Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Summer 2001Kellogg School of Management
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Kellogg Student Conferences

MMM program stays active with conference, competition
This spring found the Master of Management and Manufacturing (MMM) program in full swing. MMM, a joint venture between the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and Northwestern's Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, hosted a conference and a product design competition, highlighting the strengths of this unique curriculum that prepares students for management roles within product-driven companies.

The Manufacturing Business Conference took place April 28 at the James L. Allen Center. The conference theme this year was "Concept to Consumer" and the event brought together industry professionals to discuss the leading edge of manufacturing and offer insight into manufacturing's impact on strategic business decisions. Six panel discussions and two keynote speakers addressed a variety of subjects, including private equity, product development, production system design and operational efficiency. Ronald M. DeFeo and Alexander "Sandy" Cutler offered the keynotes. DeFeo is chairman and CEO of Terex Corp., the global manufacturer of earthmoving and light construction equipment. Cutler is chairman and CEO of Eaton Corp., a leading diversified industrial manufacturer of fluid power and electrical systems.

"Reinventing Your Business" was among the panel discussions presenting strategic insights for manufacturers. Panelists traded ideas about how companies can best step outside of their traditional product line to compete successfully with radically different operational challenges. "Building the Highways to Operational Efficiency" discussed strategic transformation brought about by increased competition between pure-play dot-com companies and brick-and-mortar companies.

Offering additional excitement for MMM students, the New Product Design Fair was held May 30 in the Donald P. Jacobs Center. This annual event is the culmination of "Product Design Methods and Practices," one of the courses in the MMM core curriculum. Student teams competed for gift certificates provided by corporate sponsor Ford Motor Co. Booths displaying each team's product were set up in the school's Levy Atrium, and students scored points with two panels of judges. The "Wrap-n-Roll" computer cord holder won top marks from academic judges. The favorite product among the student judges was the "Eat, Drink and Shake Party Plate," designed to conveniently hold cocktail food and drinks.

Said Professor Wally Hopp, co-director of MMM, "The Design Fair is a truly exciting event. I'm always amazed by how innovative and polished the products are, given that students only have 10 weeks to design them." Hopp noted that the product development course gives students an overview of the design and marketing process for bringing new products to consumers. "Unlike engineering design courses, this class focuses on management issues related to stimulating innovation in organizations, forming effective teams and linking product development to corporate strategy," said Hopp, adding that unlike marketing courses, the class deals explicitly with technology and design.


Kellogg's biotechnology conference marks start of new era
Kellogg held its first Biotechnology Conference April 27-28 on the Evanston campus. "Biotech in the Post-Genomic Era" featured four keynote speakers and six panel discussions and marked "the beginning of an exciting initiative at Kellogg," said Alicia L�ffler, director of Kellogg's Center for Biotechnology. The student-run conference was a first of its kind and attracted more than 600 attendees from 17 states and Canada.

"Genomics today is where the computer industry was in the 1970s - at the beginning of a revolution," stated keynote speaker Randy Scott, CEO of Genomic Health, Inc. Attendees came away with an understanding of how biotechnology links multiple disciplines, such as cutting edge science, information technology, venture capital and entrepreneurship. Participants emphasized biotech's potential to improve the human condition, but acknowledged that the emerging field is rife with ethical questions that attract regulatory and religious debate.

One of the breakthroughs for the biotech industry was mapping the human genome last year. Keynote speaker Tony White, president and CEO of Applera Corp., provided perspective on the discovery. "There were only about 30,000 genes identified, far less than predicted," said White. He explained that all human genetic makeup is 99.9 percent identical regardless of race, and that humans share 98.5 percent of their genetic material with chimpanzees and 80 percent with rats. Other implications of the genomic discovery, he said, include the potential to cure serious diseases.

White predicted individualized medicine will soon be a reality and that patients will provide doctors with genetic material - a point that raised significant privacy concerns. Several speakers stressed the need to safeguard an individual's genetic profile so that the information could not be used to deny medical insurance or to discriminate in other ways. Carl Feldbaum, president of Biotechnology Industry Organization and another keynote speaker, stated the need for people to "have some personal control" over their genetic profiles. "We have to be able to get tested without the fear that our genetic information will be used against us," said Feldbaum. "We need some legislation to protect us." Feldbaum, whose organization represents more than 750 companies, academic institutions and biotechnology centers, gave an overview of the industry's demographics. There are, he said, about 1,300 biotech companies in the United States and approximately 1,000 overseas, about 85 percent of them small companies with fewer than 100 employees. Feldbaum explained that most biotech companies continue to lose money because of the tremendous cost of research and development.

Some 85 percent of all biotechnology firms have no products (and therefore no profits) and are deeply invested in research and development. Several panels provided lively discussion at the conference. One session considered how market conditions influence the biotech industry. Panelists considered the long process a drug has to go through until it can be launched on the market: it takes an average of 14.7 years to get a drug launched, and only 1 percent of all tested products even make it to clinical trials. Only 30 percent of all drugs eventually launched recover the cost of their development. A successful drug, however, can make over $150 million a year. The advances in information technology coupled with the genome discovery will reduce this timing and investment, the panel predicted, and create more opportunities for profitable, smaller-scale drugs.

Another panel focused on the new generation of biotech products and how they will be marketed. Panelist Michael Lysaght, associate professor of artificial organs at Brown University, offered insight into the field of stem cell research. Lysaght remarked that biotechnologists are now able to take human tissue and create different parts of the body, such as nerves, liver cells or living skin for burn victims. Future possibilities in this area, he said, include genetically engineered organs. These developments were lauded by Genomic Health's CEO in his keynote, but Scott also noted the importance of properly handling ethical issues surrounding patenting, privacy and cloning. "Biotechnology has the power to do phenomenally great things, and also phenomenally bad things," he said.

Scott left his audience pondering some challenging questions, asking "What does it mean to be human, and where do we stop in terms of creating new life forms?"

—Julie Hsu

©2001 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University