Over 2,300 Sloanies gathered in Cambridge during Memorial Day weekend to celebrate their class years at MIT Sloan Reunion 2022—the first in-person Reunion meeting since 2019 and one of the largest Reunion events in the school’s history.
Reunion festivities commenced midday on Thursday, May 26, with back-to-back sessions sponsored by the MIT Sloan Career Development Office (CDO). In “Advance Your Career with Thought Leadership,” Michael DiBenigno, MBA ’15, Jess Begen Galacia, MBA ’16, and Rachel Stevens, MBA ’15, discussed their personal stories of leveraging thought leadership in different mediums and career trajectories to advance themselves and their firms.
In “Reinvigorate Your Career Journey,” Gayle Grader (Director, Executive Career Development) and Shauna LaFauci Barry (Associate Director, Alumni Engagement and Strategy) outlined the CDO’s revamped Alumni Coaching Model, offered options and tips for pursuing a career pivot, and introduced guest speaker and recent graduate Naji Gehchan, EMBA ’22.
“I’m standing here in front of leaders and thinkers who actually can do something, and I know you all are doing things to make the world a better place,” said Gehchan, head of global clinical development in oncology at Eli Lilly and Company and host of the Spread Love in Organizations podcast. “Even before talking about the world, think about the small impacts you can have on your teams and how you will change their worlds. Think about the impact you will have in those small worlds and the ripple effects that will have on the world.”
Faculty members also presented on Thursday, including Remote, Inc. co-author Robert Pozen (Senior Lecturer, Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management), who discussed strategies for successfully implementing hybrid work with moderator Ben Shields (Senior Lecturer, Managerial Communication) in “How to Succeed in a Hybrid Workplace.”
In “Responsible Artificial Intelligence,” Manish Raghavan, whose joint appointment at MIT Sloan and the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing begins this fall, surveyed academia’s and industry’s emerging focus on ethically responsible applications for artificial intelligence.
Building a more inclusive MIT Sloan
On Friday, Bryan Thomas Jr. (Associate Dean, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) introduced attendees of “How We’re Building a More Inclusive Organization” to the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and the significant, ongoing changes MIT Sloan is working to implement.
“Systemic problems require systemic solutions,” Thomas explained while reviewing his ongoing collaboration with Fiona Murray (Associate Dean of Innovation and Inclusion; William Porter (1967) Professor of Entrepreneurship; Co-Director, MIT Innovation Initiative), Ray Reagans (Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Management), and the members of the DEI office. By helping to catalyze such an initiative, Thomas noted that “people [will] support what they help create.”
The focus on DEI continued with “Integrating Impact Within the Journey,” in which panelists Carla F. Avila, MBA ’97, Gabrielle A. Haddad, SF ’17, and Jaclyn Selby, EMBA ’21, and moderator Malia Lazu (Lecturer, Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management) discussed their experiences as women founders in the MIT Sloan community.
“Mentorship goes a long way,” said Selby. “The onus is on all of us to help each other. And it might not be a quick path, but I think long term it’s a more sustainable path to bringing a great community together.” Haddad agreed, adding that “where I think change is going to happen is grassroots,” or more localized settings where women and their allies can “[raise] the awareness of what’s actually happening.”
Additional sessions included “Lifelong Mentorship” with Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) alumni Jason Trujillo, LGO ’07, Sally Smith, LGO ’12, Nima Subramanian, LGO ’07, and Eric Soederberg, LGO ’92; “Deepfakes, Deception, and Disinformation” with cybersecurity expert Shuman Ghosemajumder, MBA ’02; and “Ideas Made to Matter,” TED Talk-style presentations introduced by Stephanie Tan, MBA ’98, and emceed by Barry Stein, EMBA ’17.
Forging many paths ahead
Saturday brought alumni together for a whirlwind of faculty talks, fireside chats, and enthusiastic celebrations on campus and in Kendall Square.
Many walked across Main Street to the Boston Marriot Cambridge, where Namrata Kala (W. Maurice Young (1961) Career Development Professor of Management; Assistant Professor, Applied Economics), Roberto Fernandez (William F. Pounds Professor in Management; Professor, Work and Organization Studies), Antoinette Schoar (Stewart C. Myers-Horn Family Professor of Finance), and Vivek Farias (Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor, Operations Management) presented on various aspects of their ongoing research projects.
“MIT Sloan is special. I don’t know of any other business school in the world where faculty are encouraged to go work on cancer research,” said Farias, who explained in detail how he was able to translate his work in developing new methodologies for large-scale dynamic optimization into cancer research. The work, which is ongoing, involves an interdisciplinary team of researchers at MIT Sloan, the Koch Institute, Harvard Medical School, and other organizations.
As the day approached its conclusion, a series of final plenaries took place in Wong Auditorium ahead of the traditional Consumption Function (C-Function) in Building E62. First, John C Head III Dean David Schmittlein hosted Heidi Zak, MBA ’07, CEO and co-founder of ThirdLove, for a fireside chat.
“Over the past five years, a lot more women have started investing in women-founded businesses, and it’s incredibly important for every single woman here today—and in the world—that they invest both their time and their money in things they’re passionate about,” said Zak. “Because that’s how we will change the dynamic that exists today.”
Dean Schmittlein followed the fireside chat with his annual “State of the School” address,” during which he surveyed the latest happenings at MIT Sloan and the Institute. “We sometimes don’t take as much time as we should to celebrate the many positive changes across campus at MIT,” he said. “So, I just want to celebrate what is happening at MIT and what is happening with the MIT Sloan School’s engagement with that activity.”
After the Beaver Tank, a rapid-fire series of alumni presentations emceed by Jenny Larios Berlin, MCP ’14, MBA ’15, (Entrepreneur in Residence; Lecturer) and Bar Pereg, MBA ’17, and hosted by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, the crowd in Wong Auditorium joined the rest of the attending MIT Sloan alumni community in E62 for C-Function.
“I’m grateful,” Dean Schmittlein concluded, “that you care enough about MIT Sloan to come to Reunion to be with each other.”
Visit the recap website to see more selected highlights from MIT Sloan Reunion 2022.