NaviAsia executive helps keep Kellogg alumni network strong through service, teaching

Club leader finds his net's worth:

NaviAsia executive helps keep Kellogg alumni network strong through service, teaching

By Romi Herron

Most would consider John Tomaszewski '98 well connected.

He is co-founder of Chicago-based NaviAsia Consulting Group, which provides strategic sourcing and supply chain management to small- and medium-sized companies intending to utilize China as a base. Navigating the business challenges there, the firm aims to "bridge time zones, distance, cultures and languages to create an integrated supply chain across the Pacific," according to its Web site.

And Tomaszewski is at the helm.

His success, he says, has come in part because of a network of industry contacts he established through a prior international business development role with BP/Amoco that took him to China, Mexico, Poland and Romania. Now, he draws on his expertise in consumer products, technology, automotive and energy industries to enable others to grow their businesses with international strategies.

But the Kellogg alum, lauding the relationships he began cultivating within the school's community in 2001, says that reconnecting has been equally vital to his career endeavors.

"When I graduated from The Managers' Program in 1998, I was part of Kellogg Corps that summer," recalls Tomaszewski, referencing the student-run organization that sends teams of MBA graduates on 4- to 6-week projects with nonprofits in developing countries. He then began working as a consultant at A.T. Kearney.

"I really didn't have time to re-engage with the school then," he says. "But as I was working toward creating my own business three years later, Dean Emeritus Don Jacobs asked me to become president of the Kellogg Alumni Club of Chicago." Tomaszewski was honored to accept. "Almost immediately I realized the friendships I was developing were refreshing and motivating."

One of four Kellogg Alumni Service Award winners this year, he says support from the Kellogg administration during the founding years of his business has been "tremendous." He's garnered new ideas and exposure to faculty with whom he had not studied during his Kellogg experience.

Increasingly, his involvement in alumni service has afforded others to learn from his insights too. A frequent guest lecturer in the Kellogg Executive MBA Program, he also is an adviser for the school's annual Global Initiatives in Management excursions to Asia. In April, Tomaszewski addressed an audience of Kellogg faculty and alumni at the Asian Business Conference in Evanston, highlighting Chinese sales and marketing transformations and emphasizing key differences between Western and Eastern approaches to sales, marketing, distribution and sourcing.  

Currently, he is helping create a new leadership framework for the Kellogg Alumni Club of Chicago, convinced that the president's role needs to evolve.

"This past year we've been in transition. I've recognized that we needed to create a steering committee to oversee the entire club, because the president's responsibilities are exceedingly challenging to align with one person's schedule," says Tomaszewski, whose own schedule includes responsibilities as a member of the World Trade Center of Chicago China Committee. "So now I'm in an advisory role with the intent of passing on the leadership to three new alumni."

As the club's immediate past president, he is eager to continue developing his Kellogg relationships through other programs offered by the school's alumni community.

"The alumni club has been a valuable opportunity for me to reconnect with the school and its values," he says, noting one benefit has been his acquaintance with David M. Messick, the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management. Messick and Tomaszewski confer on global issues — an opportunity that pleases the alum.

"I had not had the opportunity to learn from David while I was at Kellogg, and now that I'm outside my traditional learning experience, I am grateful to benefit from our interactions. My experiences with the alumni club have reinforced in me the importance of lifelong education."


Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Summer 2006


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