Kellogg Magazine  |  Fall/Winter 2015



Listening to the Market


Kellogg’s transformation began with a six-month listening tour that included conversations with thousands of alumni, faculty, students and business leaders in cities around the world.

This dialogue and the insights gained were foundational to developing Kellogg’s 7-Year Plan for Transformation. Dean Blount reflects on Kellogg’s progress.


How would you characterize Kellogg’s progress against the 7-Year Plan

We’re in the middle of year 6, and I’m awed to report that the Kellogg team — faculty, staff and students — has already achieved every change management goal that we set. All that is left is the new building. And we have done this not just by charging ahead, but throughout the process we have taken time to reflect on our performance to determine if adjustments were needed along the way.

One great example was rethinking how we recruit women to our full-time program. We hadn’t made the progress we wanted, so a year ago we stopped to restrategize. It seemed to us that we should be leading the field. Our revised strategy emphasizes Kellogg’s value proposition for women, highlighting how Kellogg provides the knowledge, skills and network women need to reach their fullest potential. We partnered with the Women’s Business Association to create a variety of meaningful touch points with prospective students, ranging from Women’s Preview Day, which includes sample classes and student panels, to alumnae dinners that connect students with senior women business leaders.

What has impressed you the most in the last 5 years?
If I had to pick three, I’d say: the caliber of people we’ve recruited to Kellogg as faculty, administrators and students; the ambitious design of the new building, which will transform how we teach, learn and engage with each other; and the incredible response to our fundraising outreach, not just for the building, but also for scholarships and wonderful new programs, like the Zell Fellows. The generosity of Kellogg’s alumni and friends has wildly exceeded my expectations.

How has Kellogg continued to be a pioneer in management education?
While all the changes matter, launching the strategic initiatives, which create a cross-disciplinary matrix with our six academic departments, has been a truly defining endeavor. The strategic initiatives have broken down disciplinary silos — fostering new dialogues, connections and thinking and jump-starting a new level of innovation in our courses. For example, through our Markets and Customers initiative and with input from employers, we totally revamped and expanded our data analytics curriculum, which is now industry-leading.
  Dean Sally Blount

What has been the biggest learning?

If making change happen is hard, making change stick is even harder. It takes persistence to develop the right performance goals and metrics across our diverse teams. I’ve never been part of a management team that took metrics, beyond financial measures, as seriously as we are now taking them at Kellogg. This performance focus has accelerated our trajectory in admissions, career management, Executive MBA, facilities — you name it. We will continue to drive that discipline as we complete the 7-Year Plan and embed these changes into our culture.

What are your priorities going forward?

Fundraising and faculty development win — hands down! Fundraising is moving along nicely and has its own momentum, but it will still take time. My major focus will be on working with my colleagues to design and launch an ambitious faculty development plan — one that reenvisions what our faculty will look like in 2020, 2025 and 2030. That is, how do we best find and enact a new intellectual vision for this century — what new ideas and areas of study should we begin to invest in and what should we begin to back off from? The world has changed profoundly since 2000 — economically, politically and socially. How we organize and invest as intellectual leaders needs to be deeply studied.

What excites you most about the future?

The new building is on the top of my list, because it is finally becoming tangible. I’m also very excited about the work we’re doing with Northwestern University. I am the co-chair of the Global Strategy Task Force for the university, where we are rethinking Northwestern’s global connections and impact. It’s an honor to be leading this effort and critical to the future of both Kellogg and NU.