Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Spring 2004Kellogg School of Management
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The 'Global Kellogg' strategy
The Kellogg School brand keeps growing in influence and reputation on the world stage. Hereís Dean Dipak Jainís plan to keep it that way

By Matt Golosinski

International business is more than an academic pursuit at the Kellogg School; it's also a strategic focus for Kellogg itself.

As Kellogg takes new steps to enhance its reach and reputation, brand management becomes especially important — and presents special challenges.

Dean Dipak C. Jain  
© Nathan Mandell  

Dean Dipak C. Jain recently shared his insights with Kellogg World regarding brand and the strategies being employed by the Kellogg School as it extends its global footprint.

Kellogg World: What is your global vision for the Kellogg School going forward?

Dean Dipak C. Jain: There are three fairly integrated priorities for the Kellogg School: to build the Kellogg brand and continue differentiating ourselves as a management school; to keep our alumni engaged with us — not only socially, but also intellectually with cutting-edge management concepts; and to build our global reputation.

Our vision is to have a presence in key markets, including Asia, Europe and Latin America. Our model of globalization was to identify regional partners with whom we could collaborate and develop programs jointly. My view of a global organization is one that operates on a global level, but in each market it's also perceived as a local organization.

KW: That seems quite challenging. On the one hand you have to adopt a specific approach that is effective for a particular market, yet you want to keep the brand identity intact and consistent across a wide geography. How do you do that?

DJ: You go with the local partner who understands the needs of the local market. For instance, we identified partners such as the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), which has a strong presence in Hong Kong and worldwide. Partnering with them, we bring state-of-the-art education, curriculum and faculty, and they bring their faculty and insights to jointly create a world-class executive MBA program.

In Europe we focused on the Western European segment, picking a partner in Germany with WHU-Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management. We were looking for a private institution because they seem slightly more entrepreneurial. That's important, because Kellogg's strength is working with an entrepreneurial spirit. We also wanted to pick an institution on the upward slope, rather than one with a rigid culture already in place, because for those institutions change is often more difficult. If the objectives of the two institutions are aligned — they want to grow, Kellogg wants to have a regional presence — the sum is then greater than the parts. This is the case with HKUST. We see a similar dynamic with other Kellogg partnerships, such as in Tel Aviv with the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business, and in Toronto at the Schulich School of Business.

  Dean Dipak C. Jain
  © Nathan Mandell

KW: For Kellogg, the heart of the brand is an unparalleled educational experience, and so this element must always be central, regardless of where in the world Kellogg partners. How do we maintain brand strength and consistency on a global level?

DJ: It's essential to remember that brand is not just a name or the logo or the physical structure. The brand is the quality of students we attract and the faculty who teach these students in these global programs. If you look at the profile of the people we have attracted, they are absolutely first rate, and these students eventually will build the brand by becoming distinguished alumni. Brand reputation in our business is about thought leadership, and we are expanding our global footprint in ways that ensure our moves are consistent and the results top quality. The brand should only get sharper and brighter over time.

KW: This sounds fine on paper, but are there examples where the approach encounters special difficulties?

DJ: Let's take Latin America as an example. You have Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, and Mexico as the major players. But these markets can be divided into the Spanish part and the Portuguese part. The moment you enter one, there may be repercussions in another because you have segments and subsegments. Also, given the economic environment in that market it's not clear if you want to establish one partner or multiple partners. There are advantages to multiple partners, because you integrate the region better. But we also know how difficult it would be to work with multiple partners.

KW: What are the special challenges of managing and extending the Kellogg brand globally, compared to some of the traditional packaged goods brands?

DJ: The similarity between the Kellogg School brand and other well regarded products or services is that the brand is a promise you make to your audience. Our promise to our students is to deliver the best intellectual experience they will ever have, not only while they are here, but after they leave, when they have the opportunity to tap into the resources of their colleagues as part of the expansive Kellogg network. Academically, also, over the course of their life, we intend to continue delivering valuable learnings to our alumni through executive education programs and other intellectual offerings.

With a typical product, a cola, for instance, you consume it, then discard the can. Our product is not just a one-time consumption. The value of our product emerges time and again, in many situations, where our graduates use what they have learned. The taste of a carbonated beverage may last two hours; our taste lasts for 50 years or more.

KW: Kellogg School — the brand that refreshes, renews and remains in perpetual motion.

DJ: Exactly. Our brand is really our students and faculty. We try to shape a consistency in the way our people work not only in the classroom, but in the world with others. We have a bigger challenge than a cola company, because every person who uses our product has a way to influence our brand. That person, in a sense, becomes part of the brand. And with every class adding to the brand, it thrives like an amazing plant that continually rejuvenates itself and keeps growing. So the challenge is how to manage this large, living brand.

KW: What is the way to manage under these circumstances?

DJ: Engagement with our alumni is key, and that is what we continue to do, finding innovative ways to build deeper relationships with all our valued alumni worldwide. This effort includes our broad variety of global offerings in non-degree Executive Education (special topics and general management) that provides senior executives with flexibility in terms of course choices and timing.

Dean Dipak C. Jain  
© Nathan Mandell  

KW: Why is it important for Kellogg to think globally?

DJ: We are in the business of knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination and knowledge certification. We need to ask ourselves how best to draw the right talents to help in this initiative. To us, talent is global and we must draw upon that global talent.

KW: Soon, if it hasn't become so already, it will be redundant to say "global market." If you want to be in management leadership education, will you have to think globally as part of your normal strategic initiative?

DJ: Absolutely, because you cannot say that the market is only what we find in the U.S. Look at what is happening: A product may be sold in the U.S., made in China, packaged in Thailand, distributed through a holding company in Europe, with some of the back-office work outsourced to India. It has all these global footprints. So what is its true brand identity?

KW: How does Kellogg prepare students for such a complicated business environment?

DJ: We are meeting these realities with our best-kept secret: Kellogg Global Brand. Our brand essence distinguishes itself by our long-standing commitment to teamwork, but also in the way we create a strong community for our students and alumni. In addition, our brand is constantly on the go, making new discoveries and adapting artfully to an ever-changing global business environment. Finally, the soul of the Kellogg brand is our dedication to providing a consistently unparalleled "total student experience" by ensuring that our thought leadership remains absolutely world-class.

So we have employed a partnership model in extending our footprint through our international programs and alliances, yet with all these partners, we have created the power of a single global Kellogg community rooted in the excellence of the Kellogg School here. This is no easy task, but we have done it, and we look forward to enriching our brand further over the coming years.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University