Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Economics of Culture

We think on global levels; and although every class is a voracious challenge, we take a huge bite out of it and come back for more. Why? Because we're Kelleys.

Our Economics professor has been in Peru for three weeks laying the foundations for one of our Spring Break work-abroad programs - these kind of programs are just a small slice that contribute to this being the best MBA program in the USA. We've only had one class from him, but he's returned and it's time for another double-session from his feverish, contagious, heart-racing teaching-style. It's a sickness - and it's one we all want to catch as part of this nationally ranked MBA.

We come into the room and take our normal seats, the lights dimmed, and we go over our notes for today's case discussion on the aluminum industry - case studies are an essential part of the MBA Course Curriculum. Russia's flooded the market with aluminum, prices have stagnated and we're trying to determine whether to build a $1.6 billion new facility to produce more. And then he enters......

Phil Powell erupts into the room just a few hours after dawn in a pinstripe suit and exercises the full space of the room, up and down the aisles, back to his notes of on the overhead, leaning on desks to chat one on one. His voice fills the space and his convictions are certain - this case event may have happened 16 years ago, but he has elected us to the board of directors and this event is looming on our doorstep today. Cold calls come left and right; but we're ready and ex marketers, investors, PR managers, non-profit grant-writers and accountants reply with insights and solutions back and forth.

When the whirlwind is over, we walk from the room with smiles and open eyes - we can actually physically feel that we are smarter. We have collaborated on a global solution concerning billions of dollars and thousands of livelihoods, and Phil's energy and passion has exhausted us. But as Phil tells us, every time the work hurts, we need hear a "chu-ching" in our head, paying off making us more brilliant for the future. He reassures us, time and again, that we are Kelleys and people will look to us in the future for leadership and certainty. And we will deliver.

It's a global mind-set - and it's exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. I can feel myself getting better.

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