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MIT Executive MBA

How the MIT Executive MBA sparked a new inflection point

By Ian Colle, EMBA ‘17  

In 2014, I was the Global Director of Software Engineering for Red Hat’s storage software team. I was wondering what to do next in my career, as one day I realized I didn’t want my boss’s job, or even his boss’ job, and that seemed to be the track I was on. I contemplated joining another start-up, but one question really puzzled me: how do you evaluate the likelihood of a startup’s success?  

Ian Colle, EMBA '17

I’d never been a founder, but I’d been on the ground floor as an initial hire with three different companies, each of which had wildly different outcomes. While all had talented individuals, one floundered, another had a middling exit, and the other was very successful. The more I pondered this question, I realized that the entirety of my career had been spent coming up through the engineering ranks (from software developer to tech lead to manager to director), and I had no idea what happened over on the business side with things like finance, marketing, and business development.  

 As I considered how to address this lack of insight into these areas of business, I contemplated getting an MBA. While researching various programs, I was struck by the MIT Executive MBA’s curriculum and the opportunity to engage with some of the brightest minds in the world across campus.  

I was drawn to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Martin Trust Center and the innovation of the Media Lab. The two-year curriculum—a mix of 26 weekends and four week-long modules—covered the exact same classes, but was built for executives, and that’s what I was—an executive.  

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to attend, and from the very first time I met my classmates it was clear that I was among some of the smartest people I’d ever met from a wide swath of industries. My classmates were from Mexico, Dubai, Portugal, Germany, Canada, Moldova, and Kazakhstan to name a few.  There were MDs, PhDs, entrepreneurs, and others that spoke at least four languages. It was an amazing cohort that taught me new ways of thinking and collaboration, which I found to be as valuable as the curriculum taught by MIT Sloan faculty.  

Shortly after my graduation in June 2017, I was contacted by a recruiter from Amazon Web Services (AWS). The recruiter made it clear that while my technical leadership experience was impressive, what set me apart from other candidates was the MIT MBA.  

They were looking for a leader to establish a new line of business—including strategy, product, engineering, business development, and marketing. This business would develop the hardware and software infrastructure needed to support the most demanding high performance computing workloads in the world.  

I joined AWS in November 2017. Since then, I established and grew the business over the past six years to be a multi-billion-dollar business, with multiple services across the globe. I directly attribute my success to the tools I learned in my classes at MIT and in my study sessions and group projects with my classmates. I will carry the lessons I learned from my 20 months wherever my career trajectory takes me next.   

For more info Tom Little Marketing Coordinator, Executive Degree Programs