MIT Sloan Executive Education Blog

An interview with MIT Sloan Executive Education participant Markus Greif

Markus Greif, Manager in Transaction Advisory Services at international consultancy firm EY, spoke recently with MIT Sloan Executive Education about his experience at the School; why he chose MIT Sloan for his post-graduate studies, as well as the benefits he received from the programs.

What executive education courses have you taken at MIT Sloan?
During 2009-2010, I attended Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems; Leadership Accountability and the Law; Understanding Global Markets: Macroeconomics for Executives; and Reinventing Your Business Strategy. In addition, I received an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation in 2010.

How have you applied what you learned during the courses back at your workplace?
I am in a team leader position at EY’s Transaction Advisory Services practice in Germany. Our department supports corporate and financial investors on mid-sized as well as larger merger and acquisition projects throughout Europe. This involves management strategy and post-merger support that focuses on activity plans to change operations within a firm.

I feel the MIT executive programs teach the latest academic insights at the intersection of strategy and innovation. The lectures I attended were insightful, practical, and career enhancing; from day one I was able to use the knowledge in my advisory department to the advantage of our clients. The MIT Sloan professors used a uniquely pragmatic approach to teach models on innovation and convey complex subjects in an effective and intuitive manner. This helped me tremendously to understand the challenges of our clients and work on resolutions more systematically.

It is fairly well understood that a company needs to adapt to shifts by creating organizational structures that support all levels of the organization to implement change. The lectures in the course, Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems, by Professor John Sterman and Professor Nelson Repenning, provided a framework for evaluating complex situations and the dynamics those situations produce in a corporate context. For me, the transfer of respective insights from academia into a business perspective has been a key element to assess the impact of different policies and decisions that relate to organizational growth, stability, and performance.

The programs also assisted me to provide sound analysis on business strategies for innovative technologies. For example, I am co-authoring a venture capital publication for EY that deals with the financing and M&A process for start-ups in the region. The lecture on reinventing your business strategy covered the logic behind disruptive technologies and how companies can propose sustainable measures to prevent harm for their operations. The various case studies we worked on (including Eastman Kodak, General Motors Company, and Google) enabled me to comment on product developments and the identification of new ways to compete in the current economy.

What are the key benefits you gathered from the MIT courses? Why MIT Sloan Executive Education?
The key benefit of the MIT Sloan Executive Education program is its focus on the critical thinking skills that are necessary in today's rapidly-changing world. The broad coverage of innovative but also disruptive ideas goes far beyond the curriculum of other business schools. In my point of view, this is a unique differentiator for MIT, which makes the program so insightful. I chose MIT because of its brand: it is very innovative and a leader in new technologies, as well as new ideas dealing with the Internet and bioscience. MIT effectively connects with innovative thinking especially in terms of management.

Were you able to connect and network with other professionals?
During my courses, I was introduced to a large group of interesting people with various backgrounds ranging from consulting to engineering. Based on the set-up of the program, it was very easy to get to know other professionals who share common interests or aims. With some of these people, I am still in contact via social networks and frequent email interaction. Subsequent to the attendance of the courses in Boston, I had the opportunity to follow-up with an industry expert from the Boeing Company to discuss a cross-border M&A project that I had been assigned. Without the initial meet-up in one of the MIT courses, it would have been very difficult to connect with him for an in-depth discussion about trends and drivers in the aviation sector.

Are there any particular insights from your course time at MIT Sloan Executive Education
There are several key academic insights that I have come across during my stay at MIT:

  • Particularly striking to me has been the Billion Prices Project by Professor Roberto Rigobon, which aggregates price information from retailers around the world and gives real-time inflation predictions. This big data driven analysis can be applied to inflation modeling, which is of great value for both academic research institutions but moreover for companies to react early on changes in consumer demand. This example of innovative thinking is very intuitive to understand, and the implications are groundbreaking for various fields of applications.
  • Introduction to the concept behind business dynamics through Professor John Sterman with a focus on effective decision making and learning in a world of growing dynamic complexity.
  • Insights into the Delta Model through Professor Arnoldo Hax, with a focus on customer economics with respect to Porter's competitive positioning and the resource-based view of the firm.

Would you recommend MIT Sloan Executive Education courses to colleagues?
Several colleagues of mine have asked about the program and the experience I had during the time period on-site. In this context, I found myself sharing insights about the program and key aspects that I have learned while attending the courses. I highly recommend the program to professionals working in the field of consulting for both business and personal transformation. I was surprised by the immediate applicability of the executive education lectures. Getting to know the experiences and best practices from renowned scholars and receiving an education on creative thinking provided new momentum for my career.


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