On June 3, members of the MIT Sloan Fellows Class of 2011 entered Killian Court as students and departed as alumni, the newest group to be inducted into the Society of Sloan Fellows. Afterwards, the program office staff welcomed members of the class, their family, and friends to the MIT Faculty Club for a farewell luncheon.
In March, MIT Sloan Fellows headed west to explore how the power of innovation drives individuals and organizations to create value and improve the world. While in northern California, fellows exchanged perspectives with innovators at companies in the city and across Silicon Valley, including Bill Sullivan (President and CEO) of Agilent Technologies; John Donahoe (President and CEO) of eBay; James Davis (President) of Chevron Energy Solutions; Gaurav Dhillon (Chairman and CEO) of Snaplogic; Joy Weiss (CEO) of Dust Networks; Robert Trahan (Director of Engineering) of Facebook; Nick Cravalho (Vice President) of Innovalight; Tim Brown (CEO) of IDEO; and Adam Richardson (Strategy Director) of Frog Design. After tightly-packed days, fellows spent their free time in lively discussions aboard catamarans gliding over San Francisco Bay and in small group and cohort-wide dinners in the City by the Bay.
April orientation was a resounding success, with 85% of the incoming class attending. The entire SF ’11 community infused extraordinary enthusiasm into the week and the result of their effort was a very well prepared and motivated class of SF ’12. The week concluded with a gala celebratory dinner overlooking the city and the harbor. Among the many memorable moments of the evening was an inspiring description of fellowship read by two members of SF ’11. The Class of 2011 then passed the fellowship cup symbolizing the MIT Sloan Fellows’ legacy to SF ’12, and a new tradition was formed. The evening closed with guests on their feet rocking to the sounds of the SF ’11 band Muddy Wine.
The SF ’11 class year culminated in an international trip to Malaysia and Vietnam, where fellows had the opportunity to tap their yearlong classroom experience during visits to business and government leaders.
Highlights of the trip to Malaysia included meetings with the governor of Bank Negara (the Central Bank of Malaysia), executives from Khazanah and Petronas, and an inspiring session with Minister YB Dato Sri Idris Jala, CEO of the performance management and delivery unit of the Malaysian government. While in Kuala Lumpur, the program hosted an MIT alumni networking event at the Petroleum Club in the Petronas Twin Towers. The week spent in Vietnam included a number of sit-downs with entrepreneurs in Ho Chi Minh City, visits to multinational corporations like Intel, and several days in Hanoi, which included a plant tour and session with Piaggio Vietnam CEO Costa Sambuy, SF ’06. The trip also provided valuable opportunities for members of the class to reinforce their bonds with one another. This was especially true of the final celebration at the historic Temple of Literature in Hanoi. Founded in 1070, the temple is the site of Vietnam’s first university.
In early June, the 102 MIT Sloan Fellows in the Class of 2012 arrived on campus ready to tackle challenges, and they have yet to slacken their pace. The 19 women and 83 men representing 26 countries and 25 industry sectors invested 12 weeks of intense effort in the classroom-matched by at least an equal share of extracurricular events and activities. In fact, we’ve never seen such a group of fellows so intent on spending time together outside the classroom.
They’ve learned to sail on the Charles River, formed the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group, the NGO Perspectives Group, and the Sloan Fellows Women’s discussion group and, at the close of the summer session, created one of the most spectacular "survival” celebrations we have ever experienced.
One of the highlights of the summer was a special opportunity to step aboard the United States Coast Guard Barque EAGLE during the ship’s brief visit to Boston, where she was berthed at the Charlestown Navy Yard alongside the USS CONSTITUTION. Jon Spanner, this year’s USCG fellow, arranged the event for the SF ’12 community. EAGLE is under the command of Captain Eric Jones, SF ’05, who hosted a special viewing for the current class.
Find out more about members of the new class on the profile page of the MIT Sloan Fellows Class of 2012.
In the last issue we asked you to provide us with examples of how the MIT Sloan Fellows network has assisted you in your professional and personal lives. The response was extraordinary. We share a few examples below and encourage you to send us your own experiences (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you don’t have something to share perhaps you are not taking full advantage of the incredibly rich MIT Sloan Fellows alumni network-get started today!
