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Want an authentic look at the MIT Sloan Fellows experience? The alumni network is a key motivator for many when considering becoming a Sloan Fellow. Here, you will meet the program’s most eloquent ambassadors—the fellows themselves. They represent every corner of the globe and a broad swath of industries, but each Sloan Fellow holds in common one essential characteristic: a dedication to changing for the better the way we live and work. Find out why these fellows made the decision to apply, their firsthand experiences in the program, and its impact on their careers and their lives.
"Dedicating 12 months to this program is one of the most strategic investments you can make in your career. It's a year that pays off in ways you could never imagine. I have a better head for finance, negotiation, global business practice. I have greater emotional intelligence and cultural awareness. I am a more effective leader and a better person. And I have trusted business advisors-my fellow alumni-on the ground all over the world. Yes, you will improve during those same 12 months on the job, but you will never approach the level of growth you experience as a Sloan Fellow."
"At MIT and the neighborhood that surrounds it, the thinking is miles ahead-and the learning experience is enduring. You are so engaged that you deeply absorb what you are studying and it becomes second nature to you. Every now and then I recognize that I am using something I learned back in the program and I say, 'Ah, there it is again. The Sloan Fellows Factor.' I feel that what I learned in the program grows in value as I integrate it with what I learn in the course of my career."
"The MIT Sloan Fellows Program was a pivotal year in our life as a family, a year of growing and bonding on so many levels for all of us. My wife and children made friends from around the world and participated in the many events the program and fellows hosted. We came to look upon the members of the Sloan Fellows family as our brothers and sisters."
His Excellency Abdullatif Al-Othman, SF ’98, is governor and chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), which oversees the country’s domestic and foreign investment affairs. Al-Othman assumed the post after thirty years at Saudi Aramco, where he served as Chief Financial Officer.
"Dedicating 12 months to this program is one of the most strategic investments you can make in your career. It's a year that pays off in ways you could never imagine. I have a better head for finance, negotiation, global business practice. I have greater emotional intelligence and cultural awareness. I am a more effective leader and a better person. And I have trusted business advisors—my fellow alumni—on the ground all over the world. Yes, you will improve during those same 12 months on the job, but you will never approach the level of growth you experience as a Sloan Fellow."
"At MIT and the neighborhood that surrounds it, the thinking is miles ahead—and the learning experience is enduring. You are so engaged that you deeply absorb what you are studying and it becomes second nature to you. Every now and then I recognize that I am using something I learned back in the program and I say, 'Ah, there it is again. The Sloan Fellows Factor.' I feel that what I learned in the program grows in value as I integrate it with what I learn in the course of my career."
"The MIT Sloan Fellows Program was one of the very best experiences of my life and one of the best investments in my career. I learned key lessons about leadership, strategy, finance, marketing, human relations, labor relations-all vital knowledge. But what I found most valuable was learning from my peers. Learning how other global companies operate and how cultures affect business climates. Learning there isn't just one right way to operate a multinational company. And learning to develop our working-together skills. Nothing compares with having that year away at MIT."
"A business program deep in the heart of MIT worked for me. I was at Boeing and would later head up Ford. My career was dedicated to developing safe and efficient transportation, and MIT was doing phenomenal work in transportation. MIT's International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) championed lean manufacturing and changed the automobile industry. Leveraging MIT knowledge has been of enormous value to me."
"As a Sloan Fellow, I learned that the greatest innovations and the most revolutionary technologies will fail to catch on in the marketplace without brand clarity. Brand becomes something consumers can count on. It also enables everybody-executives, employees, suppliers, stakeholders-to understand what the company stands for and to develop what consumers want. What did that Ford Motor Company blue oval really mean? Safe, efficient, and fun vehicles we can trust. It was during that year at MIT that I really came to understand the power of brand, and it shaped the way I approached the turnaround at Ford."
“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, as I leave the program, my perspective encompasses a
wide swath of countries, cultures, and industries. I could not have
developed that expanded view any other way.”
“A management program at MIT Sloan was a strategic choice for
me. An MBA from MIT underlined my technical credentials while giving me
skills that are complementary—rather than redundant—to the strengths of
the other executives sitting around a boardroom table. I find I bring a
richer base of knowledge and a broader perspective to problem-solving
“I have been working with local civic and medical leaders in
Guatemala, El Salvador, and Qatar on developing sustainable healthcare
models. Key to success is building strong multicultural relationships, a
skill I developed in one of the most collaborative cultures on
earth—MIT. I learned that if you don’t have robust relationships in
place, change isn’t sustainable. After spending a year at MIT, the
ability to build teams—and consensus—is second nature to me.”
“Family is so important to us that my husband and I once took a
year off and lived at sea with our two children on a 32-ft sloop. So
when I was considering a year at MIT, the kids figured heavily into the
decision. They were middle school age then and found Cambridge, MIT, and
the children of my program peers fascinating and inspiring. My daughter
very much responded to the rich intellectual and multicultural
environment and is now at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. Her
plan is to get involved with Doctors without Borders. My son, after a
summer robotics program at MIT, is making his career in electronic game
design. That year very much shaped who we all are today.”
"Do it. Take that year away. It's not just valuable, it's necessary. Those twelve months in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program make it possible to reassess, to take a good look at where you are, learn what you need to, explore what you want to, chart out where you're going, and reignite the driving forces in your career and your life. Really. Just do it."
"One lesson I learned as a Sloan Fellow was how to keep innovating. I now know how to work hard to protect my role as the 'entrepreneur' when the 'manager' role threatens to take over. My strength as an entrepreneur is to create and challenge the status quo, to be an agent of Schumpeterian creative destruction. The program made me really aware of what you have to do to keep the innovation flowing."
