Amy Gowder, SF ’10
Vice President & General Manager
Lockheed Martin Commercial Engine Solutions
Corporate Headquarters: United States
“I strategized with the world’s top aeronautics scientists, explored pivotal technological innovations at the MIT Media Lab, learned from leading security experts in political science—even tapped the latest thinking on defense policy at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. If it was essential to me as a leader, I could reach across the MIT universe and get it.
Immersion in the MIT Sloan Fellows environment is not just about rigorous academics. It’s about the accelerated learning you experience by being at MIT full time: the dozens of thought leaders who visit campus each week, the spontaneous brainstorming sessions over coffee, and the exploration and reflection you never have room for in your normal routine.
Working so intensely with classmates from around the world day in and day out meant that, by year’s end, their experiences became my experiences. Today, my perspective encompasses a wide swath of countries, cultures, and industries. I could not have developed that expanded view any other way.”
Tadeu Rezende de Azevedo, SF ’13
Divisão de Serviços Integrados, América Latina, Voith Hydro
Corporate Headquarters: Brazil
"One of the reasons I chose the MIT Sloan Fellows Program was because it was a full-time, one year program. If you’re going to commit to getting an education, do it right. Invest. Immerse yourself. Get everything you can out of that education. My company leadership agreed. They also agreed that if I intended to immerse myself, the place to do that was MIT, which is a nearly bottomless vessel of resources.
The ROI a company reaps from the MIT Sloan Fellows Program is frankly mind-blowing, because everything that happens in that year at MIT can be channeled back into the organization in one way or another. My thesis project, for example, was developing a corporate strategy for Voith. What went into that thesis was a year of transformational knowledge. A year of epiphanies. A year of being steeped in the innovation engine that is MIT. A year of collaboration with faculty experts at MIT and Harvard. Since I’ve been back at Voith, I have implemented that strategy and used it to grow the business 40% in just one year.
But I think it is my program peers that have turned out to be the most valuable resource of this program. When 120 top executives from diverse industries around the world spend a year pooling their wisdom, there is no learning experience that comes close to it. Now, those 120 people are part of a tight-knit group of global advisors I turn to whenever I have a complex issue I need advice on. One day I am calling on a classmate in Saudi Arabia, the next day it might be Shanghai. It is not possible to put a value on a network like that, and I turn to it again and again."
Nora Sanchez Brion, SF ’13
Director, United Logistic Company SA
Corporate Headquarters: Argentina
"Another MIT Sloan Fellow alumnus once described the program as “the most honest year of your life.” And that’s it exactly. You come to terms with who you are as a human being and how that informs who you are as a leader. You find out what you know, what you don’t know, and what you need to know.
I feel I have brought tremendous value to United since my return from MIT. Our CEO mentioned it the other day. He told me he’s noticed that I now have a broader focus, a greater confidence. He said, “Now you see the forest without looking at the number of knots each tree has. Before you used to count those knots, as well as the branches, the leaves—and you’d measure the humidity, too.” I should mention that the CEO is also my father, so he may be a little more attuned to my growth than another boss might be.
The point is, he’s right. I can feel a big difference in the way I think, react, plan, and approach difficult situations. I have brought back with me to Buenos Aires the ability to step back and look at the big picture—not get lost in the details of every tree, as my father described it—and that has allowed me to bring greater long-term thinking to the company. I’ve grown beyond just solving the current problem in a vacuum.
More important, I’m able to help others expand their thinking, too. Recently, a member of my team was reviewing his goals. He said he had issues with the software but doesn’t have the resources to make a change. I pointed out that he was missing the big picture. His goal shouldn’t be to get new software…it should be to find the resources to get the software. Think bigger. Think broader. I learned this in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. It helps me every day and in ways I never would have expected.
But one of the greatest resources I’ve brought back to United is the incomparable MIT network. From an employer’s perspective, that alone is worth the price of tuition. At MIT, my network expanded to include the fellows in my class, their networks, the broader MIT Sloan and MIT networks, and the Harvard network, too. In the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, you are plugged into the Cambridge nerve center, and in modern times, there is no better nerve center to be plugged into."
