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Liz Gerber on Technology Innovation


The MMM Student Perspective

MMM and High-Tech

Vinayak SathyamoorthyBy Vinayak Sathyamoorthy

As I’m writing this I have just wrapped up my first-year Winter Quarter at the Kellogg School of Management. Second year students tell us that we have just braved the worst, and I hope that’s true. Here’s what I can say: I’ve survived recruiting season, and lined up a great summer job at as a Senior Product Manager. I was just flipping through Fortune magazine’s latest issue, and their “World’s Most Admired Companies” list ranks Apple, Google and Amazon at the very top. I’m proud to say that I know at least five Kellogg MMMs (and remember, there are only 60 of us total!) who have secured internships at these three companies. I look forward to coming back in the fall and hearing about their amazing experiences – I’m sure they’ll all have terrific stories to tell.

Which brings me to the point of this article: how does Kellogg and the MMM degree open doors into the high-tech industry? Here are just a few ways:Vinayak Facebook Visit

High-Tech Club (HTC): The HTC helps you keep a pulse on what’s happening in the high tech industry, and the easiest way you can get the latest is by dropping in on one of their weekly “Tech Mondays”. A recent one had a manager from Uber, the rapidly growing rideshare startup, tell us about what cities they are looking to expand into (and what MBA internships they had to offer).  

MMM Classes (Design & Operations): In the fall quarter, our first-year MMM cohort had the privilege of having Professor Chopra for Operations (OPNS 440). Professor Chopra often discusses Apple and Amazon for their industry-leading supply chain practices, and dissects what makes them great. In the winter quarter, we took Professor Holderfield’s Design Thinking class (DSGN 490) which allowed us to interact with professionals from leading design consulting firms like IA Collaborative and gravitytank.

High-Tech Trek: Kellogg offers a number of “treks” to allow students to go visit companies and tour their offices. The High-Tech Trek took place over Winter Break, during which time we went to Seattle (Amazon, Microsoft) and California’s Bay Area (Google, Apple, LinkedIn, etc.). Visiting Mountain View and seeing the Google campus first-hand – self-driving cars and all – allows you to understand Google in a way that a brochure or blog simply can’t match.

Tech Product Management with Professor Sawhney: Kellogg is one of the few top business schools to have a course dedicated to Product Management, a position that’s unique to tech firms. The class is taught by Professor Mohanbir Sawhney, who regularly advises firms like Microsoft and Facebook. The Tech Product Management class gave me great insight into what it means to be a Product Manager, and I even got to work with Intel in a quarter-long hands-on project.

Tech IPGs: The High-Tech Club sponsors Interview Prep Groups (IPGs) at the start of Winter Quarter to help first-year students get ready for interviews. The IPGs meet once a week for an hour, over a course of five-weeks, to go over your one-minute pitch and work through case interviews. Second-year students who lead the IPGs have experience working for the big tech companies, and are an invaluable resource when it comes to mock interviewing.

I hope that this has helped illustrate the number of ways that Kellogg can help you build that bridge into the tech industry – best of luck!

First Quarter Wrap Up

Angela GonzalesBy Angela Gonzales

February 4th, 2013 - Hello readers! My name is Angela Gonzales and I’m a first year student, coming from the high tech operations space. Hoot for the HomelessIt’s already Winter Quarter and I’m finally fully getting into the swing of things—making lots of new friends, joining as many clubs as possible (hello FOMO!), and of course, getting used to being a student again.  I’m active in the Kellogg Student Association, which is a great way for the MMMers to remain fully integrated with the Kellogg community.  I’m also excited to be a part of the K-Buds admissions program and the Women’s Leadership Workshop (more info to come this spring!). Fall quarter,  I took the Kellogg core classes, including Marketing, Accounting, Business Strategy, and Operations. Since I came from an operations background, I’ve been able to contribute in class based on what I used to do at work. It’s also great to hear about where my classmates have come from and how much we can all learn from each others’ experiences!

It’s crazy to think that I am already starting my second quarter. I feel like just yesterday I traveled the world on KWEST and played dizzy bat during CIM week! Luckily, as dual degree MMM students, we know how to make the best of our business school experience—we work twice as hard and play hard.  I had the honor of being the chair for the MMM’s annual charity event, Hoot for the Homeless. It’s an impactful school-wide costume party held around Halloween (and after most midterms!) where the Kellogg bands debut with their new first-year members (including our very own MMM drummer, Chris Burzminski). All of the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity and Family Promise, which is a local charity that helps low-income families. Although planning a Kellogg-wide party is a challenge, especially while studying for midterms, we were wildly successful and had a great time—and most importantly, we were able to give back to our community!

