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Steven Rogers, the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, leads a May 3 MBA Update during Kellogg Reunion.

Kellogg grads treated to ‘Update’ on school’s entrepreneurship program

Curriculum prepares alumni to lead any company, Prof. Steven Rogers tells Reunion participants

By Adrienne Murrill

5/7/2008 - “I absolutely love teaching alumni,” Steven Rogers announced to a crowded classroom in the Donald P. Jacobs Center where Kellogg Reunion participants had gathered. On May 3, former students of the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship filed into his MBA Update session to benefit from the insights he offers MBA students during courses like Entrepreneurial Finance.

Rogers, an entrepreneurship expert, spoke for more than two hours about the subject and why he believes it important to the American economy. One of seven MBA Updates during Reunion weekend, these intensive lectures exposed alumni to the school’s top faculty and the leadership frameworks they offer today’s Kellogg students.

“When I think of Steve Rogers, I think of a successful business person, entrepreneur and author, but mainly … I think of him as a teacher,” said Associate Dean David Besanko ’82 upon introducing the professor to alumni. Besanko emphasized Rogers’ popularity among students, not for being an easy teacher, but rather one who is “inspirational, tough and demanding.”

Rogers led the MBA Update as he does his classes, joking with alumni that they would participate —voluntarily or involuntarily — in the discussion. “I haven’t lost a student to cold calling,” he said, “and I won’t lose one today.”

The professor gave a brief description of the Kellogg School’s entrepreneurship program, which was presented in more detail in a video at the closing of the lecture. “Not only should we teach entrepreneurship here and provide entrepreneurial experiences to our students, we believe we should also be the innovator for Kellogg,” said Rogers, director of the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice. “We should have new, bright ideas that other departments at Kellogg emulate.”

One example he touted was a recent initiative to create 30 new case studies for the entrepreneurship program that will highlight Kellogg alumni and their firms. “Our intent is to get into the business of showing Kellogg in its highest light as well as extending the Kellogg brand throughout the world by having our cases purchased and taught by other schools.”

Rogers explained that entrepreneurs are his “personal heroes and ‘she-roes’ because they do good for society by doing good for themselves.” This happens, in part, because successful entrepreneurs create jobs, which better the country and the world, he added.

In Rogers’ classes, he focuses on “high-growth” entrepreneurs. To fall into this category, a person has a business plan that fosters exponential growth over time, creating wealth for the owner, her employees and investors. The startup is the purest form of entrepreneurship, but franchisees/franchisors and acquirers are also examples of high-growth entrepreneurs, he said. Rogers gave many examples of business owners, including successful Kellogg alumni, such as Doug Cook ’98, president of Feldco window company.

One of Cook’s advantages was his Kellogg MBA, which Rogers said helped him build a brand for Feldco. Although he didn’t know anything about window replacement prior to owning the company, Cook’s degree gave him the necessary tools to lead the company to success.

“At Kellogg, we’re in the business of developing leaders, and we want to empower our students and all of you … with the confidence and ability to run anything,” Rogers said. “As a leader, you are trying to move a group of people toward a common goal, and all of you should have this sense of confidence that you can lead any kind of company.”