"One of the many benefits of my MIT Sloan experience has been the formation of an MIT Sloan Forum with 11 of my classmates from SF ’06. Over the past five years we have met on a regular basis for friendship and career mentoring. The overall experience has been tremendous and a great extension of the MIT Sloan experience and relationships. One of the important values I gained from my time at MIT Sloan (and continued through our Forum) has been the breadth of perspectives and approaches that others bring to situations. Within my own company (IBM), despite its depth and vastness, I would never encounter this same diversity of thought.”
On a related note, since my return to IBM, I have had a direct MIT connection in each of my three jobs. Initially, I worked for an MIT PhD graduate. Then, I worked directly for a Sloan Fellows alumnus. Currently, my general manager is a graduate of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. I have also worked directly with two or three IBM peers in my SF ’06 class. The MIT and Sloan experience gave us a common framework for communication and an important bond that led to improved synergy at work.”
"Things are going well here in Tucson, AZ. It seems that my experiences and relationships from the Sloan Fellows program have been great-100 people in various countries to share and create with. I truly owe some favors ;-)
"I still continue today to benefit from the MIT network. A specific example: one year ago, our network of hospitals in Italy was in the phase of defining a new branding campaign following an internal reorganization. We did not have experience in the field and did not know which branding and consulting firm to use. I contacted my branding course professor at MIT and he gave me lots of valuable suggestions on how to proceed. A second example: three years ago, I needed to get in touch with some Indian companies in the field of material handling equipment. Thanks to the help of a fellow from India, I was able to contact the people I needed.”
"As a foreigner working for a business in the U.S., the MIT Sloan Fellows education and experience has been irreplaceable. The education I received at MIT Sloan provided me with academic and intellectual tools that allowed me to understand and succeed in the competitive international and American markets. However, just as important, it gave me the chance to build a large thriving network of professionals in a variety of related fields. That network has been instrumental to my success today.
I have also benefitted greatly from the fact that MIT is a venture and startup hub. Many of the great new ideas and businesses in technology get their start at MIT, and being an MIT graduate has given me considerable access to that community. Wireless is a field where new ideas can be the most valuable capital and true differentiators of value, so as a center of those ideas, MIT is invaluable to me.
And MIT itself is a great conversation starter. The social value is huge. By wearing my class ring, I am often able to passively start conversations on planes, at parties, everywhere. People will see the ring and ask, 'Oh, MIT? What year?’ and we get to network!”
"Since graduation, I have had a few different full-time positions and two part-time academic positions (both ongoing). The most recent academic role is at Northeastern University where I have developed and teach a course to graduate students in the School of Engineering entitled Information Systems for Health Care Services Delivery. In addition to learning content, having guest speakers, and conducting a case-based journal club, the students complete a semester-long project with an entrepreneurial flare.
Popsi Narasimhan, SF ’07, and Graham Rong, SF ’06, have served as judges for the final presentations of the semester-long projects. The students present professionally, develop evaluation criteria, and listen to the extremely valuable feedback the judges give them. The panel of judges is diverse, including colleagues from the clinical and academic worlds. I love the collaboration, the friendship, and the invaluable advice Popsi and Graham share with my students.
"Greetings from NYC. I relocated here in March to join Casey Family Programs as Director of Private Market Investments. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve been able to professionally leverage the MIT/Sloan network to find investment ideas and managers and triangulate on opportunities. I would certainly say it’s been a very valuable asset. On a personal level, MIT/Sloan alumni have been tremendous at helping me when I travel abroad, which is quite often these days. Most times I am not able to meet directly, however they are a reliable voice for everything from transportation logistics to restaurant suggestions-my own private Yelp, so to speak.”
It’s safe to say that few CEOs in the world today wake up in the morning to responsibilities as daunting as Patrick Donahoe’s. Postmaster General and CEO of the United States Postal Service, Donahoe, SF ’93, is ultimately responsible for delivering nearly half the world’s mail-as well as managing annual revenues of $67 billion.
But when he took over the role in October from the retiring Postmaster John Potter, SF ’95, Donahoe was well prepared. As Deputy Postmaster and Chief Operating Officer, he had been responsible for the day-to-day activities of more than a half million career employees, 32,000 retail locations, and a fleet of more than 200,000 vehicles.
