Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Winter 2003Kellogg School of Management
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Students showcase their talents during Special K 2003.
Leisure-time leadership

The Kellogg School culture boasts dozens of student clubs that offer participants a fun forum to build lasting leadership skills

By Kari Richardson

Finance. Education. Latin American culture. Volunteer work. Wine appreciation. Film. Squash.

These are only a few of the divergent interests Kellogg students explore through the Kellogg School’s 80-plus clubs.

Club membership provides an organized way for students — both in the full-time and part-time MBA programs — to relax on the ski slopes, for instance, or meet others interested in pursuing leadership opportunities in an emerging market. Whether the subject involves entrepreneurship, public speaking, family enterprise or golf, a thriving club culture allows Kellogg students to develop confidence in new areas and provides a creative outlet for lifelong passions.

But more than that, club membership lets students seamlessly meld fun with leadership-building activities and encourages an exchange of ideas between the classroom and the school’s extracurricular life.

“ Club experience is an excellent opportunity for leadership,” says Walter Scott, professor of management and senior Austin Fellow, who’s served as adviser to several Kellogg clubs over the past 15 years. “It’s an opportunity for students to plumb interests, and for them to meet and get to know others in their field.”

Clubs link students with similar interests and help build bonds outside the classroom. For instance, Bogotá, Colombia-native Carolina Camero ’04 has found camaraderie in the school’s Latin American, Hispanic and Iberian Management Association (LAHIMA), of which she is a co-chair. Those who join LAHIMA share an interest in pursuing jobs or travel in Spanish-speaking countries, and club members help spread word in Latin America about the Kellogg School.

The club also provides a valuable network for international students living in the United States for the first time and trying to navigate its culture, Camero says.

“ Our most important mission is to create support mechanisms for students, for alumni and for significant others with common interests around Latin America,” she says, adding that the group helps incoming students with tips on professors, classes and other educational success strategies.

Part-time Kellogg students in The Managers’ Program (TMP) enjoy a rich cultural experience too.

While TMP students are invited to participate in the full-time program’s club activities, TMP boasts its own vibrant club life, with some 10 clubs formed around subjects such as entrepreneurship, investment banking and real estate, among other interests. The TMP Women’s Business Association brings top corporate leaders to campus, inviting Kellogg students and program applicants to attend special lectures, while the Evening Black Management Association has been active serving the professional, academic and cultural needs of African-American students at Kellogg. And TMP’s Marketing Club held a successful case competition in April that drew an enthusiastic response and showcased just how motivated TMP students are to contribute to the Kellogg culture, despite having full-time professional obligations during the day.

“ Kellogg is a place where people love to get involved and challenge themselves,” says Megan Byrne Krueger ’90, assistant dean and director of student affairs at TMP. “The leadership and learning extend beyond the classroom into extracurricular activities.”

Membership has its benefits
Second-year student Jackie Statum divides much of her free time between Kellogg’s Toastmasters chapter, its Black Management Association (BMA) and Special K Revue, which produces a popular variety show each spring (photo above). Each club commitment helps her fulfill an important part of her business school agenda, Statum says.

Through Toastmasters, she’s gained additional prowess in public speaking. BMA allows her to forge connections with other African-American leaders. And Special K’s singing and dancing provides the perfect antidote for the challenges of her academic life.

“I’ve danced all my life and Special K is a great chance to perform with my classmates and exercise my creative energy,” Statum says.

But she is quick to point out that involvement in Special K can have career implications too. Students direct and produce the show, market it to the larger community and identify sponsors. Participants improve their teamwork and time management skills, often juggling 10 hours of rehearsal a week with rigorous academic schedules.

Even membership on a sports club that many would regard as being entirely recreational can test business skills. Ski Club leaders, for example, manage a six-figure budget and must coordinate hundreds of details to plan a successful annual trip.

These big-league responsibilities often catch the eye of recruiters during career searches.

Says Statum: “My club participation has come up in all of my interviews. I think recruiters do look for well-rounded students. Just going to classes doesn’t make you well rounded.”