"My husband Andreas Goeldi and I decided to join the program together, and it turned out to be inspired from so many perspectives. Apart from the strategic benefits we gained as entrepreneurs [Goeldi is CTO of Pixability], we grew as a couple. We worked on homework together. We talked and talked about what we were learning and brought it to a deeper level. And we made new friends as a couple-our friends, not his friends or my friends, our friends. Personally and professionally, it was a stand-out year in our lives."
“Every day I find myself tapping into skills I learned during
that intense year at MIT. How to communicate and build strong
partnerships, for example. How to guide the evolution of organizations.
How to drive change. These capabilities are now in my DNA and have been
crucial to realizing my vision—and in helping me help others to realize
“I was self-sponsored, so going to business school was a major
investment. I decided on MIT because a business school set within an
engineering school could give me a much more informed perspective on new
technologies. I knew that having the skills to understand technology
trends would be of enormous value going forward—and it has been.”
“One year immersed in an idea-generating environment with some
of the best minds in the world is an extraordinary opportunity. The
faculty, of course, taught me so much, but I learned just as much from
my peers in the program. Working closely with these inspiring, highly
accomplished people day in and day out, I picked up valuable knowledge
across an astonishingly wide spectrum of the global marketplace.”
Bruce S. Gordon is that rare hybrid, a social visionary and an astute businessman. After 35 years rising through the ranks of Bell of Pennsylvania, Bell Atlantic, and Verizon, he retired at 56. In his final position, he led the company’s largest division, retail markets, which served 33 million residential and small business customers. He also directed corporate advertising and brand management and brought in $25 billion in annual revenue. After his retirement, Gordon took the helm as president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) until stepping down in the spring of 2007.
Often lauded for outstanding leadership, Gordon was included in Fortune magazine’s 2002 roster of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives.” Black Enterprise magazine named him “Executive of the Year” in 1998. “I'm definitely a believer,” he says, “that leadership technique has an immeasurable impact on a business.”
Gordon believes his experience in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program was critical to making him the leader he is today. “Executives from 17 countries were represented, very accomplished business people from a wide spectrum of business, industry, government, and military organizations,” he says. “Even if working with that diverse group of people was the sum total of the Sloan Fellows experience, I would have walked away a winner, but there was so much more – the faculty, the curriculum, the learning experience, the trip to the Far East. The experience was remarkable.”
A native of Cameroon, Célestin Monga served as Lead Economist for the World Bank in Europe and Central Asia before taking on his present role as Senior Advisor to the Chief Economist of the World Bank.
"The great differentiator of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program is the excellence of the cohort. Your peers in this program are exceptionally talented and accomplished and represent an extraordinary diversity of cultures and industries. I learned something different and something valuable from every one of them. One of my professors said on the first day of classes, 'Look around this room at your classmates. They will be the connections that shape your future.' I will never forget that statement because, again and again, it has proven to be true."
"The tone of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program is very different from other top tier schools and programs I've experienced. At MIT Sloan you are part of a small, dedicated family. I found that everyone was concerned with helping me. The camaraderie and lack of hierarchy were not what I was used to in academia, and I deeply appreciated the difference."
"MIT encourages you to push out your thinking. You never feel guilty for proposing a stupid idea. In fact, you learn that there is no such thing as a stupid idea. Innovation is an iterative process. We need the 99 ideas that precede the best idea, so every one of those lesser ideas is important in its way. I also discovered that you can be a genius and not have the ability to solve a problem. What you need are the essential tools, network, and environment to develop and drive new ideas into the world, and MIT gives you all that. In this program, you learn to think."
“By my mid-thirties, I had launched successful businesses, but I was complacent. I wasn’t growing. I was no longer challenging myself. I was guilty of automatic thinking. But you can’t be different if you don’t think differently. In the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, I shed my cocoon. I learned to think differently about my life and my ambitions and reach heights I could never have achieved under the old thinking. The program opened up my life and my future.”
“The power of the program for me was the power of the MIT knowledge community. MIT Sloan—where I learned profound lessons about leadership; the MIT Media Lab, where I discovered how to navigate the 21st-century media landscape; and the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, where I strategized with some of the best new-enterprise experts in the world about starting a company. The mentorship I received during that year as a fellow made it possible for me to reinvent myself as a leader.”
“When I returned to the business community after my year in the program, I was struck by the contrast. People were talking about the same issues they’d been talking about years earlier. I realized that they did not have access to the fresh thinking and the rich perspectives that I had had at MIT—and continue to have through the MIT network.”
program had a huge impact on my confidence. Like my classmates, I came in
feeling that I was strong in what I already knew but shied away from all the
things I did not know. The challenge drew us together as a cohort and made us
friends for life in a way that you do not get in the business world. And I have
an unshakeable confidence that I have the tools and experience to take on challenges
that lie ahead. Personally, I also came out with a much calmer and more relaxed
approach to life.”
considered other programs besides MIT Sloan Fellows, but I realized that MIT
was the best place to take me out of my comfort zone and expose me to topics
and industry research I couldn’t access anywhere else. I have amazing memories
from a course I took on the connected car at the MIT Media Lab. We were part of
an eight-year development process that went from concept to company. During my
year, we developed the prototype, practicing innovation in its rawest and most
decade after graduating from the program, my MIT Sloan Fellows network is very
much alive—and I use it constantly. The last ten years at Piaggio has taken me
to Barcelona, Hanoi, and Singapore. Each time I arrive at a new place, I check
in with the network to see who is there and how they can help me come up to
speed on the local landscape. The fellows and the extended MIT “family” have
always come through. It’s an invaluable resource when you’re trying to launch a
new project in a part of the world that you’ve never experienced.”
