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Seeing MMM Lessons All Around

Courtney Weldon (MMM '21) talks about having knowledge developed in MMM be applicable to almost everything she does now.

Courtney Weldon (MMM '21)When Courtney Weldon is asked to explain what MMM is, she uses props. She asks the person to look at an object close to them and explain what they like about it. 

"Then I explain to them that the features they love about it were designed intentionally and with them in mind," she said, "but also in a way that makes sense for the company in terms of mission alignment and profitability." 

For Weldon (MMM '21), her understanding of those two sides comes from her experience in MMM, a dual-degree program from Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Kellogg School of Management. Her original plan was to go to business school to learn about the strategy and financial side of businesses to become a better research and development leader. However, she was always passionate about innovation, so when she learned about MMM and the opportunity to earn an MBA and a MS in Design Innovation in two years, she realized the program could help her become an even stronger leader. 

With graduation months away, she is grateful for that decision. 

"The process and principles we are taught in MMM can be applied to anything," Weldon said. "The wealth of things in the world to be designed for is endless. What might be a small idea to you can change another person's entire life."

One of the hallmarks of the program is the opportunity for students to work on real-world projects with clients who look to MMM students for guidance, strategy, and advice. Weldon's favorite course was CPG Product and Business Innovation Studio, an experiential class sponsored by Procter & Gamble that allowed her to dig into a project P&G was simultaneously working on. 

She also enjoyed how the program's core courses worked together as an overall process. Research - Design - Build lays the foundation for design thinking and human-centered design — it's like learning to ride with training wheels, she said. The CPG Studio course with P&G gives students the chance to apply what they've learned while working with industry innovators — like riding without training wheels but with someone holding onto the handlebars. Finally, the Business Innovation Lab allows students to ride on their own as they take all they've learned over the course of 18 months and use it to solve a problem for an industry partner. 

Weldon also developed her leadership through the Black Management Association (BMA). She served as co-chair for the 2020 BMA Conference, the oldest student-led conference at Kellogg (34 years and counting). The conference, held in October, was the school's first large external event to pivot to a fully virtual environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Through programming and managing operations and logistics, we designed a conference that left a lasting impact on students and the broader Northwestern community during such a trying year for all of us," she said.

Weldon also led programming for Black History Month in February. During the planning process, she continued to see her MMM education pop up as she and her classmates wrestled with blending Kellogg student culture with Black history and the increased energy around anti-racism and social justice. That didn't surprise her. She thinks the knowledge she's gained in MMM will continue to appear in everything she does moving forward.

"I expect it to show up when I plan events and experiences for friends and family, or am in search of solutions for future clients," Weldon said. "I can see MMM lessons showing up even when I am trying to solve conflicts between work and home life in the future, and while setting goals for myself."

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