Stop. Refuel. Go.

The profiles of the MIT Sloan Fellows of 2018 have been posted here http://mitsloan.mit.edu/fellows/fellows-present-past/current/ and I decided to focus my reflection time today on my experiences here over the last two months.  Ten years into my career, I found myself well accomplished but yearning to make an even bigger contribution to the communities I am a part of. I needed to be refueled and I chose this twelve-month immersion MBA program for that.

Immediately at the start of the program, my ethos of working in a team was challenged. How often do I lead? Do I bring my authentic self to bear? More importantly, how quickly do I listen to, and support others? As cliché as team building activities sound – I can’t help but remember how much I tried to avoid these earlier on in my career – the team building activities during orientation week brought a new perspective to my life as a mid-career executive.

We are divided into two sections for classes. Friendly banter and pleasantries are exchanged between fellows in different sections during the fifteen minute breaks between classes. An Egyptian fellow calls me Dorina, and we have a hearty laugh about it in the hallway, others zoom past us in a rush to get coffee from the cafeteria. A few others from tropical regions like myself rush outside to get some sunshine. It feels somewhat like having cousins from all over the world!

One of my  “aha” moments in class was learning how strategic thinking is lacking in many organizations. The difference between tactical decisions and strategic thinking is blurry for many, and it seems like a nuisance when faced with the task of running an enterprise. Simply asking “When is that not true?” when thinking about a use case can prevent companies from going down a path that will turn out to be costly. The themes across the classes this summer were clearly related and we often wondered if there was some conspiracy theory in the way statistics made it in every single class! It became clear that this was indeed, a well thought out program.

Outside class, time is spent working through cases with a group of executives from around the world. I’d argue that most of the growing occurs here. Bringing together experiences from different parts of the world, different sectors and functional roles makes for a rich but often challenging experience…think trying to explain the rules of accounting and why they exist to a high performing engineer, while resisting the temptation to say “It just is that way!”. Then try to convince a highly sought after lawyer that word choice does not really matter in a strategy assignment? These are simple examples, of course, but the point is when were you last challenged to think outside the box?

One of my most memorable moments was engaging in a pow wow with a fellow from Brazil to dissect the opportunities in the agriculture sector. As is normal for us now, she went straight to the white board to draw the maps of Africa and Brazil so we could have visuals to aide our discussion. One looked like a broccoli, the other like a mushroom, in my opinion, but the ideas exchanged in that one hour solidified why I am here.

All in all, the past two months have been a complete plunge into understanding global leadership and innovation, and I can’t wait to see what the next ten bring. Every morning as I leave my graduate housing apartment to walk to campus, I say to myself “I am grateful to be here”. Then, I try to be as present as possible so as not to miss any opportunities to learn and connect through the twelve or so hours spent at the MIT Sloan School of Management each day.

I am pumped for this transformative journey!

 

 

 

 

Doreen Mashu

Dor is a Sloan Fellow from Zimbabwe. Prior to Sloan, she worked in the Transaction Advisory space in New York, Lagos and Abidjan. She is also a fellow at MIT's Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship this year.

8 Comments

  1. Diana Chiyangwa

    Great post! All the best with the rest of the year!

  2. “Every morning as I leave my graduate apartment to walk to campus, I say to myself ‘I am grateful to be here’ “. I’ll be adopting this with everything I do.

  3. Thanks for the inspiring post Dor!

  4. Wow Dor! You go for it my friend!

  5. Nozipho Sibanda

    Such an enlightening post Dor. You got this!

  6. Beatiful Dor!! You could have not described it better!! Your passion and your willigness to learn are gonna take you far my friend!!

  7. Thanks for the impressive post Dor! I’m out of words to say!!!

  8. Very well written, and all the best for the remainder period of time left to complete the studies.

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