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Kellogg Interim Dean Sunil Chopra: “It is a challenging time, but it’s during times such as these that significant contributions are made.”

Sunil Chopra

Fostering a rich legacy

Dean Sunil Chopra discusses the Kellogg School’s priorities for the coming year

By Amy Trang

9/23/2009 - Kellogg School interim Dean Sunil Chopra acknowledges that these are challenging times for business schools. But even the toughest times offer a chance to make contributions of lasting significance and to build on Kellogg’s legacy.

Chopra, who will serve as interim dean until a successor to Dipak Jain is named in 2010, recently shared his thoughts regarding the Kellogg School’s priorities for the upcoming year.

What are the Kellogg School’s goals over the coming year?

Dean Sunil Chopra: One of our most important goals is sticking to our core mission — knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination. It’s my number-one priority to provide all the support needed to ensure that our faculty continue to do the best research and that our students continue to learn as much as possible, whether it’s inside or outside the classroom.

Kellogg has done a wonderful job of investing in different areas to improve upon this core mission. To achieve this, my goal is to make sure resources are available to continue making those investments. I plan to dedicate significant time and energy to identifying opportunities and securing resources for strategic investments.

Another priority is jobs. We continue to face a challenging recruiting environment. Kellogg has the luxury of having hundreds of relationships that the Career Management Center has built over the years. This year, we have to work extra hard to connect students and recruiters and ensure that our students are as well-prepared for these interviews as possible. These relationships are not easily duplicated and create a competitive advantage for the School.

My next priority is “One Kellogg.” The Kellogg School offers a very broad scope of programs and activities. We need to continue to seek opportunities to leverage across different areas and create synergies and coordination between them. For example, we offer the Executive MBA, Full-Time and Part-Time programs, and each do their own recruiting for students. The question we should be asking is: How can we leverage the synergy of these programs better than we have before?

The last priority is communication. Communication is always important, but it is especially important during periods of transition. My goal is to ensure constant communication among all the stakeholders. My hope is to spend half my time in the Jacobs Center or in different areas of Kellogg. People should see me downstairs, at lunch and other places and feel free to ask questions, and I will make sure they get answered.

What is the state of Kellogg today, and its position among the world’s top business schools?

Dean Chopra: Kellogg is fortunate to be considered among the top business schools in the world, and we worked very hard to get here. We bring in a wide variety of students and provide them with a very collaborative learning experience. We give them the broadest suite of course offerings at an extremely high level of quality to help them develop a very strong general management perspective, and we offer a variety of areas in which they can focus in greater depth. This is a positioning that works extremely well in difficult times, because that is when the holistic general management perspective is critical.

You will not find the answers to today’s problems in a single functional area. Collaboration and innovation are particularly critical. No one person is going to be able to find all the answers. A person’s ability to bring together a team with different perspectives and come up with an answer that no one else could have produced is particularly powerful today. This is our chance to move to the head of the pack, not just to be considered among the top.

What can first-year Kellogg students expect this year, entering as they did during a turbulent economic environment?

Dean Chopra: They are joining an institution whose strengths correspond extremely well to the direction the world is headed in today. We encourage a strong general management perspective with various areas of depth, and we focus on collaborative learning that leads to innovation. That is precisely what organizations around the world need today to restore the health of the global economy.

Kellogg’s mission is to develop global leaders who make contributions of lasting significance. At no other time has the world needed that more than today. It is a challenging time, but it’s during times such as these that significant contributions are made.