edition of TIME magazine explored our quest for human perfection and the rapidly emerging human-technology interface. And the current issue of Atlantic magazine reports the ever-closer results of the Turing Test—which determines whether a human or computer program can hold the most human-like conversation for five minutes. Read More...

The Six-Month Mark
It’s been a busy and enriching few months. As I reflect on our progress, I think of the Northwestern and Kellogg faculty, administrators, alumni and friends who have supported us at various points along the way.

February 25, 2011

Professor Harry Kraemer is about to publish a book on values-based leadership in which  he focuses on four principles, including the importance of self-reflection and balance. One of the things that I am doing to make sure that I get the balance right in this new job is to block a few days each quarter to get away—to leave work and Evanston behind. In the summer, it will continue to be the week-long silent retreats that I wrote about last August. At other times, the break won’t be quite as extended, but will still give me an opportunity to separate and reflect. Read More...

February 21, 2011

My most recent blog centered on conversations and key changes being implemented here at Kellogg. Now I want to focus on a different dimension of having “important conversations” to showcase how Kellogg community members add their voices into public dialogue. Here are three snapshots from the last couple of weeks on campus. Read More...

February 17, 2011

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been traveling more internationally and have had several great conversations with highly-placed alumni and advisors in global leadership roles. From those conversations, I have gotten a much keener sense for what they want and need from business schools and what they want and hope to see from Kellogg, in particular. They all love Kellogg. They have a deep passion and connection to the school. But there is a general sense across all of my conversations that Kellogg has an opportunity to reignite its spark—that gutsy, innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that first put us on the map. Read More...

Superbowl

February 6, 2011

It’s been an action-packed Sunday—a day of contrasts. I started out the day giving a morning lecture on the business model for sustainability at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago. Tonight I’ve just come from the nerve center of the Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review. Read More...


Davos

February 2, 2011

2011 has been an amazing year so far—from ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange with a group of our alumni from the financial sector, meeting one-on-one with former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson who was on campus to give a talk to our students, and attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Read More...


Davos

January 27, 2011

I am writing from Davos, where I am attending the World Economic Forum. It is humbling and such an honor to represent Kellogg and Northwestern — to be in the company of the world’s thought leaders from the public and private sectors as well as fellow academics. There are many from the Kellogg community here, including Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont (who is serving as co-chair of WEF), Shumeet Banerji, CEO of Booz & Company, and Gary Parr, vice chair and managing director of Lazard. Read More...

First 100 Days
These 100 days have flown by…I find myself deeply energized and excited by the challenges and victories that lay ahead. I’m feeling more convinced than ever about the critical role that business schools need to own and embrace in preparing leaders for the 21st century and the unique role that Kellogg can play in that task.

First 100 Days

November 11, 2010

These 100 days have flown by, and I have to be honest—I am still not fully settled in. The last of my boxes and furniture only arrived in Evanston last week, and my suitcase has been packed and on planes with me every week. But despite the frequent travel and hectic pace of the transition, I find myself deeply energized and excited by the challenges and victories that lay ahead. I’m feeling more convinced than ever about the critical role that business schools need to own and embrace in preparing leaders for the 21st century and the unique role that Kellogg can play in that task. Read More...

Temple

November 1, 2010

Well—the first 100 days are over. We marked the milestone with an incredible celebration on Thursday night in New York City. More than 500 Kellogg alumni gathered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the room housing the Temple of Dendur. That night, we lit the temple and the whole room purple—literally. It was a great evening. Read More...


Civic Opera

October 20, 2010

Last week ended with a whirlwind of activity—the Chicago alumni hosted a terrific welcome event for me at the Lyric Opera house on Thursday. More than 500 alumni attended with standing room only. We all enjoyed a performance of "Toreador Song" from the opera Carmen, I shared a few words and people connected over hors d'œuvres and desserts well into the night. The enthusiasm of the crowd for Kellogg and our next chapter together was so gratifying. Several alumni came up to me or wrote afterward—commenting on how much they enjoyed the event and want to engage as we work to take the school forward into its second century. What a powerful testament the turn-out was to the energy and vibrance of the Kellogg spirit.  Read More...

Leaders for the 21st century: In Evanston this week, we had a terrific first-time event where the community celebrated all of Kellogg's scholarship recipients.

October 13, 2010

I appeared on NPR’s On Point show today and had a wonderfully engaging conversation with Nitin Nohria, dean of Harvard Business School, and Rich Lyons, dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. We discussed business schools’ role in rebooting the American economy.  Read More...


Looking Back, Looking Forward

October 8, 2010

I had the privilege of attending the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. this week, where I caught up with two Kellogg CEO alumni—Ellen Kullman '83 at DuPont and Barb Hulit '91 at Fluke, a division of Danaher. I also sat in a conference session led by Warren Buffett, who was filled with his typical candor, wit and insight. At one point, he made the thought-provoking observation that he's been alive for one-third of the life of our country—a vivid reminder of just how comparatively young the U.S. is. Read More...