Kellogg Diving

By M. Khalid Ali

December 5th, 2012 - Several years ago, I went skydiving with some friends.  While I waited my turn I felt very calm, like I was simply waiting for a ride at an amusement park.  It wasn’t until I was 14,000 feet above the ground, peering out the open door of the propeller plane, that it struck me: I was about to jump from a plane in midair.  I froze.  It was a tandem jump though, and the instructor I was strapped to, like a baby, leaned forward and out we tumbled. 

Khalid and familyMy first few months at Kellogg have been strikingly similar to that jump from the sky.  I thought I knew what to expect, and KWEST and the MMM Ready-Set-Go orientation definitely helped ease me in.  However, the non-stop frenzy of CIM week, the onslaught of group projects, and the ongoing battle between the fear-of-missing-out and the fear-of-overcommitting stretched my limits.  Moving halfway around the world with two kids has brought its own set of challenges (albeit its own unique rewards).  I felt I was tumbling, completely disoriented at times.

As I somersaulted down to earth with the wind battering my face and my brain shrieking, “This is crazy!” the fear suddenly disappeared.  The pure thrill of free-fall kicked in: I was flying.  At Kellogg, that moment came for me in early October.  Things started to make sense.  It doesn’t take me as long to navigate Jacobs’ group meeting rooms anymore.  I’m learning not only about lean operations and customer segmentation, but also about myself.  Lunches with professors and fireside chats with preeminent business leaders inspire fresh insights.  Kellogg Kids TGs every Friday are a true treat that I eagerly look forward to.

Yes, sometimes I still feel like I’ve lost my footing, but I didn’t come to Kellogg to keep my feet planted on the ground.  I came here to fly.

Seoul in Summer: Internship with Samsung in Korea

Adam Drake HeadshotBy Adam Drake

October 19th, 2012 - Annyeong haseyo MMM’s!  It seems like only a few days ago that we were all leaving for our internships.  Like most of you, mine has also been an incredibly fun and exciting time.  After finals, I was off – leaving the US behind on an adventure across Asia.  After skipping around China and Japan for a few weeks, I finally settled in Seoul, South Korea for my internship with Samsung’s Global Strategy Group.

Unsurprisingly, landing in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, look the same, or understand the culture, can be a bit bewildering.  Thankfully, our Korean counterparts went to great lengths to educate myself and the other eight fish-out-of-water MBA interns on all the essentials:  Korean/Samsung history and culture, getting around, important customs, and Korean language classes. Adam Drake Seoul, Korea

With the cultural re-orientation underway, we set about exploring.  Seoul is a sprawling collection of mega neighborhoods scattered around the Han River in northwestern Korea.  Rebuilt after the Korean War, it’s packed to the brim with steel and concrete mega structures.  This urban jungle moves at a frenetic, ready-for-anything pace locals refer to as their bali bali (hurry hurry) mentality.  In fact, Seoul competes with New York City as the “city that never sleeps”.  I mean this quite literally – every neighborhood is filled with thousands of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, many of which never actually close! 

As the summer progressed, our Korean counterparts planned some truly unforgettable experiences, including baseball games, a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, Korean jazz concerts, and several outdoor festivals.  We also had countless team dinners with Korean staples like bulgogi, kalbi, bibimbap, seolleongtang (ox tail soup), and of course, kimchi. These group activities fostered a strong bond amongst our work group – something that’s highly valued in Korean culture.

During this time, I worked in Samsung Electronics’ headquarters in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood (yes, the neighborhood popularized by PSY’s “Gangnam Style”).  The Samsung Global Strategy Group is an internal consultancy consisting of approximately 80 foreigners with MBAs who work across Samsung’s business lines.  Samsung is a highly-diversified, global company, so these projects were highly varied, spanning consumer electronics, semiconductor devices, insurance, construction, IT services, retail stores, and even amusement parks. Our five person team worked with Samsung’s media group to define the Digital Advertising strategy and build the required capabilities.  Working on cutting-edge advertising was extremely interesting and provided a unique view into building high tech businesses.  I also enjoyed our frequent visits to Samsung’s vast R&D city in Suwon, Korea where we met our clients and interviewed many employees.  All in all, the work was extremely engrossing and right up my alley.

As I settle back into life in Evanston, get used to my strange new “greenbacks”, and thankfully no longer have daily language issues, it’s clear that this summer has surpassed every expectation.  안녕히계세요!

Human-Centered Design Put Into Practice: My Summer at IDEO

YomiFashoroBy Yomi Fashoro

October 1st, 2012 - It is amazing how fast the summer goes by! I began my internship on June 11 and recently completed it on August 31. I have been blessed to work with and learn from a group of really talented and passionate people at IDEO in both its California offices: San Francisco and Palo Alto. One of the reasons why I applied to the MMM program was because of the opportunity I would have to learn more about how business and design thinking could work together. IDEO was a perfect opportunity to take that a step further as my internship required me to blend and apply my business and design thinking skills. As a Business Design intern, I learned several things during my summer but I’ll focus on three that resonated the most with me.Yomi Fashoro IDEO Exterior

Embrace the Unexpected, Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere or Anyone  - With all of my projects, something surprising came up whenever we observed potential customers’ behavior or shared concepts with them. These surprises often led to new and powerful insights that shifted our original thinking and eventually led us to develop more powerful ideas. Sometimes our powerful insights came from things they collectively said, things they did, or something someone on the team observed.

