Posts Tagged ‘ marketing ’

Kellogg EMBA … Meaning and Mechanics

I am often asked … how can you complete a Masters in Business Administration in two years while you are working? Is this is a part-time MBA? What gives, considering that typical MBA programs are two years of full time commitment?

Well I cant speak for all those non full time (FT) programs out there. But I am happy to comment on the world’s #1 Executive MBA program. You know which one I am talking about.

Like high octane fuel powering a premium sports car, the Kellogg EMBA is designed to help leaders build a strong intuition. An intuition which can hold the test of time and merely fueled by the fad of the day / minute.  As it is, the world of leadership is replete with theories, hypotheses, case studies and of course real results. In a world where business opportunities and problems dont come in neatly defined packages, you cannot afford to have a program that is tied to the buzzword of the moment. Nor can you gain value from building tactical skills that are highly context specific and limited in their transferable applicability.

Here is where the Kellogg EMBA truly excels. The entire program is focused on building a strong inherent intuition. Through a combination of case studies, lectures, quizzes, in-class tests and take-home tests, you tend to develop many layers of finely tuned capabilities. Almost like Baklava that is easier to describe as an end product rather than in its making, you can be sure that each student’s Kellogg journey itself is layered with his/her own experience interweaving with the take-aways from the program.

So, how do you actually build these layers? How do you get to test the new skills and developing intuition without the opportunity to experiment and experience them in a real sandbox?

Some have said that FT programs tend to focus on building analytical firepower, while Executive programs focus on building leadership intuition. I dont see them as necessarily mutually exclusive. However, there is a difference between the means and the end.

Clearly, the FT programs are designed for younger candidates and their grounding analytical firepower is designed to help them reach the heights of their chosen pursuits. On the other hand, the Executive programs are designed for those with more experience, that now seek to make a difference in their professional lives by rounding out their capabilities. While analytical grounding is still part of an Executive MBA, the key difference is the CEO perspective in most courses and discussions.

So, yes, you can in fact combine 2 years of rigorous coursework along with ‘real’ work … and come away with a top-ranked full-fledged MBA from a top-ranked school. There is no cutting corners here. Afterall, the real test of mettle lies in putting all those strategies, ideas and plans to test in the real sandbox … and what better way to test and perfect one’s capabilities to do so than doing it in real-time while at school?




Kellogg EMBA … Wall Street, Hedge Funds and Private Equity

Prof. David Stowell is the closest thing you can get to a rock star in a B-School. Why? Just Google his name and find out. Oh well, here goes… from Kellogg’s Website:

“Prior to joining Kellogg, Professor Stowell worked at JP Morgan as Managing Director and head of Midwest Investment Banking. He also previously worked at UBS Investment Bank as Managing Director and Co-Head of Equity Capital Markets, at Goldman Sachs as Vice President for Corporate Finance and at O’Connor Partners as Managing Director for Equity Derivatives.”

He covered a week of classes on Wall Street, Hedge Funds and Private Equity. What a week. Through classroom discussion and case work, we examined the many issues and implications that arise when these worlds intersect.

While much of classical strategy is rooted in economic theory and models, Prof. Wolcott demonstrated how competitive strategy can be shaped and challenged through financial engineering and activity. Or, even activism.

3 obvious ideas for you to ponder upon …

a) convergence between hedge funds, private equity and investment banking: be ready for the ongoing convergence between these domains. no doubt the global financial system underwent a true transformation in the last 24 months. coming out of it, you can only expect that these worlds will continue to evolve as markets, regulators and you/me figure out what to do about it.

b) financial engineering is here to stay: financial engineering will not go away. innovation is a much needed fuel for growth and dare say, survival. if we dont innovate, we atrophy. so while we might look back at CDO’s and the resultant global meltdown, lets not wish away the reality of innovation in financial engineering. unless we want to go back to the days of pure barter trade, our economic system is too complex and integrated to wish for simplistic solutions with minimal risk from innovation. question is, how can you look ahead to be part of the next wave of innovation?

c) operational engineering: true operational engineering and value-creation is expected to be a large area of focus for private equity firms. with capital invested in portfolio companies desperately seeking return / exit in a soft market, operating leadership is expected to be the next source of value creation. control positions, while important, wont be the defining dimension of success.

clearly, this would mean opportunities for MBA’s and more so senior level folks from Executive MBA programs such as Kellogg’s. Oh, and please, it is “Kellogg” not “Kelloggs” as in the cereal box on your breakfast table. That is one convergence thats not quite right.



whole foods + whole lot of social-media mess

what a week it must have been for whole foods ceo john mackay and his crisis-pr team!    just a week after a major scientific report that there is really no material health difference between organic and non-organic produce. 

1.  john mckay writes a wall street journal oped on the united states healthcare debate

2. his customers, he picks the ‘wrong side’ of the debate … with a conservative-piece despite serving a largely liberal-customer base

3.  blogosphere and twittersphere explodes in rage .. with some stating that they will not shop at whole foods because of the ‘social darwinism and elitism’ reflected in john mackay’s piece

4.  traditional media picks up the story

5. is formed

6.  welcome to traditional media meeting social media in the age of the empowered customer with a keyboard @ hand …

3 obvious ideas:

a. personal ceo opinion”, really?: ironically there is no such thing as a ‘personal opinion’ for public cxo’s in an age where social media promises to enable personal expression! et tu, social media?

b. understand your customer before you communicate … because social media is the voice of many, not just marketing: you dont need to have a ph.d. in anthropology to know your customer-base, its major likes and dislikes.  if you are in a fishbowl (as they say about ceo’s), communication is hard to begin with.  your every move is being followed, interpreted and amplified.  social media just made it harder.  most companies and ‘social media experts’ belabor about why it is important for companies to market themselves through social media… conveniently forgetting that the power of social media is tilted towards the voice of many … i.e., the customers and quick-to-convert ‘former customers’!

c. b2c brands can become fragile faster than you can say “oh tweet!”:  b2c brands are built on perception.  brands take time and money to build.  like humpty-dumpty that sat on a wall and took a great fall, brands can fall quickly with the nudge of social-media ire.  and despite all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, it might not be possible to put humpty-dumpty together again.  just ask any 2 year old.  

sai at obviousideas dot com

an american auto revolution … the need to put customers 1st

what a year it has been for american auto majors.  pundits have written about it six ways to sunday … and yet, i find something obviously absent in the dialog.  the customer.

we hear about restructuring plans, debt refinancing, labor negotiation, de-merger dynamics, green technology and other paths to promising breakthroughs.  but pray, where is the focus on the customer?!

