MIT Sloan Executive Education Blog

Executive Education: Now more than ever

Executive in a Zoom class on her laptop

It’s an understatement to say that 2020 has been a year of disruption. From rapid digitization to the dramatic shifts caused by the pandemic, the ways we all work and live have been upended, challenged, and possibly changed forever, for better and for worse. Among all this change, it is easy to feel overwhelmed or underprepared.

When MIT Sloan Executive Education pivoted our courses to a live online format, we weren’t sure what to expect. Would participants enjoy the digital classroom experience? Would the faculty be able to make the necessary adjustment to their course materials and activities? And would executives even enroll in these courses at all, given the myriad constraints and expectations this new world of work?

The answer to all the above is a resounding yes. Now more than ever, business leaders are leaning on executive education to help them solve new problems, upskill their teams, and futureproof their companies and careers. And many have found the virtual learning format to be rewarding.

“Honestly, I thought the live online format was great! Much better than expected,” says James Goodnow, CEO of the law firm Fennemore Craig, who enrolled in several of our inaugural live online courses. “You can see everyone’s face and read the room very effectively. We had immediate access to documents and materials that faculty could send through the chat box. We got to know [our peers] in breakout sessions … the format was conducive to networking in ways I never thought possible.”

Upskilling for the new world of work

The rapid shift to remote operations has challenged even the most tech-savvy of companies. Executive education courses can offer guidance in navigating the current climate and better prepare executives for future change. We currently offer a range of courses that can help leaders manage their team through this disruption, including Leading Successful Transitions in a Digitally Driven World and Leadership in an Exponentially Changing World, which are both brand new to our portfolio.

Executive education can also give non-technical executives a better understanding of IT decision making and the cybersecurity threats that have increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic. Our course Communication and Persuasion in the Digital Age is designed to help executives and managers become successful communicators in virtual contexts, which is especially relevant today. And Digital Learning Strategy helps participants take a look at digital learning and transformation in their own organizations.

Another upside to virtual learning

One silver lining to the rapid adoption of digitization is that education is now more accessible than ever. Institutions around the globe are finding new ways to facilitate learning in remote contexts, which benefits learners who may find it hard to travel even in the best of circumstances.

“While virtual learning has been available for quite some time, the shift to a predominantly online learning model has opened up so many possibilities,” says Benoit Savard, partner at consulting firm Humance and founder of Skillable, an e-learning company focused on behavior change. “Now learners can access and directly interact with some of the greatest faculty in the world, at the greatest institutions. It’s very exciting.” Savard has taken numerous courses at MIT Sloan Executive Education, including several live online courses in 2020, earning his MIT Sloan Advanced Certificate for Executives.

Building a more inclusive and uplifting climate

The year has also ushered in a new understanding of the need to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within all aspects of society. MIT Sloan’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Ray Reagans, and Associate Dean for Innovation and Inclusion, Fiona Murray, are leading the charge in researching better ways to incorporate this necessary change in the workplace and at the executive level. Their work has been featured in MIT Sloan Executive Education’s innovation@work webinar series and shared, among the work of other faculty, on the Ideas Made to Matter page. These resources have been shared to promote inclusive and equitable business practices for everyone.

Diversity is essential at the executive level of companies, but women and minorities are extremely underrepresented in these leading and decision-making roles. With the training offered by executive education, those looking to attain an executive position can gain confidence in their leadership abilities, and current executives can better understand how to build a more inclusive and uplifting climate within their company.

While the year has been characterized by its disruptive change, it has also brought opportunity in its focus on digital innovation and call for greater progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Executive education can now be accessed virtually anywhere and anytime, making it easier than ever to hone your leadership skills, increase your confidence, foster a climate of inclusion, improve your knowledge of different company facets, and best prepare yourself to fulfill an executive role.

Learn more about our 60+ courses offered in live online and self-paced online formats.

This entry was posted in on Fri Nov 13, 2020 by MIT Sloan Executive Education


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At MIT Sloan Executive Education, our portfolio of non-degree programs reflect MIT Sloan's core mission—to develop principled, innovative leaders and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on hot business topics, faculty research and news, world events, participant insights, and much more!

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