Landmark MIT program gets new name for new economic times

MIT Leaders for Global Operations launched with broadened scope


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 3, 2009 — Two decades after its creation as a landmark initiative at the intersection of engineering and management, the MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program has a new name and a broadened approach for preparing industry leaders to meet new challenges of the global economy.

Formerly known as MIT Leaders for Manufacturing, the new title reflects “how our understanding of manufacturing has broadened to include all aspects of operations across the entire supply chain,” said David Simchi-Levi, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems and LGO’s faculty co-director from MIT’s School of Engineering “We believe that this focus on operations is critical to helping struggling companies in this tough economy.” LGO defines operations as the delivery of goods and services, from concept through development, production, distribution and recycling.

LGO remains a two-year graduate program that awards an MBA or a Master of Science from MIT Sloan School of Management and a Master of Science from MIT School of Engineering. The program continues to partner with a wide range of global companies, from Boeing and Raytheon to Dell and Amazon.

“When LFM began in 1988, the view was that we had to become really good at manufacturing to have a high standard of living,” said LGO Program Director Donald Rosenfield. “That’s still true, but we must also be good at adjacent areas, such as operations and supply chain that are key parts of the economy. To be successful in manufacturing, it is essential that we understand operations in other areas.”

LGO will retain its unique interdisciplinary approach, said LGO Faculty Co-Director Thomas Allen, MIT Sloan Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management, Emeritus, and Professor of Engineering Systems, Emeritus. “MIT Sloan and the MIT School of Engineering work closely together on LGO research and curriculum to ensure that the program blends lessons from both engineering and management,” he said. “Building on the work of LFM, LGO will continue to generate new research, educating leaders who can help operations-oriented companies thrive in global markets.”

In addition to taking courses that examine globalization and emphasize a teamwork approach, LGO students hold six-month internships at partner companies, where they address significant interdisciplinary business challenges. They also observe operations in field trips to plants in the United States and abroad.

“LGO endeavors to tear down the walls between engineering and management, combine a world-class education with real-world experience, and teach crucially important leadership skills,” said Tim Vasil, who enters the program after earning a BA from Harvard in computer science and working for a software company. “I look forward to studying distributed computing in depth while improving my leadership skills, so I can help steer a successful business strategy that’s informed by deep technical understanding.”

Vasil and the nearly 50 other students who annually participate in LGO are increasingly diverse in terms of not only personal backgrounds, but industry, Rosenfield said. “LGO is now addressing operations challenges beyond traditional manufacturing sectors, such as the automotive, aerospace, and high tech manufacturing arenas, to include adjacent industries represented by supply chain retailers including and Inditex, S.A. (Zara), and newer industries such as biotechnology,” he said.

LGO will remain based within MIT Engineering Systems Division, an interdisciplinary academic unit that spans most departments within the School of Engineering and all five MIT schools.

“We believe that operations is a core element of national competitiveness and is also the basis for advancement in developing countries,” said Rosenfield. “Our new name reflects that importance and the challenges that come with it.”

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