MIT Sloan Executive Education offers new multilingual program

First-of-its-kind Global Executive Academy debuts with “United Nations-style” simulcast translation for international leaders

December 18, 2013

Attendees participate in Executive Education’s new program

Attendees participate in Executive Education’s new program

A new program for foreign executives at MIT Sloan launched last week, allowing participants to learn management skills in their native languages and network with leaders from across the globe.

Over 30 executives from around the world participated in the first Global Executive Academy program at MIT Sloan from December 9 through December 12. With the help of more than 20 translators, the program was conducted simultaneously in English, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

“Many non-English-speaking executives and managers throughout the world do not have access to top business school education programs,” said Peter Hirst, executive director of MIT Sloan Executive Education. Hirst explains that even programs that are held in other countries are often conducted in English. Here, the program was offered in students’ native languages, and participants were also able to meet and network with other executives from around the world.

Instructors spoke English, and participants wore wireless headsets to listen to the translations. Discussion groups were organized by language and class-wide discussions were translated in a two-stage process; interpreters translated what was said into English and then into other languages.

MIT Sloan combined a variety of offerings from its executive education portfolio to produce the four-day program. Sessions covered critical management topics including driving innovation, managing technical professionals, strategic marketing, and developing high-performing organizations. Upon completion, participants received an MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership.

The program was aimed primarily at senior executives and high-potential managers, in both technical and general management positions, who might not otherwise be able to attend a top-tier executive education program due to language barriers.

“We believe we can deliver world-class executive education to leaders from around the globe while removing the requirement to be a sophisticated English speaker,” said Hirst.

Although the program could have been designed as a series of bilingual sessions offered in separate countries, there is more to be gained in a global academy approach. “It was truly remarkable to have so many international business leaders speaking comfortably in their native languages in the same room, collaborating and learning together.” said Hirst.