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Dean Jain in Chile
Alumni Advisory Board, Chile, 02.05
Where in the world is Dipak Jain?
Chances are the dean of the Kellogg School is, quite literally, surveying the MBA world from 30,000 feet as he travels the globe in his relentless effort to build the Kellogg brand and keep alumni engaged

By Matt Golosinski

You are with him in the airport; he's right there in front of you, wheeling his luggage toward security. You take a moment to fumble for your identification and he's gone. The dean of the Kellogg School has disappeared around a corner or, with ninja-like dexterity, has found a way to navigate a throng of people, leaving you looking on in bewilderment. You wonder if the next time you will see him will be in Bangkok or Bangalore or one of a dozen other international destinations routinely on the dean's prodigious itinerary.

Then just as quickly he reappears at your side, having transacted some business impossibly fast (perhaps a seating upgrade for you). And again you're off together toward the gate, you making a silent vow to once and for all keep up with Dipak C. Jain as he jets off on yet another mission to build the Kellogg School brand.

"I believe in putting every minute to use," says Jain, stating what is obvious to anyone who has crossed time zones with the man. But this is also his straightforward advice to alumni whose professional lives demand they be road warriors. It's often on long flights that he finds he is best able to contemplate management decisions, design strategy or revise a lesson plan or lecture, since he can momentarily escape the entreaties of email and cell phone.

He may even catch a nap en route to Nairobi, as he did in March when he visited Kenya to serve as keynote speaker at the 2005 Ghandi Memorial Lecture. But Jain seems congenitally averse to slumber.

"I'm blessed with a natural constitution that requires little sleep," he admits. "If I sleep five hours, my wife worries that something is wrong."

Not everyone can easily keep pace with the dean's marathon workdays.

Melinda Cervantes, director of corporate relations at Kellogg, jokes that Jain "often forgets that most people require more than five hours sleep."

During a recent trip to Thailand with Jain, Cervantes "was amazed at his energy and momentum." He would teach all day at the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, which has a long-standing partnership with Kellogg, and then begin making calls into his Evanston office about 10 p.m., since the day was just beginning in the Midwest.

"He would spend hours on the phone and sending email," says Cervantes, "sleep briefly and then head back to the classroom."
  Dean Jain in China
Guanghua School of Management. Peking University, China, 10.02

Roxanne Hori, Kellogg School assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center, sums up the situation, saying, "Traveling with Dean Jain is not for the faint of heart."

Indeed, Jain has a reputation among colleagues as indefatigable, a man who is always on the go. He can be in San Francisco or Seattle visiting alumni or networking with corporate recruiters in the morning and then jet off to New York for additional meetings that evening with friends of the school, stopping in Philadelphia along the way to handle even more business.

Where some would balk at making a weekend trip from Evanston to Milwaukee, Jain has made day-trips to India, the country of his birth. Much of his extended family still resides there and the vast nation is one of several where he has worked to enhance the Kellogg brand. He also has traveled recently to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore and Tokyo, teaching or visiting Kellogg alumni.

Science may eventually devise a calculator that can figure Jain's total Frequent Flier Miles. He will only say the tally is "embarrassing" and that the statement sent by the airline requires several pages to itemize travels that have increased during the last four years.

The point of all these excursions is consistent with Jain's objectives since he became dean in July 2001, after serving as associate dean for five years under Donald P. Jacobs.

"When I began as dean, there were three key integrated priorities I established: to build the Kellogg School brand and differentiate ourselves as management leaders; to enhance the school's alumni network and keep our alumni engaged with us; and to build our global reputation by having a presence in key markets such as Asia, Europe and Latin America," Jain explains.

Indeed the school continues to develop its goal to establish what the dean calls "global Kellogg centers of knowledge" in strategically important locations worldwide. This is a work in progress, but already there are tangible results. In a push to better serve executives from Latin America and the American Southeast, for instance, the school has launched its Miami-based Executive MBA program. The first class will begin this January. (See

Kellogg will continue exploring ways to create flexible, customized programming that delivers on the school's brand promise of unparalleled leadership training and meets the needs of students wherever they live, which means the dean will likely keep logging more time in the sky.

To ensure that the Evanston operations remained smooth even when he was a world away, Jain expanded his office upon assuming the deanship, establishing two new senior associate dean positions. But he says that alumni, recruiters and others expect "more of a personal touch" and the chance to interact with the school's top leadership and faculty, a fact that has also contributed to him becoming intimately familiar with some of the world's top airports.

Recent travels have taken him to Thailand, his "favorite destination" despite making a narrow escape in December when the tsunami devastated Phuket where he and his family were vacationing. He has also visited several countries in Latin America, including El Salvador, Brazil, Chile and Guatemala, over the past months as part of a special effort to bring greater awareness of Kellogg there as the school launched its Miami program.

But Jain is also an academic ambassador for the Kellogg School. He frequently augments his administrative duties when traveling by spending time in the classroom, teaching subjects such as "The Future of Marketing" and "Understanding Brand: A Marketing Mindset." In May, Jain joined other Kellogg marketing experts, Philip Kotler, Gregory Carpenter and James Anderson, in Amsterdam to deliver an exceptional seminar on the subject. Then too, the dean plays a quasi-political role, bringing his insights to bear on the branding efforts of countries including Thailand and El Salvador. He is, in fact, an adviser on foreign affairs to the Thai prime minister.

These various roles often overlap, resulting in Jain assuming a larger-than-life persona.

Says Mel Bergstein, CEO of DiamondCluster and a recent companion with Jain to India: "It was a great trip. We covered four cities in three days
Vintage Dean Jain. I'm not sure he needs to sleep. He was tour guide, raconteur, travel agent, facilitator, insightful adviser and rock star all rolled into one. He gets enormous adulation among the business and academic communities in India, so when you travel with him you get a lot of attention."

Jain admits that, as passionate as he is about leading the Kellogg School to greater heights, his schedule is one that requires compromise and understanding from his wife and three young children. Nevertheless, he finds ways to remain a good husband and father, even if these efforts occasionally result in unorthodox arrangements, as when he recently found himself reviewing his children's math homework at four-thirty in the morning, a full 30 minutes earlier than the normal tutoring routine that takes place from 5 to 6 a.m.

"There was some confusion with the timing of a conference call I had to take," says Jain, smiling. "As a result, my family and I were up earlier than anticipated."

But the fact that Jain's children were willing and able to bend their attention to their schoolwork, even at that hour, suggests they too may one day follow in their father's footsteps as leaders who work tirelessly to bring exuberance to their professional lives.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University