Remembering Willis Wagons — 50 years later, civil rights challenges remain — Robert McKersie

From the Huffington Post

MIT Sloan Prof. Emeritus Robert B. McKersie

The nation has marked its I Have a Dream moment of history, but now the civil rights anniversary spotlight shines on Chicago, which saw one the largest civil rights demonstrations in its history exactly 50 years ago this week when a one-day boycott kept more than 200,000 students home from school. It was about something called Willis Wagons.

Schools in neighborhoods populated primarily by white students had generally better financing. They also had empty seats that students from poorer schools were anxious to fill. But under the neighborhood school policy of Superintendent of Schools Benjamin Willis, students could not transfer to these better-performing schools. To keep African-American kids in their local schools, Willis instead installed trailers (called Willis Wagons) to create more seats. As a result, students of different races were kept separate. And their educational opportunities remained far from equal.

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Why MBAs should know a second language — Jackie Wilbur

Exec. Director for Undergraduate & Master's Programs Master's Programs

Exec. Director for Undergraduate and Master’s Programs Jackie Wilbur

‘Recruiters seek geographically flexible managers: global citizens who have an ability to adapt to new environments and who are able to build cross-cultural competence’

Recently, I had a meeting with a recruiter from a global firm about her company’s future hiring needs and how we, as a school of management, might sharpen our efforts to train students in particular areas. We covered all the usual topics. We talked about sectors, business units, and specialized skills. Interestingly, though, one of her greatest employment concerns had nothing to do with functions or industries; rather it involved geographic mobility, cultural awareness, and language skills.

She told me how her firm is rapidly opening offices around the globe, and how it’s looking for people who have experience in different regions, or who are willing and eager to relocate. “Most of the business will be conducted in English,” she told me, “but in order for someone to be successful and fulfilled they’ll need proficiency in the local language.”

In an increasingly global world, the ability to speak more than one language has clear practical advantages. More and more, though, fluency in another language is becoming a vital skill for the next generation of business leaders. At a time when American-based companies realize that their greatest potential markets are outside of the U.S., they are seeking geographically and culturally flexible managers. Those with an ability to adapt to new environments quickly and are able to build cross-cultural bridges will become the future leaders.

Language skills are paramount. As Matt Symonds, chief editor of MBA50.com, a website dedicated to the world’s outstanding business schools, wrote recently in Bloomberg Businessweek: “In a global business environment, [language] skills…make the difference between a good performance and a truly great one.”

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We Are One MIT, One Society, As We Pay Tribute To Officer Sean — Tom Kochan

MIT Sloan Prof. Thomas Kochan

From WBUR, Cognoscenti

Today, and in the days ahead, we will come together to give new meaning to President Rafael Reif’s call to be ‘One MIT.’ The many comments of students who had gotten to know Officer Sean Collier as a friend, peer, and respected professional are heart-warming and a tribute to him and to our community-of-one culture. By celebrating that as we grieve for Sean, his family, and for MIT we might just demonstrate the spirit of solidarity so badly needed in other parts of our society.Read More »

5 things you need to know about venture capital in Brazil

Image Credit: VentureBeat.com

From VentureBeat.com

Brazil has been generating a significant amount of buzz in the venture capital and startup community recently, fueled in part by media coverage of several high profile firms “planting their flags” in the country with dedicated funds or investments. A growing awareness of the burgeoning Brazilian startup scene, and Brazil’s role as host in the upcoming World Cup and Olympics, has further elevated the country’s profile. Read More »

Using technology to shape the future of executive education — Peter Hirst

There is growing interest in online programs as a way to expand the reach of executive education. However, that is balanced with our pedagogical philosophy at MIT Sloan, which involves high levels of engagement and interaction among faculty and students. A big question is: How do we keep that collaborative learning model in the context of an online program?

While there are many technologies to explore, we’re currently experimenting with one called AvayaLive™ Engage which offers an immersive online world in which participants interact in real time with avatars. We piloted it for executive education purposes last year by offering an online workshop for participants following an in-person program.  We learned a lot in terms of what was effective and what needed to be tweaked, but our big takeaway was that the platform provides a dynamic learning environment for participants. Read More »