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From left: Dean Dipak C. Jain, Stuart Ballan (KR-04) and Recanati Dean Simon Benninga at a recent Deans Dinner in Tel Aviv

Kellogg-Recanati Alumni Club
“Toward the vision”

By Stuart Ballan, KR-04

A company’s vision statement captures management’s dreams and passions, painting an unambiguous picture of the ideal future and motivating all team members toward a common success. Three years ago, the board of the Kellogg-Recanati Alumni Club adopted a similar approach. We defined and published our vision: “To build sufficient value to make our alumni club a key differentiator for future students selecting MBA education in the Middle East.” It’s the first thing you’ll see when you visit our Web site and it’s the basis for all club planning, events and activities.

Two awards in two years
We achieved our first milestone in October 2004, when I had the privilege to receive the International Kellogg Alumni Club of the Year Award at Kellogg, and to bring it home to present it to the KR Alumni Club at the 2004 Deans Dinner, our club’s largest annual event. I have to admit that at the time, I thought that this honor was as good as things could get for us for a while.

So when I learned that this year, the club had won the Kellogg School’s Outstanding Achievement in Club Leadership Award, an award bestowed only once every five years, I was surprised and delighted, and it was with great pride that we could once again receive a key Kellogg award in front of a prestigious audience of 200 at the Kellogg Alumni Advisory Board’s annual dinner. The honor again gave KR alumni another reason to celebrate at the November Deans Dinner.

I have been asked, “What do these awards really mean for Kellogg-Recanati and why are they so important?” Kellogg awarded three annual awards to its alumni clubs in both 2004 and 2005, as well as two Outstanding Achievement Awards in 2005. From 70 worldwide alumni clubs, only two Kellogg Alumni Clubs have won two awards. The KR Alumni Club, with 420 members, is one of these groups. The other is the Kellogg Alumni Club of Chicago, the home city of Kellogg. With 18,000 members, the KACC is about 40 times larger than the KR Alumni Club. Add to this the fact that the Recanati program is a Kellogg School 'sister' program, and it becomes more apparent just how important it is for us to win these awards in consecutive years. These distinctions position the KR program, the KR Alumni Club and the region in an extremely positive light, both locally and throughout the global Kellogg and Kellogg alumni communities, and provide a clear indication that we’re progressing “toward the vision.”

Local and global strategy
So why did we win these awards? I am not a party to the decision process, but what I do know is that this year, our “local/global strategy” was a main factor. A year ago, the club’s board split its activities into two distinct areas. First, we would continue to build local value for KR alumni via more quality events and new initiatives. In addition, we would look for opportunities to add value to the global Kellogg alumni community. Looking forward, Kellogg has to be a global brand, consisting of both global academic and global alumni club activities. Kellogg is already building the former, with new centers of educational excellence planned around the world; soon, students will be able to select electives on different continents, enabling them to secure a more global understanding of our world. I believe that it will be individual Kellogg School alumni clubs around the planet that will “kick start” global Kellogg alumni club activities by delivering best-in-class value by which other clubs can learn and accelerate their own club’s development. Over the next year, we intend to continue with out local/global strategy, creating more value locally to our KR Alumni while also creating value for the global Kellogg Alumni Club community.

Deans Dinner launches “2006 – The Year of Kellogg-Recanati Cares”
The 2005 Deans Dinner, held Nov. 2 with Dean Dipak C. Jain and Dean Emeritus Donald P. Jacobs in attendance, attracted some 170 people and was the largest KR Alumni Club event to date. We welcomed the newly graduating KR-08 to our club and provided the environment for many old friends to meet again.

One of the Deans Dinner’s themes was the launch of “2006 – The Year of Kellogg-Recanati Cares.” The initiative builds further on the two successful community projects launched in 2005 that were managed by KR alumni volunteers. April 1 saw the formal launch of our KR Cares initiative, with 25 KR alumni totally repainting a school for underprivileged children. Just a few months later, we launched a far more complex community project, with more than 40 KR alumni, students and staff helping to educate kids throughout the academic year. Because of the increased awareness, we made an appeal at the Deans Dinner for KR alumni to volunteer their time for year 2006 KR Cares projects. 120 man-hours were pledged, giving us a pool of resources for 2006 KR Cares community projects. We expect more KR alumni to pledge more time over the next months as the culture develops. At the same event, several KR alumni also donated money to support such future activities.

Alumni helping alumni
Our club’s alumni helping alumni culture was born in late 2002, after two KR graduates became the first to co-sponsor a KR Alumni Club event. Over the years, we’ve grown to 10 co-sponsors in 2003, 16 in 2004 and 17 in 2005. In addition to heavily subsidizing a quality Deans Dinner event, this year’s sponsors enabled all attendees to leave with KR Alumni Club branded shirts and camping chairs. Note the subtle progress: Until last year, we produced KR branded items. We now produce KR Alumni Club branded items!

Since the launch of alumni helping alumni, quite amazingly, 32 KR alumni have now co-sponsored a total of 55 times. For the second year running, we were able to recognize two KR alumni who have each sponsored three KR Alumni Club events. As a result, both Allan Barkat (KR-02) and Uri Wardinon (KR-06) received our club’s “Silver Award.”

Over the last three years, we’ve made significant progress toward our vision. Absolutely key to this success is how we’ve been able to increase the number of active KR Alumni Club Board members. It’s this board that has enabled us to organize multiple, complex events and execute long-term strategies, and it’s this board that has set best-in-class standards by which our club can measure itself in the future. I would like to thank them all. We're a great team whose efforts are taking us to an exciting destination. I look forward to working with current and new board members as we continue our journey toward the vision.

As a result of our club’s growth, we have recently invested heavily in the structure and content of the KR Alumni Club’s Web site. I hope it portrays a strong team (KR Alumni Board) that has created success and excellence. It tells of a culture that has proven it is willing to help each other and the larger community; one that is able to impact both the local and global Kellogg community and actively help contribute to KR Branding while benefiting from access to 50,000 Kellogg Alumni worldwide.

Locally, I hope that our Web site will encourage KR alumni and KR students to be even more involved with us, whether it be by helping the board or by attending events. Globally, we hope that we’ll trigger other Kellogg alumni club leaders into similar initiatives and increased creativity. As the KR program enters its 10th year, I hope that the KR Alumni Club has moved “toward the vision” and that we can already start to influence the decision process of future students seeking Executive MBA education in the Middle East.

If we can keep up the momentum, the next years should take us even closer!

Stuart Ballan is president of the Kellogg-Recanati Alumni Club. He welcomes comments via email at

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University