Sketches Are a Great Way to Gain Alignment - Because everyone within my teams had different backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise, we each had a unique perspective on what a proposed concept would look like and how it would work in real life. However, in order to get everyone on the same page, we created rough sketches or quick and dirty prototypes to make concepts more tangible. Doing so was really powerful because it enabled us to quickly draw out everyone’s unique point of view and clarify what the ultimate concept should be. More importantly, sketching helped us to work collaboratively to evolve the concept into a state that everyone felt good about.

Thinking About the Business Implications of an Idea Can Be a Generative Activity - Imagine spending a lot of time working to develop and hone a brilliant product or service idea only to find out that its not economically viable. One powerful way to avoid this unpleasant scenario is to think about the economics of an idea in parallel to thinking through how it will ultimately work.  As my teams were brainstorming ideas, developing rough prototypes, and speaking with potential customers, we were also thinking about the business side of our ideas. More specifically, we were thinking about metrics and business levers we could pull to ensure that our ideas could help our clients achieve their objectives and have staying power. We also made financial models, which helped us to get a rough sense for potential revenue and cost drivers and more importantly, how viable the business model would be. Rough financial models also highlighted weaknesses in our ideas, areas that we should tweak, and sparked more ideas for how to make our concepts better.

SuMMMer Internship: Staying Local in Chicago

Mike WargaBy Michael Warga

September 24th, 2012 - Hello MMM community. My name is Mike Warga and completed my summer internship at Agentis Energy, a startup in the River North neighborhood of Chicago.

A quick look at my company – Agentis Energy has positioned itself to create value in the energy efficiency industry, which is going through a few significant changes. First, smart meters are being rapidly deployed across the country providing utilities with massive amounts of data on how their customers use electricity. Second, a majority of US states have mandated that their utilities meet energy efficiency targets in the coming years. The utilities are allowed to pass along a certain cost to their customers, but if they fail to meet the targets, they are subject to burdensome oversight and financial penalties. Sitting between these two emerging developments, Agentis Energy analyzes utility-supplied data, environmental information and additional data sets to provide personalized energy efficiency recommendations for commercial and industrial businesses. Essentially, Agentis Energy aims to empower businesses with information about their energy usage that will lead to behavior change and increased energy conservation.  This allows utilities to meet their energy efficiency targets in a more capital efficient manner as compared to traditional energy efficiency programs such as changing out light bulbs.

A quick look at my role – Prior to my involvement, Agentis Energy had spent countless hours understanding the energy efficiency industry and the needs of the utilities. However, they needed a better grasp of the end-user to ensure their product would translate into energy savings. After all, without an engaged end-user, Agentis Energy’s value proposition would fail since end-user behavior change is essential to our business model. I was asked to understand the end-user to come up with specific recommendations for improvements to Agentis Energy’s platform. This sounds like our core MMM course, Design Thinking!  Those learnings helped prepare me to uncover a number of useful insights surrounding end-user touch points, expectations, knowledge gaps and routines.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Agentis Energy this summer. After spending a few years at a large investment bank in New York, I was very excited to gain exposure to the life within a startup venture. Unforeseen challenges and obstacles make the work interesting and exciting. It is also a great experience to directly contribute to the growth of the firm each day. It is really incredible to see how much the company has changed since early June.

A quick look at Chicago – Everyone always talked about how great Chicago summers are. I thought people were just justifying the cold winters, but I now know what they are talking about. I’m living in Gold Coast for the summer, about a three-minute walk from Oak Street beach. As a side note, I can’t believe such a nice beach exists practically underneath the iconic Hancock Center. While Evanston holds a special place in my heart, it’s nice to be living downtown and closer to the action. The city strikes a nice balance between the activity of a large metropolis and the livability of a nice town. With the city festivals, Cubs games, Lollapalooza, bar trivia, restaurants, boat outings, happy hours and MMM/Kellogg events, it’s almost impossible to have downtime in Chicago during the summer – the best way to spend a summer.

Developing the Athlete Within: Summer Internship at Nike

Eric ChangBy Eric Chang

August 30th, 2012 -- Wait... it’s already the end of August ?! It seems like only yesterday I began my internship at Nike! My summer has been full of meeting great people, working on cool projects, exploring Portland, and boosting Nike’s stock with my purchases at the employee store. But it is all quickly coming to an end and before the craziness of the second year starts, I'd like to reflect on my individual development and how I have applied what I learned in the MMM program to my innovation internship at Nike. Chang nike

Design Thinking- Nike is focused on making the athlete* better. For one of my projects, I used design thinking to observe themes and patterns and boil them down to insights. I made sure every feature in our proposed solution was grounded in an insight rather than a feature that I would want.
*if you have a body, you are an athlete

Operations- Other projects I worked on focused on innovation for a manufacturing process. I was able to understand the concepts of postponement and just in time delivery that I learned from operations.

