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Category: MIT Sloan

Simplifying diversification spells success for Vale

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 days ago

MIT Sloan Custom Programs

When it comes to business, diversification is a good thing, but one that is rarely simple. Especially when the company is the largest diversified mining company in the Americas—with international operations on five continents.
Such is the case with Companhia Vale de Rio Doce (Vale), a company that has evolved from public to private ownership since its beginning in l942, and today has expanded into the electric power and aluminum industries. With this growth comes success, but also its share of challenges.

In an effort to build Vale into one of three leading global firms in the mining industry, company executives realized several years ago that they needed to take steps to unify their management tier through a shared vision and cohesive practices. They also agreed that it was important to align Vale’s infrastructure, which had become an unwieldy combination of acquisitions and global offices. To meet these goals, key managers needed to acquire new knowledge and skills that supported the company’s ambitious mission. The executive team at Vale selected MIT Sloan Custom Programs to help them fulfill this mission because they felt a leading-edge business school with a technology bent would be the ideal partner.

“We needed to think hard how to lead the business as a whole and oversee its strategic transition from a state-based company to a private, globally-focused company. In MIT Sloan, we found great people totally committed to our transformation,” said Marco Dalpozzo, Vale’s Human Resources and Organizational Development Director.

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MIT's Bengt Holmström wins 2016 Nobel Prize in economics

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 9 months and 8 days ago

MIT's Bengt Holmström wins Nobel Prize in economics

Bengt Holmström, an influential MIT economist and long-time MIT faculty member, was this week awarded the 2016 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. He shares this honor with Oliver Hart of Harvard for their deeply influential work on contract theory, including the optimal design of contracts between employers and employees.

Holmström holds a joint appointment between the Department of Economics and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

"MIT's latest Nobel laureate is not only an extraordinary economic thinker," said MIT President L. Rafael Reif while introducing Holmström at an on-campus press conference on Monday morning. "Bengt Holmström is also an outstanding citizen of MIT and a delightful human being."

Oliver Hart and Professor Holmström have devoted their lives' work to what's called contract theory—how and why contracts work and how they can be made better. This niche has just begun to gain the same cachet in academic circles as game theory and the study of stock market fluctuations.

"Their analysis of optimal contractual arrangements lays an intellectual foundation for designing policies and institutions in many areas, from bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences wrote in its Nobel announcement.

Their work has touched on everything from executive pay to health insurance deductibles to the use of tax shelters and how to divide up control of a firm when it's not explicitly written into an agreement. Holmström's economic models, for example, can help companies develop the right incentives to optimize employees' performance.

"This theory has really been incredibly important, not just for economics, but also for other social sciences," said Per Stromberg, a member of the prize committee and professor at the Stockholm School of Economics.

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Entrepreneurship Center expands to better serve its mission

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 9 months and 25 days ago

MIT's Entrepreneurship Center expands to better serve its mission

With its reputation as an entrepreneurial hotbed, it’s no surprise that MIT has recently invested approximately $10 million to expand and renovate the 26-year-old Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, located at One Amherst St. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The center is responsible for entrepreneurship across all five schools at MIT starting with education but also extending well outside the class room with student clubs, conferences, competitions, networking events, awards, hackathons, student trips, and most recently accelerators. Last year, students who work at the center started more than 50 new companies.

An additional 2,700 square feet were added for a total of 7,200 square feet of space dedicated to all things entrepreneurial in the heart of Kendall Square. The redesigned center now features an expanded maker-space workshop (ProtoWorks), event space, nine conference rooms equipped with wireless presentation systems, a café, and phone booths that provide free international calling. The Center is equipped with room scheduling software created at the nearby Cambridge Innovation Center.

"The thoughtfully-designed space will enable new and expanded collaboration across campus, with students from all parts of the Institute exploring entrepreneurial interests in a dynamic environment," said MIT Sloan School of Management Dean David Schmittlein, who added that the space was designed to accommodate the need for creativity and collaboration.

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Upping the IT quotient: A custom program for News Corporation

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 7 days ago

news media

With business units as diverse as 20th Century Fox, The Times, MyNetworkTV, National Geographic Channel, and Fox Interactive Media, News Corporation touches 70% of the world's population every day. While its vast reach and numerous holdings are a plus in terms of a successful business model, these elements make for a complex organization, along with challenging leadership responsibilities.

