Why are executives logging in for leadership education? — Peter Hirst

MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst

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.

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Executive education opens its doors to the non-English speaking world — Peter Hirst and Laura Ziukaite-Hansen

The vast majority of executive education and business leadership programs in the U.S., Europe, and even parts of Asia are conducted solely in English. But for a large portion of global employees—about 40%*—this can be a significant barrier to learning and professional development.

While English may be considered the dominant language of global business**, it is certainly not the only language in which business is conducted. New poles of economic growth are emerging around the world, and a growing number of non-English speaking entrepreneurs and managers are creating new and exciting businesses in developing markets. They want to learn how to manage global teams, scale their existing businesses, expand their product lines, and develop their workforces. If they do not speak English with enough fluency to participate in executive education, everyone misses out—executives in all corners of the world have a lot to gain from and contribute to global management programs.

This past winter, MIT Sloan Executive Education piloted the Global Executive Academy. Held on the business school campus, the two-week multi-lingual program brought together 38 executives from 15 countries to share a learning experience based on four of MIT Sloan’s most popular open-enrollment programs.

The Academy provided faculty-led programs focused on innovation, management, marketing, and organizational performance, all conducted in English and simultaneously translated—“United Nations style”—into Arabic, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Participants listened to translations using wireless headsets. All classroom discussions, presentation materials, and in-class videos were translated into the individual languages.

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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 »

Jonathan Lehrich: Global Organizations Lab brings the MIT EMBA to Leading Companies

Jonathan Lehrich, Director, MIT Sloan Executive MBA Program

Working full-time while earning their MBA, students in MIT Sloan’s Executive MBA Program are constantly applying what they learn in class to their jobs. There is a compounding effect in that the more times they apply what they learn, the more they accumulate knowledge and expertise in their toolkits.

However, it’s a big world out there and a lot more can be learned when they have an opportunity to apply that knowledge outside of their own companies. After all, there are only so many experiments you can do in your own company before you bump into barriers. Read More »

Erik Brynjolfsson on Big Data: A revolution in decision-making improves productivity

MIT Sloan Prof. Erik Brynjolfsson

There is a fundamental change underway in the way that companies make decisions. Instead of relying on a leader’s gut instincts, an increasing number of companies are embracing a new method that involves data-based analytics. This ‘Big Data’ revolution is occurring mainly because technology enables firms to gather extremely detailed information from and propagate knowledge to their consumers, suppliers, alliance partners, and competitors.

Companies that use this type of ‘data driven decision making’ actually show higher performance. Working with Lorin Hitt and Heekyung Kim, I analyzed 179 large publicly-traded firms and found that the ones that adopted this method are about 5% more productive and profitable than their competitors.  Furthermore, the study found a relationship between this method and other performance measures such as asset utilization, return on equity and market value. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit for companies that are able to use Big Data to their advantage. Read More »