“I wanted the high-level access to MIT faculty that comes with being a Sloan Fellow–to be able to talk over problems with Nobel Laureates in physics and economics, with innovators and ground-shakers. I have seen the remarkable power of MIT Sloan thinkers, and I wanted to learn from them and grow to be one myself.”
“My company is eager to reach out into the world and become a great enterprise. I see this year of immersion as the nourishment of that aim. When I was deciding whether to apply, I mapped all our goals and gaps to the opportunities offered in the program and achieved a one-to-one match. I couldn’t afford not to come.”
“The Sloan Fellows are so legendary, I wondered if there was an element of myth. But during orientation, I realized the elite caliber of the fellows is real…the depth of accomplishment, the breadth of diversity, the global network, the bonding and collaboration–all greater than I could have imagined.”
“The MIT Sloan Fellows Program offered what I was looking for—an immersive experience. But what really set it apart was immersion for a year with a cohort of unparalleled diversity, experience, and talent. Because of that cohort, every moment of the program is a learning experience—in and out of the classroom.”
“Nothing—not the program staff or the alumni I talked with—could have prepared me for the level of exposure I had to some of the best minds of our time. MIT faculty, many of them industry greats, were approachable and eager to talk shop. And everybody who is anybody visits campus at some point—and you really don’t want to miss meeting a single one. You’re also tempted to head up the street to hear speakers at Harvard or Boston University. From the moment you enter the program, you are surrounded by big ideas—and ideamakers. I don’t think there’s a community like it in the world.”
“There’s an unusually deep level of commitment among the fellows in this program. In part, it’s because they are giving a whole year to the experience. But it’s also because the fellows’ families are so much a part of the program. It’s a rare experience today that an entire family participates in a shared experience for a whole year—especially one that is so mind expanding. Everyone is enriched as individuals, and the family is enriched as a unit.”
“MIT is an intellectually invigorating, high-energy environment. You are surrounded by people who are pushing themselves to realize their dreams. Accomplishment is not about status at MIT. It’s about making something important happen—something that makes a difference in the world. I found that spirit infectious. In fact, it influenced the course of my career.”
“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.”
Francis Yeoh is an innovator’s innovator. An engineer with a PhD in telecommunications, Yeoh has been immersed in high tech entrepreneurship for most of his career. He was CEO of an internet services company, headed an R&D organization that spun out a bevy of start-up ventures, even set up Singapore’s first Internet service provider. Now, as CEO of Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), Yeoh is driving research, innovation, and enterprise using a holistic, highly collaborative model inspired by his time at MIT.
As head of the NRF, he connects inventors with investors and subject experts to develop multipronged commercialization strategies that increase the odds of entrepreneurial success. And through the pioneering initiative CREATE—Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise—he is bringing together many of the world’s top research institutions (including MIT) under one roof to pool knowledge and solve some of the most intractable problems of our age.
"After many years as a serial entrepreneur, I began to meditate on my future. Consulting? Entrepreneurship? Venture capital? I was doing all these things, but I wanted to focus. Where did I fit best? I had arrived at that point in my career at a dizzying pace, and I needed to take stock. Where was I? Where was I headed? Taking one year out of a 40-year career to reassess and plan—it's a far greater risk not to do it."
"I had hosted MIT Sloan G-Lab teams in Brazil and had developed great admiration for members of the MIT faculty. They were dynamic, passionate, and committed to the same principles I was. I worked closely with them during my time as a Sloan Fellow to write a thesis on how to leverage the entrepreneurial spirit to make the world a better place. I firmly believe that this is the business model of the future. My thesis, in fact, became the de facto business plan for Flourish."
"My wife Christi, also an entrepreneur, was as eager for the year in Boston as I was. Kendall Square is a thrilling proving ground for entrepreneurs. Christi took a sabbatical from her company and used the time in Boston to develop her English, take courses, and meet entrepreneurs from around the world. She returned to Brazil with a dramatically increased ability to communicate in English and the skills to negotiate a successful merger with another company. Partners and families of fellows really can leverage that year away toward the realization of their own life goals."
"Imagine a classroom where critical business and management issues are being analyzed from more than 100 different angles—each angle representing the point of view of a member of the class. Each point of view reflecting that person's extensive professional background, cultural environment, and personal perceptions. And imagine each of these highly motivated and experienced leaders pursuing excellence together through open discussions, debates, study groups, problem-solving sessions, and collaborative team-based projects over the course of one year. Those remarkable interactions are at the heart of the program's extraordinary growth experience."
"I came out of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program young at heart, entrepreneurial in soul, inquisitive of nature, creative in mind, reflective in thinking, empathic in listening, humble in relating, savvy in politics, and fully focused on communicating. I graduated as a leader centered on principles, deeply connected to my inner self. The year truly was a rejuvenating journey."
"When I learned that the total sales of companies established by MIT alumni was equal to the 11th largest economy in the world, I couldn't quite wrap my head around what kind of place this could be. Then I experienced the campus firsthand. The legendary innovation ecosystem is second to none. Put simply, it's mind blowing. The MIT Sloan Fellows Program cannot be replicated elsewhere because it is embedded within this internationally renowned research and innovation center."