Exploring Global Plays for the 21st Century

September 30, 2010

The bustle continues—another week full of travel and meetings in Chicago, Evanston and other key U.S. cities. I met some terrific alumni at a dinner in Minneapolis on Monday night and held my first faculty meeting yesterday at the Allen Center. One of the questions that keeps coming up in all of my discussions, both on and off campus, is that of Kellogg's global strategy—what will it be? Read More...

Alive and Well

September 23, 2010

It’s been two busy weeks of meetings and community building with students and alumni since I last wrote. The energy and curiosity that is shared by these groups around our next chapter is palpable –triggering countless interesting discussions. Last week, I met with many of our students in small groups. Some of the stories I heard were quite extraordinary. For example, one of our students was a founding member of an after school program for underprivileged kids. Read More...

Reconciling Sustainability and Economic Growth

September 9, 2010

We drove my youngest child, Cameron, to college for the start of his freshman year on Saturday; then I spent the rest of the long weekend on final preparations for my big house move from New Jersey to Evanston on Tuesday. It was the end of a busy, bittersweet summer for Cam and me. We were both excited about the next steps in our lives, but also sentimental as we cleaned out and packed up our home of nine years. My goal throughout this process was to downsize and “de-material-ize,” to get rid of the non-essentials. Read More...

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. Read More...

Building Wider Bridges

August 26, 2010

In recent decades, many of the best professional schools have had a tradition of holding themselves somewhat separate from the university within which they were founded. In some cases, these schools bear donor names, like Kellogg and Wharton, that have allowed them to build strong brand identities that are quite distinct from those of their universities. Whether the schools had separate names or not, it is not an exaggeration to say that 20th century business school deans were often expected by key stakeholders to be “moat-builders”—protecting the resources of the school from the ever-broadening reach of the university. Read More...

The Power Retreat

August 19, 2010

This week, I’m staying in a room on the ocean overlooking the rocky northern New England shore. Apart from the beautiful view, the room is austere – only about 100 square feet with plain white walls. I’m at a Jesuit retreat center on a seven-day silent retreat (note that you’re allowed to write as much as you want; it’s just talking that is discouraged…). I’ve been making these retreats for four years now, and I was careful to negotiate time for this year’s retreat when I accepted the dean’s job last spring. But then last week I almost decided not to come, given the recent events with my daughter Haley and all of the people I still haven’t met and e-mails still to be answered at Kellogg. Read More...

It Takes a Village to Make a Dean

August 12, 2010

One of Kellogg’s less recognized, but clear, strengths is in its doctoral education and post-doctoral training. Consider my home department, Management and Organizations, which educates the faculty who teach management and strategy courses at some of the world’s best business schools. Students who join our department benefit from Kellogg’s broad-based approach that balances the study of management with the study of markets. Our graduates sit as tenured professors on the faculty of major business schools in the U.S. (e.g., Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Darden, Harvard, Stern, Wharton) and beyond (e.g., London Business School, Melbourne Business School, Rotman School in Toronto). I have personally benefitted from the power of this “Kellogg Network” at many points in my career. Read More...

August 10, 2010

After last week’s blog post, a friend forwarded me an article from Friday’s New York Times. It talked about the increasing popularity of Middle Eastern sites for student study abroad programs. She’d highlighted a great quote: "these are not the same kids who go bike touring in France.” In her note, she wrote, “That sounds like Haley." Read More...

Do More, Be More

August 5, 2010

I just got off the phone with Haley, my college-age daughter, who’s spending the summer traveling in Central America on a research grant from her college. She’s studying rural poverty in the region and the revolutionary movements it has inspired. In the process, she is visiting different types of farms, including some undertaking sustainable agriculture and eco-tourism projects. Read More...

Kellogg, Chicago and the World Stage

July 29, 2010

The best business schools typically benefit from proximity to a dynamic urban center. While I loved working in New York City for the last nine years, it is great to be back in Chicago, where I lived and worked for nearly two decades during the first part of my career. The lakefront, the Museum Campus and Millennium Park—it’s all so vibrant and lively. Read More...


A New Generation in Management Education

July 23, 2010

What a whirlwind this first week has been! Last Thursday, my first official day, began with a reception that was attended by literally hundreds of faculty and administrators who were there to greet me. It was exciting, and I felt so warmly welcomed. Then it was on to many meetings and time spent “walking the halls” on our Evanston campus, connecting with both familiar and new faces. Through all of my interactions, I have been constantly reminded of the unique culture and strong people and relationships that make Kellogg so special. Read More...

And So the Journey Begins

July 15, 2010

Twice in my life now, I’ve had the pleasure of saying "yes" to the Kellogg School at Northwestern— first as a graduate student and now as its dean. The first time was life-changing. I have no doubt that the second time will be as well. Both decisions were motivated by the same reason: Kellogg is a business school like no other. As a graduate student, I saw in Kellogg a school that was on the move, crackling with energy and dynamism. Intellectually, it was a place where I could combine doctoral study in psychology and economics and explore those topics with some of the best minds in the country. Kellogg's unique approach helped me to find my intellectual voice. Personally, I also benefitted tremendously from its distinctly collaborative and progressive faculty culture. Read More...

 



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