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Miami gala group
Community leaders join Kellogg faculty, staff and students for the February launch of the school's new Miami-based EMBA program. From left, Barry Johnson, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; Jeanette Slesnick; Dean Dipak C. Jain; Lettie Bien, president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce; and Don Slesnick, mayor of Coral Gables.  Photo © Nathan Mandell

Gala launch for Kellogg-Miami Executive MBA Program

New Executive MBA initiative serves Latin America, delivers on school's 'moral imperative' to extend global leadership influence

By Matt Golosinski

How could the top-ranked Executive MBA Program in the world get better? By adding palm trees, tropical flowers and 80-degree days to the same rigorous curriculum that has for years distinguished the Kellogg School EMBA offerings.

With the official launch of the Kellogg-Miami EMBA Program in January, 42 executive students, many from countries such as Chile, Columbia, Honduras and El Salvador, joined the Kellogg family as the school continues its strategic global expansion.

Of course, Kellogg selected Coral Gables, Fla., a Miami suburb, as the location of its latest extension for reasons independent of weather: The area is regarded as the unofficial capital of Latin America, a geographical segment under-served in the executive education marketplace. While the program is open to qualified candidates from any location, the school expects 50 percent of applicants to come from Central and South America.

A Feb. 13 ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables formally marked the Miami launch and was attended by regional political figures and dozens of Kellogg faculty, staff, alumni and new EMBA students. During the event, Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain articulated his views about the program's importance within the portfolio of existing Kellogg EMBA offerings in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Asia.

"Today, we see a dream coming true," said the dean, who received a key to the city of Coral Gables from its mayor, Don Slesnick. "With this piece, we continue our mission to bring the Kellogg School's leadership to executives worldwide through our global centers of knowledge that unite all Kellogg students and alumni."

These global centers provide a unified academic platform, said Jain. "Students who are enrolled in our curriculum in Germany, for example, will have the chance to continue their education at our partner school in Hong Kong, if their professional obligations require them to relocate."

Dean Jain also spoke about the value that the Kellogg-Miami EMBA Program brings to participants from Central and South America. His recent travels have brought him face to face with management challenges confronting leaders in nations such as El Salvador and Nicaragua, whose histories include widespread civil unrest.

"We have a moral imperative to bring our leadership to the people of Latin America, many of whom have suffered under adverse economic and political conditions," said Jain. "This objective is consistent with the Kellogg School mission to create socially responsible global leaders who contribute to the community in important ways, both in their professional and personal lives."

  Professor Murnighan with Miami students
  Students from the inaugural Kellogg-Miami EMBA Program work collaboratively on an assignment in February as J. Keith Murnighan, the Harold H. Hines Jr. Distinguished Professor of Risk Management, offers his insights.  Photo © Nathan Mandell
One culture

Similar to facilities in the James L. Allen Center, the new classroom and study-group spaces in Coral Gables are equipped with all the audio-visual, computer and wireless technology that students in Evanston enjoy. The program also provides the same top-quality courses and faculty as those in any other Kellogg EMBA offering.

Most immediately noticeable in the new program is the presence of the Kellogg culture. Rooted in teamwork and inclusiveness, this culture has been a Kellogg hallmark since the 1970s, and it is obvious that members of the Miami class already share a powerful bond.

In fact, after an intensive January "Live-In Week," this connection was so strong that one student, Johanna Cubillos Garzon, vice president of Citigroup Global Markets, invited classmates to her February wedding in Columbia. Several peers accepted the offer.

"It's been an awesome experience and we know that we're going to be sharing two years together here," said Garzon. "I feel enchanted that classmates were with me at my wedding, because these are friendships that we're going to have forever."

The warm social interactions spring from an academic core that has brought together students from diverse industries, including financial services, manufacturing, technology, consulting, law and nonprofit arenas. For students such as Gregg Francis, CFO of Mango's Tropical Café, a $20 million Miami-based corporation, the Kellogg curriculum is paying immediate dividends.

