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News & Events

New EMBA grads join Kellogg alumni ranks

By Ed Finkel

12/1/2005 - The Kellogg School’s Executive Master’s Program celebrated its newest graduating class during a Dec. 10 ceremony in the Alice Millar Chapel on the Evanston campus. Seventy-four members of EMP-61 listened as keynote speaker Edward Zander, Motorola chairman and CEO, reflected on his professional journey.

EMBA Commencement Keynote
Edward Zander, Motorola chairman and CEO 12/10/05
"I’m not sure if you wanted to hear my thoughts about leadership, or if you just wanted to hear about the latest new phones,” Zander said to laughter, then provided the former.

He said he rose steadily through the management ranks before becoming CEO of the $32 billion, 68,000-employee Motorola two years ago. The top job at the firm has “tested everything I’ve ever learned. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Zander said he reached that level by working for great leaders who provided a "real-world MBA,” pushing the career envelope rather than getting too comfortable, keeping a tight focus on the customer, and building his own management style by synthesizing others’ styles rather than directly emulating anyone.

"I tried to build ‘Ed Zander the manager’ … and then ‘Ed Zander the CEO,’” he said. “I’m still learning, and I’m hoping to do even better in the years to come.”

The most important qualities in a successful CEO, Zander believes, are courage, passion, strong communication of clearly defined goals, character and ethics, a sense of fun and balance in life, and a willingness to change even when things are going well.

"Just when you have the most success, take a look around,” he said. “It’s much easier to change when you’re doing well than when you’re not.”

Student speaker Vanessa Borchers saluted the diversity of her classmates. They range in age from 29 to 55 and work as professionals in eclectic industries such as fashion design, aviation, accounting and law, she said. All of them flew into Evanston every other weekend from points as distant as Chile, India and Lebanon.

Classmates whom Borchers asked for reflections on what they had learned in the EMBA program said they now understand the larger business context, appreciate the importance of working in teams, have discovered a “passion for the art of business” and know that “diversity does create strength,” she said, adding, “We learned from each other.”

They also learned from top Kellogg faculty, such as Sunil Chopra and Sergio Rebelo. Chopra, an international thought leader in supply chain management, was nominated as EMP-61’s top professor for the core curriculum, while Rebelo, an expert in global macroeconomics, earned the same distinction for the electives curriculum.

Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain began the convocation by cautioning the graduates to expect adversity as they moved ahead, but he exhorted them to maintain a positive attitude. He drew a metaphor from the 2004 Asian tsunami, in which tens of thousands of people died, but animals seemed to have sixth sense and headed for safety.

"At a time of crisis, those who make the right decisions are those who have their feet on the ground,” remain aware of their surroundings and understand potential threats in time to react accordingly, Jain said.