When Forbes magazine named James C. Foster “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2002, the Chairman and CEO of Charles River Laboratories had transformed his 56-year-old family business into one of the world’s leading biotech companies. And he did it by taking back control of the company from a multinational corporation.
Although he had a law degree, Foster knew if he was going to grow Charles River Laboratories into a biotechnology giant, he needed a strong management foundation. Not wanting a traditional MBA degree, Foster never even considered other schools or programs. He knew what the MIT Sloan Fellows Program had to offer and headed straight for it.
Foster says that the program prepared him for the gauntlet of professional challenges that culminated in his 2002 award. “The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is not just an education, it’s a life-altering experience,” he says. The powerful relationships forged with faculty and fellow students, the CEO seminars, and the trips to New York City, Washington, and beyond made the program an experience that he says was perfect for him at that juncture in his career. Charles River Laboratories now employs 8,000 people at 70 facilities in 18 countries.
MIT Sloan taught Foster that to be successful in running a business, you have to take balanced risks and create an environment in which people are given incentives to be risk-takers. “You want to be constantly soliciting people’s input,” he explains, “to say, ‘What do you think?’ and ‘Why don't you go out and try that?’ And if it doesn't work, you have to be able to say, ‘Thanks for trying.’ ”
“There are many good people in the automotive industry. What sets me apart is my year in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. Working closely with executives from many other nations and industries, seeing how they solve problems, and learning how business really works in their countries is priceless knowledge you can earn just one way: in a tight-knit cohort with 100+ of the world’s most gifted global leaders.”
“In Germany, we know how to build cars. What we don’t know is how to reinvent them. That’s why I went to MIT. I learned how more innovative industries bring in outside ideas, identify new opportunities quickly, and seize them. Just looking at the way the biotech industry is inventing and commercializing innovations was a big eye-opener. When I left the program, I left with a strategy to bring that start-up mentality into the automotive industry so that we could get e-mobility off the ground—and onto the roads.”
“I built leadership momentum during my year at MIT, and it propelled me into a job that requires that I lead teams all over the world, teams with very different cultures. I found that from the very beginning, I gained acceptance from colleagues and staff not because of rank or position but because of the knowledge I was bringing to my job. No matter the culture, knowledge trumps title at the end of the day. And MIT knowledge gives you leadership credibility—all over the world.”
John W. Thompson is CEO of Virtual Instruments and chairman of Microsoft Corporation, where he has served on the board since 2012. During his decade as CEO of Symantec, Thompson helped transform the company into a leader in security, storage, and systems management solutions.
"That year was incredibly rewarding to me, and yet it's difficult to put into words the profound benefits of this program. You live the value every day. Invest those twelve months at MIT in your development as a leader, and you will find it pays tremendous dividends over the life of your career."
"The first thing you learn in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program is that the world is a lot smaller than you think it is. That year was my first real international exposure. In some ways, it was like spending a year on a global fact-finding mission. We did quite a bit of traveling as a group, but we didn't have to leave Cambridge to experience a truly global business education. The program brought the international business community to us. With fellows from all over the world, you get an intimate perspective on the ins and outs of doing business in key regions around the globe."
"The professors at MIT are the best of the best in their industries. I found their insights illuminating and their knowledge bottomless. You know that what you're learning is the very latest thinking in the technology and management arenas."
Keiji Tachikawa was actually disappointed when placed in charge of NTT DoCoMo, the mobile telephone unit of the Japanese telecom giant Nippon Telephone and Telegraph. He’d had his eye on what he considered a more coveted job leading NTT East, the company's local phone service unit.
That disappointment only served to fuel Tachikawa’s vision for DoCoMo. Three years after taking the job, he had grown the unit’s market capitalization to $225 billion – bigger even than that of NTT itself. He also took the company global, carving out stakes in mobile companies in Europe, Asia, and America.
Tachikawa was named CEO and, soon after, “Asian Businessman of the Year” by Fortune magazine “for his role in one of the world’s greatest business successes of 2000.” The honor, the magazine explained, was bestowed on the leader who proved to be “ahead of the pack, in profits and vision. Tachikawa leads on both fronts.”
Tachikawa credits the Sloan Fellows Program with helping him shape an effective methodology for business management and decision-making. “In addition to the basic courses of law, economics, and accounting, and subjects such as strategic policy, finance, and marketing, I became aware of the diversity of ideas,” he says.
If Tachikawa’s entrepreneurial triumph took the global business world by storm, it did not surprise his classmates in the MIT Sloan Fellows class of 1978. Indeed, it was his experience at MIT Sloan that inspired his motto for corporate management, “Think drastically, execute steadily.” A motto he has brought with him to the Japanese space program–JAXA–which he has headed since 2004.
Kofi Annan can remember the day. It was 1971 and he was in the middle of his first term in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. He was walking along the Charles River, ruminating about his place in the class, wondering how he fit into the audacious group of global leaders who were his classmates.
When the answer came to him, Annan says, it came to him most emphatically: “Follow your own inner compass...know who you are, what you stand for, where you want to go, and why you want to get there.” He recalls that at once, his anxieties began to fade.
Annan believes that as a result of that walk by the river, he took away from MIT “the intellectual confidence to help me locate my bearings in new situations, to view any challenge as an opportunity for renewal and growth, and to be comfortable in seeking the help of colleagues, but not fearing to do things my way.”
MIT and the United Nations, Annan says, have more in common than might be at first obvious. The experimental method, for example. “An international organization,” he says, “is an experiment...an experiment in human cooperation on a planetary scale.” He notes that “international organizations must be closely tuned to their environments, quickly correct their mistakes, build cumulatively on their achievements, and continually generate new modalities as previous ways of doing things become outdated.”
