Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Winter 2004Kellogg School of Management
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In with the new
Through the Motorola Scholars Program, Kellogg students gain hands-on experience with technology and innovation — while making valuable research discoveries

By Matt Golosinski

It would have been easy for Toby Redshaw simply to walk away; easy for him to abandon the three-year-old academic program he championed, one that brings Kellogg School thought leadership into Motorola, his company.

Given the market challenges of recent years, and some firm-specific cost-cutting, no one would have blamed the Motorola corporate vice president of IT strategy, architecture and e-business or his peers if they had turned their backs on the Motorola Scholars Program, despite its promise. Not even the Kellogg School faculty involved in the initiative — passionate, true believers such as Mohanbir Sawhney, James Conley and Rob Wolcott — would have held it against Redshaw. Disappointed? Sure. Resentful? Hardly.

Times were tough, still are for some, and all kinds of worthy projects don’t make the cut when firms are marching people out the door.

But Redshaw, like his Kellogg School partners heading up the Scholars Program, didn’t disappoint. No one walked away from the ambitious, rigorously academic initiative designed to put exemplary Kellogg MBA students to work solving important innovation challenges at Motorola.

This commitment is a credit to the strengths of the Motorola Scholars Program, and to the students involved in it, says Redshaw.

“These are people who are wise beyond their years,” he says. “My only regret is that I don’t have 20 of them. It’s a great program.”

The program, founded in 2001, is designed to embody the strategic objectives of leadership, scholarship and partnership set forth by Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain, says Conley, clinical professor of technology.

“It’s a unique offering at Kellogg, and a partnership that provides a tremendous learning experience for our students and valuable results for Motorola,” Conley states.

The program sets high expectations and demands much from all involved — faculty, students and Motorola. It works like this. Each year, the faculty of the Kellogg Center for Research and Technology, which houses the Scholars Program, suggests and delineates projects with their Motorola counterparts. They then invite Kellogg students to apply, asking them how they would address the challenges, such as leveraging intellectual assets or managing technology acquisition, that the center has identified.

“Motorola and Kellogg faculty and students work collaboratively to advance knowledge while addressing relevant business problems for Motorola,” says Sawhney, director of the center and program chair for the Kellogg Technology Industry Management Program.

See the related article: Motorola and the Kellogg School continue valuable partnership

Some 40 applications are submitted for review; only two are selected. The two students then begin their research, which includes independent study and a summer internship at Motorola. Each scholar receives $40,000, making the program “serious business,” Conley says, noting that the four scholars who have graduated so far have gone on to hold high-level positions.

The projects, which culminate in a research paper, address challenges of importance to Motorola, but they have wider implications too, Conley explains. This work has enduring value.

“That research becomes part of our center and it contributes to the greater academic community, the greater Kellogg community and the greater community of practitioners,” Conley says, adding that Motorola Scholars represents something of a “hybrid” combining aspects of a traditional MBA program and a PhD program, with the emphasis on producing practical insights that managers can leverage more immediately.

A different clock-speed
Geoff Nudd ’05 is one of those trying to deliver this kind of impact. The current Motorola Scholar is researching intrapreneurship — a way of imparting the entrepreneurial vision and strategy typically associated with start-up firms into larger, more traditional companies.

He says that intrapreneurship is an area, along with entrepreneurship and new product development, whose importance has been relatively neglected in academic circles. But managers are aware that they ignore these topics at their own peril.

“Large companies have concluded that traits associated with entrepreneurship and startups — flexibility, innovation, growth — are of critical importance to their long-term health,” says Nudd, who spent last summer at Motorola’s Early Stage Accelerator, a group he says is entirely dedicated to intrapreneurship and which simultaneously manages some 10 well-funded commercialization efforts.

“Motorola Scholars has been the best professional experience of my career. As an aspiring entrepreneur, it has been a perfect fit,” says Nudd.

Innovation is near and dear to Redshaw too. One cannot “dabble” in it, he says. “There’s no shallow end of the pool; you’re either in it or not.” Redshaw is passionate about breaking old paradigms and “changing the clock-speed” at which people think, something he says the Motorola Scholars facilitate during their internship.

What’s more, these Kellogg students are not tucked away into some quiet corner, but rather “put on some breakthrough effort” inside the company.

“You bring in a couple of these smart, young Kellogg scholars who are living in a space where nothing is impossible, where big complex ideas don’t bother them, and that energy is just contagious,” says Redshaw.

He says Kellogg students possess a rare maturity about markets and strategy, and can relate these back to the tactical business level quickly. “The ability to connect these ways of thinking is something I see coming out of Kellogg, and not just with the Motorola Scholars, but with many of the graduates. It’s a real differentiator.”

At the Kellogg School, innovation isn’t defined narrowly. It’s the lifeblood of a firm, regardless of whether a company produces computer chips or potato chips.

Wolcott, who along with Sawhney has created an initiative called Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN) that provides a kind of “action learning” experience for executives, says the Motorola Scholars Program and KIN frame innovation more broadly than gadgets.

“Our perspective is that technology is interesting and it’s important, but innovation is a lot bigger than that,” says Wolcott, a research fellow at the Center for Technology and Innovation. “Starbucks didn’t invent anything, but they got Americans to pay $4 for a cup of coffee. They were innovating on things like customer experience, branding, location, channels. They created a new business system.”

Quarterly, KIN brings together leaders from a variety of firms, such as Motorola, DuPont, FedEx and eBay, to trade best practices around innovation. In October, Kellogg hosted a KIN summit titled “Changing Contexts and Competitive Advantage.” The initiative, which invited this year’s Motorola Scholars to participate, strives to take the idea of action learning to another level, with practicing managers.

Sawhney believes that KIN represents the future of collaborative research and collaborative executive education. “We treat our member companies as partners in co-creating knowledge, not merely as consumers of knowledge we produce. We act as facilitators and coaches, creating a platform for conversation, dialogue and discovery.”

By removing the walls between theory and practice, Kellogg and partners like Motorola are providing an unparalleled academic experience for students, while also creating powerful dialogues between the academic community and the business world.

“We believe in advancing knowledge through collaboration among students, faculty and our corporate partners, and our initiatives reflect this philosophy,” says Sawhney.

“KIN and the Motorola Scholars Program are examples of what Kellogg is all about — teamwork and empowerment."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University