3 obviousideas

i. wish vs. want: focus on building a brand that “people wish they could have”, not one that you hope “people will want” or “need”.  so, a chevy ’64 impala is not the same as an ’09 impala.  same for the chevy camaro.  classic examples of cars that ‘people wished they could have’ becoming ‘cars that the company wished people would want’.

ii. brand identity: focus on a product mix where all products are strongly aligned with the brand identity and help reinforce it.  so, a chevy corvette and a chevy aveo should never again have the same badge.   how about being careful about brand extensions and not trying to be ‘everything to everyone’?

iii. points-of-experience:  focus on the entire customer experience around the brand, from prospecting to post-sales service and support.  so, never again should a customer walk away from a dealership ‘feeling ripped off’.  how about more clarity and courtesy at the points-of-experience?  i think the new volkswagen cc ad promising carefree maintenance a-la bmw is a step in the right direction.

what do you think?

conveying ur msg … the kurt busch way!

the victory lap that kurt busch did after winning the kobalt 500 yesterday was something nascar fans (and others) will be talking for a long time.  contrary to tradition, kurt went around the track in reverse!

miller lite must have been double happy … with the victory and the image of their logo going around the race track in a completely unconventional manner

3 obviousideas:

a.  it aint over till the fast car goes in reverse.  reserve the unexpected for the final flourish … and your messages will stick.

b. break the rules, but stick to the road.  lets make sure our messages are in synch with the overall brand and identity.  break the rules within that … so you dont end up confusing your customer.

c. … i dont have a 3rd point to make … so, will you remember this unexpected finish?  oh, well … i tried!

what say ye marketing mavens?

brand a city … and get burdened? the saga of las vegas

a few hours ago, forbes reported that las vegas is america’s ’emptiest’ city.  what a sad state of affairs for a few blocks of glitz and glamour that calls itself las vegas.  a success story of branding an entire city.  “thank you” everyone said, the rebranding helped attract tourists and business visitors in the early part of the 21st century {seems so long ago now!}

fast forward to 2009.  a now bailed-out bank’s decision to proceed with their pre-bailout plans to host an event in sin city attracted much ire, and counter ire.  a far cry from the days what happens in vegas, stays herewas celebrated , which spawned off the more popular tag line ‘what happens in vegas, stays in vegas‘ …

looks like the brand has come back to bite the city.  maybe a lesser tag line might not have created such an aversion to bailed out banks sending their employees off to the middle of the desert.

maybe, just maybe, its safer to enjoy a timeless brand like san franscisco, paris or new york.  cities without provocative tag lines that seem oh so well out of place today.  i guess, that is what happens when you gamble with a tag line.  sometimes, the house too loses.  too bad in this case it is all of them!

what do you think?  what can charlotte (an up and coming city) and others learn from this?

(just watching a re-rerun of frasier (episode: ‘frasier-lite’ 2004) where frasier is enticed to over-eat just prior to an obesity-awareness weight loss competition so that he and his team can win a trip to vegas.  why, the tag line is even misquoted as ‘what happens in vegas, stays in vegas’ … because the original line coined by r&r partners is ‘what happens here, stays here’)

virtual connections … in a physical space

it just struck me!  that we live in a physical space.  seriously.  regardless of the number of new or innovative opportunities to connect in the digital world, we live in a physical space.  most of what we end up writing, posting, publishing, editing, commenting, debating, discussing, dissing or ignoring online… is connected to events, activities, emotions, outcomes, results, failures and feelings from the *physical space* that we live in.  

sure, we could yammer or twitter amongst colleagues and friends; across corporate walls or countries. but what % of all that digital voice is de-linked from a physical-world?  “reading a book”, “TripIt to Chicago”, “watching the Steelers win”… etc… or, providing feedback regarding physical products/services…

so, the point being?  we are at a point where the cohesive-quality of online interaction needs to overtake the numeric quantity of interfaces.  what’s the point on being a member of 22 different social network sites if you cannot sustain a quality interaction across all of those interfaces?   given ‘n’ nodes in a network, the number of communication channels is the mathematical outcome of ((n)*(n-1))/2.  surely, surely your voice is bound to get lost in all this noise.

hopefully when corporates get around to social networking within and outside corporate walls, they will find a way to solve the noise problem by bringing some structure.  the physical world that companies live in are governed by constructs unlike those that the individual lives in. 

how about we start proving the right incentives?  incentives to reduce noise and bring in quality into the quantity… corporates and organizations can do that.  why not?

in this time of economic uncertainty organization b2x orgs should look at engaging customers and increasing stickiness by providing interaction opportunities that literally pay-back to the customer.  we live in a physical space, so the notion of real money for real feedback / engagement would reduce the randomness and increase the quality of interaction.  now, how do we know which ones deserve a payout?  leave that to the masses to decide… darwinism will rule and organizations will be able to hear the voice of the few selected through the validation of many … how is that for a win-win?

sai at obviousideas dot com