Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Spring 2007Kellogg School of Management
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Neal Freeland '02

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Neal Freeland with Zack and Amelia
Neal Freeland '02 with son Zack (3) and daughter Amelia (1) in front of the Team Seattle race car Microsoft sponsored to promote Live Search.

Neal Freeland '02 helps Microsoft search for competitive advantage

A small business team at Microsoft Corp. recently asked customers what they love. Neal Freeland '02, the team's marketing director, said they loved all kinds of people, places and things, but he is most interested in one item no one seemed to care for: Internet search engines.

"They never talk about search engines," he says. Not even the search engine. The one that, according to Freeland, "represents the most mortal threat Microsoft has ever faced."

The Kellogg School graduate is heading up Microsoft's Live Search effort, and a straightforward (if daunting) goal awaits him each day at work: to convince people to stop using Google and turn to his company's offering.

Asked how he intends to accomplish this monumental feat, Freeland says that Live Search must not only be simple, fast and accurate, but must also offer features unavailable on larger, more established engines.

For example, he says, "if you enter 'jaguar,' it's kind of hard [for a search engine] to know if you're searching for the animal, the car or the football team." So Live Search will include a search-refining tool that pops up alongside search results to help steer users toward the information they seek. In time, says Freeland, its image search will also find "related images," ensuring that searchers don't miss the big picture.

Between marketing classes with Kellogg Professor Mohan Sawhney and Dean Dipak C. Jain and the broad social and professional contacts Freeland developed while earning his Kellogg MBA, he says the school's influence remains important in his life.

"In everything I do every single day ... I can trace all that back somehow to my relationship with Kellogg."

With Live Search, Freeland says the team will be successful if it creates a search engine people love. "If Google is the habit, we've got to break the habit," he says. "We have to delight them with a different product experience." – AH

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