Leading Teams- For another project, the MBAs were divided amongst groups of undergrads and assigned to lead them to develop a presentation at the end of the summer. This was a great opportunity to practice my leadership skills I learned in the MMM program as I was able to help guide our group through understanding the problem, interfacing with our coaches, and coordinating work.  Again, I stressed to the group that we focus on presenting the insights from their demographic to our advisors as that would be the most impactful information to them.

Chang nike groundsNetworking- My first year in the MMM program has made me much more comfortable with reaching out and networking with people. I spent the first two weeks of my internship setting up coffee chats and lunches and was able to learn much more about the context of my role at Nike and about Nike’s priorities in general. Nike is run through a matrix organization in which personal relationships are extremely important. I was constantly surprised with everyone’s generosity with their time and looking back, I either learned something new or gained another great contact with every encounter.

Reciprocity- I made it a priority to also offer any help I could. By offering my time and effort to others I saw that it helped build goodwill and made my interactions more positive.

This past year has been full of personal development and exciting changes. I am thankful that the MMM program has changed my way of thinking and offered new opportunities and the confidence to change my career path.

Marketing Insights at MillerCoors

PatrickHadleyBy Patrick Hadley

August 3rd, 2012 – Hey there all current students, prospective MMM applicants, and anyone else who happened to stumble across this blog, my name is Patrick Hadley and this summer I’m working as a Marketing Insights intern at MillerCoors here in Chicago.  Yes, the beer company still has their breweries in Milwaukee, WI and Golden, CO (amongst other places), but they located their corporate headquarters in Chicago three years ago after the joint venture.HadleyMillerCoors

So far the internship experience has been fantastic.  At our orientation we were able to engage with their CEO (Tom Long), their CMO (Andy England), as well as many other very prominent people within the organization.  In addition, we’ve done many intern outings such as baseball games, brewery tours, and beach volleyball here on Lake Michigan.  They even have an employee pub up on the 16th floor that is open every work day from 4-7pm, just in case you need some motivation.

Before I go into my specific internship roles and responsibilities, let me share a little bit about my background.  I worked as a Control Systems engineer at Honeywell Aerospace for the 6 years prior to Kellogg.  Coming into Kellogg, I was very interested in the MMM program’s focus on consumer design and innovation.  Therefore I was excited when I landed an internship at MillerCoors in their Marketing Insights department.  Our job is kind of half way between the brand managers and the consumers (the end users).  We are tasked with uncovering insights into consumer motivations and trends, in order to help guide and influence the brand manager’s decisions on the products.  I am working on the innovations side of the company, and it is really cool to see what new products are coming down the pipeline for 2013 and 2014.  Most of my day is spent working with the brand team, developing and analyzing survey/focus group questionnaires, as well analyzing consumer data through their Nielsen tracking databases or other consumer tools that they use.Hadleyskyline

All-in-all this summer has been great.  When I am not working at MillerCoors, I am enjoying the many Chicago festivals, hanging out with the 100 or so Kellogg students still in town, and even working to build a new tech start-up (the details of that would require an entirely new post).  I truly do feel that the MMM program has done a fantastic job in providing me with the tools and skillset needed to allow me to succeed in any position that I may pursue in the future.  Take it from the engineer turned marketer/entrepreneur, Kellogg and the MMM program really does open doors to new opportunities.  Thanks and enjoy the rest of your summer.  If you’re 21 or over, have a MillerCoors branded product for me!

Summer Internship - Safari Style

AmySchellpfefferBy Amy Schellpfeffer

July 24th, 2012 -- This summer I’m putting both my operations and design thinking muscles to work for the non-profit product Amy Schellpfeffer Design Researchdevelopment firm, D-Rev: Design Revolution. The past 4 weeks, I’ve been working in Nairobi, Kenya with MMM alumni, Dorothy Zhuomei, '12.  Our mission – figure out how to bring affordable, high quality phototherapy, a critical light treatment for infants born with jaundice, to East African hospitals.

The first part of our assignment in Kenya was to assess the need for a low-cost phototherapy device.  Dorothy and I both drew heavily on our experiences from the MMM course Design Research and the Northwestern Global Health Foundation.  We’ve conducted over 20 interviews with nurses, doctors, procurement officers, and maintenance staff to get a baseline for the current state of jaundice diagnosis and treatment. Kenyan people are incredibly open and willing to share their successes, pain points, and desired standard of healthcare.