Although that introspective walk along the Charles River is now more than 30 years past, Annan’s experience at MIT still informs his decisions. “As a Sloan Fellow, I learned management skills that I could draw on in refashioning the United Nations for the new century.”
“During our international trip to South Africa and Brazil, I was struck by an incredible sense of momentum. The nations we visited were very different yet equally committed to sustainable fast-track development. The government and company leaders we met gave us tremendous insight into the possibilities for responsible entrepreneurship.”
“I’m preparing to start a multinational company focused on data analytics. The best thinkers in business, entrepreneurship, and IT are all right here. The one-on-one interactions with faculty and global leaders are unlike any other educational experience. And your fellow students are the best of the best. I remember looking across the classroom and thinking: just the dozen of us in this room could change the world.”
“My family considered it ‘our’ Sloan Fellows year. My wife, who is also an entrepreneur, was able to work remotely from Cambridge. My children became fluent in English, played soccer, and took classes through MIT’s fantastic SPLASH program. They loved the idea of studying at MIT, just like Dad.”
"The MIT Sloan Fellows Program was a clear dividing line in my life. The quality of leadership I am now able to provide in the world is a direct result of that year. Classes on global competitiveness, leadership, finance-every element of the program integrates with every other element to create a platform of wisdom that you could not develop anywhere else. And you don't leave behind the knowledge, confidence, and resilience you build over that year. It's part of you. I can draw a direct line from actions I take now to the courses I took at MIT."
"System dynamics was a revelation to me. Coming to MIT from an investigative journalism organization in New York City, I found this lens on how to look at a problem eye-opening and invaluable. I realized how little value leaders tend to place on problem-solving strategy. In system dynamics, you learn how to determine if you're solving the right problem, trying to solve too many, or in the wrong sequence, because the order of tackling them is essential to the speed and effectiveness of solving them. I now use those skills every day of my life, and I can tell you that I am a stronger, more confident problem solver as a result."
"MIT frankly surprised me. I was expecting a competitive landscape, but what I found was a very embracing community. There's nothing like this ecosystem in the world, and I miss it. Everybody is humble. Everybody is focused on change. Everybody is trying to transform what life is like now and in the future through leadership, creativity, innovation, urban planning-whatever they do, whatever they know, they are leveraging it for the greater good. That culture rubs off on you."
"The MIT Sloan Fellows are no ordinary cohort. As a fellow, you are supported by a tight-knit group of impressive individuals, day in and day out, for one entire year. We are at the point in our careers where we have had extensive leadership experience and real decision power. We understand complexity. We have carried important responsibility and we share with one another the relevant lessons we have learned as a result. I left the program with deep knowledge of the strengths, weaknesses, and nuances of industries and marketplaces all over the world."
"I'm an engineer. I love to create new things, solve problems, tackle challenges. As a consultant, I led a team of 80 people in resolving customer dilemmas, but we would advise, then withdraw. What I really wanted was to build something that would reflect the impact of my ideas, an enterprise that would advance the world through technological innovation. I needed time to think and strategize, and the best place to do that was MIT. I knew that spending a year in a management program rooted in the global center of technological innovation would give me ideas, skills—and a competitive advantage. The program worked. Today I can say I ended up exactly where I wanted to be."
"The network is legendary for a reason. For the rest of your life, you will have five good friends on every continent who are well connected to their own industry and to other industries. The address book this gives you is hard to fathom. I do business pretty much everywhere, crossing every kind of boundary, and there is always a member of my network there to guide me through."
"I have to admit I was a little daunted by the prospect of joining the program—the academic rigor, as you would expect from MIT, is legendary. I loved my job, and had not been in a classroom for a long time. Once we started, though, I was immediately grateful to be a fellow. Stepping outside the Postal Service universe and getting a sense of how I measured up in the wider world was pivotal to my maturity as a leader."
"I don't think the average person realizes how complex and tech-centric the postal service is. To get the job done, we need to stay at the forefront of the best practices being advanced in public and private enterprises all over the world. But I didn't have to travel exhaustively to understand what was happening out there. As a Sloan Fellow, I was surrounded by leaders from those regions who were shaping technology and standards. On top of it all, the MIT Sloan Fellows curriculum exposed me to advanced systems thinking, business analytics, and strategic planning. It also expanded my soft skills and reinforced the values of diversity and collaboration as organizational imperatives."
"We have to compete for business on a daily basis just like a private company. We have to understand what's happening in the marketplace and reinvent ourselves accordingly. We send our most promising executives to the MIT Sloan Fellows Program because they learn how to leverage big data, challenge existing paradigms, and drive the innovations that will keep us relevant in the 21st century."
Michael L. Johnson capped a 28-year career with Conoco Oil as Chairman and CEO of the gas and power subsidiary, positions he held until his retirement in 2002. Johnson, a prominent geologist, is now director of Wellkeeper Inc., a leading-edge oil well monitoring company.
"During my quarter century at Conoco, I learned that if you want to solve a problem, you ask a Sloan Fellow. When I was preparing to build a four-billion-dollar oil platform, my boss, who had been a Sloan Fellow, reminded me of the Sloan program's objectives and why I had been selected to attend several years earlier. He knew I had the technical know-how, but he also felt confident I now had the full set of management skills and that almost indefinable flexible intelligence you develop as a Sloan Fellow. I can't imagine taking on that project without that year at MIT. And when I rose through the ranks of Conoco, I found myself delegating the toughest assignments to the members of my team who had been through the program. It's not an old-boy network thing—it's a tradition based on results."
