MIT Sloan Executive Education Blog

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

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.

Learning meets doing

The MIT Sloan Advanced Management Program experience is also distinguished for its hands-on learning approach. Part of a rich tradition of real-world engagement at MIT, Mens et Manus ("mind and hand") refers to the pairing of learning with doing. For AMP participants, this includes everything from personal projects to management simulations to leadership exercises (on sailboats on the Charles River!) that bring learning components into immediate practice and crystal-clear focus.

"The problem-solving exercises we did at AMP, as a very diverse group with unique views and experiences … I found them to be very successful," says Hartz. Now, back at work, instead of having people of the same viewpoints trying to solve problems together, we try to think about things very differently and include more perspectives."

"I think I had a vision that I would come out of the AMP session with a better understanding of strategy for the company, and where I thought we should go in the future," said Hartz. "This vision was met in a different way. The program reinforced that business is all about people and relationships. That realization brought me back to what I needed to do to move forward," says Hartz.

"When I returned to the office, I met with our recently-retired CEO. I spent some time with him, reflected on the program, and worked with him on a plan for a different organizational layout that aligns our people with their responsibilities and their accountability. We have since put that in place, and while it's too early to know the results, I believe it will work. It was a really good change and part of the outcome of AMP for me."

In terms of specific learning modules, Hartz felt the negotiation strategies and exercises, led by MIT Sloan Professor Jared Curhan, provided excellent takeaways that could be put into immediate practice. Program faculty also led discussions on disruption, disruptors, and how to think about competition differently that stood out to the now CEO. "And even if for entertainment value alone, I'd pay good money to hear Rigobon again," added Hartz with a laugh. This comes as no surprise to hear--MIT Sloan Professor Roberto Rigobon has received each the "Teacher of the Year" award and the "Excellence in Teaching" award three times since joining MIT in 1997.

We asked Hartz if he was still in touch with his AMP peers. "Since the program concluded last year, not a day goes by that we don’t interact with each other, usually on What's App. We're a very connected group."

For more information, visit the Advanced Management Program page.


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