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Kathleen Hagerty, senior associate dean for faculty and research, addresses second-year Kellogg students during a Sept. 17 convocation welcoming them back to campus for the 2007-2008 academic term.

Kellogg leaders welcome students with sage advice

At second-year convocation, faculty challenge students to turn their remaining time at Kellogg into a springboard for success

By Aubrey Henretty

9/19/2007 - On the heels of the incoming Class of 2009’s Complete Immersion in Management Week the veteran second-year students of the Class of 2008 filled the Owen L. Coon Forum on Sept. 17 for their own Pre-Term convocation.

After asking the students if they had enjoyed a good summer (a question the audience answered with enthusiastic cheers), Dean Dipak C. Jain welcomed the students back to Kellogg for another season of learning. “For us — the deans and the senior administration — we don’t have many seasons,” Jain said. “We have only one season: the season of work.”

Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum and Teaching Sunil Chopra echoed Jain’s sentiments and reminded students that just one academic year stood between them and the one-season world of business professionals. It was time, he said, to continue the work they already had begun during their initial year at the Kellogg School: “You should be thinking about what aspects of your curriculum you need to strengthen over the next nine months.”

In the same vein, Michelle Buck, the Kellogg School’s director of leadership initiatives, encouraged students to take advantage of the school’s many opportunities to transform themselves into better leaders. “Think beyond classes that have ‘leadership’ in the title,” said Buck, noting that leaders emerge in every field of study. “The foundation of [leadership] is expertise.”

Senior Associate Dean for Planning and External Relations David Besanko also challenged the two-year students to refine the skills they had gleaned from their first year at Kellogg. They should discard primitive notions of collaboration (i.e. “Let’s just divide up the work and get it done”), he said, in favor of a more nuanced approach. “Find ways to make your team diverse and to work with people you don’t know,” said Besanko. Teams that find creative ways to combine the talents of each member consistently outshine lackluster “divide-it-up” teams, he added. “You get to the point where the whole is not just greater than the sum of its parts, but a lot greater.”

In addition to the words of encouragement from Jain, Chopra, Buck and Besanko, students received an update from Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research Kathleen Hagerty on new faculty hires and the Kellogg School’s ongoing major facilities enhancements.

As the ceremony concluded, Jain advised the students to be aware of the increasingly competitive business environment that awaits them after graduation. “Be very well prepared,” he said, “because things have changed.” Many recruiters and interviewers in a position to hire will have MBAs of their own, the dean added, so students will have to stand out both on paper and in person.

“The Kellogg School has always been known for producing leaders with a human touch,” Jain said. “Let’s not lose that touch.”