How to improve Boston’s infrastructure future – Venkat Sumantran, Charles Fine, and David Gonsalvez

MIT Sloan Professor Charles Fine

CEO and rector at the Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation, David Gonsalvez

Chairman of Celeris Technologies, Venkat Sumantran

From the Boston Globe

Mayor Marty Walsh and his team deserve a great deal of credit for creating an enlightened, forward-looking vision for Boston’s transportation future. The initiative Go Boston 2030 tackles a key challenge for the city: its aging mobility infrastructure. However, this plan is missing several opportunities to improve the livability of Boston and foster inclusive economic growth. The plan can and should be more ambitious.

Changes to the plan are critical, since a city’s mobility architecture can have a huge impact on its economy. Inefficiencies that sap economic growth stem from many sources like loss of productivity of people and assets, air quality remediation costs, reduced attractiveness to businesses, and impact on health. In 2016, Boston’s ranking in the INRIX traffic scorecard, which analyzes the impact of traffic in cities around the world, deteriorated from number 28 to 16 among US cities with the worst traffic congestion. The average Boston motorist wastes more than 57 hours each year, notwithstanding declining per capita use of personal transportation. Commuters on I-93, Storrow Drive, and Routes 1 and 128 know this all too well.

Access, connectedness, and capacity — Grade: B

Over 30 percent of the city’s lowest income residents are inadequately served by public or alternative travel modes and are pushed toward car-dependency. In contrast, for those in the highest income segment, only 10 percent face this situation. Initiatives such as the proposed investments in the Green Links project, seeking a four-fold increase in pedestrian commutes, as well as the expansion of the Hubway bike-share system, will widen options for many commuters. Their options may be even more comprehensively augmented with better connectivity.

Boston’s mass transit is highly dependent on the radial metro routes and offers fewer services to many whose commutes do not take them to downtown locations. Adding more circumferential routes for high-capacity Bus Rapid Transit — such as connecting Brighton and Dorchester or Fenway with South Boston — with synchronized connections to existing T stops, could offer many commuters more efficient travel with moderate investment. These systems could also serve as feeders to underserved regions such as Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester, and South Boston.

In addition, the issue of capacity augmentation needs urgent attention. To overcome funding limitations, the plan’s expectation to encourage ride-share vans to complement public transit deserves faster expansion. Yet, to avoid controversies, such as those that have arisen with the expansion of app-hailed taxis like Uber and Lyft, these services will need to be operated with appropriate governance, regulations, and oversight.

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Contemplating a career in data science/business analytics? – Dimitris Bertsimas

MIT Sloan Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas

MIT Sloan Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas

From Accepted

Since we recorded this interview, the Wall Street Journal published a short article discussing the strong demand for tech skills around the world. Apparently the area with the greatest gap between supply and demand is Big data/analytics, where 39% of IT leaders feel there is a shortage of people skilled in this area, the highest of any tech field in the survey.

The shortage makes this podcast interview particularly timely because you’ll hear from Dr. Dimitris Bertsimas, Co-Director of MIT Sloan’s Master in Business Analytics, and we discuss this brand new program in depth.

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Female Entrepreneurs: Gaining Ground – Trish Cotter

MIT Sloan’s Trish Cotter

Women now make up nearly 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the United States — the highest percentage since 1996, according to the 2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. And research reported in HBR.com shows that The Gender Gap in Startup Success Disappears When Women Fund Women; encouraging news indeed.

With MIT’s delta v student venture accelerator, the Martin Trust Center MIT Entrepreneurship  welcomes a new group of students each summer and puts them through “entrepreneurial boot camp.” I want to give you a glimpse at some of the inspiring female entrepreneurs I’ve worked with, and how they are succeeding at what they do, shattering glass ceilings at every level:

 

• Take Natalya Brinker, CEO of Accion Systems, an MIT PhD graduate and a member of the 2014 accelerator cohort. Accion is developing revolutionary propulsion for satellites that will make space more accessible and affordable across industries. The company itself is seeing quite a bit of propulsion receiving funding from the Department of Defense and a Series A round and winning numerous awards.

• Or Katie Taylor, the CEO and co-founder of Khethworks, who earned her Master’s degree from MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2015 and was part of the accelerator program that summer. Khethworks is a company that supports farmers in eastern India, where more than 30 million farmers tend to an acre or less of land. The company has developed a solar-powered irrigation system that lets these farmers affordably cultivate year-round.

• And Steph Speirs, a member of the 2016 delta v group who is co-founder and CEO of The Solstice Initiative, a nonprofit with a goal of providing solar power to underserved Americans by partnering with communities to share solar power. Speirs graduated from MIT with an MBA this June, and was honored as an Echoing Green Fellow and Soros Fellow during her time here as a student.

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Opinion: Why Wall Street’s discrimination against women has no future – Lotte Bailyn

MIT Sloan Professor Emerita Lotte Bailyn

MIT Sloan Professor Emerita Lotte Bailyn

From Market Watch

We are well-accustomed by now to the ways in which women are mistreated and discriminated against on Wall Street.

Over the past decade, nearly every major bank — from Goldman Sachs GS to Morgan Stanley MS, Citigroup C— has settled a sex discrimination suit. News reports have exposed in lurid detail just how badly women are underpaid; the degree to which they face hostility from their male peers; and how they are subjected to a demeaning environment and made to feel inferior.

The latest gender bias suit, filed by Megan Messina, a senior fixed-income banker, is against Bank of America. The suit accuses BofA of vastly underpaying her and other women. In addition, Messina said her boss made her feel unwelcome in his “’bro’s club’,” and subjected her to questions like, “Have your eyes always been that blue?” The suit also accuses the bank of misconduct, and describes alleged instances of front-running trades and withholding information from clients.

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Scaling customer development: crowdsourcing the research – Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From The Huffington Post

In the seminal book “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”, Steve Blank introduces the concept of “customer development” – get out of the building and interview customers. While this is not a new concept – product people with user-centered design training have always done this – this is a huge development in startup-land, where technology used to run amuck.

Challenges with sample size

There is one small problem with customer development. It relies on qualitative research techniques like detailed interviews and observation, which are time consuming and costly.  Additionally, these techniques involve deep interactions with a few individuals, and you always run the risk of talking to the wrong people about the wrong problems.

How do you know whether you can trust your results? One way is to increase sample size – but given each interaction can take a couple of hours all-in, trying to get to 100 conversations quickly becomes daunting.

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