Amy Schellpfeffer Kenya Internship DRevSoon, we will start focusing on the more operational aspects of a new medical device launch. Our next goal is to put together an East African supply chain strategy for D-Rev. We plan to meet with distribution agents, government officials, and key opinion leaders in neonatal healthcare to better understand regulatory and logistics processes, and to vet potential East African partners. Hopefully we will also be making visits to Kenya’s neighbors, Uganda and Tanzania, to explore distribution reach for our device.

The work has been incredibly exciting and tremendously rewarding. It is inspiring to work for an organization focused on designing products for a consumer base with limited resources. As well, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to live and travel in such an amazing country. I’ve only been in Kenya 4 weeks and have already hiked the 2780 meter summit of Mt. Longonot, camped along Lake Naivasha, bike-road through a national wildlife park, hung out with hippos, visited a pre-historic archeological dig site, and eaten some of the most delicious (and inexpensive!) food I’ve ever had. On the agenda for the next couple weekends – lounging at the Kenyan south coast and witnessing the great migration in the Masai Mara national park. Not bad for a summer internship!

My Vera Bradley Integration Project - A Very Colorful Experience!



By Erin Mulholland

May 4th, 2012 -- During my first year in the MMM Program, I took the Design Thinking course taught by MMM Director Greg Holderfield.  After reading the book Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, we each created visual representations of our own lovemarks – a brand to love beyond reason.  I chose Vera Bradley – a brand that excites me and so many women for its colorful designs, functional relevance, and impeccable quality.  I love discovering Vera Bradley’s newest product, even as my personal inventory grows!

When I learned that the MMM Program arranged an integration project with Vera Bradley, I was so excited to be part of it!  Four other MMMs – all with different backgrounds – and I formed Team Viva La Vera, inspired by one of Vera Bradley’s festive prints! 

Vera Bradley was among the new set of companies that worked with MMM this year, providing a project opportunity centered on the customer experience.  The project allowed us to apply the design thinking process:  conduct qualitative research, re-frame key insights, develop a new concept, and establish strategic initiatives for execution.  We were also able to pull in concepts from several classes such as Design Thinking, Design Research, Social Dynamics and Networks, IT-Based Marketing, and Marketing Strategy.

We moved at a rapid pace, fueled by the energy of our Vera Bradley sponsors and the passion of our team.  We kicked off in January with a site visit to Vera Bradley’s headquarters – it was amazing!  We took a behind-the-scenes tour, met with our project team, and reviewed our 10-week work plan – the whole team was ready to dive in.  Meeting a deliverable each week helped us stay focused.  We all enjoyed checking in with Vera Bradley on Wednesdays for helpful feedback and a few laughs as we grew to know each other.  Our project ended in Fort Wayne, with a final presentation and celebratory dinner.

Over the course of many fun work sessions and three road trips to Fort Wayne, our team bonded and developed friendships that will last well beyond the MMM Program.  We had so much fun that it was bittersweet to see the project end.  I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with my talented teammates and such an impressive company as Vera Bradley!  It was a very colorful capstone project and the highlight of my MMM experience!

My Journey as a MMM



By Ashish Aggarwal

April 10th, 2012 -- Coming into the MMM program, I think every single day has been an amazing journey with my own shares of ups & downs and highs & lows. This is a life changing experience with peers and faculty that have helped me to become better in almost every aspect of my personal and professional life.

The MMM program is a perfect combination of whole branded. We have a unique cohort that allows people from diverse backgrounds to pursue various fields (look at the Employment Reports). The opportunities are infinite. My peers are headed to all the top consulting (both design and strategic consulting), marketing, banking, technical and other top companies for summer internships and full time jobs. This speaks volumes about how companies value the MMM skillset. Companies value people who can deal with complexity and MMM leads you to develop that.

Whether it is a field trip to the Herman Miller Design Yard, or working with a team to create a personalized experience for Virgin Atlantic as part of Design Thinking, the program experiences have allowed me to push my boundaries to practice applying these learnings to solve a real life problem.  With constant interactions with people from industry, we learned about cutting edge research and work that is going in the field of design thinking.

The MMM program has helped me to understand what it takes to take start with an idea and convert it into a full blown product. It allows me to develop a better entrepreneurial mindset which in turn gives me the opportunity to talk to a designer in design terms.  I can work with an operations team to understand the value & supply chain, as well as with a Marketing team to create a stellar marketing campaign and make tough strategic decisions as a general manager. As a result, I am currently advising multiple startups and I can clearly see the difference that MMM program has made on me.

I am excited about the amazing classes that I am taking this quarter and the possibilities are endless.

What an Amazing Year to be in MMM!



