Educational background: MIT, Materials Science and Engineering
Current or most recent position: Boston Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis, VP of Scientific Operations
When I entered MIT's Leaders for Manufacturing Program in 1990, my main goal was to learn how to run a business in partnership with my husband (who went to MIT Sloan at the same time). We got our chance to apply what we learned soon after graduation, when we joined with two friends to found a software company called Midnight Networks.
Little did we realize exactly how much of our MIT Sloan experience we'd draw upon to build this new venture! As the one in charge of accounting, marketing and human resources, I was personally quite thankful for the curriculum's coverage of these specific areas. Joe Hadzima's legal class prepared us for considering our intellectual property options, and the negotiations class I took provided a framework for thinking about and executing business deals. Although MIT Sloan is recognized for its excellence in the more quantitative areas, my experience is that the school offers a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of management and turns out well-rounded graduates ready to tackle any situation. The same is true of the LFM program, which has strong coverage of operations but which has an overall goal of producing business leaders capable of addressing a broad range of issues.
But the benefits of going to MIT Sloan extended past the facts, concepts, and practical skills that we learned. The contacts we made while at MIT Sloan produced many long-lasting relationships, which benefited our company enormously. And the experience we gained in team-building, teamwork, and decision making also played a huge role in shaping our philosophies and practices and greatly enhanced our effectiveness as an organization.
I've recently switched careers and am now heading up the scientific side of a small nonprofit organization focused on curing Multiple Sclerosis. The Boston Cure Project for MS was founded by a MIT high-tech entrepreneur who was diagnosed in 2000, and his mission is to accelerate the pace of MS research and therapy development so that he and others can avoid the more terrible aspects of the disease. We are a small team of medical science “outsiders” trying to influence the medical research community (which like all communities tends to resist change!), and as we take on this task I am increasingly reminded of the LFM program's focus on “change agents” and the challenges they face. As an LFM student I was fortunate to be exposed to countless examples of people who were able to effect significant change inside and outside their organizations despite great obstacles. I now find myself looking back on those examples as a source of inspiration.