Mirroring changes in both the global economy and the ways of business, MIT Sloan's latest crop of students are looking beyond investment banking, consulting, and other traditional MBA career paths. As they land on campus, the Class of 2009 is focusing on a diverse range of professional goals, from creating strategies to boost developing economies to helping revive the U.S. automobile industry.
“I guess I may be a little unusual in that I hope to return to a career field that is not very popular coming out of business school,” says Andrew Storm, a father of five who, before enrolling at MIT Sloan, worked on the factory floor and in management at General Motors' Pontiac plant in his home state of Michigan. “My dream is to help one of the domestic automakers regain global prominence and compete toe-to-toe with Toyota as the most efficient automobile manufacturer in the world.”
Storm was “drawn to the entrepreneurial spirit and energy that is found at MIT Sloan. Coming from the very traditional, mass production environment of Detroit, I had a strong desire to surround myself with students from across the globe who could broaden my perspective.”
Raised in Nigeria, incoming MBA student Chuka Ikokwu, 23, says he intends to use his MIT Sloan education to pursue “an unorthodox vocational path. My aspirations include helping the economic situation of developing countries via tackling corruption and applying creative strategies towards the disbursement of funds meant towards international aid. I intend to ensure that funds sent to third-world countries by organizations such as the UN and even Google are being put to the most efficient use in these countries.”
But whether pursuing such global goals or more traditional MBA careers, the incoming students are cognizant of the competition they face. “While working on my wireless start-up over the last two years, I became acutely aware that while I was capable of starting a company, I did not have the operational experience necessary to successfully run it through its many growth phases,” says Taariq Lewis, 33, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, but now calls New York home. “The room for error in business is shrinking, due to competition and the constantly changing landscape. I look forward to sharpening my skills with solid courses in accounting, finance, and operations management.”
With a significant number of them coming from abroad, MIT Sloan students are keenly aware of how global economic conditions might affect their plans. “The major economic issue that might affect my goals is the situation in Portugal, which is not evolving as expected and might slow down my business plans in the country,” says Hugo Bernardo, 30, of Lisbon, who completed business school in Portugal and has worked for Siemens Portugal. “Being at MIT Sloan will allow me to be in touch with one of the most dynamic economies of the world, where entrepreneurship plays a major role. In Portugal, entrepreneurship is still very weak.”
Not surprisingly, entrepreneurship is a common theme among incoming MBAs. But how and where they intend to apply it is less predictable. Chad Lovell, for example, sees “a very promising future in home automation and energy management at the consumer level.” The 27-year-old Dallas resident says he knew he had found his “new home” when he learned of MIT Sloan programs geared at teaching students “to continually innovate and to find new solutions to old problems. I have found that there is an entrepreneur inside of me dying to come out.”