MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Category: Custom Programs

An executive's deep roots and ongoing collaborations with MIT Sloan

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 23 days ago

Carolyn Cameron-Kirksmith

Carolyn Cameron-Kirksmith manages key initiatives and a diverse range of projects for Standard Bank Group in Johannesburg, South Africa. In her complex role, Carolyn manages new and existing relationships throughout Africa and writes on topics like innovation and digitization for the company’s executive committee. She is charged with finding innovation solutions to complex problems for the bank. In 2012, Carolyn began a journey at MIT Sloan Executive Education that continues today. She holds an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership as well as an Advanced Certificate for Executives, and in 2014 she embarked on the five-week Advanced Management Program, simultaneously helping to forge innovative collaborations between MIT and her company.

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An innovative program explores solutions to Indonesia's complex challenges

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 3 days ago

Innovative Dynamic Education and Action for Sustainability—Indonesia

Although Indonesia has experienced political stability and economic growth since its first democratic election in 2004, the country is still grappling with the residual effects of decades of corrupt governments, acts of terrorism, destructive natural disasters, and high unemployment. This volatile history has resulted in a lack of trust among government, private business, and civil society. In an effort to overcome the dilemma, leaders from these various factions applied their collective knowledge to work together to find a solution to the country's most pressing problems. In their search for a program that could tackle these challenging issues and create a stronger, healthier future for Indonesia, they reached out to MIT Sloan.

The resulting custom programIDEAS (Innovative Dynamic Education and Action for Sustainability) Indonesia—has done just that and more. The current program is an outgrowth of the United in Diversity Conference held in Bali in 2003 and spearheaded by Cherie Nursalim, who is the co-founder of United in Diversity (UID) Forum, and Executive Director of Giti Group, a Singapore-based industrial conglomerate. Nursalim also is familiar with similar work done by MIT Sloan's Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge in a program called ELIAS (Emerging Leaders Innovate Across Sectors).

Diverse participants join together in a common goal

The IDEAS program convened small cohorts of leaders from different sectors—including government officials, civil-society leaders, business executives, academics, lawyers, journalists, activists, and members of non-governmental organizations—in a nurturing environment that dealt head on with many of the complex issues confronting the country today.

Each cohort of thirty included participants, or Fellows, from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Through a combination of leadership training and spiritual transformation, the program was designed to help the Fellows put aside differences and work toward a common goal of building a better future for Indonesia. Delivered in Indonesia and Cambridge, the program drew on MIT Sloan’s unique approach of integrating theory, real-world practice, and personal reflection. The curriculum included social technologies and advanced management techniques to help participants recognize the root causes of pervasive problems and address them effectively through collaboration. As part of this curriculum, Fellows developed and built prototypes of the types of change projects they planned to undertake in their chosen areas.

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"Big Blue" builds client relationships through innovative customer program

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 5 months and 15 days ago

IMB builds client relationships through innovative customer program designed by MIT

A culture of innovation has been a hallmark of IBM since its founding in 1911. With more patents than any other technology firm in the world and five Nobel Prizes earned by its employees over the years, it’s no surprise that innovation colors everything "Big Blue."

The technology leader--which has a presence in more than 170 countries including Mexico--has been focusing on building customer loyalty and strengthening its client relationships. To that end, IBM Mexico executives recently collaborated with MIT Sloan to create a custom program that would help its customers address the challenges they face on a daily basis. The ultimate goal was to provide customers with unbiased information and build their trust--a concept known as trust-based marketing.

With that goal in mind, MIT Sloan faculty and program directors met with IBM Mexico staff to adapt the Essential IT for the Non-IT Executives program for their particular needs. The resulting custom adaptation began with a two-day session where 30–50 executives, comprising three teams from each customer, met in Mexico City. During the session, CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs from IBM Mexico's customer base viewed IT challenges with fresh eyes--as a strategic resource for profit and growth rather than a cost center. In turn, MIT Sloan faculty provided critical frameworks and expertise, explaining the strategic role IT can play in an organization. The multi-module program included action-learning projects and an MIT-designed project simulator.

Roberto Sanchez, Director of Marketing at IBM Mexico, said IBM chose to adapt the Essential IT for the Non-IT Executives program because it addressed the challenge of looking at IT as a strategic resource for profit and growth. In addition, he said IBM Mexico was interested in gaining a better understanding of and relationship with its clients and helping the executive teams build stronger bonds with one another in the long run. According to Sanchez, the dynamic of the participants made the custom program especially productive. "While it's true that people learn through experience, at the end of the day, smart leaders also acknowledge that they should be reading more, learning from others, keeping their knowledge fresh."

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Custom program helps global giant Schlumberger integrate product development and innovation technologies

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 6 months ago

Schlumberger integrate product development and innovation technologies

How does a legend in the oil field sector maintain its leadership position? Schlumberger--known for its industry-leading technology and deep expertise in the oil field sector--recently challenged itself with that question. The global company employs approximately 100,000 employees who hail from more than 85 countries and encompass 140 nationalities. With such a diverse workforce, the ability to share knowledge and ensure smooth teamwork is critical to the success of its business.

"Our personnel have grown much more diverse over the last few decades, and our increasingly decentralized R&D operations are regularly generating new product lines," explained Schlumberger's Management Development Director Joe Perkins. "The challenge for us is to find a common language that will enable us to look at innovation and product development as an integrated chain, from the field to the lab on through to our business operations."

With that goal in mind, Schlumberger executives decided to collaborate with MIT Sloan to develop a custom program, which was inspired by several Schlumberger senior executives who participated in the School’s popular program, Driving Strategic Innovation: Achieving High Performance Throughout the Value Chain (DSI). A joint program with IMD, the DSI program draws on an integrative value chain framework created at MIT and helps participants learn how to build organizational relationships that facilitate knowledge transfer within the firm and across the value chain.

