Enhancing Executive Education customer-experience: My own mix of Indian garam masala
As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022 comes to an end, Kellogg Executive Education senior director Naini Serohi reflects on the joys she finds in her life and work. Naini serves as president of Kellogg Honoring Asian Identities (KHAI), an employee resource group for staff that aims to build awareness of the different countries and cultures represented in the Kellogg community.
A lot has happened in these past two years. We are all constantly reminded of how various populations have been affected by domestic and world events. So, let us take the time to remember all that is fun and good in life to help us keep our chins up through the toughest of times and bring that extra flavor to our work.
I am a fearless foodie, scanning lists for that new chef in town or that unique restaurant putting its own twist on food. I am always trying to figure out what went into that experiment to make it taste amazing or what could have they done better. I am an extrovert, known to be a great hostess and apparently a good cook (if my inner circle is to be trusted). This, I believe, comes from my Indian culture where “the guest” is given an equivalent status to God. We go out of our way to host them. I am not a formally trained cook, I have never followed recipes and I love to create my own mixes. I mix spices from completely different ethnic global cuisines — my very own form of garam masala (a mixture of north Indian spices, added towards the end for extra flavor). My experimentation with spices has been further fed through my curiosity about cultures and languages during travels globally throughout my life in India, Japan, Germany and of course, the United States.
So, what does that have to do with enhancing customer-experience at a business school? No, I am not a chef. I design and run senior executive–level programs aimed at providing advanced management education. I am also responsible for designing new programs and thinking about new ways of delivering content, relevant to the next generation of global business leaders.
As I reflect during this season of performance reviews and at the close of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I cannot help but make a connection: I see it in the design of my programs and in my interactions with global business executives. I see it in the program design and customer interactions of colleagues who have diverse backgrounds as myself. There is something to a curious mindset and a willingness to experiment and try new things that drives customer engagement in a unique way. A diverse and curious workforce tends to bring their own flavor on how to think about content, how to mix and deliver it and what extra spices and ingredients to add to make for a very tasty dish. It is also a joy to go this extra step for an equally diverse set of participants, who see and understand those extra little touches of culture sprinkled throughout the design; to see the smile on their faces when they find some little piece of their home country placed quietly at their desks or in their hotel rooms by that culturally intuitive program manager.
There is so much to look forward to — in food and at work. I hope that all my friends and colleagues at Kellogg can add their own mix of garam masala to their lives and work, for that extra little zing and umami.
Celebrating AAPIHM at Kellogg
Alumna and LinkedIn product manager Shyvee Shi ’16 reflects on her Chinese upbringing and how she has balanced more traditional Chinese values throughout her career.
Ajit Kalra ’20 (E&W) and his wife Sukhu (JV) share how Kellogg gave them the confidence to go after their entrepreneurial dreams: launching Bhoomi Modern Indian Grill, a new fast-casual restaurant concept rooted in their family’s culinary heritage.
Meet the AAPI student clubs at Kellogg, and discover events celebrated throughout this month.