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Ideas Made to Matter

Competitive Strategy

These new courses feature emerging topics for enterprise business

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New additions to the MIT Sloan course list are often a barometer of what innovative business leaders will soon be confronting in their organizations.

From global strategy and multi-asset investing to entrepreneurship and mobility ventures, here are seven new courses MIT Sloan faculty are teaching this academic year — and why those topics matter to business leaders.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as Principled, Innovative Leadership  

Recent events have forced organizations to acknowledge the unequal access to wealth, power, and influence in the world. The new course Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as Principled, Innovative Leadership examines how leaders must focus on innovation that serves everyone, not just stakeholder interests.

“The drive for increased diversity, equity, and inclusion provides an ideal setting to identify and tackle the challenges of being a principled, innovative leader who improves the world,” according to the course description.

The course leaders are MIT Sloan associate dean MIT Sloan professor Fiona Murray, MIT Sloan associate dean for innovation and inclusion; MIT Sloan senior lecturer and Bryan Thomas, MIT Sloan assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Global Strategy and Markets

Executives have to navigate a politically and technologically dynamic environment to keep global companies competitive. Many countries are starting to focus more on deglobalization, and companies have to understand their own business models as well as the nuances of the countries in which they operate. For example, Uber faces particular challenges in Europe, Chinese companies TikTok and Huawei have faced bans in the U.S., and India has cracked down on Chinese companies. Understanding the differences between national markets is more important than ever.

Global Strategy and Markets will explain the evolving relationships between global strategy, national politics, institutional variation, and organization, according to the course description from MIT senior lecturer

Students will learn how to manage in uncertain times through deeper knowledge of the role political economy plays in markets and societies. Specifically, the course will help students develop analytical frameworks to evaluate opportunities and risks of cross-border expansion, and design and implement market and nonmarket strategies to take action while minimizing risk.

Hands-on Deep Learning

Deep learning, a type of machine learning that uses many layers of neural networks, is fueling many notable uses of artificial intelligence today, such as automated vehicles, facial recognition, and chatbots.

“Deep learning is considered by many to be a general-purpose technology — like electricity and the internet — whose impact will be pervasive and profound, and it is well on its way to revolutionizing many fields,” according to MIT Sloan faculty and the instructors for Hands-on Deep Learning.

The class focuses on the fundamentals of deep learning, from setting up and training neural networks to writing Python programs for deep learning models, according to the course description.

The course will also look at how deep learning is being used and how it can create smarter products and services and more efficient business processes.

How Institutional Investment Officers Approach Multi-Asset Investing

Under the guidance of chief investment officers, the leading 500 global asset managers currently manage more than an estimated $110 trillion in assets. Yet unlike investors frequently in the headlines, CIOs for these organizations are extremely discreet, which means insight into their investment methodologies is hard to come by.

Finance lecturerseeks to open a window into that world in his new course. Ahimaz brings insights from his 30 years of investing globally for some of the world’s leading financial institutions, most recently as chief investment officer for the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The course explores the broad array of assets under consideration in today’s sophisticated investment environment, including hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, real estate, and real assets, as well as classic long-only equity or credit, according to the course description. Ahimaz will explore both the investment theory and analytics necessary for successful investing within each asset class as well as across all asset classes combined.  

Mobility Ventures: Driving Innovation in Transportation Systems

It’s been a significant 18 months for transportation systems: People bought used cars to flee their lockdown living arrangements, public transit systems lost billions of dollars thanks to plummeting ridership, and Amazon announced an international expansion of its robot delivery testing.

And those are just a few examples of the myriad opportunities, challenges, and breakthroughs in the transportation space. Mobility Ventures: Driving Innovation in Transportation Systems, will look at related topics, along with an exploration of the “technological, behavioral, policy, and systems-wide frameworks for innovation in transportation systems,” according to the course description.

Complementary case studies will also cover examples of innovation like self-driving cars and urban air mobility.

The course will be taught by Jinhua Zhao, director of the MIT Mobility Initiative; John Moavenzadeh, the executive director of the initiative;managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship; and Trust Center entrepreneur-in-residence Will Sanchez.

Overcoming Obstacles to Entrepreneurial Success 

Ali Webb drove her own mobile blow dry van before founding salon chain Drybar in 2010, and even then she worked behind the front desk and cleaned bathrooms. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams had to destroy $2.5 million of product in 2015 when owner and founder Jeni Britton Bauer learned listeria had been found in some of the pints.

Smooth sailing is not guaranteed in the entrepreneurial space, but Overcoming Obstacles to Entrepreneurial Success might help inexperienced founders prepare for the challenges ahead.

The course, taught by founder and chairman of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, and MIT Sloan senior lecturer “focuses on identifying, understanding, and coping with major problems that arise from the founding of a new enterprise through its early and later growth stages on the pathway to entrepreneurial success,” according to the description.

Public Versus Private Capital Markets

MIT Sloan lecturer Piero Novelli, SM ’93, mines his decades of experience as an executive at Swiss multinational investment bank UBS to explore the merits and tradeoffs of public versus private capital markets, which have witnessed tremendous growth over the last decade. Novelli left UBS this year to become chairman of the supervisory board of Euronext, the pan-European stock exchange.

The course will cover the pros and cons of company status (private versus public) from a corporate governance standpoint and address specific phenomena affecting public companies, such as shareholder activism and passive investing.

Students will analyze and discuss a case study of one company’s journey from being independent to being a division of a diversified conglomerate to being spun off as a standalone company to being the target of a friendly, public-to-private leveraged buyout — which was ultimately, and unexpectedly, trumped by a hostile takeover.

For more info Meredith Somers News Writer (617) 715-4216

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