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Li He, MBA '14

Feb 01 2014

Johnson has its heart and soul- Johnson Annual Alumni Leadership Conference

Li He, MBA '14

I just came back from Johnson 7th Annual Alumni Recognition Dinner and alumni leadership conference. I have so much to share with you that I don't even know where to start. So I have decided to start with a quotation from our previous dean Joe Thomas, "Unlike those city schools, Johnson has heart and soul." This alumni event helped me understand and make more tangible what "heart and soul" really means.

Johnson's 7th Annual Alumni Recognition Dinner featured Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Mondelez International, who was named by Forbes magazine as the fifth most powerful women in business in 2006 and 2007. Dean Soumitra Dutta presented the Joe Thomas leadership award to Irene Rosenfeld at the event. We were thrilled to be there and hear her share her experience. She gave us tips that she found very useful during her career development: take risks and let people know what you want. 

The one I that resonated with me most is "letting people know what you want." She mentioned that she became the head of Kraft Canada because she asked her boss for it, even though she knew a very successful gentlemen already had the position. Little did she know, that he was leaving his position soon. Her boss ended up offering her the job! Under Irene Rosenfeld's leadership, she transformed a company that was suffering from stagnant growth, poor organization, and little product innovation, to an innovative "startup" with $35 billion in annual revenue. The company is now called Mondelez International after splitting off from Kraft in 2012.

I also attended the Johnson Alumni Leadership Conference this Friday. An event which brings together alumni volunteers/leaders for an all-day training and professional development retreat. Dean Dutta updated attendees on Johnson's strategy and initiatives, including Johnson's one year MBA in NYC at the Cornell tech campus and Johnson's global initiatives. There is no doubt that Johnson is taking risks and revolutionizing itself while still keeping its heart and soul! It's impossible to guarantee that these initiatives will turn into huge successes, but it is still worth giving these bold initiatives a try. Just as Irene Rosenfeld mentioned, taking risks will move you toward the place you probably didn't expect. I feel so trilled to have Johnson's entrepreneurial, committed, and self-challenging spirit in my life. 

To materialize these growth strategies, we need to have strong support from all of our alumni. During the panel discussion with Jeff Parker, David Breazanno and Barry Ridings, they shared their commitment to Johnson and why they think it is highly important to instill philanthropy in higher education. The three gentlemen, who have strong influence in Johnson community because of their commitment to the school, have further strengthened my determination to be committed to Cornell/Johnson, no matter where I will be after graduation. To echo their sentiment, I strongly encourage all of my classmates to stay engaged. We are part of the best schools in the world, there is no reason for us to turn away and forget how many benefits we have garnered from this community. 

The following part is specially for prospective students:

If you are still struggling with your school selection, put Johnson at the top. Don't ask me why. I believe you can't find any school like Johnson where you know everyone, you can get responses from any alumni when you reach out, and you can interact with professors any time and any where. According to my connections in other top ten b-schools, the response rate is lower than 50%. 

If you are still facing a dilemma in your selection, there is no second option but Johnson. Can you imagine being invited to an annual alumni award recognition and sitting with a table of alumni who are only focused on you? Can you imagine being promised assistance in finding a job from an alumni as long as you keep your outreach strong? Can you imagine being a part of a school that is innovating itself and not resting in its comfort zone? If you can, then you will feel exactly what I am feeling now if you choose Johnson. I guarantee you that if you choose Johnson today, you will never regret the decision. 

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