"Kellogg is giving me the tools, resources, human capital and love to expand my intellectual landscape," said Francis, adding that the curriculum is "extremely challenging but always rewarding."

Others are similarly impressed by what they have seen in the general management curriculum and how it helps leverage their wide-ranging professional experience.

For instance, as a University of Illinois undergraduate, Michael Wilkinson says he majored in ornamental horticulture and planned to design golf courses, then went on to play golf professionally for five years before making the transition to the business world. 

"I've had a lot of experiences and am looking to Kellogg to help tie all that knowledge together in a way that elevates my career by formalizing and legitimizing what I've learned in real-world practice," said Wilkinson, national account manager for CIT.

A dream delayed

For several years, Kellogg explored how best to deliver executive education to Latin America. Talk initially centered on establishing a school in Brazil, Chile or Argentina, but after much consultation Kellogg decided that Miami was the ideal location for its new EMBA program.

Logistical challenges, including the arrival of Hurricane Wilma last October, forced construction delays and postponement of the launch until January, when students began studying in facilities in the Hyatt Regency, a luxury accommodation directly adjacent to the Kellogg classroom and group study rooms.

By January, members of Kellogg Information Systems were among those handling a host of technological details in the new facility. In February, Kellogg staff put the finishing touches on the classroom after managing a flurry of issues related to construction and occupancy, including securing municipal permits and inspection approvals.

The initiative's complexity demanded attention to the smallest details: "We were ready to deliver our first course when Professor Al Isenman asked, 'Do we have chalk?' Well, we were paying attention to all these big-picture issues and meanwhile we needed to run out and get some chalk," said Bernie Birt, associate director of student affairs for the Kellogg EMBA program.

In addition to Birt, several Kellogg staff members played key roles in bringing the Miami program to life, including Eric Fridman, assistant dean and director of marketing for EMBA, and Julie Cisek Jones, assistant dean and director of Executive MBA Programs. In Miami, Alejandra Medina offered important logistical support and continues to be the local program manager. Many other Kellogg staff members also contributed to the effort, and Dean Jain recognized them during the program launch.

Prime-mover advantage

Kellogg is the first top-tier MBA school to establish a presence that meets the needs of professionals from Latin America and the southeast United States by coming to them.

"With the Kellogg-Miami program, we are responding to market needs that demand new ways of delivering our academic mission," said Dean Jain. "We can no longer wait for students to come to us; we must be prepared to bring our offerings directly to them."

This convenience matters to students such as Peruvian-born Osmar Coronel, now living in Guatemala and commuting three hours to Miami for the Kellogg program. The chief technical officer for cellular operator Comcel said having Florida as their final destination, rather than transferring planes and continuing on to Chicago, means students face fewer logistical hurdles and can focus on their studies.

"The high quality of the teaching, the emphasis on teamwork and [the chance to] network were the reasons I chose Kellogg," added Coronel. 

He especially appreciates the international flavor of the EMBA class, noting that his firm conducts business in 16 countries and has staff located from Singapore to Finland to Nigeria. This international market has inspired the Kellogg School to create knowledge centers on several continents; Miami is important to bringing the school's thought leadership to Latin America.

But Kellogg intends to deliver more than a heralded EMBA program to Miami, said Dean Jain. It also is creating a long-term relationship with the region's business and government, creating opportunities for the school, its students and alumni and residents of the Miami area. The school has already made a regional impact.

Said Lettie Bien, president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce: "Working with Kellogg has been a joy. This is a group that has really, truly integrated itself into this community and will continue to do so. We are flattered and honored."

Mayor Slesnick also expressed his enthusiasm. "We are tremendously excited about this partnership," he said. "Evanston is to Chicago what Coral Gables is to Miami. Kellogg picked the right place to establish this world-famous executive education program. Our goal is to provide the kind of atmosphere in downtown Coral Gables that ensures people keep coming back, for both the education and the environment."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University