We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Advanced Management Program participant Saeed Qadri at an executive education event in London, to learn more about why he chose MIT and what he took away from his five weeks on campus. Saeed is currently the Head of Monetization and Transformation for Nokia’s commercial management.
Why did you choose the MIT AMP?
“MIT AMP delivers a perfect blend of both excellence in academic research and lessons from the field. This includes breadth of content that is relevant to the current challenges of industry, delivered by high quality practitioners, with a diverse but intimate cohort. The MIT brand is also well recognized as a maker’s brand, where world comes to get their practical problems solved.”
Were you looking at other AMPs?
“There are several other prestigious executive learning opportunities around the world. I researched many of them and even applied to a few in the U.S., U.K., and Europe. However, ultimately, I decided to join AMP with MIT. This decision was mostly based on the content quality, delivery mechanism, and the excellent fellow cohort. However, one more interesting factor was Boston’s own ecosystem. Boston has been on the forefront of research in many fields, and it makes it easy to get things done there. Connecting to right people helps, particularly if you are looking for solutions to technical or business problems. People at MIT, Cambridge, and Boston are open and celebrate innovation and are ready to share and support. Apart from the meetings and lab visits directly supported by MIT during the AMP, I was able to meet a number of interesting individuals relevant to our business who graciously gave me their insights.
Was your company supportive of your participation in AMP?
My company has been on a journey of re-invention and transformation, and we have been investing in upskilling and talent development at all levels of the company. It is well understood that passionate and competent people with right skills will be able to accelerate our transformation. Our company supports formal learning, on-the-job training, and recognizes the value of refreshed networks formed through programs like these. There is also significant focus on bringing the learnings back to the business and sharing them internally.
Why did you decide it was time for AMP?
I had the realization that further career progression in my heavily technical and domain-knowledge driven career will require a different set of skills and networks. The transition from an effective manager to an inspiring world-class business leader needed the identification of gaps in my skills, capabilities, and networks. AMP afforded me quality time to reflect and reconnect with my inner self. Private coaching as well as sharing within the cohort provided ample self-reflection. Classroom training helped me prepare for the next milestones in my personal journey of self-discovery and improvement. It’s a bit like a bootcamp, where the single biggest objective is to identify and work on your strengths and challenges and emerge as a fitter version of yourself ready for the next level of career progression.
How did the other participants in AMP impact what, and how, you learned?
Our AMP cohort was a wonderful, multicultural group of highly accomplished people with diverse backgrounds, that all came together as a family very quickly. We had people from high tech, finance, government, biotech, defence, CXO, VPs, and senior domain leaders with no chip on their shoulder. They all came as students eager to learn and willing to invest in everyone’s learning success. We took care of each other’s emotional wellbeing and allowed for free expression of thoughts and feelings. Our group was courteous and accommodating to the diversity of thought process in the room. We compared notes on topics being discussed on campus and had deep conversations on a multitude of topics outside. This brought us closer as a group and forged strong personal bonds. We discovered who is passionate about what and offered ideas, tools, and connections. This sharing continues still today, and our chat group is a go-to place for discussing ideas and challenges encountered in our professional life after MIT. We also had a lot of fun exploring all that Boston and the surrounding area had to offer. Despite the diverse backgrounds of the cohort we all shared the common objectives of being effective leaders and growing our skills sets beyond our current domains.
What were some of the most useful takeaways from the program, and how did you apply them in your organization or career?
First and foremost, it gave me a deeper appreciation of building better habits. There was a lot of focus on how making small changes in our work patterns and thought process yield superior gains down the road. Second big learning was the focus on reaching out for better models and frameworks for problem solving before diving head-first into the obvious problem statement. We were exposed to a number of useful frameworks and were able to connect to our work; for instance, I could make connections between design thinking and the role of empathy with the services that I am responsible to for designing for my company. Another overarching theme has been the power of systems thinking, including conducting small measurable experiments in our companies and course correcting based on the results. This very scientific, fact-based approach to problem solving is proving valuable in my day-to-day work as a head of transformation.
How did you find the AMP faculty?
More than academics, all of them were thought leaders with deep insights in their respective areas of interest. You can see MIT’s maker culture reflected in their merging of academic research with practical and pragmatic implementation. All the faculty were high-energy and made time for returning to and clarifying particular topics, even if it was not on the schedule. They offered ample time after lectures and after the program itself to help with problem solving.
Would you recommend AMP to others?
If you are dealing with change in your respective organization and need cutting-edge models, frameworks, and practical advice then MIT is the place to be. You will invest time and energy in the most important asset that you have—your own self—and you will walk out a better thinker and doer with improved skills and connected to an amazing group of people who will help you get things done and move ahead with confidence. I highly recommend this investment to amplify impact for yourself, your career, and your community.