Blending creativity and design with business in the MMM Program
Maanil Dodani ’25 MMM hails from Mumbai, India. Before joining the immersive dual-degree MMM Program at Kellogg, he worked at Landor & Fitch — one of the world’s largest brand strategy and design firms. He joined the firm as an intern and rose to be the youngest director in the firm’s history, leading sales and marketing across India and the Asia Pacific region. Dodani is also a professional namer and has named brands across the world.
Learn more about Dodani’s first few months on campus as an international student and what it has meant for him to be a part of the Kellogg (and MMM) community.
Why did you opt for this dual-degree program, and how do you feel it will benefit your career growth?
Imagine this business scenario: two airlines want to reduce the amount of weight they carry onboard while still being fully booked. Both airlines spotted an opportunity to do something about the onboard meal service. One airline reduced the amount and number of items offered to every passenger. However, with this move they brought the weight and their customer ratings down in less than two months.
The other airline redesigned the food trays, making them smaller, using lightweight materials and using a smaller food trolley. The result? They brought the weight down, won an award for championing sustainability and are now one of the most profitable airlines in the Asia Pacific region.
I believe that creativity and design are meta-skills for the next generation of managers. I wanted to hone these skills from my prior experience working in brand consulting while building a solid foundation of core business skills and problem-solving toolkits offered by the Kellogg MBA.
The MMM program offered this unique blend of left and right brain thinking and communication. The curriculum is robust and focuses on using a design-centric, creativity-first approach to framing and solving problems and innovating new solutions. Bringing human-centered design frameworks to the workplace helps me frame problems differently, look at the problem from different vantage points and then merge creativity, technology and business skills to arrive at an innovative solution.
What swayed me toward the MMM Program finally were the number of experiential lab courses and hands-on projects we would do as a cohort to apply these skills in real time — not just learn them in theory.
What courses did you take this summer, and which are you particularly looking forward to taking later this year?
The Kellogg and McCormick curriculums truly work together to bring the MMM experience to life. Summer focuses on core MBA courses that include business analytics and accounting. The flexibility of the curriculum allows me to qualify for advanced electives, which I took advantage of by taking Professor Aharon (Roni) Ofer’s fantastic Accelerated Corporate Finance course that challenged me to think differently about finance and had some truly challenging casework.
For the MMM curriculum I took Professor James Conley’s Appropriability by Design, which delves into how intellectual property is managed and how using appropriability regimes like trademarks, copyrights and patents can both protect and extend the runway for products and services.
I am looking forward to one of our most popular MMM courses: Research – Design – Build (RBD). This fall, students in the MMM Program will attempt to solve real business challenges with challenge partners, including Marriott.
We’ll be split into teams and will learn design-thinking frameworks and methodologies that we will apply to the challenge at hand. The course includes classroom training, studio walkthroughs, ethnographic research, rapid prototyping, user testing and some healthy competition!
The classes will be in the evenings during the week and provide a great segway into some social events where we discuss ideas and get some much-needed downtime. I am also looking forward to Venture Lab, in which students work at a VC firm either on the deal advisory or operations side and getting to experience the inner workings of venture capital firms and their operating companies.
What are you enjoying most so far about the student culture at Kellogg?
As an international student moving to the United States — specifically to Evanston — I have welcomed a string of “firsts.” Navigating a new food system, living by yourself and acclimatizing to a new culture can be daunting — emphasis on the “can be.” Fortunately, it hasn't been the case for me all thanks to my diverse peer group of 64 “MMMs” (triple Ms) also known as the “faMMM.”
The culture at Kellogg, and more specifically in the MMM Program, has been a source of intellectual stimulation, emotional strength, and heartfelt support. There’s always someone around to listen when you need to talk (or vent!), and friends are ready to help with everything from moving in and doing grocery runs to putting together an outfit for the next theme party.
The faMMM has spent the entire summer together: bonding over classes, projects, shared experiences, and of course, exams! We’ve managed to get to know each other and lay the bedrock for what will be friendships for a lifetime. This was catalyzed by our amazing summer social committee who put together some fantastic activities, like a beach outing and other social events, to help in getting to know each other.
But we’re not just about high-involvement events. We also host SGDs, or small group dinners, that bring us into more intimate settings for deeper conversations, food from different countries and some time to reflect on our collective life experiences.
How are you preparing for the upcoming recruiting season? What are the kinds of support you’ve received as an international student?
After Kellogg, I’m hoping to make a big career pivot. The recruiting season can be really overwhelming sometimes, with all the deadlines, interviews and networking. Thankfully, I’ve had access to two crucial resources that have helped bring order to the flurry of activity.
The first is the Kellogg Career Management Center. I have access to a dedicated CMC coach (shoutout to Megan Thomas!) who has talked me through building sophisticated target lists, understanding the cultural and professional nuances of recruiting in America and charting out a pivot plan.
The second is a host of student and club resources, which have been invaluable. At Kellogg, our collaborative culture helps all of us navigate the world of recruiting together. No matter which industry you’re looking to recruit for, students from each industry and function gather to support each other through coffee chats, review resumes, interview prep, and even networking with your target firm. Here are just a few examples:
- Large Group Trainings – These hour-long, hands-on sessions run by the Kellogg Consulting Club dive into casing, interviewing, case math and other key skills you need to successfully recruit for consulting. It’s a big a-ha moment for those looking at consulting as their first post-MBA job.
- Interview Prep Groups – Two to three students with relevant experience team up to run weekly sessions on interview preps in small, intimate groups of 6 to 7 first-year students. We learn the basics together, and then practice with each other and provide candid feedback for improvement.
- Career Peers – Every first-year student has access to a roster of second years who act as career peers from the start of Fall to the end of recruiting season. A career peer is a vital resource to discuss your next move, a cover letter or simply provide some moral support! I’ve found that career peers, having been through the experience of recruiting less than 12 months ago, provide invaluable intel and tactics that are useful for preparation and game day.
What else are you looking forward to this fall?
The summer has been exhilarating to say the least, and I’m looking forward to the turn of color in Evanston during the fall and pursuing a hobby I’ve been wanting to for a long time – flying. Chicago has many great flight schools and I’m hoping to see Chicagoland – from above!