David P. Hess, SF ’90Senior Vice PresidentAerospace Business Development, United Technologies Corporation
Corporate Headquarters: United States
“The MIT Sloan Fellows Program didn’t just change the way I think about business. It changed the way I think. If ever there were a brain trust for engineering and innovation, it’s MIT. As a fellow, I had access to that incredible depth of technical expertise and cutting-edge research. And the reward of focusing without distraction on ideas, learning, discovery, and growth was incalculable.
When I returned to UTC, I found I had a new confidence born of spending a year measuring myself against some of the best minds in the world. I also found myself asking questions that wouldn’t have even occurred to me before the program. The MIT Sloan Fellows Program was a mind-expanding coming-of- age experience, and it prepared me to take the next big step in my career.”
Morten Bay Jensen, SF ’11
Vice President, Global Supply Chain, ECCO Sko A/S
Corporate Headquarters: Denmark
"ECCO is the rare company—possibly the only shoe company in the world—that controls every part of its supply chain from cow to customer, so a leader in this enterprise has to know everything from finance to social marketing. I sat down with the vice chairman of my company, and we decided that the MIT Sloan Fellows Program was the best place for me to build the key skills necessary to optimize ECCO’s global operations—especially systems thinking. A company with a supply chain as extensive and complex as ours needs to be driven by the very best and the very latest in systems thinking, and MIT is unparalleled in that realm.
My year as an MIT Sloan Fellow turned out to be unimaginably valuable. I now am a person who sees opportunities, not limitations. I know how to capture value from change. I am conversant in finance, supply chains, manufacturing, IT, sales, marketing—all vital to being an effective leader in a global company. Most important, I know I can go into any demanding situation and be completely prepared for it.
It’s a good thing, because I needed all that when I returned to ECCO from MIT in 2011. Thailand suffered a devastating natural disaster—a flood that put our factory floor under water. That plant would usually produce more than a half-million shoes in the time that it was submerged. At MIT, we had prepared for major disruptions with courses like Managing in Adversity, and the solution I developed for this crisis came right out the MIT Sloan classroom. In the end, the toll on productivity was far less than we originally anticipated.
It’s as a result of my year as an MIT Sloan Fellow that I was equipped to handle that challenge as well as the new and very different dilemmas that continually unfold in a company of our size and complexity. Whatever it is, I’m ready for it."
Mirela Marku, SF ’07
Senior Engineering Manager
General Dynamics Information Technology
Corporate Headquarters: United States
“It’s an engineer’s dream to go to MIT, so when it was time to make the transition from engineering to management, I immediately thought: Sloan. I polled executives at GD and they immediately thought: the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. They said it was the perfect way to develop the perspective I needed to advance in the company, and they were right.
I remember every lecture, every trip, every assignment—and every cultural lesson. I learned from the Japanese fellows the importance of listening. I learned from the Latin American fellows the importance of emotion. I learned from the American fellows the importance of confidence. And I continue learning from them.”
Percival Barretto-Ko, SF ’11
Senior VP, Corporate Strategy, Business Development & Government Affairs
Corporate headquarters: Japan
"My company, Astellas Pharma, is the offspring of a recent merger between two century-old companies. Because of that deep ancestry, Astellas has 17,000 employees in 100 countries, and one of its hallmarks is a deep commitment to the professional development of those employees. In fact, nurturing talent is one of the key components of the company’s global strategy.
When I discussed the options for my own professional development with our CEO, he talked about the importance of leveraging that educational experience as a crucial element of our company strategy. We agreed that the ideal program would have a strong connection to the biotech world. It would be a leader in systems thinking. And it would focus on innovation and global leadership. To be honest, with a punch list like that, there wasn’t much discussion. When I had analyzed all the options, all roads led to the MIT Sloan Fellows Program.
