At Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, it’s the end of a mini-era, the Dean Dipak Jain Era. Professor Jain, a marketing professor who served as Kellogg’s dean for eight years, will step down September 1st, returning to his faculty position after a year’s leave. He cites a wish to spend more time with his family (his children are still relatively young) as his main motivation.
Dean Jain was famous for his thoughtful approach to leadership, collaboration, and marketing. Having known him personally (my wife is a Kellogg MBA), though not in great depth, I’m sure his soft-spoken nature and keen insights will be missed. He, along with his predecessor Don Jacobs (who was Kellogg’s dean for over 25 years!), are credited with building much of Kellogg’s reputation as a top marketing program and the big-name b-school with the greatest emphasis on people skills and collaboration.
So what does it mean that Dean Jean is departing, especially for MBA applicants in these highly competitive times? I’ll lay out some thoughts in self-question/answer format.
Does this mean a lot of things will change at Kellogg?
Not likely. While the dean is of course the face of the school on many dimensions and a key influencer of its direction, Kellogg will almost definitely look for someone to carry on the reputation and traditions Dean Jain upheld, including a focus on marketing and people.
Who will be the new dean?
It’s not yet known. Kellogg has of course announced that the school will be selecting a new dean, but has said nothing about who that person will be, including whether the search will be internal, external, or both.
Should I mention the changing-of-the-deans situation in my essays or interview?
Maybe. As with anything, the key question is whether a given element of your essays or interview truly adds value to your application. If you’re talking about how exciting it is to be part of a shift in leadership at Kellogg, and how you will help carry on old and new traditions at the school in specific ways, go for it. If you’re mentioning the situation just to make clear you’re “in the know,” that will probably show.
In general, should I mention that I know a dean or any influential person in my essays or interview?
See the answer above. Name-dropping is rarely seen as much more than that, and could be a sign that your approach lacks substance. But if there’s a valid reason to bring up the person—for example, in talking about how specific courses they teach are relevant to your goals or how their discussion of the school’s culture showed how well it aligns with your personal approach—then it’s worthwhile.
Will this development affect Kellogg’s applicant pool?
Doubt it. As above, at this point, most top schools’ deans are reflections of their programs’ reputations, curricula, and cultures, rather than the other way around. So Kellogg will continue to be Kellogg, with or without Dean Jain, as valued as his leadership has been. Factors more likely to affect Kellogg’s applicant pool, including numbers and quality, remain the usual suspects: the job market, value of a top MBA in the near-future job market, rankings, and the like.
Should I still apply to Kellogg?
Definitely. As long as it fits your profile, goals, and preferences.
My fellow editors and I would be happy to help you craft your approach to Kellogg and any other b-school, regardless of their current dean situation!
By Dr. Sachin Waikar, Accepted.com editor.