Initiatives in Management takes Kellogg students on a worldwide
leadership trek that brings classroom lessons to life
stepped into Terminal 3 at China's Beijing Capital International
Airport in mid-March, just two weeks after its grand opening.
Designed and built to impress foreign visitors in the run-up
to the Beijing Olympics, the $3.5-billion terminal occupies
nearly twice the floor space of Chicago's Merchandise Mart.
Daylight streams through adjustable skylights while luggage
zips along the $240-million transfer system at speeds above
20 miles per hour. Bhattacharjee, a student in the Kellogg
Full-Time MBA Program, sums up the terminal in a single word:
and her traveling companions — classmates in the Emerging
China group of this year's Global Initiatives in Management
Program — had been studying the world's most populous
nation from afar for the previous eight weeks, but reality
had already thrown some unexpected challenges their way. Days
before the trip, they'd had to cancel their planned visit
to Tibet. Now, in the Beijing airport, TVs aired CNN, but
any time reporters mentioned the disputed region, the screens
a brief visit to Shanghai, Bhattacharjee's group scouted smaller
Chinese cities — including Chengdu, which the May 12
earthquake would devastate — for General Electric to
test the viability of the company's new portable ultrasound
device. During their two-week tour, they met with representatives
from GE, Baxter Healthcare, Chinese government health officials
and one very busy practicing MD.
government's buying whatever's cheapest because they still
have so many people who aren't being serviced," says
Bhattacharjee. Out of necessity, quantity trumps quality.
Further complicating the market, she adds, is that it's illegal
for a pregnant woman in China to know the sex of her fetus.
Cultural pressure to produce sons and widespread sex-selective
abortions have led to a serious gender imbalance in the population.
traveling through China amid political turmoil and dodging
natural disasters sounds like an unconventional way to earn
credit toward an MBA degree, it's just business as usual for
GIM. The program's inaugural trip took 30 students to the
former Soviet Union while the Cold War was winding down.
Dean Ed Wilson remembers how, in the fall of 1989,
a new Kellogg tradition was born. The Berlin Wall's days were
numbered, and many Westerners were eager to visit Eastern
Europe, says Wilson. A student named Sandy Haviland '90
walked into Wilson's office, wanting to lead a spring break
trip to the Soviet Union. He wondered if Kellogg would help.
didn't know what to do with this question," says Wilson,
an adviser for a GIM trip to India this year. "What if
we send a group of students and they don't come home, arrested
as spies or something?" But Haviland was persistent.
A few weeks later, he returned with a new pitch: He would
lead an educational trip to the Soviet Union, giving participants
a chance to gain first-hand knowledge of a new culture and
the nearly 20 years since those first 30 students took off
on their adventure, Wilson has watched GIM evolve. Today,
the course is one of the options that fulfill the school's
global elective requirement. Now, more than 500 students from
the Full-Time, Part-Time and Executive MBA programs study
and travel to more than a dozen nations on six continents.
A faculty-selected team of students designs each course, choosing
relevant readings and bringing experts into the classroom
the stacks of papers and three-ring binders on his desk, Wilson
reveals these as his trip's records: rosters, leadership team
applications, readings on India's culture, economy, people
and climate, and — finally — student presentations.
"When we're done," he says, "we know more about
India than some people who live in India."
Program Director Mark
Finn, a clinical professor of accounting and international
business, says the "radical student focus" is one
thing that has kept GIM fresh and flexible.
are copycat programs, including a new program at Harvard,"
says Finn, who has been directing GIM since 2001. "If
you look at our competition, the idea of giving students the
rights to design their own program — with structure
and faculty oversight — that's a radical idea. That's
what makes GIM special."
has accompanied students to the Republic of Ghana, the United
Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil,
Chile, Argentina and South Africa. "I've been to so many
wonderful places," he says, "but what I cherish
the most is that I got to know the students."
of this year's students was leadership team member Sang'ona
Oriedo '09, who came to Kellogg from San Francisco, where
she had been an engineering project manager for a biotech
had a particular interest in India because it was a former
British colony, and my family is from East Africa, which was
also colonized by the British," says Oriedo. Her GIM
team looked for growth opportunities in rural India's mobile
phone market, scouring research on local consumer behavior
and meeting with industry experts to determine what rural
consumers really want in a mobile device (the short answer:
less phone, more media).