Like many postal service executives, Donahoe is a career employee, having started work at the post office while a student at the University of Pittsburgh. About midway through his postal career, however, he understood that being so deeply immersed in the culture and practices of the postal service was on some level a curse as much as a benefit. He sought permission to attend the MIT Sloan Fellows Program to expand his perspectives.
"Spending a year outside the environment I’d grown up in professionally was crucial,” Donahoe reflects. "And working with an international cohort of leaders from many nations and disciplines, large companies and small, gave me an incredible breadth of perspective. Then there were the dinners with CEOs where they talked about leadership styles and strategies for handling crises. Afterward, the fellows would argue about the path the CEO had taken. Listening to that spectrum of opinion was eye opening.”
Donahoe says that even now, those post-seminar debates shape his leadership style. "When I make decisions, I remember those discussions and imagine the feedback that room of fellows would give me on the road I’m about to take. And I think about the impact of that decision on the employee, on the customer, and on the bottom line.”
For Donahoe, the year as an MIT Sloan Fellow was also a primary opportunity to reimagine postal service processes. "I wanted to open my eyes to other things I hadn’t had time to concentrate on without interruption...marketing, innovation, and lean manufacturing, for example. And continuous improvement—how to challenge yourself and your organization to stretch, improve, change.”
Donahoe remembers a career assessment by MIT Sloan Professor Lotte Bailyn. "She told me, in essence, 'You are clearly cut out to be an entrepreneur.’ I was happy about that because my feeling was that an entrepreneur was exactly what the postal service needed at that point in time.” Armed with new skills and knowledge as well as that innovation mindset, Patrick Donahoe returned to the postal service in 1993 and put his ideas to work. He saw results. As Deputy Postmaster, he was instrumental in achieving record levels of service and customer satisfaction, significant workplace improvements, and a cumulative increase in productivity of more than 50%.
Now, as the postal service moves forward into an age dominated by electronic communication and a marked decline in mail volume, Patrick Donahoe is dedicated to bringing ever new avenues of innovation to the U.S. Postal Service. He is very much aware of the challenges ahead-but also that this is what he has spent his career preparing to do: making tough decisions in an era intent on change.
Meanwhile, the outgoing Jack Potter has been persuaded to postpone his retirement in favor of a new challenge. Potter is now CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages Dulles and Reagan airports as well as the Silver Line metro rail construction project.
Last, but certainly not least, Megan J. Brennan, SF ’03, was named chief operating officer and executive vice president of the U.S. Postal Service in December 2010. Brennan, who reports to Postmaster Donahoe, leads all network and process improvements and the allocation of people and resources. Read the press release about Brennan’s promotion.
Kah Peng Aw’s approach to her position as CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board could be considered unconventional-even radical. Singapore’s reputation isn’t all about crafting an image, she says, it’s about crafting a reality. "Let’s not just make Singapore sound wonderful to visitors,” she says. "Let’s make Singapore wonderful, and the visitors will come.”
If her approach to tourism is broader and bolder than the norm, it might have something to do with the 17 years she spent at the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) before being wooed to head tourism. Based in London, she led the European operations of the EDB, where she learned how important it was to present the authentic value of her country to the world.
Aw’s perspective has also been shaped by one year in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program midway through her career at the EDB. She was back at MIT Sloan in May for the 150th anniversary celebration, the dedication of E62, the School’s new headquarters, and a de facto 10th reunion for her MIT Sloan Fellows Class of 2001. Her return to the School brought back just how much that year in the program meant to her.
"What I found so powerful in the program was learning in context,” Aw reflects. "If you get your MBA before you are in a leadership position, many of the lessons feel disembodied. As an MIT Sloan Fellow, it wasn’t what they taught but what we learned from what they taught. The same lesson is powerful to different people for different reasons. It depends on your own context. What made it all the more significant was sharing those different contexts with one another. Every lesson we learned felt real because we were understanding it in the context of actual day-to-day work life-our own and that of the other fellows.”
Aw adds that it doesn’t hurt to have the time and opportunity to explore those reflections in a highly intensive environment dedicated to inspiring ideas, knowledge, and people. "For me, the MIT Sloan Fellows Program was a zone for reflection. A place to explore my own mind. In the day-to-day work environment, there just isn’t space or time for that. It’s an opportunity for profound growth that every leader should take if they can manage it.”