By Tyler Evans

April 5th, 2012 --I can’t believe that I only have one quarter left.  The year started for me with my MMM integration project doing work for Nissan Motors North America.  My team flew down to Nissan Headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee to spend a day being trained in Nissan’s “Value Network Optimization” (VNO) practices, which is their integrated approach to supply chain + LEAN improvement.  Our team then used that knowledge to lead an all-day Kaizen event for one of their suppliers.  In my mind, the experience was a perfect blend of operations analysis and strategic innovation.  In that same quarter, I helped organize the 2011 Kellogg Business Design Challenge sponsored by the Kellogg Design Club. It was our biggest Design Challenge yet, with about 80 students forming 17 teams to figure out how a bank could build a set of products and services that help unemployed people, while still generating growth and profits for the bank.


In the Winter Quarter, I was part of an experimental class called MKTG 945: Design Lab.  It was taught by 4 professors including Steven DuPuis, who is the Founder of the international design firm, The DuPuis Group.  Our challenge was to develop an entirely new concept for a movie theater in order to address the constant decline in movie theater attendance.  As part of the class, we had multiple working sessions in downtown Chicago at a number of leading design firms:  DuPuis, Gravitytank, Webb De Vlam, and Element 79.  The class self-divided into two teams to explore two distinct themes from our research: convenience and journey.  Both teams developed some eye-opening concepts. 


Later, I had a chance to compete in the “Kellogg Whiteboard Challenge”, an innovation competition hosted by Coinstar/Redbox to find the next big opportunity in automated vending technology.  My team’s “SplashPoint” concept won first place and we had some other great teams representing the MMM program.  Finally, I had the chance to be involved in the Kellogg Curriculum Review process.  Amy Schellpfeffer led a team of MMM students to use design thinking and ethnographic research to better understand how students think about curriculum.  I believe our group truly demonstrated the power of design thinking for delivering actionable strategic insights to address the most ambiguous organizational problems.

The MMM program has exceeded my expectations in every way.  I don’t know where else I could find such a rich learning experience.  I can’t wait for next quarter: the MMM Castrol Innovation Challenge, the Design Chicago Conference, and starting my job in Product Planning and innovation at Fluke/Danaher in Seattle.

Pausing to Reflect



By Nick Howerton

March 9th, 2012 -- As the spring quarter nears, I find myself pausing to reflect on the nearly two years that I’ve been a MMM. At times, it’s hard to believe how quickly the time has passed. It’s hard to believe that I’ve (almost) completed 24 classes, that my summer internship at Deere & Company has come and gone (but not without a full-time offer!), and that I’ve met so many interesting and intelligent people.

But thinking back on these two years, I can’t help but revisit many great memories: KWEST (Corsica!); the hectic weeks of CIM (Big Dawgs!); hours of case competition preparation with my all-MMM team paying off after our victories (Macaroons! – don’t ask); TG’s, TT’s (of the Thirsty, Thungry, and Trivia varieties); the chance to explore Chicago (especially the food scene); the chance to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom through my Integration project, solving real problems for an automotive supplier; and especially the simple dinners and chats with new friends.


This spring, I’m looking forward to making the most of my last few months in Evanston.I’ve lined up some great classes for the spring quarter, largely focused on Design, balancing my strong Operations focus thus far. I’m anxious for spring and summer weather to arrive in Chicago so I can enjoy the outdoors, encouraging me to visit Chicago more often. And finally, I’m excited to reassembling the Macaroons to compete in the BP Business Design Challenge!

In all, it’s been a great two years in Evanston as part of the MMM community. I believe the close-knit nature of MMM has built bonds between our classes that will be hard to break as the years go by, a belief that I’m sure will be reinforced by the turnout at the upcoming 20th anniversary of MMM.

MMM: Crossroads Between Design and Business



By Joel Joseph

March 7th, 2012 -- Design + Business. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Well, that’s exactly why I joined the MMM Program. And now, living in this atmosphere that fosters both creative thinking and strategic thinking is both fun and fulfilling. Design Thinking and Organizing for Innovation were two MMM courses I took this term and just as the names suggest, they are awesommme!

Design Thinking was hands-on; encouraging us to put to practice the concepts and tools we learn in class. For instance, our midterm project was about understanding the store experience for a retail chain from the customer perspective. We visited the store, shopped, observed other customers, spoke with the manager and employees and came back with a ton of observations. These observations led to insights that were eye-opening and worth exploring and building on. A fun experience!

While Design Thinking offered the perspective of working with the end consumer, Organizing for Innovation presented the perspective of working within an organization to keep innovation and creative thinking flowing. The analysis, thoughts and perspectives that are shared on what works and what doesn’t is both diverse and thought provoking. One aspect that I like best about this course is the research behind the topic. Analyzing a case in every class and summarizing the key learnings using research findings solidifies the learning process and take-aways.
Today, we had a student-led visit to Gravity Tank where it was amazing to see all the tools we talk about in class being put to use to deliver a huge impact for organizations and consumers. We have had lectures and even a course by people from the industry, which brings the industry and academia much closer. I couldn’t ask for a better place to learn and grow. Looking forward to more fun in the next quarter!

