MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Category: Participant Viewpoints

Leading at a new level: An executive's takeaways from MIT

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

For Tom Cahill, Senior Director of Global Compensation and Equity at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, executive education programs are and will continue to be the "cornerstone of my external learning for the balance of my career." Cahill recently earned an MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership and had high expectations for the programs--expectations that he says were consistently exceeded.

"MIT Sloan Executive Education is a truly immersive experience that delivers on its promise to teach, challenge, and engage in ways that produce real development in your capacity and capability as a leader and practitioner." To date, Cahill has completed six programs, including Strategies for Sustainable Business, Maximizing Your Personal Productivity, Neuroscience for Leadership, and Building Game-Changing Organizations.

Tools for reducing his organization's carbon footprint
Strategies for Sustainable Business, taught by John Sterman and Jason Jay, applies MIT frameworks to the topic of sustainability so participants can return to their organizations with practical strategies to incorporate change. As a result of taking the course, Cahill says he has broadened his thinking about sustainability issues and embraced certain sustainability efforts, which are at the forefront of his company's agenda.

In fact, The Connecticut Green Building Council (CTGBC) recently announced that Alexion's global headquarters achieved LEED Platinum certification for Commercial Interiors--the highest level of green building certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Alexion is one of fewer than 15 buildings in Connecticut to earn this prestigious certification. Alexion achieved the certification for implementing a variety of green solutions, including a green roof top, renewable energy sources, high-performance fixtures designed to save water, and materials such as paints and adhesives that provide increased air quality for building occupants. Cahill says he would like to see Alexion continue to push the boundaries in reducing their carbon footprint, become more "green," and also drive employee awareness of how "each of us can effect change for the better."

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Entrepreneurship Development Program brings focus to 8D Technologies

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months and 18 days ago

Isabelle Bettez accepts the Mercuriades award for web and mobile technology development

Guest post by Isabelle Bettez, President and CEO of 8D Technologies, Inc. Bettez was a participant in MIT Sloan's Entrepreneurship Development Program in 2008. Her company, which she co-founded with her brother Jean-Sebastien Bettez, develops hardware and software that has formed the backbone of some of the most popular bike sharing systems worldwide. The Montreal-based company has received numerous awards for its solution; most recently the company was awarded the 2017 Mercuriades award for web and mobile technology development.

As a busy executive of a startup technology company, it's "easy" to say there's simply not enough time to invest in professional development programs that take me out of the office, away from my team, and away from customer engagements. But as an alumna of the renowned Marketing and International Management programs at Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commercials (HEC) in Montreal, I understand the value of continuing to learn about new strategies and techniques that can help grow our company. That's why I decided to continue my learning through MIT Sloan’s Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP).

I was intrigued by the opportunity to learn from peers, particularly individuals who had achieved the level of success I envisioned for myself and the team at 8D. The week in Boston, which drew entrepreneurs and leaders from around the world, was an unbelievable experience. One aspect of the program was building a project with a very diversified group of people from different cultures; that was both a surprising and enriching experience. Since then, we have deployed 8D's solutions on four continents, and the takeaways from that week were extremely useful in getting to where we are today.

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What makes MIT Sloan's Advanced Management Program different? Ask Joe Hartz.

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 months and 21 days ago

If you're a senior executive seeking improved performance and confidence at managing organizations, then you may be exploring advanced management programs (AMPs). Why select MIT?

In 2016, Joe Hartz, then COO (now CEO) of UGI Energy Services, asked himself the same question. In pursuit of an exceptional advanced management program that would meet his needs and fit his schedule, he narrowed his choices to Columbia, Wharton, and MIT. "I felt that MIT was the most comprehensive offering in the time period that fit my schedule best," says Hartz.

Hartz was part of a succession plan for his company and preparing for the role of CEO at the time he began his AMP search. His executive management team thought it would be good for him to spend a few weeks away from the office to think about new trends in businesses and get an up-to-date, holistic, executive learning experience.

Smaller class size leads to big payoffs

When Hartz arrived at MIT, he realized that while several other participants were in similar transitions, each member of the cohort was unique, and that the class size was small and highly selective. "We were 20 extremely different people," said Hartz. "There were only a couple of Americans in the class. I met folks from different parts of the world, from different businesses and roles--it was a very diverse and talented group. That setting was an incredible experience for me."

The selective cohort of international participants is a differentiating factor for MIT Sloan's Advanced Management Program. Each year, AMP is limited to 35 participants and is often smaller, as it was for Hartz's 2016 program. This smaller size promotes interaction between faculty and participants and enables great collaboration and rapport to develop over the span of the month-long program. "Our conversations--both in the classroom and over beers after class--were extremely thought provoking." Says Hartz.

Seasoned executives hail from around the world, with the majority traveling from Europe, Asia, and South America. Also due in part to the small size of the group, participants develop meaningful friendships--and even successful business partnerships--with their global peers.

"On the weekends during the program, we stuck together. We went sailing, we took the catamaran to Cape Cod one Sunday. We had some long walks around Boston, and we did the museum tours," said Hartz.