While enrolled in the DSI course, the executives discovered that MIT Sloan's ability to integrate advanced research, new technology, and innovative business practices was exactly what Schlumberger needed to stay ahead of the competition. They also realized that the DSI course encompassed critical elements that could be applied at Schlumberger--from causal loops in the energy market to innovation, value chains, supply chains, and marketing.

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Mobile giant asks MIT to help it maintain its edge

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 6 months and 13 days ago

china mobile

Although China Mobile is the largest mobile company in the world, several years ago the successful, high-ranking member of the global Fortune 500 realized it needed to up its game to compete in the world market. The telecom giant recognized that applying innovation to all aspects of its company--from new products and services to operations processes and marketing strategies--was the way to address the rapid changes occurring in the telecommunications industry and also ensure its long-term success.

"In order to maintain China Mobile’s leadership position in the world, we need our executives to think strategically, have a global perspective, and hone their innovation skills--all contributing to improved management capabilities," explained Mr. Zhang Xi, HQ HR, General Manager at China Mobile.

In an effort to expose the company's senior executives to the most progressive ideas about innovation, China Mobile explored working with leading U.S. universities known for their research in that area. In addition to Tsinghua University in Beijing, the MIT Sloan Custom Program was selected. "We believe that MIT has always been the cradle of the latest technology and scientific research in the U.S.," said Karen Li, Associate Director of Executive Education at Tsinghua University, adding that the two universities already have a long-term partnership in MBA programs.

At the outset of the program, China Mobile and Tsinghua University worked in tandem to leverage MIT's cutting-edge innovation research and identify critical business challenges facing the company. In particular, the China Mobile leadership team was interested in concepts that would help to propel the company as a whole--such as platform strategies and value chains. "Our main goal is to learn from the world-renowned faculty and best American companies and try to simulate best practices in our daily work," said Mr. Zhang.

To that end, executives in the custom program explored leading innovation and strategy research by MIT Sloan faculty, and visited research labs as well as companies in the MIT ecosystem. Program materials focused on general management concepts such as strategy and innovation. As the program progressed, the sessions combined content-rich lectures and small-group discussions on topics ranging from general management ideas about leadership and strategy to more industry-specific subjects like big data, mobile trends, and digital marketing.

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BP Projects Academy spells success for the global energy leader

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 10 months and 30 days ago


For the executives of global energy giant BP, the challenges and opportunities they face every day can be mind boggling. With an annual capital projects budget of more than $15 billion, the British-based company has oil and gas projects in 26 countries, nine recent mergers and acquisitions, and a market capitalization in excess of $200 billion.

Because of these challenges and the scope of their ever-expanding global projects, in 2003 BP asked MIT Sloan and the MIT School of Engineering to design and launch a custom program known as the BP Projects Academy. The goal of the Academy was to build a network of major project leaders with powerful project management skills to mitigate risk and maximize the success of BP’s global projects.

Jim Breson, Founding Director of the Projects Academy, explains why BP looked to MIT Sloan for help: "At the outset we were looking for a symbiotic relationship--a lively collaboration in which both parties benefit. And that’s exactly what we've found with MIT. The Projects Academy has enriched the MIT faculty and its teachings, and it has infused critical ideas and concepts inside BP."

A collaboration of 10 BP executives and more than 25 MIT faculty, the Projects Academy integrated an array of critical knowledge into one intensive, year-long learning experience. MIT Sloan provided the management expertise, while the MIT School of Engineering supplied the technical wisdom, and BP integrated essential context from the organization 

Breson said that MIT brought deep domain expertise to the table. "…great thought leaders with rich industry experience who can communicate effectively with our participants. Their ongoing ties with industry give them a depth and breadth of research directly applicable to our goals."

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Preparing the next generation of leaders at the Fung Group with custom programs from MIT Sloan

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 years and 6 months and 17 days ago

Fung Group

MIT Sloan also has long been respected for its custom programs, and in the last few years alone, we've provided tailored learning engagement for more than 45 companies across six continents. One such company is the Fung Group.

While the Fung Group may not have instant brand recognition, the Hong Kong-based global sourcing and purchasing giant has been in business for over 100 years, and its products can be found in most homes in the developed world. The company employs 46,800 men and women across 40 economies worldwide.

The Fung Group came to MIT Sloan seeking to establish and reinforce a shared business culture across its multinational operations, including supply chain management, distribution, logistics, and retail. At the outset of its collaboration with MIT Sloan, "The initial goals were to help our business leaders understand the principles of strategic thinking, collaboration, principles of leadership, leading change, and sustainability as a competitive advantage in the supply chain," says Dr. Leonard Lane, Group Director Leadership Development at the Fung Group. 

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Better banking through IT innovation: A custom programs success story

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 years and 8 months and 19 days ago

A decade ago, Commonwealth Bank of Australia--the largest retail bank on the continent--had been grappling with an IT operation that was costly, inefficient, and sometimes unreliable. Back then, the bank was determined to transform itself into an operation that was #1 in customer service with the lowest costs in class.

With that goal in mind, Michael Harte, a forward-thinking executive who joined CBA as CIO in 2006, connected with the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR). (CISR develops concepts and frameworks to help executives and their organizations address IT-related challenges.) Soon after, MIT Sloan faculty and program designers from the Executive Education office collaborated to create a custom program that would help transform CBA's IT leaders from functional managers to strategic thinkers.

"We designed a program around what the bank needed to achieve in three to five years. It had three components that today's banks must have to be successful–one was effectively managing digitization or IT; second was strategy options for the company; and the third was organizational change," says Peter Weill, Senior Research Scientist and Chair of CISR. 

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