"Make no mistake. The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is an authentic MIT education. MIT professors are not dumbing down content for executives, as you often find in programs for mid-career managers. When you graduate, you have experienced the kind of education that sets the MIT degree apart around the world—and all the benefits that that implies."
"By the time you are a high-flying mid-career leader, you think you know a lot more than you really do. It's good to have confidence, but not false confidence. As a Sloan Fellow I realized how much I had to learn, and I learned a lot from the faculty but at least as much from the other fellows in the program who, like me, had a wealth of experience to share. I left the program with more humility, more confidence, and a greater right to that confidence."
“The program is a microcosm of the corporate environment. You work closely with people who hold very different perspectives from your own. You evolve from accepting those differences to counting on them. You learn there’s far more power in collaboration than in competition. And you learn not just how to lead, but when to lead.”
“My year as a Sloan Fellow was the best of my life. I met so many influential leaders and saw how they integrated who they were with the fundamentals of good leadership. When I returned to my job at HP, my dialogue with senior executives was transformed. I was immediately making things happen in my company.”
“I always knew I wanted to do big things with my life. As a Sloan Fellow I gained a deeper understanding of how the world works – economics, finance, ‘the Street’ – but I also learned about poverty, sustainability, and social issues. I gained a clearer, more actionable vision of how to make the world a better place.”
"As an MIT Sloan Fellow, you come to understand the benefits of approaching situations with a positive attitude. You learn to see the silver lining. You learn how effective it is to enter into a negotiation or a challenge with a positive outlook and how to turn negatives into positives. It's not a matter of refusing to see the downsides. It's a matter of learning to find the upsides in every situation."
"One of the most complex issues facing any leader is how to motivate teams and manage stakeholders. As a Sloan Fellow, I developed the ability to listen carefully and ask the right questions so as to reach a deeper understanding of stakeholder perspectives. I learned how to negotiate with stakeholders, motivate them, and align their interests to my goals. And I grew not just to embrace but to rely upon multiple points of view in developing my own perspectives."
"I lost my father during my year at MIT, and the fellows were so supportive. It just added to the bond I felt with them—bonds that remain and will always endure. Bonds that have shaped who I am today. I am absolutely a different person because of that year. I learned a lot about a lot of things, but the most important lessons were about myself."
had a PhD in engineering and was doing well in my career, but was at a
disadvantage without a solid base in finance and economics. My plan was to go to
the Sloan Fellows Program to fill those gaps. In that amazing year, I was able
to accomplish that and so much more–for example, learning the importance of
people and how to listen and collaborate. At MIT Sloan, I worked with
extraordinarily gifted people–faculty, my Sloan Fellows peers, members of the
MIT community. During program trips, I met crucial industry contacts. And my
thesis advisor was none other than Nobel Laureate Franco Modigliani, one of the
greatest economists of our time. What it all adds up to is a network that has
been indispensable as I have moved up and around the world with
In his work as a key leader at the Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura—continually ranked among the world's most sustainable companies—Pedro Villares is helping to shape an audacious environmental agenda, including efforts to renew the Amazon rainforest.
"I was a typical manager—impatient to move up the corporate ladder, not wanting to take the time out to finish an MBA. But the higher I climbed, the more I realized that I needed that learning. Then my uncle, who is one of my great mentors, said to me, "Do you want to move fast or far?" I took a good look at the entire life of my career and decided to apply to the Sloan Fellows Program. That year at MIT has given me the fuel to go as far as I want to go in this world. And I am more comfortable as a leader because I now have the self confidence that comes with truly being prepared."
"The most important thing you take away as a Sloan Fellow doesn't sound profound, but it will have a profound impact on your career. During that year you develop frameworks that allow you to apply your skills and knowledge with tremendous versatility to whatever you take on in life. After leaving the program, I found I could easily move from leadership in an IT firm to leadership in a cosmetics company because of those frameworks. They have broadened my capacity to tackle challenges. Now I would feel completely comfortable working in any industry."
"In the Sloan Fellows Program, you spend one solid year working closely with leaders from different countries, leaders with different skills, who speak different languages, come from a different cultures, leaders who look at life and work and collaboration very differently. Some of the most brilliant people I worked with at MIT could not speak my native language, nor could I speak theirs, yet I was able to learn unforgettable lessons from them. As a result of that year, I gained a deep international perspective that has given me a level of comfort in talking with anyone from any part of the world in any role, situation, or industry."
“The value of the program was extraordinary. It opened my mind, stretched my thinking, and fueled my creativity in ways I did not think were possible. I emerged with the confidence and ability to make a difference in my company and in the community.”
“I was the very last person in the class to arrive on campus. I came upon a group of fellows deep in discussion. When they realized who I was, they immediately welcomed me and dropped everything to help me get settled and ease my transition. That Sloan Fellows bond is powerful – and lasts far beyond the program.”
“Every day, I feel the impact of my Sloan Fellows experience. I am more innovative, more strategic, more global in my thinking. The value of the program is integral to everything I do and everything I am. Two years have gone by, and I keep waiting for that sensation to abate, but it doesn’t.”
“Before MOT, I started a small company, and it was successful, but I felt I could take my ideas much further. I realized there were gaps in the story I wanted to tell about myself. I needed the pedigree and capabilities to match my vision—and a management program that could help me develop that. It’s true. An entrepreneur who wants to bring revolutionary technologies to market has one clear choice in business education—MIT.”
