Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Winter 2009

KSA Then & Now: Jenny Franke Lynn '97

'Every time I've been in a different role, I've used some of the skills I learned at Kellogg'

By Amy Trang

It was the dawn of the dot-com era.

  The 1997 GMA cabinet. Bottom row, from left: Sadhana Dixit Joliet, Kymm Bartlett and Jenny Franke Lynn. Top row, from left: Sanjay Kapoor and Rick Heller.
  Lynn in 2009, with family. From left: son Nicholas, husband Mike, son Nathan, daughter Louisa, Lynn and daughter Abby Jo.

Technology jobs were hot in 1997, and so was the dream of launching a technology startup. Inspired by the ready availability of venture capital and the chance to create their own business, students flocked to Kellogg's entrepreneurship curriculum, hoping to gain the skills — and the savvy — to take advantage of the boom.

"People were bidding all they could" to get into entrepreneurship classes, recalls Jenny Franke Lynn '97, then-president of the Graduate Management Association. "It was really the first year that people were joining technology companies and startups in larger numbers."

Accordingly, technology became a top priority for the GMA (now the Kellogg Student Association), which in the mid-1990s laid the groundwork for innovations that are now integral to life at Kellogg.

During their campaign for office, Lynn and her slate created a new position — vice president of technology, then filled by Sadhana Dixit Joliet '97 — that is still active today. The GMA's technology committee worked to focus the school's enthusiasm for technology initiatives, hosting roundtables for computer lab consultants, Kellogg Information Systems staffers and organizers of the school's technology conference.

Among the most important results of those meetings was the creation of the Kellogg Laptop Program, which gave each student the option to purchase a laptop computer that would be supported by the school. The discussions also spurred the revamping of the Kellogg Serial, an intranet that today serves as a comprehensive source of student information.

That year's GMA took an active role in boosting the school's culture, spearheading the pursuit of corporate sponsorships for Friday TGs. It also organized a quarterly event during which students could meet informally at the James L. Allen Center with then-Dean Donald Jacobs and other members of the administration. Discussions focused on how to improve the curriculum, the student culture and the overall Kellogg experience.

"Kellogg students took seriously the notion that their input mattered. They would e-mail us about everything from a squeaky chair in Room 201 to what kind of computer they would like to have for the laptop program," Lynn says. "Students appreciated the amount of input they could give to the school. As members of the GMA, we also felt that our voice and opinions were valued, and that's what made all of the volunteer hours so rewarding."

Lynn says the GMA leadership experience reinforced her interest in public policy, culminating in a year as a White House Fellow in 2001.

"I arrived at Kellogg with a nonprofit and social justice background. The GMA furthered my interest in working with different groups to achieve an end goal," Lynn says. "You are working with administrators, professors and students and you are trying to motivate them to accomplish something. It motivated me to explore policy and politics on a much larger scale."

After graduating from Kellogg, Lynn worked in the consulting industry in Chicago and San Francisco and later joined Embark, an online college application provider. She also served as a senior director of marketing at technology company PGP Corporation for five years.

Lynn left the workforce in 2007 to be home with her children Nicholas, now 8, Louisa, 4, Nathan, 3 and Abby Jo, 2. The shift has allowed her to return to nonprofit work with The Cancer League Inc., the Piedmont (CA) public schools, and the board of her children's preschool.

"I'm so grateful for my Kellogg degree," Lynn says. "I've felt equipped for every phase of life so far. Every time I've been in a different role, I've used some of the skills I learned at Kellogg."

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