Simply put, the MIT Sloan Fellows Program is life changing. It transforms you in terms of mindset. In terms of thought process. In terms of energy. It transforms you in ways you don’t realize until later. It also is deeply tactical. I was able to relate continually what I was learning to Astellas’ global strategy. I applied what I was learning in Professor Simon Johnson’s macroeconomics class, for example, to our plans for expanding into Latin America. And since I returned to Astellas, I’ve been able to provide a fresh perspective to the organization, helping the company analyze strategy, the innovation and risk equations, and the growth of the organization. I came back from MIT with the goal of being an infectious agent—spreading enthusiasm for radical thinking instead of looking at a particular problem in the standard pharma way.
And we can see the Sloan Fellows impact. I certainly don’t take full credit, but in terms of sheer objective numbers, Astellas has grown phenomenally over the last few years. While the rest of the pharma industry has languished with maybe 1 or 2 percent growth, Astellas grew 15 percent last year. Three years ago, it was the second largest pharma company headquartered in Japan. Last month it was the largest—and the 17th largest Japanese company. Today, Astellas is one of the fastest growing organizations in the pharma industry, and the MIT Sloan Fellows Program is definitely one component of its success."
Yuko Watanabe Sasahara, SF ’13
NTT DOCOMO Ventures
Corporate headquarters: Japan
"I had only focused on domestic business before I entered the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. My success was in Japan, and all my thoughts were confined to what would work or not work within the Japanese market. But technology knows no borders. NTT DoCoMo is a global company, and I needed to be global. My company leadership agreed. We have a long connection to the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. One of the most influential CEOs in the history of our company, Keiji Tachikawa, is an MIT Sloan Fellows alumnus. It’s not surprising. The program really is the logical choice for upwardly mobile leaders in a company focused on global technology and innovation.
When I arrived at MIT, I definitely found it global—a microcosm of the international marketplace. The diversity was stunning. I can’t think where else I could spend one entire year in close collaboration with fellow business leaders from more than 30 countries. And the diversity was not just national—diversity of industry, education, experience, and perspective, too.
At the start of the program, I found it difficult to communicate because of that extreme diversity. It wasn’t just a language issue. It was understanding what lay beyond the language. What were people’s real motivations, their real feelings? I worked hard to understand their backgrounds and their personalities and to treat any differences with respect. My motto for global communication became: “Be open-minded. Approach all communications with trust and respect.”
I use that global communications experience every day in my new position at NTT DOCOMO Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of DOCOMO and NTT Group. I am responsible for collaborating with entrepreneurs to co-create new businesses. I am out of my comfort zone, but now I see that as a good thing. I spent a whole year out of my comfort zone in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. The year at MIT gave me the confidence to embrace uncertainty and see new challenges as invigorating rather than intimidating."
Francis Yeoh, MOT ’93
National Research Foundation, Singapore
Corporate Headquarters: Singapore
“During my time at MIT, I came to realize that I had a very ‘Singaporean perspective,’ and that if I were to discuss an issue with colleagues back in Singapore, they would share that perspective. My program peers from Brazil, Japan, and other cultures, however, would share very different ideas on the same issue. It was incredibly illuminating. Now, if I want an alternate perspective, I have a global network I can turn to for advice.”
MIT looks at technology holistically. The value of integrating management strategy, marketing, technical issues, and other factors is an approach that has proven successful again and again worldwide. And it’s a perspective that has been extremely valuable to me as I help bring innovations to market in my work at the NRF.”
Tana L. Utley, SF ’07
President, Perkins Engines Company Ltd.
Vice President, Industrial Power Systems and
Growth Markets Division
Corporate Headquarters: United States
“The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is for people with ideas. It is designed for those who already have a vision—they just need the tools and the support systems to make it happen.
At MIT, I felt a sense of coming home—a powerful feeling of ‘these are my people.’ From the moment you set foot on campus, you are learning all the time—learning in the hallway, at cocktail parties, standing in line for coffee. It’s an exhilarating kind of osmosis.
“Mid-career is when you need the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. Mid-career is when you know how to use it. Mid-career is when you know what to do with the boundless opportunity it offers.”
Meet more MIT Sloan Fellows alumni and learn about the value they brought to their companies after a year in the program.
Stephen Sacca, SF ‘90
MIT Sloan Fellows Programssacca@mit.edu
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