meetings in India have a much different tone than they do
in the United States," says Oriedo. A mid-meeting power
outage might fluster Stateside executives, but in India, it's
a minor inconvenience and an excuse to break for tea and snacks.
says students on the India trip enjoyed visiting markets and
other "off-the-beaten-path" locales, and they didn't
have to stray far to find unique local flavor. "One group
in our class was walking through a city park and a monkey
started following them," says Oriedo. The monkey trailed
relentlessly until a group member handed it an open bottle
of Coca-Cola, which it happily accepted and drank.
juxtaposition of new economies with the old world was a common
sight for 2008 GIM students. Travis Morgan '09 was
part of the group that visited the Republic of Turkey and
the United Arab Emirates' booming city of Dubai. His trip
began in Istanbul, Turkey.
really is an ancient city," says Morgan. "We saw
mosques that were built in 600 A.D." Spires from the
old mosques peeked out over city rooftops and shared real
estate with centuries-old palaces and brand-new buildings.
"It's almost a metaphor for the city itself," he
adds, referring to Istanbul's geographical and cultural position
as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East.
group studied Turkey's attempted entrance into the European
Union. "What you read about is that Turkey is trying
to get into the EU for several years," Morgan says. The
official story is that Turkey has been rebuffed repeatedly
and ordered to implement reforms before it will be considered
for membership, he explains, but the reforms have already
gone such a long way to improving the quality of life in Turkey
that joining the EU may be an afterthought by the time the
nation is admitted. "It may not even matter at that point
to the Turks."
says Istanbul owes its cosmopolitan streak largely to Turkey's
founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who established the democratic,
secular state in 1923. "We study in our Kellogg MORS
classes how difficult it is to change the culture of a company,"
says Morgan. "Atatürk, in his lifetime, changed
the culture of an entire country. That's incredible!"
incredible, he says, was the city of Dubai, home to the world's
only seven-star hotel. "It's one-part Disney World, one-part
Las Vegas, one-part New York City," Morgan says. "It
really has just risen from the desert." Like Istanbul,
Dubai incorporates the old and new, but unlike Turkey, where
residents "take their secularism very seriously,"
the United Arab Emirates are ruled by a religious monarchy.
There are obvious cultural tradeoffs, says Morgan, but one
seems to be that, in Dubai, large projects are completed at
sheik says, 'We need a mass transit system,' and they're building
it now, and in a year it will be operational."
impatience with social ills
Morgan and the Dubai group marveled at that city's ability
to make things happen, Robert Albright '09 and the
Tanzania group tried to bring some order to a splintered health
no GIM trip can be called "typical," this year's
Tanzania trip was unusual even by GIM standards. Instead of
exploring completely different industries, the small groups
in GIM Tanzania were all working toward a larger goal: bringing
appropriate, effective HIV testing technology to areas that
need it most. In conjunction with the Kellogg School's Global
Health Initiative, these students hoped to make a lasting
difference in the lives of Africa's HIV patients.
sometimes hard to know exactly what's happening on the ground,"
says Albright. "What you're hearing from the government
is different from what's happening at the clinic."
where the Kellogg students came in. Some groups, like Albright's,
met with medical professionals and government officials to
understand the nation's existing HIV testing policies, procedures
and goals. Others spent time in rural clinics, far from the
reliable electricity and knowledgeable medical staff of Dar
Es Salaam. In the evenings, the students converged at their
hotel and shared what they had learned during the day. Back
at Kellogg, they presented their findings to representatives
from GHI, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partners
in the private sector.
says the urgency of addressing the HIV problem, and the partnership
with GHI, added a rewarding dimension to GIM Tanzania: "We
knew the work we were doing — in some small part —
would continue on."
Palamountain '04, a research associate professor and the
executive director of GHI, was the Tanzania group's faculty
can't tell you how exciting it was for me to watch the students
move from an academic environment — where they were
listening to lectures and guest speakers — to [a complex,
real-world setting]. Within 10 minutes of getting to our hotel,
the power went out." The active, resourceful learning
began immediately, she adds. "Someone had a flashlight
and we just continued our meeting."
says MBA students — sticklers for results — are
uniquely prepared to take on global health problems. Already,
she says, students from the Tanzania group have been asking
when the devices requested by their new friends in Tanzania
will be ready.
kind of impatience" she says, "is exactly what we
courtesty of Kellogg student GIM participants