“MIT is instrumental in moving the world forward, and my year in the MOT Program gave me the resources to join that effort. On top of everything I took away, I can show up on campus today and ask for whatever I need—with the confidence that that need will be met.”
“At GenomeQuest, I am riding the most exciting technology development in the history of mankind. But I am convinced that if I hadn’t taken that year out for the MOT Program (now Sloan Fellows), I would still be a mid-level technical manager in a biopharma company. My time at MIT gave me everything I need to go as far as I want to go.”
Richard Resnick is a genetics pioneer, a serial entrepreneur, and a music innovator, but a more accurate characterization might be high-tech explorer. Resnick has planted so many flags on so many tech mountain peaks, it’s dizzying. Today, he’s channeling everything he’s learned in those many pursuits into his role as CEO of GenomeQuest.
The possibilities inherent in the study of the human genome first became clear to Resnick right out of college when he worked as a computer scientist on Eric Lander’s Human Genome Project at MIT. Now, he is at the front lines of the business of genomes, helping to advance the use of the genome as a universal and affordable diagnostic tool. And he is drawing on his MIT education—and network—to move forward on that frontier.
Read Richard Resnick’s blog at GenomeQuest.
"I started my career with a strong focus on technology development. I soon discovered other loves—raising funds, creating teams, managing innovation portfolios—and found myself increasingly drawn to the business side of tech. I completed an executive MBA in Chile, but it wasn't long before I grew out of the lessons I could learn in a weekend program. Then it hit me—to push my career to the next level, I needed to leave the country, take time to think deeply about entrepreneurship, and reflect on my life. Happily, that's when I discovered the MIT Sloan Fellows Program."
"Friends and family thought my husband and I were crazy to drop what we were doing and move to Boston for a year. They said, 'You already have your life—satisfying careers, material comforts—why set all that aside now?' But we both knew we would stop growing personally and professionally if we stayed in Chile. We wanted to collaborate with people from all over the world who were as different as possible from us. For him, it was Boston University Law School. For me, it was MIT Sloan. For both of us, it was a year of incalculable transformation."
"I've always been open-minded, but MIT Sloan pushed me much further and deeper than I'd gone before. I pushed myself to develop connections with people from very diverse cultures. The women from Asia—my Asian sisters—took me into their hearts and made me part of their family. Their friendship helped me learn to empathize with and appreciate ideas and perspectives worlds away from my own. This mindset has made me a better innovator, a better person, and a better leader."
Ron Williams has his head in the clouds, and that’s exactly where he intends to keep it. “One of the basic principles of successful leadership is to keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground. You have to start with a large-scale, long-range vision and then operationalize strategies that deliver real value to stakeholders.”
As President of Aetna, Williams stands as powerful proof of his theory. He oversees the bulk of Aetna’s $25 billion business and has been named one of the “50 Most Powerful Black Executives” by Fortune magazine. He credits the MIT Sloan Fellows Program as a major force in shaping his ideas about leadership.
“I went to Sloan to turn myself into a generalist with a wider view of business. I wasn’t alone. At the start of the program, all the participants tended to define a problem in terms of their specialty. By the end of the program, we’d moved beyond our respective functional disciplines and learned to match the right discipline, or combination of disciplines, to the problem at hand.”
Williams looks back on this collaborative experience as a fundamental step in his evolution as an executive. “Working with a world-class faculty and high-performing classmates, I was able to take everything I knew about business and raise it to the next level.”
“MIT is on the crest of the world, and I feel like a kid on a skateboard with my hat on backwards ready to take off. I’m in this adventure for the thrills and for the chance to stretch, discover, and expand.”
“In New Zealand, we are great innovators, but we are not commercializing or exporting nearly enough. As a CEO and a passionate New Zealander, I need to fix that. Just a couple of weeks in, I’m already building a powerful global network and tapping into MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is exactly where I need to be right now.”
“The Sloan Fellows Program is a strong, inclusive family. When my husband saw how enthusiastic the partners are about the program and how close-knit the community is, he decided to make more time to visit from New Zealand so he can take part.”
“Spending a year at MIT immersed in this rigorous program with these extraordinary peers and professors prepares you for any challenge—you know it, and the world knows it.”
“My family had an MIT Sloan Fellows experience that was as precious to them as mine was to me. They still talk about the get-togethers and the good friends they made from around the world. Even walking down MIT’s legendary ‘infinite corridor’ is a magical memory.”
“When I went back to Amadeus, I was rejuvenated, engaged, with a new enthusiasm for ideas. Maybe because I knew I had the knowledge and the confidence to do something about them.”
"Working intensively for a full year with faculty and with students from more than 30 countries, I developed the skills and maturity required of a leader who needs to move a major global operation forward. When I returned to Ecopetrol after my year at MIT, I was a different person. My colleagues could see the change in me, and so could the company's senior leaders, which is why they assigned me to head this major initiative. Before my year as a Sloan Fellow, I would have been intimidated by the size of the challenge, but now I feel more than prepared to lead organizational change on a mega-scale and to motivate and mobilize the 450 team members involved in the transformation program."
"As soon as I arrived on campus, I found myself in a study group with fellows from the nations of Japan, Singapore, Georgia, and the United States. We were five people with very different backgrounds, experiences, religions, and languages. Working as a team to deliver a final paper I was stunned to find out just how many ways you could look at a problem. At first, I didn't know how it could work, but soon we were leveraging that diversity and turning it to our advantage. I came to think of the cohort as an amazing force. I don't know how you could replicate that kind of learning experience anywhere else."