As head of the tourism board, Aw says she continues to learn fresh lessons from that year as an MIT Sloan Fellow. "Every day there’s a new challenge-the way a person behaves on the job, for example-and I can look back and remember discussions with faculty, visiting CEOs, or my peers in the program that shed light on the best way to approach the problem.” Good leadership, she says, "is bringing what you’ve learned over the course of your career into the present situation. It’s managing in direct context-not according to a one-size-fits-all model or philosophy. No two problems are the same,” says Kah Peng Aw, "and the same goes for solutions.”
Percival Barretto-Ko, SF ’11, Astellas, US LLC, was recently named senior vice president of corporate strategy and government affairs at Astellas.
Iris Bombelyn, SF ’09, Vice President, Manufacturing, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, has been recognized by the YWCA with a Tribute to Women award for outstanding achievements as a business leader and role model for women.
Junichi Nojima, SF ’09, has been appointed CAO at NTT as announced in a June issue of BusinessWire.
Harry Schechter, SF ’08, founder and CEO of Temperature@lert has won the 2011 Connected World Entrepreneurs Award.
Tana Utley, SF ’07, CTO of Caterpillar Inc., will receive the National Building Museum’s 2011 Henry C. Turner Prize on behalf of Caterpillar, Inc.
Terry Hsiao, MOT ’98, founding CEO of Hook Mobile, is one of six new members appointed to the board of directors of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (IEIA) and the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT).
Jack Potter, SF ’95, is the new CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (see Patrick Donahoe story above); the appointment was announced by the MWAA board. Potter recently retired as U.S. Postmaster General.
Jeremy Bentham SF ’91, CEO of Shell Hydrogen, discussed environmental challenges at the 2011 World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment.
Dan Hesse, SF ’89, CEO of Sprint Nextel, is praised in Jim Cramer’s blog as a CEO running the company of the future: “Cramer’s Lightning Round – Dan Hesse Is the Man, Sprint Is the Stock.”
Carly Fiorina, SF ’89, will join the GOP fundraising effort for senate candidates in 2012.
Thad Allen, SF ’89, retired USCG Admiral, has been honored with a United States Senate resolution commemorating his extraordinary leadership.
During the MIT 150th alumni weekend, the Board of Governors (BOG) held a Town Hall meeting attended by more than 30 Sloan Fellow and MOT alumni. The discussion centered on strategies to develop productive and vibrant connections among members of the community, locally and worldwide. The biggest challenge in accomplishing this is the lack of current contact information for the majority of alumni. To remedy this, the BOG has launched a "Find Our Lost Classmates” campaign to provide an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with one another and to MIT. The BOG will soon be reaching out to you to help in this important campaign.
As a major contributor to the evolution of the Management of Technology (MOT) Program, Rochelle Weichman is well known to many alumni reading this newsletter. Weichman helped build the MOT Program into a landmark executive education experience that graduated many distinguished alumni. Eventually, of course, the MOT Program merged with the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, integrating the strengths of the two programs and creating the elite executive education experience that the MIT Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership is today.
Those who remember Rochelle from her MOT days will be excited to learn that she has assumed a key role in the program once again. As the new Associate Dean for Executive Education, she is responsible for both degreed and non-degreed executive education at MIT Sloan. Her portfolio of responsibilities includes the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, the new executive MBA program, and all non-degree company-customized and open-enrollment executive programs.
Rochelle is particularly keen on strengthening bonds with alumni and is looking forward to reconnecting with old friends from the program and connecting with those she has not yet had the chance to meet. Don’t hesitate to drop her a line at email@example.com to share your ideas about how to enhance the alumni experience—or just to say hello.
Recruitment for the Class of 2013 is underway, and your referrals of future MIT Sloan Fellows are welcome. Indeed, they are essential to maintaining the high standards of the program. You remain our best resource for prospective students. As we say, it takes a fellow to know a fellow, so please visit this special referral site when you want to point a colleague our way.
One last thing. Have you checked to make sure that your entry in the MIT Sloan Alumni Directory is up to date? Don’t miss hearing about news and opportunities because your contact information is incorrect. Both the MIT Sloan Alumni Directory and the MIT Alumni Directory include registration and password assistance should you need help.
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