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New MBA Program Directors Announced

Directors to Launch New Era for Kellstadt MBA Programs


Headshot of Jim Mourey
Associate Professor of Marketing Jim Mourey and Senior Instructor of Marketing Christine Hjorth have been appointed as the directors of the full-time and part-time MBA programs, respectively, at DePaul’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.  

Mourey and Hjorth will be the first to hold these positions. The positions were created by a task force charged with re-imagining the MBA programs at Kellstadt – and their position in a rapidly changing marketplace. Thanks to the work of that task force, Mourey and Hjorth are well-positioned to build on the strengths of the MBA programs - including their legacy of producing business leaders in Chicago and around the world. 

Headshot of Chris Hjorth
“We have so much to offer MBA students” said Hjorth, who joined DePaul in 2020 after 15 years as a nationally recognized leader in brand marketing for Kraft-Heinz. “DePaul is a really strong brand within the Chicago area. We have fabulous faculty and courses.  And there are so many alumni working in top companies in Chicago who can join in on the conversation.”  

"Our alumni are at top companies here in Chicago and around the world,” echoed Mourey, who currently leads the BETA Hub, a resource center that infuses emerging technologies into student classwork and faculty research. (Mourey will be stepping down from the position to lead the full-time MBA program; his successor will be announced shortly.) “Kellstadt is a launching pad to so many great companies.”  

Career Readiness: Engaging Alumni, Present and Future 

Alumni engagement is a cornerstone of the plan to revitalize Kellstadt’s MBA programs. That plan was developed by a task force comprising ten faculty, staff, and advisors from the business community. Mourey led that task force alongside Kelly Richmond Pope, the Dr. Barry Jay Epstein Endowed Professor of Accounting. The task force focused its efforts on the full-time MBA as Kellstadt’s flagship program, said Mourey. But the benefits, he emphasized, will be felt by students across Kellstadt. 

“Alumni engagement starts before students even get here,” said Mourey. “Based on the work of the task force, we plan to have a welcome week full of programming. Distinguished alumni working at global companies such as McDonald’s, Morningstar, or Walgreens will speak on panels. And the Kellstadt Career Management Center team is working on career readiness before students set foot on this campus.”   

That team is led by Heather Packo, who served on the MBA task force. The Career Management Center (CMC) recently went through a reorganization of its own. Now, the CMC comprises three teams that focus on career coaching and education, operations and communication, and employer and alumni engagement. All three teams work together to support Kellstadt students in launching their careers.  

The reorganization of the CMC, coupled with the changes to the MBA program, expands opportunities for Kellstadt alumni around the globe to engage with current students.  

“We’d love for folks around the world to reach out to be a part of the MBA experience – as mentors, as hosts for interns, to create hiring pipelines,” said Mourey. “In this sense, a rising tide will lift all boats. Our students will benefit from tapping into our alumni network. And all our alumni will benefit as that network expands.”  

Curriculum: Developing Leadership Skills Through Practice 

Re-envisioning the curriculum for the MBA programs is another centerpiece of the task force’s plan. The impetus for this work, Mourey said, came from in-house: specifically, from research conducted by Associate Dean of Graduate and Executive Education Bob Rubin and William E. Hay Leadership Fellow Erich Dierdorff. The paper identified several key characteristics of the most influential MBA programs.  

One of them, according to Mourey? “A modern MBA program should not be ‘business undergrad, part two.’ 

“That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t teach fundamentals,” Mourey continued. “But we’ve figured out a way to integrate those fundamentals  so that we can focus on what Bob and Erich reported in their research: An exceptional MBA program teaches leadership, strategy, decision-making and innovation. That’s the distinction: developing leaders who will use their business acumen to improve the world. That’s what will be woven into the curriculum.”  

Students will cultivate these skills through practical experience. In addition to internships, full-time MBA students will complete major consulting projects for companies – including nonprofits and international companies. These projects, which will be woven into the curriculum, build on the existing strengths of Kellstadt and Driehaus; they were proposed by task force member and Associate Professor of Marketing Zafar Iqbal, who has long worked to integrate project-based learning into the curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate level.  

A Changing Marketplace: The Vision for the MBA Going Forward  

As these specific opportunities become integrated into the full-time MBA experience, part-time students will benefit too. Hjorth is working closely with Mourey on MBA programming. She is also focused on a question specific to the rapidly changing marketplace for part-time MBA programs: What modality best suits the needs of students and the strengths of Kellstadt? 

The part-time program at Kellstadt currently allows for students to learn across multiple modalities, Hjorth said. That offers much-need flexibility – and broadens the options for where the program could go in coming years.  

“Where there’s growth in the MBA marketplace – especially within part-time programs – is having flexible options,” Hjorth said. “I can relate to that! I earned my MBA while working full-time. And yet – students still want the kind of connectivity and networking that in-person programs traditionally offer. It’s an interesting balance to strike. We have to figure that out. And with our mix of online and in-person offerings, we are already heading in the right direction.” 

For both Mourey and Hjorth, their enthusiasm for the future of Kellstadt’s MBA stems directly from their experiences teaching in it.  

“I’m really excited to move into this position where I can help drive change in a broader way than I did through teaching,” Hjorth said. “I am looking forward to working with students, faculty and the administration to identify the areas to focus on to drive growth.”    

“I spent my career in brand management,” she said, “which, when it gets down to it, is all about driving growth. I’m really excited to see how we can enhance the part-time MBA program to drive growth.” 

For Mourey, the thing that stands out about the MBA program at Kellstadt isn’t just its deep roots in Chicago, or its connections to Fortune 500 companies that branch out across the world. It’s the community. 

“If you look at some of the top 10 programs, you're one of 500 to 1,000 students,” he said. “To be clear, these are exceptional programs. But many cannot provide the same kind of one-on-one access to C-suite executives and managers at top, global companies we provide at Kellstadt. Our location and our size afford our students unique advantages.  

“Transforming individual students is what we pride ourselves on as a university,” he continued. “One-on-one attention. Taking care of the whole student. That’s really what we’re focusing on with our MBA programs: not just with the education but with the cocurricular pieces, the career pieces – all of it.”  

A group of about 50 students strike a celebratory pose
New full-time MBA students pose on the rooftop of the DePaul Center during their fall 2022 orientation.

The Driehaus College of Business and the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business are profoundly grateful to the MBA task force for their thoroughly researched, innovative work to launch Kellstadt's MBA programs into a new era. That task force included: DePaul faculty and staff Lamont Black, Gabriella Bucci, Zafar Iqbal, James Moore, Jim Mourey, Heather Packo, Kelly Richmond Pope, Maija Renko and Joel Reynolds; and Jill Rahman, the Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.