Kellogg Leaders in action: An MBA delivers much more than hard skills
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 Bernard Dallé ’96 MBA, a former partner of London-based Index Ventures. He's spent his career reaching new heights in venture capital and has focused on propelling startups in the technology industry. But his career path, he says, wouldn’t have been possible without the interpersonal skills he gained at Kellogg. Read on to learn how his MBA experience prepared him for his own personal leadership journey.
Why do you think it’s so easy to pick Kellogg alumni out of the crowd?
One of the reasons why I decided to come to Kellogg was to round out my soft skills. I’m an engineer by training, and hard skills were always my forte. I realized; however, that to be successful, I would have to develop strong interpersonal skills. Kellogg has this very special way of putting teamwork at the center of everything while being consistently one of the world’s top business schools. The indication there is that you can be very successful while being empathetic and connected, and I think that that’s what is unique about Kellogg.
Could you share an example of how you have used your Kellogg leadership skills in your own career?
I’ve been in venture capital for a long time, initially as an investor and individual contributor, then later as a leader, making sure that I also developed the people around me to become great investors. Eventually, I became the operating partner of my firm, acting as a chief operating officer who ran the firm on behalf of my partners. As I progressed, my ability to connect, to put myself in other people’s shoes and inspire them became more important. The training I received here — working in multicultural groups in a challenging environment — taught me a lot about how to connect with people with various perspectives, and that helped me as I grew into leadership roles.
Can you describe a particular lesson or class that you can remember from when you were a Kellogg student that you still think about today?
When I went to Kellogg, Philip Kotler was the undisputed ‘godfather of marketing.’ Being in close contact with such a towering figure demystified the world of marketing for me and inspired me to raise the bar in terms of what I expected of myself.
Other professors also left a deep impression on me. Deborah Lucas, my finance professor, lit in me a real passion for finance which is still burning today. I admired her and would occasionally reach out to her for advice. I also recall an organizational behavior course taught so engagingly, and it opened my eyes to the importance of culture and organizational design, which has been extremely helpful throughout my career.
Is there a piece of advice that you would give your younger self back when you were considering coming to Kellogg?
Take a variety of classes in different areas. Focus on the breadth and push yourself because it’s by experimenting in new areas and challenging circumstances that you achieve growth.
What does it mean to you to be part of this worldwide Kellogg alumni community?
My two years here, to be honest, were two of the best years of my life. So for me, being part of this alumni community means giving back. My business school experience changed my life, and it put me on a different career trajectory: it expanded my horizons, created new connections, broadened my skillset and gave me confidence in my ability to succeed in the business world. I don’t know what my alternative path would have been if I had never come to Kellogg, but I know what my life is like now, and I credit my time here for helping me achieve a level of success. Now that I’m recently retired, I’m giving back by giving time, providing advice and being part of a very diverse and interesting network of people, which I think is also enriching for me.
Can you share an example of how you have remained involved with Kellogg and Northwestern?
I’m very proud of being a Kellogg alum, and I’m happy if I can participate to a small extent in helping this university continue to be successful in the future. My father was from Cameroon, and I lived the first 18 years of my life in Morocco. I sponsor an endowed scholarship for African students to come to Northwestern. I spoke to one of the scholarship recipients just last week, and it’s such a rewarding feeling to enable some of these talented students to attend Northwestern.