Monday, 19. September 2011

The Annual Pilgrimage - Evanston, August 2011

Like pilgrims we made our way in drips and drabs to the spiritual home of our EMBA, in Evanston, Illinois. Some of us had spent the weekend in Chicago to "acclimatise" whilst the remaining poor souls were still ploughing through a reading list whose weight, if converted into gold bullion, would re-establish USA's triple-A rating in a flash.

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, we checked into our posh student accomodations overlooking a turquoise lake Michigan and set about mingling with our counterparts from Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Toronto and the local US EMBA students (from Evanston and Miami campuses).

Kellogg is the private/profit making part of the Northwest University, and, it doesn't take long to see that. Branding with almost anything tangible with a logo stuck on it (or purchasable), it's a dizzy concoction of ornate statues and oil paintings (many donated by alumni - hint hint!), excellent food, super hospitality with very service minded staff and excellent facilities (from fabulous bedrooms to 24/7 tuck-rooms), plus, the optional pool/pond conveniently located just around the corner…

So, with evening drinks being served daily on the patio followed by a top notch dinner, it's a place where you can soon start looking like the Michelin man. However, there was always lots of sport in the brief afternoon break to burn off calories such as volley ball out on the front lawn, basket-ball, tennis, jogging alongside the lake-front.

KW14 even did Kellogg-WHU proud in several academic areas.  During our economics course, the airline industry was a core focus and, thankfully we had the masters on the subject: our own A320 engineer added value by being able to regurgitate airplane noises (of course, much less noisy than the guy from Boeing), and, our Lufthansa executive came to the rescue on some very shrewd insights on pricing models.  Finally, we were also the only international group to have winners in all three of the marketing competitions (week 1). As for crisis management, for once, most of the cases were in Europe, so we were placed to do well in that course. And, it was noted by Kellogg faculty members that the financial crisis was deepening due to our absence out of Europe and the need for us to return... (we tried to read only the positives in that suggestion).

A lasting memory will be our sailing race out on Lake Michigan and looking back across a dusk skyline of Chicago. Clearly, a difficult setting to compare with the charms of Vallendar and yet we have all grown very fond of the "European" campus and won't have a bad word said about the place. In fact, I think we even whetted Kellogg's dean's appetite for a visit.   Finally,  a very big thank-you to Kellogg-WHU & EMP staff for their seamless organisation and looking after us so well. We had a blast and learnt a lot about ourselves and becoming better leaders in the future. Tim Calkin's final words of the course will surely stand the test of time for us all: "good strategy, execution and attitude equals success".

James Lovegrove
Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA 2012

The Boat Trip

James Lovegrove addresses fellow Kellogg EMBA Candidates

Kellogg's James Allen Center by dusk