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A gathering of great minds

Around the world, academics and practitioners convened at the Kellogg School's Centennial conferences to discuss top issues in management

In 2008, the Kellogg School of Management hit a milestone: It turned 100 years old. To mark the occasion, the school kicked off a year-long Centennial Celebration in October. The series of global events, conferences and galas will continue through May 2009.

But the Kellogg School has used this anniversary to do more than just celebrate. Across the globe, the Centennial conferences have explored the shifting economic climate and issues facing businesses worldwide. Leading practitioners and academics have offered their expertise on topics such as customer-centricity, innovation, capital markets and brand architecture. In short, these conferences have helped leaders navigate the changing realities of business today.

Centennial Conference Miami
Photo © Carlos Baez

Centennial Conference, Miami
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The Miami conference, held Jan. 11-12 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, explored the theme of "Customer-Centric Innovation." Business leaders discussed methods to drive innovation, manage intellectual property and cultivate "intrapreneurship." Carlos Dominguiz, senior vice president at Cisco Systems Inc., advised business leaders to use the crisis as an opportunity to innovate. "This is the time to do it," he said. "Take the risk, take time to experiment."

  Centennial Conference Zurich
  Photo © Joanna Plumbe
Centennial Conference, Zurich
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On Feb. 1-2, academics and practitioners at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue in Zurich discussed "Leading in a Changing Global Environment — From Threats to Opportunities." The conference's keynote speakers focused on Eastern Europe's role in the global economy, risk, and challenges in the automotive industry. Kellogg School faculty taught four sessions: Banking for the Bottom of the Pyramid, Managing Corporate Reputations in Difficult Times, Harnessing Power to Capture Leadership and Value in Diversity.

Centennial Signature Event: Global Insight, Chicago  
Photo © Dan Dry  
Centennial Signature Event: Global Insight, Chicago
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At the Feb. 20 signature event at Chicago Hilton & Towers, attended by over 700, Jim Skinner (left), vice chairman and CEO of McDonald's, delivered the luncheon address, "Building a Global Brand." Skinner explained that his strategy for reviving McDonald's global image incorporated employee collaboration; listening to customers; honing in on different countries' customs and traditions; establishing healthy environmental operations; and managing company talent.

Centennial Conference, New York
Photo © Kevin Wick/Longview Photography

Centennial Conference, New York
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The March 10-11 conference, held at The Plaza Hotel in New York, explored "The Future of Capital Markets" through a series of keynotes and panel discussions. Topics included market-based solutions to environmental problems; an assessment of Wall Street, hedge funds and private equity; the shifting regulatory environment; and risk management. Despite the economic meltdown, speakers offered an optimistic perspective. "If any economy in the world is good at restructuring itself, it's our economy," said Robert Korajczyk, the conference chair and Harry G. Guthmann Professor of Finance.

  Centennial Conference, Shanghai
  Photo © Philip Jarrell
Centennial Conference, Shanghai
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The final conference of the series, held March 25-26 at the JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai, addressed "The Architecture for Global Brands: Leveraging Corporate Capability, Customer Insight and Competitive Strength." In his keynote address, Jack Ma (right), founder & CEO of the Alibaba Group, shared his thoughts on the Chinese and international economies. Ma also said that the reactions of nations and companies to harsh conditions are indicative of their strength. Other conference topics included changes in marketing opportunities, building global brands and the transition of the Chinese economy.

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