Action Learning

How does it work in practice?

In today's fast-moving world, leaders need to know how things get done. “Learning by doing” is fundamental to the MIT Sloan experience. In our Proseminar courses, students roll up their sleeves and apply what they’ve learned through rigorous coursework to our partner organizations’ most pressing real-world challenges. Then, through structured reflection, they deeply reinforce the essentials of leadership and understanding that are best produced by applying knowledge to action.

Every MFin student is required to take at least one Action Learning course from the available two Proseminars or the Finance Research PracticumSM.

Developing Leaders of Finance

MIT’s motto, "Mens et Manus," or "Mind and Hand," fuels our curriculum and underlies the Action Learning opportunities you’ll find in the MFin program. We produce leaders with the rich mastery of both theory and practice that's needed in today's fast-changing world of finance.

To truly reinforce developing knowledge, students at MIT Sloan are afforded exceptional opportunities to actively exercise their skills and apply classroom learning by tackling real-world challenges. Our long tradition of merging theory with practice is the competitive advantage upon which MIT was built, and it is the very foundation upon which it continues to grow. We are the leader among top-tier business schools in Action Learning.

Proseminars

The two Proseminars available to MFin students are in either Corporate Finance/Investment Banking or Capital Markets/Investment Management. Proseminars offer students an outstanding opportunity to work with leading industry practitioners on authentic industry problems. The two proseminars for MFin students help students bridge the gap between theory and practice and introduce them to the broader financial community.

In Proseminars, problems are presented to the class by leading experts from the financial community. Based on individual self-assessments and each individual’s past experience, students are carefully divided into teams of four to six people, and each team is assigned a problem. The teams have about three weeks to work through to a solution, with the help of faculty and the sponsoring industry leader. The team's solution is then presented to the sponsoring speaker for evaluation and feedback, and later at a seminar, which is open to the entire MIT community.

Beyond working on real-world problems, Proseminars simulate real-world conditions. Time is limited, and the deadline is tight. Students also need to deal with their other classes and responsibilities.

Finance Research PracticumSM

The Finance Research PracticumSM offers students an opportunity to work on projects proposed by companies. These projects are real business problems of the sponsor companies, and students apply their new skills from the classroom in a business setting. In the Finance Research PracticumSM, teams of approximately three students work full-time on a project for the entire month of January. Student teams work on-site at the host company, and at the end of the project conduct a final presentation. 

Mens et Manus

MIT’s guiding principle is its motto, "Mens et Manus," or "Mind and Hand." In addition to fulfilling the MIT philosophy of translating innovation to purpose in the world, hands-on learning synthesizes what you know with what you will need to know to make a more powerful impact in your chosen career.

Action Learning is an integral component of every student’s experience at MIT Sloan. It is a unique process in which students constantly refine their learning through an ongoing, iterative sequence of theory, practice, and reflection. The integration of learning through classroom theory and real-world practice is a part of MIT Sloan’s DNA — “learning by doing” is how we approach education.

 

G-LAB: INTERGRUPO, COLOMBIA Growing a business by cultivating relationships

"The relationships that we forged helped us to turn out a better project. We were able to test our hypotheses with the people that we spoke with every single day. And really, I think the friendships that you develop really propel the work that you’re doing."

Ramy Hakim
MBA
COURAGE AND STRENGTH Supporting a student with breast cancer
"The Sloan community really rallied around me in a way that I totally didn’t anticipate. … It was just really nice to be a part of a community that I was totally comfortable in and felt completely supported by."
Kyle Maner
MBA
G-LAB: NAM MEE BOOKS, THAILAND Helping a book publisher mature

“It was really rewarding that they wanted to know what we thought. We left there being fairly certain that they will do some of the things that we suggested.”

Lia Cavalcante
MBA
CENTER FOR INFORMATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH Bringing people and machines together

“The concept behind enterprise architecture is that you have all these machines, you have all these business processes, you have all these people doing things, how do you make sure they all come together and achieve business objectives that make you more competitive.”

Jeanne W. Ross
Director and Principal Research Scientist, CISR
RETAIL AND CONSUMER GOODS Luxury beauty and the multicultural consumer
"The goal of the Retail and Consumer Goods Club is to provide networking opportunities for students at MIT Sloan, and to educate students about different functions within the retail and CPG space. We bring in executive-level speakers to educate our community on this topic."
Nga Phan
MBA, co-president of Retail and Consumer Goods Club
INSTITUTE FOR WORK AND EMPLOYMENT RESEARCH Adapting to the changing nature of work

“We’re very interdisciplinary. Among the faculty in the group are an economist, a political scientist, a sociologist, and an industrial relations specialist. We’ve always made a big effort to be open to a variety of perspectives, but also to go beyond being open to them, to want to bring them in, because it makes for a richer environment.”