Day at Kellogg Recap



By Matt Moschner

February 29th, 2012 -- I recently had the privilege of serving as co-chair for the Kellogg admitted student weekend, ‘DAK’, on February 9th – 11th. It was a fantastic few days where students were allowed an opportunity to interact with faculty via mini classes, meet current students through coffee chats and club panels, experience the Evanston social scene, and hear from Dean Sally Blount regarding how she and her team are positioning Kellogg for a bright future via the new 7 Year Strategic Plan. It’s a truly unique time to be here, and you could just feel the energy and excitement of the admitted students who came to visit! 

DAK is also a great way for MMM admits to interact with other members of the program. Co-directors Bobby Calder and Greg Holderfield kicked things off with a panel focused on where the MMM Program is headed and the many great things students can expect in the near future. Prospective students were also given a chance to check out the awesome Ford Building space where MMMs often collaborate on group projects and have classes. It was a pleasure interacting with our potential 2014 classmates and we can’t wait to meet even more of you in April for DAK II!

As a DAK student leader, I may be seen as a biased source on this subject, but I’ll tell you without hesitation that the MMM has a culture that is unlike any of the other programs you may be considering anywhere in the world. We work hard, we’re outgoing, we’re aggressively supportive of one another, and we prefer to find ways to succeed together as a team, not only as individuals. You’ll have a lot of fun here, but you’ll also work unbelievably hard while at Kellogg and a vast majority of that work will be done on concert with your peers.

If history is any guide, after spending some time with us in Evanston, an overwhelming number of you will decide the right choice is to join the MMM Program. I can’t wait to congratulate you when you do.

Busy Times as a MMM



By Katherine Ho

February 22nd, 2012 -- These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of Kellogg and MMM activities! Last month, after nine months of planning, my team successfully launched the Kellogg Marketing Conference, which included a panel featured on both the Kellogg & MMM websites.  The panel explored brand turnaround and strategies to re-energize well established brands like P&G’s Old Spice, Johnson & Johnson’s KY Gel, GM’s Cadillac, Domino’s, and Target. Being at one of the best schools for marketing, I was thrilled to see Kellogg marketing Professor Tybout interact with the directors of such well-established brands!

Editted Post-It Notes

Last week, I attended Kellogg’s popular Super Bowl ad review. Launched in 2005, the annual Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review gathers faculty and students to evaluate Super Bowl advertising based on six criteria: attention, distinction, positioning, linkage, amplification and net equity (ADPLAN). After learning the ADPLAN framework in Professor Rucker’s Advertising Strategy class last spring, I was eager to apply what I learned. After noticing the New York Times article that quoted the Kellogg review, I was happy to have seen it firsthand. Finally, I wrapped up the week with Day at Kellogg (DAK), our welcome orientation for admitted students and chatted with them about my MMM experience so far. 

This week, I’m looking forward to further refining three concepts for our integration project with the help of my team (including Emily Schwartzwald, who blogged here recently), picking classes for my last quarter of school, and hearing first round results of a case competition that several of my MMM classmates and I entered. The case competition asked us to brainstorm innovative ways to use Coinstar / Redbox technology, and we’re looking forward to see how we stacked up!

Of course, it’s not all work and no play in the MMM program. This week, as one of the MMM Social Chairs, I’m helping plan a MMM Mentor / Mentee Trivia Night.  I’m looking forward to catching up with my friends outside classes after all the schoolwork this week!  A busy schedule aside, I’m glad that the MMM program has allowed me to not only think differently about marketing, innovation and design but also build a network of friends that are ready to listen to my new ideas and aspirations. Time to wrap up and make sure I’m ready for the week! 

MMM & Recruiting



By Corey Haygood

February 15th, 2012 -- I could write a very convincing argument to come to Evanston solely for the experiences you would have on KWEST and Ski Trip alone (awesome new friends, the big reveal, 80’s party, etc).  However, I think most potential students are far more interested in how the MMM Program has helped me in the recruiting process and the extent to which I have been able to leverage the following things in that regard:

  • Alumni Network – Although Kellogg has great alumni in general, the MMM Program allows access to an even closer alumni group. MMM alums go on to do great things in a variety of industries and functions around the globe. Being able to access this huge source of contacts and sharing a common background is a huge benefit during the recruiting process.

  • Differentiation – As you will learn in your first marketing course, differentiation is key to success. As a select group of 60 people per year, you are sure to stand out from your Kellogg peers. I found that when people were aware of the MMM program, it was always seen as a benefit. But even when people were unaware of MMM, they were impressed when I articulated how my education in process and possibility-based thinking would be useful on the job.

  • Access – The student MMM Career Representatives have done a great job of reaching out to companies and getting them excited about the MMM Program. They planned many MMM-only networking and recruiting events. There were also company visits and treks that catered towards companies looking for MMM skills. The fall quarter MMM Career Trek took MMMs to Minneapolis, where we visited 3M, Danaher, Siemens Management Consulting, Nike and Exxon Mobil – all great companies very interested in meeting MMMs!

