New approaches to the skills gap

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 day ago

Last week, George Westerman, Research Scientist at MIT Sloan and the MIT Center for Digital Business, showed a headline from the Wall Street Journal article, "CIOs, Facing IT Skills Gap, Eye the Gig Economy for Talent," to the attendees of a panel he moderated at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium 2016. The panel discussion, Developing your Organization's Skills for the Digital Future, played to a packed room.

Chertavian

While turning to freelancers and contract employees participating in the gig economy may be one solution to the talent gap, there are companies taking other approaches as well. One panelist in the skills discussion at the MIT CIO Symposium may have offered a solution for winning the talent war. Gerald Chertavian, CEO and Founder of Year Up, believes that there’s a wealth of untapped talent among the six million U.S. young adults who are "out of work, out of school, and without access to the economic mainstream." As he told the attendees, "These are smart, hard-working young people who just happen to have been born or live in the wrong zip code, essentially making a college education impossible for them."

Chertavian's organization works with more than 250 organizations and companies to develop the talent in these young people and move them into white collar, career-focused jobs, such as software engineers and (highly prized) Java developers. The list of companies turning to Year Up to address their talent shortage is impressive and includes Accenture, Airbnb, American Express, athenahealth, AT&T, Bank of America, Biogen IDEC, Cisco, Deloitte, Facebook, GE Energy, Google, and many others

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MIT marks 100 years in Cambridge

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 days ago

MIT Alumni at Moving Day Celebration

Today MIT is synonymous with innovation and Cambridge. But it was only 100 years ago that MIT firmly planted itself in Cambridge. For its first 55 years, MIT was based in Boston; the school moved to Cambridge in 1916. So last week, as part of a series of "MIT 2016" celebrations, the school held commemorative Moving Day events to mark the occasion.

Back in 1916, MIT conducted a ceremonial crossing of the river, which included bringing the school's charter across the Charles River on a barge, the Bucentaur. This year's crossing of the river included a parade and competition with 26 entries on the water and 28 groups crossing the Massachusetts Avenue bridge. If you happened upon the event, you’d have witnessed many vessels crossing the Charles, including an electric hydrofoil craft, a motorized swarm of kayaks, a bamboo raft, and a pedal-powered floating platform in the shape of the dome from MIT's main building. Additional participants in the water crossing included the MIT varsity sailing team and rower Veronica Toro, who is hoping to row in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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A personal story of accomplishment: Jackie Caniza

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 8 days ago

By Colleen Berger, Program Director, MIT Sloan Executive Education

Jackie Caniza at MIT Sloan

As a Program Director at MIT Sloan Executive Education, I have the good fortune of meeting many interesting, successful people from a variety of industries. I truly enjoy getting to know our participants and hearing their stories, and I would like to share a recent one with you.
Jackie Caniza is a Success Coach and HR Consultant at Business Hat, Inc. in the Philippines. After a 15-year career in corporate HR roles, she took a calculated risk and decided to start her own consulting business. Realizing she needed two separate educational tracks in order to succeed, she pursued her coaching certification while simultaneously evaluating executive education programs that would teach her the necessary business skills for starting and sustaining a business.

Jackie's father, a steadfast proponent of engineering and technology, had always aspired to spend time at MIT and suggested Jackie consider a program at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Given the considerable costs associated with starting a new business, Jackie was skeptical about being able to take on an additional commitment. But her father persisted, even offering to split the cost with her because he felt so strongly about the opportunity and the results it would produce.

In the fall of 2012, Jackie enrolled in four MIT Sloan Executive Education programs and earned an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership. She was thrilled with her experience and the value of the education which could be immediately applied to her new business. End of story ... or so she thought.

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A unique framework to address complex challenges: System Dynamics

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 12 days ago

Many executives in today's complicated business world are finding they no longer have the tools and techniques needed to address complex problems. MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman says there is a solution and it's called system dynamics--a powerful framework for identifying, designing, and implementing solutions for complex challenges. A technique that was invented at MIT several decades ago, it is even more applicable today and widely used by companies, governments, and communities around the world.

Some executives think they have a separate problem related to marketing, finance, or operations--the operative word here being "separate," according to Professor Sterman. However, Sterman says, "People don't have these separate problems. We just have problems, and when we insist on dividing the world into those silos and acting locally, our problems usually get worse." The solution, he adds, and, in fact, a core idea of systems thinking is to help executives understand that they are embedded in systems that often mold their behavior in ways they don’t appreciate. Yet these same executives "are often responsible for designing the systems in which they and their direct reports operate ..."