Thomas Kochan
Co-director, IWER
INDIA LAB: EDUCATIONAL ENHANCEMENT Creating employable workers to boost the economy

“I knew about American business, but not enough about what’s really become a global economy. … You can read about it all you want, but there’s no substitute for being there and seeing the context and seeing how completely different these [other countries] are.”

Ted Chan
MBA
S-LAB: JAKARTA WATERSHED Combating a clean water crisis

“You could talk about watershed management and conservation of energy all you want. But until you put numbers to it and financial analysis to it, you’re not going to get much done. I came to business school to speak that language, speak with people in terms of numbers, financial numbers so that I can get projects done.”

Ian Lavery
MBA
MSTIR MIT Sloan Teaching Innovations Resources
"It’s always been a competitive advantage of MIT Sloan that faculty research gets into the classroom very, very quickly. That’s one of the things I personally enjoy about teaching here, students have the appetite and the capability for it. The cases are current and relevant to the issues that are top of mind."
John D. Sterman
Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management
SWITZER FELLOWSHIP WINNER JASON JAY Focusing on environmental research and leadership

 “I love being in a place that is such a nexus of people and ideas — people coming to learn something new and to define themselves. Being a part of that process is a real honor and a real gift.”

Jason Jay
Lecturer, Sustainability, MIT Sloan
G-LAB: WARMBATHS HOSPITAL, SOUTH AFRICA Improving staffing at a maternity ward

“I can honestly say that when I was planning on coming to business school I never thought that witnessing the birth of a child would be included in the education. It was definitely an experience.”

Kelsey McCarty
MBA
G-LAB, KUALA LUMPUR Assessing the future of the Smart Card
"You have to manage what you can deliver for the company and what the company is expecting. The bottom line is that the CEOs of those companies want results. Even though we have to work five months in a row with the project, we have to deliver. This experience is more pragmatic than academic. It's a good opportunity to match those two worlds."
Camilo Syllos
MBA
$100K 2010 WINNERS: C-CRETE TECHNOLOGIES Reducing the environmental impact of concrete

“One of the reasons I came to Sloan was because I wanted to be at a top MBA institution worldwide. But I also wanted access to working with the latest innovations and the highest technology that was coming out of the MIT labs.”

Natanel Barookhian
MBA
LEADERS FOR GLOBAL OPERATIONS Connecting management and technology
“[LGO students] get the advantage of a small cohort that they take many courses with. But they’re also part of the larger community. They’re part of MIT, of MIT Sloan, of the MBA program. They’re part of the core program that meets every fall, they’re part of the engineering committee; they get the benefits of both the larger community and the small cohort.”
Don Rosenfield
Senior lecturer and director of the Leaders for Global Operations
MFIN STUDENT TAKE Collective Brainpower

"The classroom itself is filled with so much collective brain power . . . it's obvious that I'm caught up in a room full of 124 of the brightest, most curious people from around the world."

Tiffany Wetherell
MFin
SLOAN FELLOW Merging disciplines for climate change
"I needed to get a better understanding of the interaction of management and technology. And I think MIT is an obvious place for that. There’s probably no better place in the world [for learning] how technology and management interact."
Pascal Marmier
SF
G-LAB: MERCY CORPS, INDONESIA Using business principles to address malnutrition

“The conditions in the neighborhoods we were visiting were different than what we realized before getting there. Beyond that, what was surprising was that there weren’t surprises!”

Libby Putman
MBA
MIT LEADERSHIP CENTER Changing views of leadership

“Our mission, along with the mission of MIT Sloan, is to both develop leaders who make a difference in the world, and also to make a contribution to thinking about the topic of leadership.”

Deborah Ancona
Faculty Director, MIT Leadership Center
G-LAB: AIDS IN TANZANIA Striving for economic empowerment

“Because of the diversity of our backgrounds, when we hit the ground in Tanzania it almost was a natural play where different people assume different roles.”

Krishna Venugopalan
SF
INDIA LAB: BANGALORE Working toward market expansion

“[The India Lab] program is one of the reasons I came to Sloan. ... The hands-on learning that MIT offers was a huge differentiator.”

Katie Baron
MBA
SLOAN FELLOW Getting serious about going global
"This year we were so fortunate to have 26 nationalities. So it was amazing exposure. I feel much more well rounded as a global business maker than I was before."
Abner Oliviera
SF
G-LAB: PRIVATE HEALTH CARE IN AFRICA Defining growth at a for-profit clinic

“At MIT Sloan you have a lot of opportunities to explore entrepreneurship. Especially in a place like Kampala where you have a lot of development, entrepreneurship can be very exciting.”

Anne Reilly
MBA
G-LAB, RAS RESORT, INDIA Marketing in Mumbai
"The network of alumni was helpful because our team had a lot of experience in consulting, but not in private equity."
Gerardo Guzman
MBA

"The demand that we’re trying to fill is for specialized people, professionals in the financial industry, ranging from managers, traders of hedge funds, and risk managers at major financial institutions."

- Jiang Wang
Mizuho Financial Group Professor