In an effort to assist its executives and strengthen its organizational structure, News Corporation’s then Senior Vice President and CIO Dave Benson turned to MIT Sloan for help—in particular, Peter Weill, whose book, IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results, Benson was reading at the time. Weill is a Senior Research Scientist at MIT Sloan and the Director of the School's Center for Information Systems Research (CISR).

Benson's ultimate goal was to enhance the company executives' skill set so that they could manage their IT operations like businesses and better align the IT activities with the company's diverse business units. Weill suggested a custom program because of MIT Sloan's research and expertise in finance, marketing, leadership development, and generating business value from IT—as well as the program's tailored curriculum and one-on-one coaching aspects. "The key to the success of this program was the combination of MIT Sloan’s reputation, a strong customized curriculum, outstanding faculty, and the ability to deliver it all without relieving people of their day jobs," says Benson.

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MIT marks 100 years in Cambridge

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 1 month and 24 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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Lester Thurow, former Dean of MIT Sloan School of Management, passes away

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 3 months and 10 days ago

Lester Thurlow

Lester Thurow, who served as Dean of MIT Sloan School of Management from 1987 to 1993 passed away in late March. Thurow is the author of the best-selling book, The Zero-Sum Society, which covers the human implications of economic problem solving and interprets macroeconomics as a zero-sum game. Or, as it is commonly known as today, income inequality. Thurow's book offers a set of recommendations about how to balance government stewardship of the economy with free-market aspirations. In discussing inflation, poverty, and unemployment, Thurow told the Boston Globe in 1979 that, "All our problems have solutions, but not necessarily politically feasible ones." (Image courtesy of WGBH)

"A big part of our competitive problems stem from top management that doesn't understand the technology they are supposed to manage," said Thurow to the Boston Globe upon his appointment as dean. "Somehow we need to give managers without formal training in science and engineering and understanding, a competence, in technology."

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MIT REAP helps London scale its innovation ecosystem

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 5 months and 2 days ago

Contributed by MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer, Dr. Phil Budden.

REAP London small

MIT's Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) is fostering a worldwide innovation and entrepreneurship movement helping regional ecosystems. The latest region to take its REAP learnings to the next level is Team London, which is one of the regions in REAP's Cohort Two (essentially, the second round) which comes to a close this June 2016.

REAP is MIT's unique, two-year global Executive Education initiative designed to help regions around the world, with an average of eight teams per Cohort, to accelerate economic growth and job creation through "innovation-driven entrepreneurship" (IDE).  Each team has to include representatives of the five key stakeholders in an "innovation ecosystem," and must work together--with the help of MIT faculty and their research--to analyze their region’s strengths, determine a strategy based on their regional comparative advantage, and then implement a first step to achieving that strategy. Teams attend four workshops over the two-year program and must collectively achieve a great deal in the action phases before and after the workshops.

Team London's stakeholders, after participating in three REAP workshops (2014-2015), determined that their region produces a lot of start-ups but not enough of these scale to their full potential. This insight confirmed that efforts by a variety of stakeholders--including the UK Government of Prime Minister David Cameron--had successfully accelerated the innovation-driven enterprises in their ecosystem, which early insights had highlighted. With "London calling," MIT responded with its insights from Kendall Square, and then a place for London--following the visit of the British Prime Minister to MIT--in its second REAP cohort. (See "London's tech hub looks to capture 'MIT magic'")

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Marvin Minsky, father of AI, passes away

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 5 months and 19 days ago

Minsky

Marvin Minsky, a pioneering mathematician, cognitive scientist, and computer engineer, and a father of artificial intelligence (AI), passed away in late January, at the age of 88. Minsky, who received his BA and PhD in mathematics from Harvard and Princeton, respectively, was Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Emeritus, at MIT. 

He was widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities in artificial intelligence. His seminal book, Society of Mind, explores intellectual structure and function, and is often used for understanding the diversity of the mechanisms interacting in intelligence and thought. Minsky received numerous awards for his work, including being inducted into the AI Hall of Fame, established by the IEEE Computer Society.

Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor of Information Technology at MIT Sloan and Director of The MIT Center for Digital Business, told SearchCIO that Minsky "changed the way we think about thinking." Inspired by mathematical work on logic and computation, Minsky believed that the human mind was fundamentally no different than a computer. He focused on engineering intelligent machines, first at Lincoln Lab, and then later as a professor at MIT, where he cofounded the Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1959 with another pioneer of the field, John McCarthy, who passed away in 2011.

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