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Interview with MIT Sloan ACE Holder James Taylor

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 10 days ago

James Taylor MIT Sloan

James Taylor is Assistant Vice President of Technical Services at Continental Grain Company (CGC), a 200-year-old international firm engaged in agribusiness, food, and commodities. In his position--which combines his areas of expertise, including engineering, operations, and corporate environmental affairs--Taylor acts as the communications bridge between technical and non-technical people. He currently focuses on environmental affairs, where he administers resources and support, and identifies solutions in the company’s operations and at the corporate level. As such, Taylor is involved in matters ranging from cutting-edge waste to energy projects, nutrient resource recovery, sustainability initiatives, and process safety management for highly hazardous chemicals, among others.

You have earned Executive Certificates in Management and Leadership and Technology, Operations, and Value Chain Management as well as an Advanced Certificate for Executives. How did the courses you took to earn these certificates differ? Did you have a favorite?
"I value all the programs equally, because each one delivers on the area of content where I intended to acquire new insights and skills. That said, achieving the ACE was certainly a rewarding milestone … and in a sense amalgamated my experiences and learning at MIT altogether. Each of these programs has an underlying commonality which allows a participant to transfer or build upon the learning and experiences gained in one program and apply it to any other, which ultimately translates to quickly establishing a very sound learning foundation throughout the programs overall. The structure and variety of the MIT Sloan Executive Ed program speaks well for the program staff and professors who collaborated to develop these programs and continue to refine them."

"If pressed to select one favorite course, I would say Business Dynamics: MIT's Approach to Diagnosing and Solving Complex Business Problems, with Professors John Sterman and Nelson Repenning, stood out for me personally. The course generated a paradigm shift in my approach and ability to assess, attack, and explain difficult multifaceted problems and then reduce them all into a simple narrative for others to easily decipher and understand. I've taken two classes where Professor John Sterman taught directly … he supplied access to the knowledge and skill sets which ignited a profound desire in me to go beyond any usual process of analyzing intricate problems and instilled a greater level of confidence in my competency to do so."

What made you choose MIT Sloan Executive Education?
"The range of courses along with the flexibility to customize a learning experience tailored to one's own needs and schedule was very attractive--especially when one considers embarking upon such an experience among life's other demands of work, business travel, and family. Other pertinent factors were most certainly MIT’s well regarded reputation as an institution with a long history on how to translate deep research into tangible results especially through its credo of 'learning by doing,' its exceptional caliber of teaching staff, and the diverse range of international professionals who attend the programs."

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An interview with MIT Sloan Executive Certificate holder Li Chang of Boeing

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 26 days ago

MIT Sloan Executive Certificate Holder Li Chang

Li Chang, Associate Technical Fellow for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, recently shared his thoughts with us about his experience at MIT Sloan Executive Education, where he earned Executive Certificates in Management and Leadership and Strategy and Innovation. Li was recently invited by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to represent Boeing at the 2017 NAE German-American Frontiers of Engineering (GAFOE) symposium for people who "demonstrate contributions in advancing engineering accomplishments in engineering developments."

What did you take away from your experience at MIT?
I gained an invaluable education from MIT, was able to network with some of the best minds, and shared wonderful experiences with everyone at MIT.

Do you think your attendance at MIT Sloan Executive Education was part of the reason you were selected to attend the GAFOE symposium?
Yes, the exceptional innovative spirit and culture at MIT really stimulated my creative, strategic, and constructive thinking, which I have been able to transfer to many of my colleagues here at Boeing. Additionally, my MIT experience leveraged and distinguished my credentials. I am looking forward to learning new concepts and strategies, along with other promising engineers from Germany and the United States.

What made you choose MIT Sloan Executive Education for your professional education needs?
I started my search for a graduate school by looking online, and I was captivated by the Mens et Manus (i.e., mind and hand) motto that defines MIT. I knew MIT was the school I wanted to attend because MIT's motto matches my mission at Boeing, which is capturing innovative ideas and turning them into reality. Another reason I decided to further my education at MIT was due to the number of Nobel Laureates affiliated with MIT and the spirit and culture which drives them. I wanted to be confident that I would be in an environment with people who were passionate, persistent, and perseverant; people who want to discover, create, collaborate, and contribute for a better future.

Explain how you have applied what you learned during the courses back at Boeing.
From my experience at MIT, I integrated everything that I learned from my professors and applied that to execute our strategy to continue to develop and accelerate innovation in advanced manufacturing for a dynamic and diverse industry. More importantly, we were able to craft a culture of innovation and value-creation that will impact the entire enterprise at Boeing. I believe we all can learn from one another, have different approaches and perspectives, and can solve any challenge presented. Master collaboration is the key.

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An interview with MIT Sloan ACE holder Mia Hemmi

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 17 days ago

MIT Sloan ACE holder Mia Hemmi

Mia Hemmi is an Account Director at Hakuhodo Inc, an integrated advertising and communication agency headquartered in Japan. She earned an Advanced Certificate for Executives in Management, Innovation & Technology (ACE) from MIT Sloan in 2016.

