Kennedy '94 to help launch Kellogg centennial gala
Mart president chairing school's October celebration
Kellogg School turns 100 this year and is planning a once-in-a-lifetime
birthday party. The Centennial gala, which will be hosted
in Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, is scheduled for
mix of prestigious academic history with au courant artistic innovation may seem unusual, but
the symbolism is fitting, says Kellogg Dean Dipak
C. Jain. After all, the school's leadership lessons are
cutting-edge and creative.
have a great tradition whose roots go back a century, but
the strength of our curriculum is that it remains contemporary
— very much up to the moment as we cultivate global
leaders prepared for the challenges of the next century,"
Jain says. "We regard leadership as both an art and science."
location of the celebration — a black-tie dinner whose
guests will include luminaries from Chicago's business, education
and municipal community — is appropriate for another
reason too. Chris Kennedy '94, the Kellogg graduate
chairing the event, has stepped into the art world, embellishing
a résumé that already boasts stellar business
credentials and a political pedigree connected to one of America's
44, is president of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI),
the Chicago-based trade show and property management company
that oversees several commercial enterprises, including the
L.A. Mart in Los Angeles, the Boston Design Center in Boston
and the iconic 4.2-million-square-foot Merchandise Mart in
Chicago. The Mart, which opened in 1930 and was owned by the
Kennedy family from 1945 until 1998, is the largest commercial
building in the world, spanning two full city blocks and home
to over 600 showrooms. In 2006, MMPI rescued the faltering
13-year-old Art Chicago, one of the leading contemporary art
fairs. Since then, MMPI, a subsidiary of Vornado Realty Trust,
has purchased other major shows, including Volta Basel, the
Armory Show and the Toronto International Arts Fair.
a move that Kennedy — son of the late Robert F. Kennedy
— finds synergistic, since he has long seen the connections
among art, politics and business. For one, he says, they all
rely on relationships to thrive. As a teenager working on
his uncle Ted Kennedy's 1980 presidential bid, he saw that
artists like Warhol and Rauschenberg would donate some of
their work to the campaign. And while the art world tends
to dip along with commerce during an economic downturn, Kennedy
says he's not taking a "quarter-to-quarter approach"
to things, but is willing to ride out some of the normal market
fluctuations. That perspective is one he says can help enterprises
excel for the long-term. As evidence, he points to the qualities
that, for decades, have made the Kellogg School and Merchandise
Mart exemplary institutions.
contribute an awful lot to Chicago," Kennedy says. The
Merchandise Mart is in the business of producing tradeshows,
he adds, "and trade shows are really incubators."
Kennedy says that companies who participate in a show often
find that if they do well in the Windy City then their company
will thrive. They may subsequently set up a local office,
which can bring new business to Chicago.
think the same thing is true with Kellogg: It's an incredibly
efficient economic engine for the region," Kennedy says.
"I don't know many other organizations that attract hundreds
of future leaders to our city to spend a year or two here,
to see the wonders of the lakefront, to see how nice the people
are, see how livable this city is and understand that we have
a well-educated workforce."
himself relocated to Chicago from Boston, where he had earned
an undergraduate degree in political science from Boston College.
He began his Kellogg tenure as a student in the Full-Time
MBA Program before transferring into the part-time curriculum,
an arrangement that let him pursue his career at the Merchandise
Mart, where he had interned. He admits that juggling work
and school proved challenging but says that he made "lifelong
friends during the day program" while also enjoying valuable
interaction with colleagues from the business community who
were enrolled in the evening program.
would say that very few students got as much out of Kellogg
as I got out of it," Kennedy says. "I focused on
history and political science during my undergraduate years
at Boston College and I came to Kellogg highly motivated but
with little grounding in subjects like finance or accounting
or operations, so the experience was all upside for me and
it was tremendous."
recalls "great teachers" at Kellogg, including Robert
Dewar, associate professor of management and organizations,
and the late Lawrence "Gene" Lavengood, a
popular business historian and ethics expert whose influence
Kennedy says has shaped his own leadership insights.
helped me develop my basic approach to all things that have
occurred in the business of the Mart," Kennedy recalls.
"We're in scores of industries and lots of different
businesses. Every one of them we approach with the philosophy
that really came out of Lavengood's class: 'What's your mission
and how are you going to do it?'"
insights into organizational philosophy also have made an
impact Kennedy says — including in the company's ability
to execute on a commitment to green design and practice. In
2007, the Merchandise Mart earned a LEED Silver certification
for existing buildings, a "super technical" feat
that "involves a lot of basic science and massive organizational
change," which was made possible because the company
was able to "attract, retain and motivate top-notch talent,"
Kennedy says. Its ability to do so, he adds, was partly the
result of the organizational philosophies he learned at Kellogg.
"Bob Dewar made it clear that working with a team and
motivating those people was critically important to the continuity
of an organization. These were some of the issues that were
first raised in my mind at Kellogg 15 years ago."
appreciation for his Kellogg experience, Kennedy is pleased
to play a role in producing the Centennial gala. He sees the
business school as a force for economic development in Chicago.
"I think Dean Jain is trying to tap into the Kellogg
resources in order to improve our city and community,"
Kennedy says. "Kellogg is entering a phase where, because
of its global reputation and accomplishments, it's able to
contribute even more fully to the community in which we live.
I'm happy to be supportive of that."
addition to the gala, Kellogg will celebrate its Centennial
from October through May 2009 with social events and academic
conferences at various locations around the world, including
London, Zurich, Shanghai and Mexico City. These events will
look ahead, outlining a vision for the role that Kellogg will
play in advancing management education in the coming decades,
while also reflecting on the school's century of accomplishment.
Kellogg School began in 1908 as a part-time evening program
located in Chicago's Loop. Known then as the School of Commerce,
it offered an attractive curriculum to students — often
employed by area banks or retailers — who were looking
to improve their professional circumstances through business
education with a practical focus. Among the school's early
strengths were advertising and marketing courses built on
the strong economic orientation of faculty members, including
the school's first dean, Willard E. Hotchkiss.
more information about Kellogg Centennial, contact Jane Rodriguez
at 847.467.2586, or visit centennial.kellogg.northwestern.edu.