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Kayak CMO Robert Birge '99 delivered the alumni keynote speech to more than 600 incoming Kellogg students on Aug. 30.

Kellogg chose you because you are a leader, Kayak CMO Robert Birge 99 told incoming Kellogg students. Leave a mark.

Ready, set, go

'Kellogg chose you because you are a leader,' Kayak CMO Robert Birge '99 tells the incoming Class of 2013. 'Leave a mark.'

By Daniel P. Smith

9/1/2011 -
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Robert Birge ’99 gazed into the eyes of more than 600 incoming Kellogg students and posed the ultimate question: “Why are you here?”
The Kellogg alumnus, now chief marketing officer at travel search engine, encouraged the students to focus from the outset on what they hope to gain from their MBA experience.

“If you reflect on what you want out of Kellogg, it’s a lot easier to go out and take it,” said Birge, the alumni keynote speaker at Complete Immersion in Management (CIM), the orientation experience for new Kellogg students.

Such reflection is precisely what allowed Birge to parlay his Kellogg education into a successful business career spanning roles at sports and entertainment giant IMG as well as Miller Brewing Company and the Marketing Corporation of America. Birge said Kellogg helped him to solidify his marketing skills, encouraged a strong foundation in analytics and led him to develop cross-disciplinary abilities that have proven vital to his success.

"Understand what kind of leader you are going to be. Reflect on what your leadership style is. Kellogg chose you because you are a leader. Leave a mark," Birge said.

Birge’s speech captured the spirit of CIM Week, which initiates incoming students into the Kellogg culture. Throughout the week, a variety of activities offered new students a chance to get to know one another and develop a sense of mutual respect and mission.
One such event was Community Impact Day, during which students spent five hours constructing vegetable gardens at eight sites across Chicagoland. (Watch video)

Lindsay Galas ’12, worked with Yellow Tractor, a nonprofit that builds sustainable urban gardens, to coordinate the service day. “We’re providing opportunities for Kellogg students to cultivate personal relationships and strengthen their internal Kellogg network,” Galas explained.

“Glocal” was another CIM Week highlight, during which groups of 10 to 15 students dined at ethnic restaurants around Evanston. “We want students to know that there is great personal and professional value from interacting with and learning from their peers at Kellogg,” said Mauricio Atri ’12, the second-year student who organized the event.

Other events included a Lake Michigan boat cruise, group dinners, a visit to the Second City improvisational theatre and the CIM Olympics — as well as a full slate of activities for the partners of incoming Kellogg students and their families.