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The newest Kellogg EMBA graduates celebrated the completion of their studies during a June 14 Convocation.

Kellogg EMBA Convocation celebrates ‘incredible opportunity’

Global in orientation, newest graduates of Executive MBA Program eager to put their leadership to work around the world

By Elizabeth Station

6/17/2008 - Families cheered, cameras flashed and faculty beamed as 117 graduates of the Kellogg School’s Executive MBA Program received their diplomas on June 14. Before a capacity audience in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, members of EMP classes 69 and 70 celebrated their accomplishment and thanked friends, family and co-workers for supporting the pursuit of their degrees.

On June 14, Convocation speaker Barry MacLean, president and CEO of MacLean-Fogg, advised Kellogg EMBA graduates to built their organizations through ‘incremental improvement.’
Photo © Nathan Mandell
Barry MacLean, president and CEO of global manufacturer MacLean-Fogg Company, delivered the Convocation address. “It’s a real treat to be here celebrating with all you smart, well-educated and up-and-coming business leaders,” he said. “In these two classes of the Kellogg Executive MBA Program are many future and current managers, entrepreneurs and people who want to excel in groups of the highest level on their respective career paths.”

MacLean, a self-described “widget-maker from the Midwest,” heads a 4,000-employee company that provides products for automotive and power utility markets in North America, Europe and Asia. He shared 12 lessons that helped the family owned manufacturing firm grow from $3 million to $800 million in annual sales since the 1960s.

“Lesson No. 1: Grow through investments in equipment and acquisitions, but never bet the ranch,” MacLean advised graduates. “Take on leverage, but not too much, as you never know when the next down cycle will occur.” Using a baseball analogy, he also recommended growing one’s business through “bunts and singles” rather than playing for a home run.

“My experience is that good business opportunities occur when you implement incremental improvement over and over, day in and day out,” he said.

Barry MacLean

But business leaders shouldn’t be afraid to take risks, especially to develop new products and seize global opportunities. If a venture doesn’t work, MacLean said, “Applaud the people who tried. By congratulating attempts at invention and exploring the unknown, a culture is created that’s unthreatened. It is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all.”

Chosen by their peers, Thomas Aichele (EMP-69), managing director at American Airlines, and Kevin Galvin (EMP-70), vice president for investments with UBS Financial Services, also spoke at Convocation. Both emphasized the quality of their academic experience at Kellogg, as well as the obligation to serve others.

“We have been given an incredible opportunity to come here to Kellogg each week to learn, to debate and to engage with the best and the brightest so we can continue to learn ourselves,” Aichele said. “We need to use this knowledge to create better places to work and better communities to live in. We can make this happen. We are leaders. We will make a difference.”

Galvin praised Kellogg professors as “accomplished, intelligent and on the leading edge of academia … but also incredibly interested in our success.” Executive MBA students recognized four Kellogg faculty members — Michael Fishman, Steven Rogers, Mitchell Petersen and Sergio Rebelo — with top professor awards at the ceremony.

Students also gave back to Kellogg, announcing the totals of the Class Gift campaigns. Both EMP-69 and 70 boasted 100 percent participation rates, with the former garnering more than $180,000 and the latter contributing more than $83,000. The money will be used to support the EMBA Alumni Engagement Fund, which is designed to help enhance Kellogg School programming specifically oriented to its executive graduates.

Global in their outlook and experience, this year’s EMBA graduates represented more than 100 companies throughout the United States and internationally. They took courses on the Evanston campus and chose electives offered at the Kellogg School’s partner institutions in Hong Kong, Israel, Canada and Germany.

Kellogg Dean Dipak C. Jain addressed graduates of the school’s EMBA program during Convocation, held June 14.
Photo © Nathan Mandell