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Speaking to graduating Kellogg students at the April 16 Nota Bene lecture, Professors Timothy Calkins, Michael Mazzeo and Daniel Diermeier (l to r) offered advice on building a career under various economic circumstances.

Personal brand-building among topics at ‘Nota Bene’ lecture

Annual Kellogg series another way school brings top professors’ insights to students

By Adrienne Murrill

4/18/2008 - Students in the Class of 2008 at the Kellogg School of Management received some upbeat news on a topic that the media and others would have them believe is not so optimistic.

On April 16, the first of three lectures in the 2008 “Nota Bene” series for graduating students assembled some of the school’s most recognized professors to discuss the economic situation MBAs will face upon completing their studies. Professors Michael Mazzeo, Timothy Calkins and Daniel Diermeier offered their historical perspectives on challenging economic circumstances and how students from top management programs can excel even during tougher times. They spoke in the Donald P. Jacobs Center on the Evanston campus.

Mazzeo, an associate professor of management and strategy, began by presenting new research regarding the long-term effects of graduating during an economic downturn. He said the research, which included some of his own, shows there can be long-lasting effects of returning to the job market under such circumstances. However, the research is very “idiosyncratic,” he explained, because the conditions of each recession are markedly different from one another. Mazzeo was quick to point out that the negative long-term effects are less significant for more highly educated workers, particularly those with graduate degrees.

As a clinical professor of marketing, Calkins encouraged students to continue building their “personal brand” regardless of the economic conditions they will face upon graduation or in the future. He said that while it is far easier to launch a career when the economy is strong, challenges in general bring about remarkable opportunities for growth and advancement. Whether the market is up or down, it will always be crucial to be viewed as an employee of great worth and significant impact.

Diermeier, the IBM Professor of Regulation and Competitive Practice, echoed Calkins’ message by stating the importance for MBAs to differentiate themselves as they build their careers. When an economic market turns sour, he said, there may be the chance to pursue choices that would otherwise not be available, such as volunteering or interning, which can in turn further strengthen a person’s experience and abilities.

Regardless of what the headline of the day says about the markets, Kellogg students are eager to begin their careers and comforted in the fact that firms will always be in search of top talent. “Given the caliber and diversity of Kellogg students, we haven’t seen changes in the level of recruiting or interest from our corporate partners,” said Roxanne Hori, assistant dean and director of the school’s Career Management Center. According to U.S. News & World Report, Kellogg currently has the highest employment placement rate (97 percent) of all business schools. In 2007, 180 companies hired 85 percent of the Kellogg graduating class, a figure that indicates the diverse range of industries seeking the team-oriented leadership talent of Kellogg graduates.

Kellogg introduced Nota Bene — which, translated from the Latin, means “to note well” — in 2004, giving students an additional opportunity to learn from some of the school’s top professors. Designed to combine academic rigor with business relevance, the series is especially valuable to second-year students who, because of scheduling, may have been unable to attend classes with the presenting professors.

“We all covet seats in their classes and now we get to experience them all at once,” said Lisa Tan ’08, who introduced the professors. The series is sponsored by the Kellogg Student Association, the Office of the Dean and Student Affairs. For the kick-off event this year, each of the three professors lectured individually and then answered students’ questions together in a panel.

Remaining lectures in the 2008 Nota Bene series will feature Clinical Associate Professor of Management and Organizations Michelle Buck in May and Senior Associate Dean for Planning and External Relations David Besanko in June. Besanko’s lecture will present a special opportunity for graduating students and their guests to experience the intellectual excitement of the Kellogg experience.