Kellogg Leaders in action: Paving the road to leadership
What makes Kellogg unique? In a rapidly changing world, we provide our students with fertile soil for fruitful leadership. Our students are planting seeds to become the leaders of tomorrow, and our community supports and challenges their growth. Whether in the classroom or through global opportunities, our MBA programs sharpen analytical skills while fostering creativity and social intelligence.
Our “Kellogg Leaders in Action” series highlights adaptive, empathetic leaders who are changing the global business landscape.
Meet Jaime Vallés ’16 MBA, vice president for Latin America of Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services. For Vallés, a Miami-based graduate of the Kellogg Executive MBA Program, good leaders bring their whole selves to the table. He recently sat down with us to discuss how Kellogg encouraged him to develop a more holistic approach to business and how he’s using the lessons learned during his MBA journey for workplace transformation.
Why do you think it’s so easy to pick Kellogg alumni out of the crowd?
I don’t believe that leadership today is about your career. It’s about being, knowing, improving yourself, and continuously growing as a person in self-awareness. That goes beyond your career, to a human level. Kellogg allowed me to transform who I was as a leader and as a person with an impact in everything I do. In every human interaction, I am a Kellogg leader.
Kellogg graduates all share clear common values, which include an aspirational, transformational vision; a collaborative, people-led, respectful, trust-based approach in the execution; and the goal of making a difference. Every time I meet people that have these three characteristics and a holistic approach, there is a high possibility it is a Kellogg person.
What do you personally think it means to be a Kellogg leader?
I would describe what being a Kellogg leader is in four ways. First, commitment; second, a desire to make transformation happen; third, continuous innovation; and last, a determination to make a positive difference in everything we do. It’s about taking a low-ego approach to doing everything we do, always looking to acknowledge opportunity areas and continuously improve.
Can you share an example of how you have used your Kellogg leadership skills in your own career?
Kellogg gave me the capacity to connect the dots and understand that we can make a positive difference by continuously evolving — learning, experimenting and understanding mistakes. This low-ego approach to leadership is all about teamwork. It’s about how we win. It’s about trust-based relationships. It’s about the long-term. It’s not about trying to maximize short-term for personal benefit, but prioritizing the benefit of everybody in the community
I’ve developed a leadership style that is a lot more collaborative and focused on long-term thinking and building the best team. It’s completely different from the top-down leadership style I had seen in the past. Now, I’m more focused on teamwork, people, trust and the long-term. And I’m trying to build a non-ego environment. I think that these are the key words when you think of Kellogg: collaboration, non-ego, approachable transformation and innovation.
Can you talk about a specific example from your life when these leadership skills were utilized?
I still think about a class at Kellogg that I took with J. Keith Murnighan. Keith wrote a book called Do Nothing! How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader. I’ve given it to pretty much every member of my direct team. We talk about it and we use it, especially every time I make a mistake because it’s about acknowledging mistakes. After all, in the end, no matter how big we think about ourselves as innovators, we’re all human beings and make mistakes. I’m pretty tough and direct, and sometimes I have to say, ‘Yeah … I could have done things better.’ I then remember what Keith would say: ‘Understand it, get it, regroup, build on it and then move on.’ A lot of this same way of thinking has been embedded in the way that we’re leading the company at AWS Latin America.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Kellogg alumni community?
To me, being part of the Kellogg alumni community is a commitment and a responsibility. I’m convinced that Kellogg’s teachings point to where the world should be heading, and that technology can make a difference in emerging markets by enabling greater innovation, better healthcare and improved quality of life for countless citizens.