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Productivity wisdom: My top 5 articles

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 16 days ago

Contributed by Bob Pozen, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan Executive Education

Regardless of location, industry or occupation, productivity is a challenge faced by every professional, following us throughout our respective careers. Even as a professor and published author on the topic, I still find myself improving my own skills, both at work and at home, to get the most out of each day.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that there is a crowd of journalists, thought leaders, and gurus tackling the topic from almost every conceivable angle. While I have my own conclusions on the best ways to stay productive, which you can read in my book and learn more about in my class, Maximizing Your Personal Productivity, staying tuned into the perspectives of other productivity experts is critical to a well-rounded outlook. In the spirit of broadening our collective productivity wisdom, below are five great articles on the topic I've enjoyed:

  1. Inc.: "Why the Excuse "I'm Overloaded" Doesn't Work Anymore" This is a harsh reality to those who think they're too busy, but it points to a fundamental rule of productivity--prioritizing. One of the first lessons I teach in my course is how to prioritize. It seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people looking to be more productive don’t prioritize tasks appropriately.
  2. Fast Company: "This Googler Explains How to Design Your Time Rather Than Manage It" Creating to-do lists is a vital task to daily productivity. In this article, Google’s Thomas Davies describes his "Quadrant-style" to-do list that categorizes his tasks under 4 responsibilities or "quadrants" that help prioritize tasks.

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The real costs of layoffs

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 18 days ago

Layoffs

Corporate layoffs, often referred to as "downsizing", are very common nowadays. In the past, layoffs were a last measure for companies that were truly struggling. Or, downsizing was used only at times when the economy was exceptionally bleak.

So, why do companies now frequently use layoffs as an easy cost-cutting measure? And, what are the real costs of doing so? 

Corporate downsizing is often tied to short-term cost cutting measures. Unfortunately, this has become a more common practice, especially with publicly-traded companies, where there is extreme pressure for organizations to focus on quarterly profitability and share-holder value. Although layoffs may achieve these short-term financial objectives, the true costs down the road are often higher.

For example, when an employee is laid off from a company, a lot of knowledge leaves the organization. Morale amongst remaining employees is often lower, and the existing workforce is likely encumbered with having to fill the void and take on additional responsibilities. And what happens when that same company needs to augment their workforce again? There are costs to recruit, train, and retain the new employees.

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Why executive education is a good investment for your company

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 19 days ago

Concerned that paying for an employee's education will be worth the investment? Will participating in executive education take an employee out of the office for too long? Will the employee leave the organization once the education is complete?

While these concerns are valid, MIT Sloan Executive Education has seen thousands of executives bring extraordinary value back to their places of work. Business leaders and HR executives tell us how they have come to reply on executive education to fill skills gaps, reward employees, support teams, solve persistent challenges, and meet specific business goals. These are just a few of the many great reasons—for both an employer and an employee—to invest in executive learning.

"I continue, daily, to apply the tools and thought processes that I learned from my MIT Sloan Executive Education experience. The hands-on learning vignettes, led by renowned thought leaders and business experts, provide a balance of theory, research, and real-world applications. The participants also added greatly to the learning experience, bringing their unique perspectives from diverse geographies, industries, and roles. Whether you are a manager of a P&L, leading a product development team, or in a corporate function like HR or IT, you will leave with tangible tools that can be immediately applied to advance your business."

- Phil Gillingham, Director, Global HR Operations, Microsoft

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Is the tech industry overlooking half its talent pool?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 1 day ago

There is much talk as of late over the lack of women working in and leading organizations in the technology industry. For example, a report by the American Association of University Women concluded that women made up just 26% of computing professionals in 2014, a substantially smaller proportion than 25 years ago and about the same percentage as in 1960. Women in engineering roles in the US are even less represented, making up 12% of working engineers.

Mitra Best

MIT Sloan Executive Certificate holder and U.S. Innovation Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mitra Best, may have said it best in her recent blog post on CIO Dashboard: "It is ironic that while technology has broken many barriers to innovation, barriers to women’s engagement are rising." Mitra recalls her time as an undergraduate in computer science in the late 80s, when approximately 30% of computer graduates were women. She had assumed at that time that we’d reach parity in 10 to 15 years and was recently disappointed to learn that, in 2015, only 18% of computer graduates in the US were women.

Unfortunately, the underrepresentation of women in tech is, for the most part, a global phenomenon. In the U.K., women represent only 17.5% of computing professionals, and only 8.2 percent of engineers. In Israel, known for its thriving tech scene, women compose only 12% of PhD graduates in engineering and only 15% of professors in STEM subjects.

There is hope. Female scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians worldwide are breaking barriers and making incredible contributions to their fields, despite the odds. Projects like The Internet of Women, an upcoming book and global community to support women in technology founded by leaders from Cisco and New York Institute of Technology, prove that there are exciting cultural shifts taking place around the globe. Some of these achievements, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, are in part driven by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and Millennial Development Goals, which emphasize gender equality and technology education for girls, respectively.

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