"The MIT Sloan Fellows Program was one of the most profound experiences of my life. My wife feels the same way. She took classes at MIT during IAP and at Harvard's Extension School, and we were able to take advantage of MIT's excellent facilities and social and cultural activities. Informally, we visited labs together and met interesting people from Colombia and learned about their work. We forged strong bonds with the other fellows and their families. We found we were learning something new and exciting every day. That year invigorated us as individuals and as a couple. It was a year we will never forget."
"When you've been working for a long time, you begin to take your job for granted. The smallest things irritate you. I know that was the case for me. But taking a year away from my company gave me a renewed appreciation for it-and a flood of new inspirations. As a Sloan Fellow, I had the chance to rethink my role. I began to focus on the possibilities instead of any limitations I'd perceived. I found myself excited to get back on the job to put those fresh approaches and that new thinking to work."
"Of course academics are important, but they are not what drew me to the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. I came here to hit the refresh button, to get away from everything I knew, and spend a year exposed to new thinking. At MIT, I had the rare chance to work closely with people from countries and industries far outside my orbit. And I learned important lessons from their worlds that I never would have been exposed to otherwise. Some of my best friends from the program are different from me in every way, yet we have enduring bonds that will be lifelong. One of my most important discoveries as a fellow was that differences are not barriers, they are open windows."
"I had been in my job for several years and found myself surrounded by like-minded people. As the boss, people followed my lead, but never challenged me. I knew that at MIT, no one was going to accept my way of doing something just because I was the boss. Most of them were bosses, too. Instead, I continually had to consider-and sometimes adapt to-the views of others. It's healthy to have your ego pricked a little from time to time. By year's end, I was embracing a new mental model of openness, and it has opened up my life."
The most senior female officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Colonel Gan Siow Huang, SF '10, has helped to formulate defense policies as deputy director of the Defense Policy Office and has commanded the 203 Squadron and the Air Surveillance and Control Group. After rising through the ranks, she now leads the SAF's Joint Manpower Department.
"For a woman in a position of leadership, the MIT Sloan Fellows Program offers a potent combination of must-haves that a mid-career leader would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. For me, one of those benefits was working closely with the other women in the program, talented leaders from 20 different countries. Learning about their successes—and failures—moving up the ladder in different global environments and different industries was educational and inspiring. When other women don't recognize limitations, you learn not to recognize them either."
"There are other programs for global leaders, but the MIT Sloan Fellows Program is a distinctive combination of technological innovation and leadership. That formula is one that all global leaders need to be exposed to. I am in the military, but I wanted a program that gave me a fresh perspective from outside that realm. I wanted to be surrounded by people from different industries and mindsets. I wanted to feel the entrepreneurial buzz and bring that spirit of experimentation back to my own work environment. Every organization needs that energy to stay relevant."
"This program is an unusually effective integration of soft skills and hard knowledge. I learned the economics of information technology. I learned system dynamics and how complex organizations work. I learned how to negotiate contracts and navigate difficult situations. I learned how to use data to analyze trends and predict outcomes. I graduated several years ago, but I still look back at my class notes. I use that knowledge every single day in ways that I never could have predicted."
“The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is designed for those who already have a vision—they just need the tools and the support systems to make it happen.”
“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, and I miss it...a lot.”
“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.”
"In the upper spheres of management, you often hear people talking about the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, but until you are immersed in it, you can't know what it's really like. This program is an experience like no other. Yes, you learn the full spectrum of fundamentals-finance, accounting, marketing, leadership, innovation, systems thinking, leadership-but what sets this program apart are the intangibles. Learning how to relate to people from other cultures and disciplines. Testing bold ideas in a safe environment to determine what will work, what won't, and why. Pragmatic approaches to real life challenges. You eat, drink, and breathe the answers to all the questions you've been wondering about in your career up to this point."
"I found the most educational aspect of the program to be listening to and learning from my peers in the program-leaders in their own right from five continents and dozens of industries. They did not shy away from discussing their handicaps nor did they hesitate to share their success stories. I soon came to realize that this program brings the great talent of the world to you. After spending one year imbedded in a mini United Nations, your perspective definitely grows."
"This program is about interconnectivity. Interconnectivity to everything that MIT, Boston, and Cambridge have to offer-support services, laboratories, advanced research institutions. Influential leaders from all over the world come to MIT and to the universities nearby for candid talks. I found I could meet with a whole 'who's who' of innovators in my field. And New England itself is very rich in history, culture, museums, scenery, and people. My family fell in love with the area during my year as a fellow, and we come back whenever we can-to visit our friends and our favorite places in New England."
CEO, LIFT Philanthropy Partners
As CEO of 2010 Legacies Now, Bruce Dewar, MOT ’92, proved that regions hosting the Olympics and Paralympics could leverage those events as catalysts for creating broad, sustainable community benefits like athletics programs, arts initiatives, even healthcare and literacy programs. Now, in the wake of the 2010 Winter Games, Dewar has evolved 2010 Legacies Now into a still more advanced community-service model with a new enterprise called LIFT Philanthropy Partners.
CEO , Virtual Instruments
John W. Thompson is CEO of Virtual Instruments and chairman of Microsoft Corporation, where he has served on the board since 2012. During his decade as CEO of Symantec, Thompson helped transform the company into a leader in security, storage, and systems management solutions.
President and CEO, Amadeus North America, Inc.
Scott Gutz heads the North American operations of Amadeus, the leading provider of IT solutions to the global tourism and travel industry. Amadeus serves more than 195 countries and processes 3.7+ million travel bookings per day.
© 2016 MIT SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT