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Matthew Lippert and Karen Grieg (both '06) with Craig Sampson
© Nathan Mandell
The tools and concepts of engineering are never far from the conversations of MMM students Matthew Lippert and Karen Grieg (both '06). Here, in the new Ford Design Center on the Evanston campus, they converse with Craig Sampson, left, health practice lead for global design consultancy IDEO.

Success by design
Corporate leaders cannot afford to isolate themselves from the technologies that drive innovation. That's why Kellogg and McCormick have a long history of breaking the silos that separate business and engineering, providing MMM students a ticket into the dynamic product-design arena

By Shannon Sweetnam

Because "innovate or die" is a mantra of global business today - a world of increasing competition, ever-faster product lifecycles and less real differentiation among those products and services - some savvy professionals have sought an advantage against the field by honing their existing skills and developing new ones.

That's what Matt Levatich did after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1987. Levatich knew he needed additional education to build the competencies that could advance his career.

Seeking the business insights that would complement and expand his technology background, Levatich '94 turned to the Master of Management and Manufacturing (MMM) program, a powerful dual-degree offering from the Kellogg School and Northwestern University's Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering.

"I investigated four similar programs, but MMM was integrated, unlike any of the others," says Levatich, who now works as vice president of materials management for Harley-Davidson. "There was a very strong manufacturing component, but a practical one, not theoretical like a lot of operations-oriented approaches to manufacturing study."

While the MMM curriculum has changed to meet student need over the 15 years since its inception, its appeal to MBA seekers has not, as evidenced, in part, by the program moving into a new state-of-the-art home in the $30 million Ford Motor Co. Engineering Design Center. The program continues to add more courses and is a hot area for those who desire extraordinary returns on their graduate education investment, especially in a marketplace that demands more aptitude from job candidates.

"MMM gives you a set of skills unmatched in any business school. It offered a perfect mix for me," says Kim Matthews '04, who felt the program would provide her with the finance and marketing background to advance in her manufacturing career.

"Some of my manufacturing classes went into more depth than MBA-equivalent classes would have, while the fast-paced accounting and finance classes took advantage of my analytical skills as an engineer," the ExxonMobil planning adviser recalls. "In the end, I learned an organized way of approaching manufacturing problems with a business perspective, something that may have taken me 10 years to learn on my own."

A bridge between business and engineering
Over the years, Professor Wally Hopp, MMM program co-director, has seen a huge growth of opportunity for students in the program and after they graduate.

"Globalization has increased the need for professionals who can manage complex product-oriented enterprises. As a result, there are more companies interested in our graduates than there are graduates to fill their positions," says Hopp, from the MMM office in the Ford Center.

The 75,000-square-foot building was created to promote a "culture of design" he says. In addition to MMM student space, it includes classrooms, shops, studios, meeting areas and workrooms for collaborative projects and computer-assisted learning.

"By bringing us closer to each other and to other design and manufacturing programs, I expect this new building to make an outstanding culture even better," says Hopp.

MMM attracts students from around the world who are interested in gaining the skills needed to lead product-driven businesses. According to Sunil Chopra, the IBM Distinguished Professor of Operations at Kellogg and MMM's co-director, 85 percent of the students entering the program are engineers, but MMM also accepts students with business backgrounds who have worked in manufacturing. The curriculum, which includes a manufacturing and management core, teaches students leadership, accounting, business strategy and logistics, as well as technology and manufacturing. Even though students earn two degrees, the courses are coordinated. Some classes at the Kellogg School are geared toward engineers, while classes at the engineering school are taught from a management perspective.

"The business core looks a lot like the core of a two-year MBA program, but it's accelerated in finance and accounting," says Chopra, a leading expert on supply chain management. "The manufacturing core helps deepen the understanding of manufacturing and links this knowledge to business."

Next page: "Tomorrow's leaders need to be aware of emerging technologies"
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©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University