Mark Doughty, President of Thoughtforms Corporation, came to MIT Sloan looking for a way to stitch together a disparate set of pre-business school experiences that included West Point, UMass, professional cycling in Europe, a home renovation on an island in Maine, and fixing the baggage claim system in the Denver International Airport. According to Mark, “I arrived at MIT Sloan feeling a bit overwhelmed. My experiences seemed far more fragmented than those of my classmates. I had never even taken an accounting or economics class, but MIT Sloan connected the dots for me and transformed my fragmented experiences into a strong base for general management.”
MBA in hand, Mark applied the lessons learned at MIT Sloan and refined his strategic thinking for seven years as a consultant at Booz & Co. before joining Thoughtforms Corporation, the leading custom home builder in the Boston market. When Mark arrived at the company in 2005, it was experiencing rapid growth and receiving national accolades. Around this time, Thoughtforms became the only Boston-area builder to be named the Custom Home Builder of the Year by Custom Home Magazine. Since then, the company has evolved and innovated, staying at the top of the market while transitioning leadership to the second-generation management team. According to Mark, “A large factor in this success is that we weren’t distracted, we weren’t learning on the fly. We stayed focused on our clients and took care of them. Without the systems-thinking discipline of my MIT Sloan education and without confidence in our ability to meet all challenges, I don’t think we would have been as successful. We saw a number of long-time competitors slip into a reactive posture, get blindsided and go out of business.”
While the path to President of Thoughtforms was winding, Mark notes that it has ended up a logical home for him as an MIT Sloan alum.“MIT Sloan develops practical thought leaders, people who can actually transform their ideas into innovation and action. Thoughtforms reputation was built on successfully collaborating with clients and architects to transform their ideas into homes where families thrive.” Mark continues, “People want their builders to understand them, to care for them and to build well. Unfortunately, not every builder does understand, not every builder cares, and too few build well. We are obsessed with delivering quality: Quality of service, quality of construction, and quality of the experience of living in the home. Quality endures and evolves. It provides a consistent touchstone for families in a rapidly changing world. And to deliver this quality we need our clients to be well informed and well educated about the work. We want Thoughtforms homes to be so well conceived, so well crafted, and so well built that they will last – and should last because they are so energy efficient – for generations.
Because Thoughtforms sees high quality design and construction as inextricably linked with energy efficiency, resource conservation, and sustainability, Mark has prioritized keeping his sustainability skills sharp. To stay connected to the ongoing innovation at MIT Sloan, Mark decided to invest his time and to engage with two other MIT Sloan alumni Thoughtforms employees in running alumni events in collaboration with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. These events provide coaching to help participants build the skills they need to lead sustainability efforts in their companies, communities, and lives. As Mark put it, “These events connect smart people with diverse career and life experiences to have conversations that life doesn’t usually give us the time to have. All of us [at Thoughtforms] have gotten enormous benefits from having the time to really think about how we can each play a leadership role in our company and in our own lives.”