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From left: Co-chair Michael Hartley '16, Silicon Valley Connect Managing Director Ellen Levy, Dean Sally Blount '92, 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto '99 and Co-chair Hilary Coles '16 at the first-ever Kellogg on Growth Forum on Nov. 10.

Kellogg on Growth Forum

Kellogg hosts inaugural growth forum

First-ever Kellogg on Growth Forum brings together faculty, students and business leaders to discuss ways to inspire growth

By Glenn Jeffers

11/10/2015 -
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The Kellogg School of Management convened its inaugural Kellogg on Growth Forum on Nov. 10, bringing together some of the world’s most influential thought leaders to discuss their approach to driving and studying growth at the enterprise, macroeconomic and personal level.

More than 1,400 attended the one-of-a-kind event, which featured nearly 60 speakers — including Kellogg faculty, alumni and prominent business leaders — delivering fresh ideas and new perspectives on taking organizations to the next level via growth and scaling, a fundamental challenge that most businesses face. PricewaterhouseCoopers was a presenting sponsor for the event.

In opening the event, Dean Sally Blount ’92 highlighted the dual meaning of the word growth as a matter of increasing both economic value and self-knowledge. Balancing that understanding of size and scale with clarity and insight is an essential tool that future leaders must master, she said.

“We have a driving need to understand how we can survive and thrive in this new economic, political and social order,” Blount said.

Opportunities for growth

The one-day conference included thought-provoking sessions and interactive engagement opportunities that covered four distinct programming tracks, each one examining the factors that can lead to long-term growth:

  • Markets, Values and Growth explored the opportunities and challenges of public-private partnerships and sustainable impact investing. Participants heard from policy-makers and private sector leaders on how innovative partnerships will enable economic growth.
  • Networks and Disruption included leaders in human-machine learning networks, disruptive startups and innovative corporations examining core concepts that will enable transformative growth in these spaces.
  • Customer-Driven Growth shared ideas on creating a customer-focused culture, aligning it with growth strategy, building organizational muscle in data analytics, and discussing cross-border growth and how different customers inform an organization’s business model in the region where it operates.
  • Scaling and Financing Growth delved into how organizations can successfully achieve profitable growth through the lenses of culture and human capital, strategy and finance.

Breaking the discussion into these focus areas was necessary considering that the challenge of growth is cross-disciplinary in nature, said Ben Jones, the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship, and faculty director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. 

“You have to think strategically to determine the right direction for growth, think operationally and financially to meet your growth targets, and think organizationally to link growth opportunities with your internal capabilities and culture,” said Jones. “And all this must happen in concert with an accurate understanding of customer needs and the means to reach them.”

Growth gets personal

In addition to the tracks, a number of prominent speakers delivered keynote addresses on personal growth and leadership, including 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto ’99, Silicon Valley Connect Managing Director Ellen Levy, Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and Sir Robert Swan, founder of 2041 and the first man to walk unassisted to the North and South Poles.

In his morning remarks, DePinto championed the need for “servant leadership,” leading by serving and supporting your employees in their roles. This approach can bolster leaders and their credibility to employees.

“It’s a challenge, but an opportunity for personal growth,” DePinto said. “Working this way, you’ll become that special person who can lead others.”

During the evening session, Swan talked about his “highly unnecessary” expeditions to the poles. Among the many lessons learned during his adventures, Swan focused his remarks on leadership, humility and commitment.

“Good leadership is to show people that you are committed,” Swan said. “Walk the talk. Be the person you say you are.”

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