MBA diary: Making a difference – Sean Jennings

Sean Jennings, MIT Sloan EMBA '18

Sean Jennings, MIT Sloan EMBA ’18

From The Economist 

Sean Jennings, an Executive MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has gone back to school, decades after dropping out of college. “I don’t need to make any more money; I’m interested in making a difference.”

When people ask me why I—a college drop-out turned tech entrepreneur—decided to go back to school to get my Executive MBA, I tell them about my older brother, Michael. On New Year’s Eve in 1967, Michael and I both came down with a mysterious virus. We were babies at the time—he was two and I was one. No doctor could figure out the cause of it. Ultimately, I got better. But Michael was brain damaged.

I have always known how fortunate I am. I got to grow up and lead a healthy person’s life. Michael, who has the cognitive function of a toddler, spent his teens and twenties in an institution and now lives in a group home.

From a young age, I felt that my purpose was to take care of my brother. When I got older, I realised that would cost a lot of money. My goal was to attend the best college I could and then pursue the highest-paying career I could tolerate. Getting accepted to MIT on an Air Force scholarship was one of the proudest moments of my life. But two years into college, I got injured. The military released me on honourable medical discharge. I couldn’t afford tuition and didn’t want to take on overwhelming debt, so I dropped out. Read More »

MBAs can front a revolution in collaborative leadership – Deborah Ancona and Hal Gregersen

MIT Sloan Prof. Deborah Ancona

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

From The Financial Times

There seems to be growing unease with the value we place on leadership. Susan Cain, author of Quiet, a best-selling book about the power of introverts, offers an example in a New York Times piece “Not Leadership Material? Good”. In it, she is specifically focusing on how college admissions favour applicants with leadership credentials.

She worries that too many slots are being offered to high-school seniors who are status and power-seekers. She bristles at the implication that students do not deserve merit scholarships or places at elite schools if they do great work as team players or solo artists.

Ms Cain deplores the fact that people who fall into the latter categories feel pressured to pretend they were born to run things. “If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value,” Cain says, “then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type As.”

Good points, but let us not fall too far into the trap of saying that some people are leadership “types” and others are not. The really damaging thing for a society is to signal to people that “leaders” are different from those who are contributors and team members — rather than the same people at different moments and in different modes.

To understand the point, consider this example. A couple of years ago, a large, diverse group of people on MIT’s campus rallied round a project they all agreed deserved their best efforts: creating a memorial sculpture to honour the life of Sean Collier, a campus police officer who was murdered by terrorists in 2013.

Who led this project?

It is impossible to name one person. Professor J Meejin Yoon, head of MIT’s architecture department, designed the sculpture knowing that to make its massive interlocking granite pieces stand would require a technical feat of engineering.

As Prof Yoon commented, “developing and constructing the memorial requires a coming-together of like-minded, like-spirited people from many different disciplines to create something singular in the world”. She called it a “very MIT project”.

Throughout 2015, different contributors led efforts at key moments when their expertise was most relevant to making progress. Just as readily, they stepped aside when some new aspect of the project came to the fore. Combining those minds and hands did not bog the project down: an effort that should have taken three years was accomplished in one. Read More »

Millennial women are leaning into MBA programs — Maura Herson

MIT Sloan MBA Program Director Maura Herson

MIT Sloan MBA Program Director Maura Herson

From Business Because

What will it take to get more young women interested in pursuing an MBA? At a time when the dearth of women leaders in corporate America, government, and beyond dominates the national dialogue, it’s a pertinent question.

Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since the 1980s. They’re a majority in most masters degree programs and they comprise roughly half of all law and medical school students.

But this is not the case on business school campuses: the percentage of women in the full-time MBA applicant pool has lingered between 34% and 39% for the last seven years.

Nevertheless, business schools are starting to make progress. This year’s incoming class at MIT Sloan, for instance, has a greater percentage of women than ever before. Of the 402 students in the MBA class of 2017, 41% are female. Our peer schools have recently posted similar numbers.

Read More »

Female students challenge myths — Julia Yoo and Emily Feldman

From Financial Times

Many women continue to struggle with the decision to attend business school, fearing the cost, the commitment and the competitive environment.

As two of the youngest women entering the MIT Sloan School of Management MBA in 2012, we had the same concerns. However, we were pleasantly surprised, so we have taken it on ourselves to challenge the four myths we believe hold women back.

You will waste money

Business school is expensive but it can be a solid investment. Despite the steep and intimidating price tag, an MBA can lead to a lifetime earning potential of more than $3 million, according to one study that reveals it takes, on average, about four years to recoup the return on investment of an MBA.

Moreover, 95 per cent of both women and men graduates from 12 US business schools report being satisfied with their MBA education, according to a joint study released by Catalyst, the University of Michigan Business School and the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan.

Family will suffer

Getting an MBA does not necessarily mean putting family second. “Success for either parent is success for the entire family,” a female mentor once told us. In fact, while pursuing our MBAs, we were pleasantly surprised to meet a number of mothers and fathers with young children who were actively involved parents while participating in and contributing to their business school communities.

Read the full post at The Financial Times.
Julia Yoo and Emily Feldman are both recent MBA graduates of MIT Sloan School of Management, where they served as co-presidents of the Sloan Women in Management Club.

Harnessing technology — David Schmittlein

From The Financial Times

David Schmittlein, dean of MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses the effect of the digital economy on management education with FT Business Education Editor Della Bradshaw.

Watch the video at The Financial Times.

David Schmittlein is the John C Head III Dean and Professor of Marketing at the MIT Sloan School of Management.