Three partners share their thoughts on the MIT Sloan
- Vongai Shoko, Zimbabwe, wife of Kombo Shoko, SF ’10
- Alp Buluc, Turkey, husband of Elif Buluc, SF ’08
- Karin Peier, Spain, wife of Jonathan Hayes, SF ’09
Shoko: “The involvement of the partners was a big factor for us in making the decision that Kombo would enter the program. I don’t know of any other graduate program in which the partners of the students are so deeply involved. Our family was changed by the experience. The MIT Sloan Fellows Program was a turning point in our life as a family.”
Buluc: “Be sure to visit during orientation week in April, a couple of months before the program starts. I didn’t know anything about Boston before my wife was accepted, but at orientation I received lots of information from outgoing fellows and partners. We resolved so many of the unknowns and felt confident about what we could expect from the year ahead. It changed our feelings of security about making the big move from Turkey.”
Peier: “I had been on the fence about whether I should leave my good job in Barcelona and come to the program with Jonathan. I decided I would make the decision after going with him to MIT for the orientation in April. When I saw the partners’ presentation of their experiences, I thought, ‘This is the best place on earth. Why not take the challenge?’ And even though I gave up my job, I have no regrets. I have plenty of ideas for the future.”
Tap your opportunities.
Shoko: “I would encourage all partners to sign up for the MIT course, Choice Points, which is open to fellows and partners. There are even sessions when children are invited to participate, which they find very exciting. When I finished the course, the direct reports I supervise in my job as a health care operations manager said I had changed. I could feel the change in myself, too, as a person, as a parent, and as a partner. My husband took the course as well, and it has really helped us to see each other’s perspectives.”
Peier: “In Barcelona, I was an educator and was really reluctant to give up my job. Once we moved to Cambridge, though, my world opened up. Boston is the kind of place where you meet a Nobel Laureate on the subway. I volunteered in the schools, went to the library at Harvard almost every day, and deeply studied the history of Montessori. With my library membership, I was able to go to all kinds of seminars and conferences. I even had a chance to see the Dalai Lama at MIT. I learned so much during that Sloan Fellows year. Now, I am thinking about opening a Montessori school here in Spain.”
Buluc: “I was an accountant for a nonprofit and working on my PhD in organizational behavior. I decided to take a year off from my job and suspend my studies. It turned out to be pivotal to my career. In Cambridge, I talked with professors in my area, attended presentations and symposiums, and took a course at Harvard on managing a nonprofit organization. I even met many Turkish students and strengthened my home network. Our Sloan Fellows year gave me the chance to develop and expand my view of myself, my career, and my possibilities.”
Include your children.
Shoko: “The kids felt they were actually part of their dad’s learning experience, and they came to appreciate that people work hard to get to a better place in their lives. My daughter was so full of pride. She wants to study at MIT when she grows up.”
Peier: “I couldn’t believe the diversity and number of cultural programs for kids at MIT and in Cambridge and Boston. My son made many friends and educated me about everything he learned on other cultures. And even though he had plenty of Spanish-speaking friends, he learned to speak English very well.”
Buluc: “Every day, there was something to do with the other partners—the Children’s Museum, for example, and the Museum of Science. It was a huge opportunity for my kids, and they absorbed it all. Now that we’re back at home, I can see how they benefited from that year in so many ways.”
Plan for transformation.
Buluc: “The year we spent in Cambridge was like a rebirth for me. Partners can use this year to get off the moving sidewalk they’re on, plan the next phase of their lives, and begin living it.”
Shoko: “My Sloan Fellows year helped me recognize capabilities I didn’t know I had. I became more comfortable addressing challenges and making hard decisions. I even grew to be confident talking in front of a group—a day I never thought I would see. And I made lifelong friendships—we all did.”
Peier: “The first thing to do when you come to town is to join the Sloan Fellows partners group. You are all in the same boat. Our partners group got together once a week—at least—and before long, I had seven or eight really good friends. I’ve been in higher education for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like the support system that partners have here in the Sloan Fellows Program.”
The Sloan Fellows Program is a landmark year for the partners, too, and boy do they make the most of it. Throughout the year, the opportunities for personal and professional growth are abundant.Mary Marshall Assistant Director
MIT Sloan Fellows Program