Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Winter 2004Kellogg School of Management
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Best in class
Kellogg School thought leadership brings valuable insights to many firms

By Matt Golosinski

Kellogg School students don’t wait until graduation to begin making a difference in the business world.

Thanks to partnerships between Kellogg and top firms, including Microsoft, Eisai, Philips Netherlands and Hartmarx, Kellogg student consultants can test their insights in the marketplace — combining academic rigor with real-world relevance.

Take Pankoj Tibrewal ’04 for example. While enrolled at Kellogg, Tibrewal worked on a successful project for Philips Netherlands that helped the electronics giant better understand the strategic options surrounding a U.S. product launch. Everyone involved in the initiative took it seriously, with Philips flying Tibrewal and his teammate, Neville Davey ’04, to Amsterdam where the pair met with management.

“It was very real,” says Tibrewal, now an associate at McKinsey.

The Kellogg students marshaled frameworks learned inside the classroom, including insights on marketing, new products, channels and nonmarket environments.

“It was a wonderful experience,” says Tibrewal.

For Philips Netherlands too.

"We needed a fast, reliable, high-quality and thorough analysis of the distribution possibilities within the United States," says Fred Housheer, senior product marketing manager, suncare, for Philips. "The Kellogg team delivered a superb contribution." Housheer is a graduate of business school at Nyenrode University, The Netherlands. As part of his education, he attended two courses taught by Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain.

The partnership between Kellogg and Hartmarx has also produced strong results for each. Homi Patel, CEO for the apparel-maker, is pleased by the long relationship between his firm and the Kellogg School, and with the consulting efforts of Aman Grewal ’04, who worked under the tutelage of Dean Jain.

“At the board level, we were talking about selling some of our products direct-to-consumer via the Web,” says Patel. “What was not clear to us was which products would be best for online sales.”

Grewal’s extensive empirical research was impressive and valuable to the firm, says Patel. “We’ve used a lot of what was presented, especially in terms of what products to bundle and how to brand them.”

The experience was valuable for Grewal, introducing him to an industry with which he had little previous exposure. To learn what Hartmarx offerings were appropriate for online retail, he first needed to understand the motivations of online customers.

So he turned to his Kellogg School peers. “It seemed that a survey of Kellogg students, though not perfectly representative, would form a good pilot study,” says Grewal, now a strategist in revenue management at United Airlines.

“Designing and executing this survey would have been impossible without the vast pool of Kellogg resources, including alumni, students and faculty,” he adds. “Even Dean Jain patiently fielded questions on survey design.”

Kellogg students work under the guidance of Kellogg faculty advisers, such as Clinical Associate Professor Tim Calkins, who oversaw a growth strategies project involving pharmaceutical firm Eisai Inc.

“These are innovative projects with insights and dynamics that are different from what a company might get from an actual consulting firm,” says Calkins. Kellogg students bring fresh thinking to business issues, he notes, but finding the right design for a project demands commitment from all involved: students, faculty and the companies.

“A lot of work goes into setting up these projects, and the firms need to be full partners with us,” he says. The companies also must be willing to grant access to senior management and information, something that Eisai did.

For Allison Berger ’05, the Eisai project offered much that extended the learnings obtained in her classes.

“The experience gave me high visibility to senior management as well as a high-level view of the corporation and strategic decision making,” she says.

For others too, the consulting project was a powerful educational tool that opened doors — even to the boardroom.

“The high point of my project was the occasion to present my findings to the board of directors at Hartmarx,” Grewal says. “This was an opportunity that not many business school students get during their ‘summer internships.’”

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©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University