When considering where to go on an MBA Technology Trek, Seattle was a no-brainer.
It wasn’t just that the city is home to some of the world’s leading technology companies, but Seattle has successfully created a technology innovation ecosystem — one that spawned many of the past few year’s largest tech IPOs. It is the philosophy of not resting on one’s laurels that has created longevity in Seattle’s companies, and provided important lessons for MBA students. My goal on a recent MIT Sloan Technology Trek was to understand the strategies, cultures, and goals that have propelled Seattle companies’ long-term success.
Matt Kressy, Director, Integrated Design and Management master’s degree track
From Business Because
When you launch a new master’s degree track at a place like MIT, you get asked a lot of questions. The most common ones I get are: what do you want students to get out of the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) program? How did it get started? How does it work? And what kinds of students are you looking for?
I want to give designers a voice. Traditionally, designers are not well versed in the languages of engineering and business. They’re great at inventing and creating, but they’re generally not good at explaining how those creations could be profitable or feasible. As a result, business and engineering decisions get made without the benefit of design sensibilities and insights.
I want to empower designers to speak up and provide them with the management tools to more effectively communicate their vision. My hope is that this program helps designers demonstrate that great design can be a competitive advantage.
MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst
From Innovation Insights
Back in 2012, a storm poised to wreak havoc on the east coast posed a challenge of another kind to both me and my colleagues at MIT Sloan Executive Education. Though there were of course the more grave concerns of human health and safety related to Hurricane Sandy, directly in the path of the oncoming storm was our brand new and hotly-anticipated course on big data, one of the first of its kind for executives.
Over 100 top executives had enrolled in the course, conducted by leading faculty members Erik Brynjolfsson and Sandy Pentland, and we were faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. The challenge was clear – find a way for attendees to experience the course in spite of the storm, or postpone and potentially cancel it altogether. Innovation is woven into our DNA at MIT, and we developed a solution that not only suited the needs of the situation, but led Executive Education at MIT Sloan down a new and exciting path to learning.
The mantra of youth sports where “everyone gets a trophy” is permeating professional leagues. These days every team can claim some semblance of winning. In the bygone era of the NFL, two teams made the playoffs and that consisted of one game, the Super Bowl. Today six teams from each conference advance, and there is talk of adding more. In MLB, it used to be that the league leaders won the pennant and then went to the World Series; now, five teams in each league make the playoffs. In the NBA and the NHL, meanwhile, more than half of all teams make the post-season.
As the definition of post-season success broadens and winning becomes a commodity, a team’s performance isn’t enough to stand out in the $750 billion sports industry. And at a time where traditional revenue streams are under pressure and the competition for money, media, and sponsors remains stiff, sports organizations have to be more innovative.
So, what should they be doing to drive revenue? How can they use technology to attract and interact with fans? And, in the Age of Big Data, what’s the best use of analytics to increase ticket sales? These are some of the questions on the table at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
I recently joined 25 of my MIT classmates on an MIT Sloan Technology Trek to Seattle.
Technology is a hot area at MIT Sloan — 26 percent of the graduating class last year went into high technology jobs — so technology treks are very popular.
They are an important tool for students to learn about company cultures. However, we’re not just looking at how many hours we’ll work or how comfortable the lifestyle is. We want to feel like we’re making an impact on others in real ways, and we want to know that our MBA education is truly adding value at the organization.
Treks are a unique opportunity to ask questions and learn from employees, who are frequently alumni.
In addition to learning more about the roles of MBA grads, I also wanted to see if I could deal with Seattle’s climate. Growing up in India and living in New England for the last nine years, I knew that the Northwest would be quite different.