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Kellogg Executive MBA graduates celebrate their graduation from the program June 13.

2009 Executive MBA Convocation

2009 Executive MBA Convocation

Aircell CEO Jack Blumenstein encourages graduates to challenge their own assumptions as they travel life’s path

By Jennifer Beck

6/19/2009 - Gratitude for the Kellogg experience, for family and friends, and for the larger life journey emerged as a common theme June 13 during the Kellogg Executive MBA convocation ceremony.

The event in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall honored 107 graduates from classes EMP-73 and EMP-74, plus 18 from Kellogg programs abroad. Dean Dipak C. Jain welcomed guests and graduates to the event, noting it marked his final Executive MBA Convocation as dean. Jain will step down and return to the Kellogg School faculty on Sept. 1.

Aircell President and CEO Jack Blumenstein
Aircell President and CEO Jack Blumenstein delivered the Convocation address.
Photo © Nathan Mandell
Aircell President and CEO Jack Blumenstein delivered the convocation address, offering insights from his own professional experience. Blumenstein challenged the graduates to consider several questions. “What assumptions do you hold today about your industry, your career, and your future, and how many of those will turn out to be true?” he asked.

Blumenstein told the graduates that in 2002, Aircell had to decide whether to close shop or forge ahead. “We sensed something coming,” he said, referring to developments in wireless technologies. The company persevered in hopes of bringing the services people used at home and at work to airline passengers. Despite significant odds spanning technical, financial and policy issues, Aircell’s efforts were rewarded. “We really are well along in our vision of changing the world,” said Blumenstein, noting that Aircell now does business with many major airlines, including American and United. Blumenstein added that he hoped the graduates would find the same “pride, sense of accomplishment, and sense of anticipation” he enjoys at Aircell.

Following the keynote address, graduates Jeffrey Shuck (EMP-73), founder, president, and CEO of Event 360, and W. Vaughn Moore (EMP-74), vice president of sales and marketing at AIT Worldwide Logistics, spoke to the audience. Both Shuck and Moore praised their peers for enhancing and defining their Kellogg experience.

“We start in a program where diversity is what we have in common, but we end the program with diversity being our great strength as a class,” said Moore, who encouraged his fellow graduates to become active in the Kellogg alumni network.

Shuck, who described his classmates as “inspiring,” challenged them to create positive change by embracing “passion and perspective” throughout their careers. “The end goal, quite simply, is a better world,” he said.

Shuck also thanked the school’s faculty and staff. “Your work is absolutely superb in intent and in implementation, and you shared it selflessly with us,” he said.

Shuck and Moore then presented the Professor of the Year awards from their respective classes. Michael J. Fishman, the Norman Strunk Professor of Financial Institutions, was named top professor for core academic classes by EMP-73, while Sergio Rebelo, the Tokai Bank Professor of International Finance, received the honor for his teaching of electives.

EMP-74 students named Timothy Calkins, clinical professor of marketing, top professor for core academic classes and gave Steven Rogers, the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, top honors for electives.

As he accepted his award, Calkins advised the graduates to “invest in the things that will support you through both good times and through bad,” including family, education and relationships. “Those are the things to be sure to spend time on, because they are the things that ultimately will power you forward regardless of how the economy is doing.”