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Jason Chen'06

Alumni Profile: Jason Chen '06

EMBA grad finds collaborative leadership a Kellogg fundamental

By Romi Herron

A defining moment for Jason Chen occurred at Zhongshan University, when the undergraduate student read a book that would leave an indelible mark on his educational and professional ambitions.

The book’s author was Kellogg School marketing icon Philip Kotler, the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, and the impact of his writing was transformative for Chen.

“I was completely intrigued with the way economists can change the world,” says Chen ’06. “At that time, 15 years ago, China was influenced primarily by ideology. I was so compelled that I wanted to change my major to marketing, which was not offered.”

So Chen’s educational journey began with a focus on chemical engineering and economics at Zhongshan, then a master’s degree in business and finance from the London Business School and China Europe International Business School. Those credentials set him on a professional track as development manager for GE in China and, later, in several senior executive roles throughout GE’s United States offices.

But it was a brief stint managing GE’s $1.8 billion U.S. services portfolio in Waukesha, Wis., that brought Chen in proximity to the Kellogg School; in January 2005, he enrolled in the Executive MBA Program. One milestone was meeting the man whose writing inspired Chen more than a decade ago, as Kotler visited Kellogg in August, just weeks before Chen departed for his Beijing and a new role as general manager of China sourcing for GE Healthcare.

“The global reach of Kellogg has allowed me to make the most of international professional opportunities and pursue my studies at the same time,” says Chen. “Two days after I presented my transfer situation to Kellogg administration, they proposed a flexible schedule, enabling me to complete the requirements in Hong Kong.”

In another highlight, Chen regards the Global Initiatives in Management (GIM) China trip highly.

“[Assistant Dean and Chief Marketing Officer] Rich Honack did a phenomenal job exposing students to various facets of China and providing a gateway for them to expand into further exploration,” recalls Chen, who hopes to serve as a liaison for the GIM China trips and create partnerships among Kellogg and schools in China.

Inside the classroom, the importance of thought leadership and ethics were emphasized through exercises like one facilitated by J. Keith Murnighan, the Harold H. Hines Jr. Distinguished Professor of Risk Management.

“It was a gas management game theory exercise, and I wanted to win and later felt ashamed because I had intended to outsmart the others to do it,” Chen says. “The fundamental of the Kellogg School is that the point of business leadership is not to outsmart others or manipulate the rules of the game, but rather to set a new standard for the industry and for business competition.”

That level of responsibility is distinctly different from his MBA experience, he explains. The professional insights and diversity of EMBA provide a non-threatening, collaborative environment where discussion and expression across industries is invaluable.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University