Second-year student Jonathan Conta, whose roster of extracurricular activities is as eclectic as Statum’s, takes a similar view of his club leadership. As a co-chair of Kellogg’s 300-member Health and Biotechnology Club and a leader of the Ski Club, he says he’s building skills and connections he’ll draw on in his career.

Among the accomplishments of which he’s most proud are helping organize a speaker series featuring everyone from hospital administrators to venture capitalists, and putting together a networking event with alums working in health care and biotechnology.

But his greatest satisfaction, Conta says, comes from knowing he is contributing to the sense of community at Kellogg.

“ You’re at this really special place, and everyone is expected to give back on some level,” he says.

Melding the academic and extracurricular
For many Kellogg School students, clubs are one way to give back to the community. In conjunction with the Business with a Heart (BWAH) club, Omar Hyder ’04 helped organize “Kellogg Cares” earlier this year. The event paired Kellogg students, faculty and staff with nonprofit organizations in the community, where they spent a Saturday helping out and exploring areas for further volunteer service. In all, Kelloggians donated more than 500 service hours through the event.

Like many of his classmates, Hyder’s leisure activities often are infused with things he’s learning in the classroom. His BWAH involvement is an outlet for his interest in community service, but it’s also afforded him practice in organizing teams and working with nonprofit agencies.

Another case in point: He and others in the Energy Management Club used marketing concepts to identify the club’s target segment and better position it with students.

“ We realize a successful, enriching academic experience is not just about grades anymore, as it was when we were undergraduates,” Hyder says. “It’s about being able to put together the whole package.”

Another group of club members developed a strategic plan for Kellogg’s Center for Executive Women. The plan, created by members of the Women’s Business Association, outlines important issues, funding and programmatic priorities for the center.

Professor Scott, who’s been an adviser to BWAH and the Business Leadership Club, among other student organizations, sees club membership as a direct complement to the classroom experience. Scott says clubs give students the chance to “dabble” in topics they might not have the time or opportunity to explore in a full-length class, fleshing out their interests and revealing areas for more detailed exploration.

That’s been the goal of a series of seminars planned by the Social Impact Club, says club President Jessica Watson. Members recently organized a well-attended fund-raising seminar and are planning a separate session on accounting methods for nonprofit organizations. Both are topics students might not have the chance to study in class, Watson says, but appeal to the club’s members — those interested in nonprofit organizations or corporate responsibility.

Watson and other Social Impact leaders maintain close ties with the Kellogg School’s Ford Center for Global Citizenship and its Public/Nonprofit Management Program, helping to keep faculty and students connected with one another’s interests in this arena.

Real-world lessons
At the Kellogg School, student organizations can have a palpable effect on what takes place in the classroom, introducing new ideas and sometimes helping to shape the curriculum.

For example, a group of students from the Business Leadership Club (BLC) created the idea for a leadership assessment survey that would help all students identify their strengths, as well as areas for improvement. After garnering support from the Kellogg School Office of the Dean and testing the idea in a pilot program in 2002, all full-time students completed the survey this year.

Survey results will be posted on customized Web pages that allow students to design action plans, and include suggested readings, references and elective classes to bolster skills. Club members who worked on the leadership assessment learned how to build support for an idea and position their initiative within a broader focus on leadership at the school, says Michelle Buck, associate director of executive programs and clinical associate professor of management and organizations, who sits on the BLC steering committee.

“ It’s one thing to have a good idea. It’s another thing to be able to be persuasive and bring that idea to life,” Buck says. “The entire experience has been of tremendous value to these students. It’s one more tool to enrich their Kellogg experience.”

That, says Scott, is perhaps one of the most important lessons clubs can teach — that the involvement and initiative essential to the Kellogg School culture can accomplish great results both at the university and in the world at large.

“ If you really think something is missing here, or you want to leave Kellogg with a unique experience that’s not currently offered, you can make it happen,” he says.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University