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Innovative ideas.

Brilliant minds.

Transformative experiences.

It’s been a busy century.

As part of our celebration of Course XV’s 100th anniversary, we hosted an on-campus colloquium for the entire alumni community in conjunction with Reunion Weekend 2014. At the day-long event, our world-class faculty talked about the groundbreaking research and transformative ideas that are keeping MIT Sloan at the forefront of management education.

View videos and photos from the Colloquium.


Featured faculty speakers


Erik Brynjolfsson

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Erik Brynjolfsson, PhD ’91
Schussel Family Professor of Management Science
Professor of Information Technology
Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

Professor Erik Brynjolfsson has spent his career exploring the intersection of technology and business. In this session, he talked about how massive technological advances are leading to what he and his co-researcher Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist, call a “Second Machine Age.” Brynjolfsson argues that in a world where computers and robots have the ability to replace human beings in many industries, we must fundamentally rethink the way our society approaches work and education.

“Machines today can solve problems and diagnose illness—the ramifications for productivity, and wealth, and health are wonderful. But there is no economic law that everyone will automatically share in these gains: over the past 15 years, median income has stagnated as millions of people have been left behind, and there are prospects for even bigger economic disruption in the coming decade.”

Download presentation file.
View the video of this session in the gallery.


Roberto Rigobon

Big Data in Financial Systems: Potential and Ramifications

Roberto Rigobon, PhD ’97
Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management
Professor of Applied Economics

The age of Big Data has made it possible to collect more information than ever before, but how this data can be used to create knowledge remains unclear. Professor Roberto Rigobon, who helped launch the Billion Prices Project, an influential effort to create a real-time inflation gauge based on data from around the world, discussed the utility and ramifications of using Big Data to understand the global economy.

“There is a distance separating data, information, and knowledge. The world is not lacking data. The biggest challenge is to transform it into actionable information, and then for it to be so commonly used that it becomes knowledge.”

Download presentation file.
View the video of this session in the gallery.


Yasheng Huang

The Role of Democracy in
Economic Growth

Yasheng Huang
Associate Dean, International Initiatives and
Action Learning
International Program Professor in Chinese Economy and Business
Professor of Global Economics and Management

An expert in uncovering the forces that stimulate and stymie economic growth, Associate Dean Yasheng Huang has been challenging commonly held perceptions about emerging economies for more than two decades. In his most recent work, Huang explores the role of democracy in economic expansion, arguing that there are important lessons the Chinese government can learn from the mistakes of established democracies like the United States. In this session, Huang asked: does democracy hinder or promote economic growth?

Download presentation file.
View the video of this session in the gallery.


Fiona Murray

Making Innovation Work

Fiona Murray
Associate Dean for Innovation
Alvin J. Siteman (1948) Professor of Entrepreneurship
Faculty Director, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship
Co-Director, MIT Innovation Initiative

In the newly launched Innovation Initiative, MIT President Rafael Reif is challenging our community to “see an opportunity to substantially enhance our ability to deliver innovation: to identify problems and create solutions faster and more effectively, at every scale and for every context…” In partnership with School of Engineering Associate Dean Vladimir Bulovic, MIT Sloan Associate Dean for Innovation Fiona Murray is directing this initiative and exploring the forces that will drive continued success for our students and faculty as they address global challenges of today and the future. In her session, Murray explored how to make the next generation of innovation real at MIT.

View the video of this session in the gallery.


Deborah Lucas

Finance Education for the Public Sector

Deborah Lucas
Sloan Distinguished Professor of Finance
Director, MIT Center for Finance and Policy

Professor Deborah Lucas has served as an assistant director and chief economist at the Congressional Budget Office and as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. She is director of the MIT Center for Finance and Policy (CFP), a new initiative whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for innovative financial research and educational initiatives that will positively impact policy and society. Lucas discussed the importance of finance analytics for informed public-sector decision making, and the role of the CFP in improving financial literacy in the public sector. Viewing this session, you’ll learn:

  • The size and scope of the government’s financial activities
  • The fundamental lessons of finance as they should apply to government decision making
  • The adverse consequences from the large gap between financial principles and government accounting rules
  • CFP initiatives to improve financial understanding in the public sector

“Governments worldwide play a central role in the allocation of capital and risk through their investment and insurance activities, and as regulators of private financial institutions and markets. While there has been a profound revolution in finance as a discipline, the public sector has not kept up with the state of the practice. Society bears large costs due to this mismatch.”

Download presentation file.
View the video of this session in the gallery.


Andrew Lo

Financing Biomedical Research

Andrew W. Lo
Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor
Professor of Finance
Director, Laboratory for Financial Engineering

Professor Andrew Lo is an internationally recognized expert on hedge funds, financial markets, and risk management. He talked about his groundbreaking work bringing financial engineering to biomedical research, including his bold proposal to create a $30 billion megafund for early-stage cancer research.

Viewing this talk, you will learn how a structured finance approach could reduce the risk and increase the return on research investments. By bundling opportunities to invest in multiple drug development efforts through a single fund, creating a way for investors to own a piece of a portfolio of projects, Lo aims to attract critical capital to cancer research.

“The [new drug] pipeline is becoming thinner and thinner because there’s less and less venture capital money going into the industry. Drug companies may very well be the first investors if and when these cancer megafunds are launched.”

Download presentation file.
View the video of this session in the gallery.


Tavneet Suri

Mobile Technology and Voting in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tavneet Suri
Maurice F. Strong Career Development Professor
Associate Professor of Applied Economics

Last year, Professor Suri and her research team sent text messages to two million Kenyans in order to gauge the impact of mobile technology on voter participation in the country’s national elections. Suri, whose research is focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, discussed this project and explored how mobile phones and emerging technologies have the power to change economic and political systems in the developing world.

Her findings include:

  • Data on the power of mobile phones—even very basic ones—as communication tools in the developing world
  • An analysis of the significant impact of mobile phone communication on voter turnout
  • An examination of the varying effects of mobile phone communication among different segments of the population

“Ultimately, our goal is to improve welfare in some way in developing countries. The idea is to create good, rigorous evidence on things that have a bearing on policy.”

View the video of this session in the gallery.


Zeynep Ton

The Good Jobs Strategy

Zeynep Ton
Adjunct Associate Professor of
Operations Management

Almost one in four American working adults has a job that pays less than a living wage. Conventional wisdom says bad jobs with low wages, minimal benefits, little training, and chaotic schedules are the only way companies can keep costs down and prices low. If companies were to offer better jobs, customers would have to pay more or companies would have to make less. MIT Sloan Adjunct Associate Professor Zeynep Ton makes the compelling case that even in low-cost settings, leaving employees behind—with bad jobs—is a choice, not a necessity. Drawing on more than a decade of research, Ton shows how operational excellence enables companies to offer the lowest prices to customers while ensuring good jobs for their employees and superior results for their investors. Viewing this session, you’ll learn:

  • How bad jobs cost companies a lot more than they may realize
  • Why good design in operations and people are the two key ingredients of operational excellence
  • How smart operational decisions can allow companies to offer good jobs to employees, low prices and good service to customers, and great returns to shareholders
  • How values-driven constraints can drive innovation

View the video of this session in the gallery.


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