My One-Year transformational experience

Going back to school in my 30s wasn’t something I originally planned.

I studied business as an undergraduate and switched into an enjoyable consulting career after earning my master’s degree in industrial and labor relations. Yet my dad always told me that “your education is something that can never be taken away from you.” After some reflection on his advice and some prodding from a partner at my firm, I decided an MBA would be a great addition to my resume.

Given my education and experience, I only considered accelerated one-year programs. Kellogg’s 1Y program clearly emerged as the program for me thanks to my interactions with students and alums and my experience at Day at Kellogg (DAK).

As a 1Y, I recognized that time would be precious, and I wanted to ensure I maximized my time in Evanston. After giving some thought to how I would use my time in school, I landed upon a few guidelines to help shape my experience:

My first week in the One-Year MBA program

It’s hard to believe it has only been a week since I stepped into the Jake (Kellogg’s Jacobs Center) on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. The past seven days have been a whirlwind of activities, all a part of CIM — Complete Immersion in Management — the orientation program for new students.

From information sessions, course selection to fun team-building events like improv sessions, baseball games and cruises, CIM was a fun transition into school mode.

Here are my three highlights from CIM:

Life as a mother and wife at Kellogg

It was in late 2012 when Sanil (my husband) was accepted to Kellogg’s full-time program. We were overjoyed that his hard work had paid off and his dream to achieve a master’s degree from one of the world’s best business school appeared more of a reality. Secretly, I was apprehensive to undertake the ordeal of a student life with two little kids.

Despite all hesitation, he accepted the offer, and before we knew it we were on a flight to Evanston from Abu Dhabi.

Two degrees, two networks, one incredible experience

For my partner, Drew, and me, the road to Northwestern had been a long and challenging one.

When Drew applied to Kellogg, we were serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Benin, a small country in West Africa. We had been waiting for the acceptance call all day when Drew came to find me and told me we needed to talk.

My heart sank.

As I opened the door after him, I looked up and saw him holding a piece of paper that read, “We’re going to Northwestern!” We both immediately started jumping up and down, hugging and laughing – reactions I hope most have.

Drew was invited to pursue a JD-MBA, a dual-degree program at Kellogg and Northwestern Law. We could not wait to get to Chicago for the start of our new adventure.

Rules vs. Guidelines | MBA Learnings

One of the more powerful ideas I’ve learned in my ‘Values Based Leadership’ class is understanding the power of using rules vs. guidelines in setting culture.

Culture is by far the most powerful change tool that exists. If you really want to change behavior, it is the culture you should turn to. The culture is the mixture of norms and rituals that act as the default behavior in every group or organization. There are rule-based cultures and guideline-based cultures. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. And, to analyze the difference, I thought I’d examine how I’ve approached designing my own culture.

Culture at Kellogg: One big family

Admission season seems to be in full force, and I’ve received a few emails from applicants with questions along the lines of:

– What’s Kellogg’s culture like?

– What’s so different about Kellogg?

– How many calories does a typical Kellogg student have to eat in a day in order to survive? (I made this last one up … interesting question, though).

Anyway, I thought I’d share my experience that I feel aptly sums up Kellogg culture.

The secret to changing team culture | MBA Learnings

My favorite learning from my course on Leadership in Organizations was the link between reward systems and culture.

I have struggled with questions around culture for a long time. In the teams I’ve built over the years, I have found that I have succeeded and failed in equal measure on culture. Leadership definitely influences culture. But, I was always left with the feeling that it isn’t just about leadership.

Alumni Spotlight: Larry Gies ’92

Larry Gies ’92 founded Madison Capital Partners in 1994. With a successful track record of buying, building and selling businesses, he made a pivot. Gies turned his investment firm, whose companies generated more than $5 billion in revenue, into Madison Industries, a holding company that now acquires and keeps businesses. He credits Kellogg for helping him grow personally and professionally.