Where are you from, and what brought you to the US?
I am from Tokyo, Japan. My husband had relocated himself to participate in a program at Harvard starting in July (2016). At the time, I had been on a childcare leave, so I decided to join him in Cambridge to commit to an academic adventure.

Can you tell us a little bit about your professional experience and your role at Hakuhodo?
Hakuhodo is one of the largest advertising/marketing communications agencies in Japan. Our mission is to "Invent the Future" in partnership with our thousands of clients from governmental organizations to companies of countless industries, including media, to create new values and movements through branding work based on our "Sei-katsu-sha" (a Japanese expression of a holistic person--an individual with a lifestyle, aspirations and dreams, in contrast to "consumer") insight. Long story short, we do practically anything that relates to "communication," to leverage the value of ideas, products, and services at all business levels.

2017 will be my twentieth year at the Hakuhodo DY Group, and I have been in the Account Services Department (aka Client Services/Sales) through my entire career. We work as "producers" in the front-line as strategic consultants to clients, managing and facilitating all projects as leaders by aligning key staffs internally (market research, events/promotions, PR, creative, media, selected depending on project) and teaming with third-party potential supporters to provide the best solutions to clients. My clients are of industries including foods/beverages, retailers, airlines, online services, government, sport event organizers, etc., which all operate as global brands or international entities, so the work constantly requires the understanding of the global markets of the respective industries. Aside from the general domestic services, my forte has been in the Business Development area analyzing cross-cultural opportunities, supporting Japanese clients to build businesses in foreign markets, and foreign companies that build businesses in Japan. The experience has led me to examine the managerial and operational side of the businesses, and I have been fortunate to be able to participate in projects of multiples of industries at the hands-on level. I must say I was a total workaholic working 24/7, with business travels abroad two-thirds of the year, until my son was born.

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Business leaders agree: It's time to start talking about race in the workplace

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 months and 7 days ago

Business leaders agree it's time to start discussing race in the workplace

Discussing race, religion, and politics at holiday gatherings and in the workplace has been taboo for decades. Even in safer spaces and among friends, conversations about race are particularly difficult and anxiety provoking. But in the wake of heartbreaking events around the country, conversations about racial inequality and cultural divide have forced their way into the national consciousness. Social media is abuzz with chatter about the degree to which prejudice is at work. And yet the one place where we spend most of our time--at work--is noticeably bereft of dialogue. Should we make race and racial bias an open platform for discussion at work?

Many business leaders say yes. While such dialogues can be difficult to navigate, they are essential to helping us face the tragedies that surround us. When we avoid constructive conversation about our differences, communication deteriorates and productivity suffers. Perhaps most critically, open dialogue about race at work helps address the fact that the same racial bias that underscores these events also exists inside corporate walls.

Edith Cooper, Head of Human Capital at Goldman Sachs, recently authored an article for Business Insider, “Why Goldman Sachs is encouraging employees to talk about race at work – and why as a black woman I think this is so important," where she writes, "Ultimately, our experience at work is a collection of interactions with the people around us. When those interactions are stimulating and challenging and take place in an environment of inclusivity and collaboration, you have a better experience and, in turn, you perform better ... because as a result of those varied inputs and insights, you are better."

Cooper shares that Goldman Sachs is working to provide forums for their people to engage in and advance the diversity dialogue. “The pervasiveness of current events affects everyone at our firm from summer interns to senior leaders. With impassioned questions pertaining to race, fair treatment and equal opportunity being asked both in public and in private, we knew this was not a topic we could ignore.”

After Ferguson, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, drew a lot of heat for his “Race Together” campaign, which tried to get employees to engage customers in conversations about race. While some disparaged the effort as poorly planned, others praised him for trying to be part of a solution. At a candid panel discussion among executives held in Chicago earlier this year, Dorri McWhorter, CEO of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, said Schultz's initiative was a move in the right direction.

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My Certificate at work in India's media and entertainment industry

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 8 months and 12 days ago

Guest post contributed by Kiriti Rambhatla, MIT Sloan Executive Education Strategy and Innovation certificate holder (2011), who wrote to us recently to share some of the ways his certificate has impacted his career.

Kiriti Rambhatla earns MIT Sloan Executive Certificate

Before attending MIT Sloan Executive Education, I had been writing and hosting political, economic, and business televisions shows for the established news networks in India’s media and entertainment industry—the largest in the world—since 2009. I soon realized that success required a larger understanding macroeconomics of the industry, however. With more than 90% of the products (movies, television, comics) not making the cut, the competition and failure rates in the industry were a point of research interest for me. I chose to further explore relevant topics by earning an MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation.

After securing the Certificate 2011, I returned to the industry with renewed focus. I had developed particular interest in areas like macroeconomics, strategy for global markets and managing successful strategy for products and technologies. I began hosting a successful socio-economic talk show. It was during the scripting of this talk show, however, that I also began to focus on what is known as character entertainment in India.

Much like the American comic book studios Marvel and DC, India has a fragmented comic book industry where I felt I could use my writing skills to build sustainable characters across television, movies, comic books, and video games. With the advent of OTT platforms like Netflix, there was a rudimentary ecosystem for OTT platforms for video content as well in the country.

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