Recruiting can be stressful, but as a MMM it will be slightly more enjoyable.

2nd Year Integration Project Update



By Emily Schwartzwald

February 1st, 2012 -- This is the fourth week of the winter quarter and the fourth week of my MMM integration project. Thus far my group’s project has been a lot of fun and is progressing well. Our project is focused on identifying disruptive innovations that will allow our client, a large CPG company, to satisfy and create demand for their products in any setting and at any time. While this may sound broad, it is exciting because the opportunities are limitless in terms of the direction we can take the project.

Last week we wrapped up the ethnographic research portion of the project. The research involved interviewing undergraduate students, our target user segment, relating to their daily lives, habits relating to our client’s product, and a variety of other relevant topics. We then used the research to generate insights and hypotheses surrounding undergraduates’ behavior in relation to our client’s product. 

This week we have developed detailed personas for the different users that exist within the target segment. We wrote a description of each persona and elaborated on the persona’s typical behaviors relating to our client’s product, technology, social media, payment types, and other relevant information. We will then use those personas to brainstorm concepts that will allow our client to have their product available within desire’s reach for each of the groups within the target segment. By the end of this week, we expect to have a long list of possible concepts to present to our client. The next few weeks will involve narrowing our concept list, prototyping concepts, concept testing, and ultimately a presentation to our client of our final concept recommendations.

Editted Post-It Notes

The integration project is my first experience completing an innovation project for a “real world” client (i.e. outside of the classroom) and it has been an enlightening experience. I am enjoying that the project is both allowing me to formalize my design thinking and innovation skills while using much of the other information that I have learned from a variety of classes.

As Cold as Ice, as Hot as Africa



By Jackie Endres 

January 23rd, 2012 -- Burrrrr. It…is…so…cold…here in Evanston, IL.

Current temperature reading: 10°. Wind chill: -5°.Ok, I’m from Wisconsin. I once walked to class during undergraduate in -36° F wind chill.  But I’m old[er] now, and cushy city living has thinned my blood.  

So as I biked home last night with a balaclava (face mask, not dessert) and two pairs of gloves on (cursing myself for not wearing long underwear under my jeans), I was struck with the realization that it wasn’t only my frozen appendages that were causing me to feel a sense of exhilaration—it was another fulfilling day at class.  The course I was coming from, SEEK 930: NUvention: Innovate for Impact, is just one of the many remarkable courses that I’m allowed (nay, encouraged) to take to fulfill my MMM degree requirements.  The premise of the course: use design thinking to develop an innovative solution for a social problem.   My project team’s task: delivering safe drinking water to the villages of Gabon, Africa.  And instead of remotely contriving a solution and trying to fit it to the users, we are traveling to Gabon to conduct ethnographic (read: cultural, human-centered) research to devise a solution to align with both the behaviors and the needs of the population.  At the culmination of the class, we will pitch a business plan to investors with our proposed solution.  I feel so incredibly fortunate to be able to apply the skills I am learning directly to a very real-world need, and then translate it into a business model.  It also won’t hurt to get out of this freezer and into the African sun.

Alright, I better wrap up. It’s time to MMMingle at MMM’s weekly Thirsty Thursday.  Nevin’s, here I come!

Oh, and my personal biased opinion for the best place for us locals to get a cool refreshing drink? A bubbler.  Well, besides Nevin’s.

MMM: My Competitive Advantage



By Micheal Biederman

January 17th, 2012 -- In his seminal book, Competitive Strategy, Michael Porter identifies three generic competitive strategies used across industries to achieve competitive advantage: overall cost leadership, differentiation and focus.  Though these strategies are easy to understand (deliver a product or service at a lower cost than your competitors – think Walmart – or differentiate yourself from your competitors so customers make purchasing decisions on a basis other than price – think Apple – and you have cost leadership and differentiation), in my own professional experience I learned that the successful application of these deceptively simple strategies is often quite complex.

When choosing a business school I knew I wanted to graduate from a program that would give me the knowledge and in-depth understanding of how to create competitive advantage in any industry.  I have found this in the unique, dual focus of the MMM program. The operations courses in the curriculum familiarize students with the tools necessary to design efficient operations and excel in creating low-cost strategies, and the design courses with their focus on generating insight into the user experience train students to identify product or service characteristics that could provide meaningful differentiation for a company’s product or service strategy.  In effect, by intentionally merging design and operations into one curriculum, the MMM program is a two-year training course in identifying and developing sources of competitive advantage.

I believe that no program in the world provides the same breadth of insight and marketable experience in creating competitive advantage as the MMM program. Though it was a difficult decision to leave my career to attend business school full-time, the training the MMM program is giving me in discovering and capturing sources of competitive advantage is my own competitive advantage, making me a more productive, and more valuable, member of the business community.


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