Profile: James Fyffe '76
of the Kellogg School's first EMBA students recalls the program's
with a demanding full-time job and busy family life, his dream
seemed out of reach.
he read about a new program about to be launched at Northwestern
University. The Executive Master's Program, it was called,
and it seemed designed for people like him. With classes held
on weekends in Evanston, the program would be far more accessible
to his Lake Forest home than the one offered by the University
of Chicago 40 miles to the south.
took his GMATs, filled out the application and crossed his
fingers. To his delight he was accepted, and IBM agreed to
foot the bill.
the program was untested, and it had been many years since
Fyffe had had to turn in homework or study for exams. Dean
P. Jacobs and other Kellogg School administrators quickly
put him at ease.
put its very best team forward to develop that program,"
Fyffe recalls. "They were very much in listening mode,
and very respectful and supportive of the students in the
remembers the esprit de corps of that initial class and the
stimulating lectures on the sixth floor of Leverone Hall,
three years before the James L. Allen Center opened as the
school's modern EMBA facility. He recalls the apprehension
he and his classmates felt on test days and how their professors
helped diffuse it, including by hosting socials afterward
to allow them to unwind.
that time, he says, technology was not nearly so pervasive
on campus, and executive MBA students had to sign up for a
slot on the computer at the Norris University Center. "We
didn't have the plush setup that you have at the Allen Center
these days, but it worked," he says.
'78 also recalls the bemusement of full-time MBA students
at the appearance of the mid-career executives on "their"
campus Friday afternoons.
think some of them wondered what was going on, because we
only had to go to class one day a week," Fyffe says with
value of the Northwestern MBA degree soon became apparent.
Not long after he graduated, Fyffe was named director of IBM's
management and executive schools. "I'm sure if I hadn't
had the fresh MBA from Northwestern, I wouldn't have gotten
that opportunity," he says. "I had a lot of new
knowledge that fit right in."
then moved through a series of upper-level management positions
at IBM before retiring and launching his own management consultancy
30 years after becoming one of the first Kellogg EMBA grads,
Fyffe remains an enthusiastic supporter of the school. Two
of his children, Margaret Fyffe '88
and Pamela Fyffe '85,
are graduates of the Full-Time
MBA Program. He figures he's probably influenced many
others to attend Kellogg as well.
was an honor for me to be part of that program," Fyffe
says. "I'm still talking to people about it."