Profile: Michele Azar '06
program helped Best Buy Business VP forge relationships with
her company's top brass
needed to touch the product before knowing how to buy it,"
says the Best Buy For Business vice president. This need prompted
her to seek membership in Best Buy's computer product "user
group" — a group of tech-heads charged with testing
and evaluating the products for vendors — shortly after
she joined the company in 1997.
request surprised Azar's new employers. "One of the buyers
nearly fell over," recalls Azar, who did end up joining
the group. "[The experience] enabled me to be a better
supply chain manager," she says. "And it was pretty
cool to learn the products."
passion for her work (and a sense of adventure) led Azar to
enroll in the Kellogg
School's Executive MBA Program. Beyond the program's academic
rigors, Azar would continue her work with Best Buy, fit 32
flights from Minneapolis to Chicago into her already crowded
business travel schedule and still find time to spend with
her husband and two young daughters.
says support from both family and company was crucial to her
academic success. Her husband, a self-employed lawyer, cut
back on his working hours to tackle extra domestic duties,
and her brother-in-law, Pablo Azar '94, often hosted
her daughters in Winnetka, Ill. — where he lives with
his own children — while she was attending class in
she was applying to the EMBA program, Azar sat down with Best
Buy's senior management. "I set very specific goals within
my development plan that spelled out the desire to become
part of senior leadership," she says. "Then, I outlined
three specific goals in my application to Kellogg and held
myself accountable to those goals at the end of the program."
planning and perseverance paid off. "Less than one year
into the program," she says, "I was promoted to
vice president of Best Buy For Business."
Kellogg toolkit in hand, Azar was up to the task. "At
Best Buy, part of being a good leader is to bring in outside
expertise to the organization," she says. "The Kellogg
experience enabled me to leverage a whole new network of thought
leaders to help Best Buy with strategic issues." During
her time in the EMBA program, she gleaned insights from the
Kellogg School's Global
Initiatives in Management course about how to enter the
Chinese market. She shared the ideas with executives at her
was a great chance to use my studies to get to know more leaders
at Best Buy," she says.
with enhancing communication between Azar and her Best Buy
colleagues, the EMBA program also helped her establish professional
connections around the world.
of whether she lives in Chicago, China or South America, she
says, the Kellogg education will continue to round out her
life: "Part of being a great mom and a great leader and
a great executive is making yourself whole."