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Women’s History Month 2021: Alumni Highlight – 20 Years Out

Wrapping up our 2021 celebration of Women’s History Month, we are featuring two alumnae 20 years out from LGO! Christine Wong, LGO ’02, and Meghan Scanlon, LGO ’00, share the LGO lessons they have carried into their careers as well as their hopes for a more diverse and impactful industry.20 years out alumni profile for women's history month 2021 blog

Why did you decide on attending MIT LGO?

Meghan: I was eager to expand my skills and perspectives beyond the engineering/technical field that I was working in. I started searching for part-time MBA programs, as I expected I would need to keep working in order to be able to pay for graduate school.   During my search, I “stumbled“ online across the MIT LGO program (called LFM at the time), and it seemed too good to be true!  MIT is simply the best there is… AND the additional fellowship funding made going to school full-time a possibility for me. I was terrified to apply as it was such a prestigious program, but I went for it anyways. I still vividly remember getting the personal phone call from Don Rosenfield… I remember where I was standing. I remember the moment of panic that maybe he made a mistake and I wasn’t actually accepted. Then I recall the pride and anticipation that I would be able to be a student at MIT. It was the best decision I could have made personally and professionally.

Christine: I did the Management and Technology at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergrad and really valued the dual degree and discipline approach to the program. It was such a formative experience to be able to apply engineering principles as well as a business mindset to every problem. The LGO program was really a natural extension of that experience.

 

How were you able to engage with communities of women at MIT and LGO?

Christine: With the LGO community being tight knit, it was easy to befriend and engage all our classmates.  It was especially great to meet women who all had different paths prior to LGO and then to continue to keep in touch to see all the great things they are accomplishing after the program.

 

What was the most valuable takeaway from MIT that has helped in your career post-LGO?

Meghan: Three things:

  1. Teamwork – it’s how businesses thrive and deliver their best results. Teamwork was essential to survive and get all the work done in LGO. You simply couldn’t do it all alone.
  2. The 80/20 rule – knowing when your work is good enough to call it done… and how pursuing perfection can eat up way too much of your time without delivering commensurate benefit.
  3. VOC training and diving deep into the customer needs hierarchy – asking “why” until you get the REAL answer of the problem you’re needing to solve.

Christine: The most valuable takeaway from the program would be the strong alumni network. I’m at Verizon today because of the network and I’m trying to pay it forward by hiring more and more LGO graduates each year to come join Verizon. We have an LGO-focused recruiting team that participates in plant treks, company day events, executive proseminar, and full-time and internship recruiting to continue the partnership engagement with the hopes of finding incredible talent.

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Christine: I manage reverse logistics at Verizon and work at the intersection of business and engineering every day. I love that I get to manage a team of technical engineers who develop and design product testing while also managing an operational team to implement the technical solution. The LGO program provides not only the skillset required but also the confidence to show up and deliver results.

Meghan: As president of the Urology & Pelvic health division at Boston Scientific, my job is incredibly rewarding. We improve the quality of lives for millions of patients around the world. It’s very meaningful work.

Additionally, I love serving my team and our organization that makes this company so great. Setting clear strategy and direction and then resourcing people to deliver and achieve their professional goals is one of my favorite parts of the job. Watching people and teams flourish and win is incredibly rewarding!

 

What are your hopes for diversity in LGO and in industry?

Christine: I’m still often the only woman in the room in most meetings at work. There is still so much opportunity for diversity and inclusion. Women carry much of the responsibility at home and feel strong pressure to do it all. Luckily Verizon realizes this gap and I was invited to participate in the Women of the World (WOW) program to tackle these very issues with squads of women across the organization doing different work but facing similar challenges. My hope is for us to have the conversations, create opportunities, and to support one another.

Meghan: I am fortunate to lead a management board that is incredibly diverse. During the many challenges of 2020, I benefited first hand from the power of this diversity. We had richer debates, we made better decisions, we served our teams more meaningfully as a result of this diversity. Diverse and inclusive teams are higher performing teams. Period. We need more business leaders who know and believe this.

 

Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?

Meghan: You’ll learn the most and grow the most because of your classmates. It’s the most intense two years of your life… it will feel intense and long while you’re in the thick of it all, and in a heartbeat it will be over. Don’t strive for perfection, strive to learn and grow.

Christine: Look at the LGO program as a start of your journey. The program will open doors but with it comes responsibility. Responsibility to create change in your organizations and to continuously bring multi-faceted solutions to problems.

 

March 23, 2021 | More

Women’s History Month 2021: Alumni Highlight – 10 Years Out

Continuing our celebration of Women’s History Month 2021, this week we are spotlighting two alumni who are 10 years out of LGO: Kacey Fetcho-Phillips, LGO ’11, and Annie Kang, LGO ’12 and head of the WLGO (Women of LGO) alumni steering committee.

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Why did you decide on attending MIT LGO?

Kacey: Early in my career as chemical engineer, I loved creatively solving problems and making a difference in manufacturing plants.  While I enjoyed my work, I knew there was much more in the broader business and I wanted to learn more.  After researching options, I decided to explore full-time business schools.  The combination of building on my existing technical mindset within the School of Engineering, growing as a business leader through Sloan School of Management, and the opportunity to do both within the established operations leadership framework of LGO was amazing.

Annie: I was debating between pursuing a Masters in Electrical Engineering or an MBA and was encouraged to consider both. I had heard about LGO from a previous colleague at an internship and again from a colleague at the job I had prior to joining LGO. I visited Boston to attend an Ambassador Day and as I learned more about the program, I was drawn to everything it had to offer. Accepting an invitation to join a program that was exceptionally strong in both business and engineering and that had also rewarded me with the Robert Noyce fellowship was a no brainer!

 

What was the most valuable takeaway from MIT that has helped in your career post-LGO?

Kacey: Developing a strategic leadership mindset in the LGO program has been transformational; attending LGO changed the way I think.  This was driven by the experiences unique to MIT and LGO – listening to challenging real-life stories from executives in the Leadership and Ethics Seminar, building technical leadership mindset in System Dynamics, and by developing strategic thinking in the capstone Operations Strategy course.  Additionally, these skills are refined with Action Learning experiences, where we have impact applying these principles during school with courses like Ops Lab, where I was part of a team that helped increase ICU room capacity at Boston Children’s Hospital.

 

How were you able to engage with communities of women at MIT and LGO?

Annie: Since March 2017, I have been the chair of the WLGO (Women of LGO) steering committee. This has allowed me to stay connected with a large number of the LGO women alumni. Whether getting together at the Women’s Breakfast at the Alumni Conference in Chicago in 2017, or visiting Boston and the Bay area later that year to celebrate the WLGO 10 year anniversary, or holding a coffee meetup with WLGO alums on the west coast during COVID, every gathering reminds me how lucky I am to know such a strong and admirable group of women. WLGOs seem to always stay curious and motivated, and I always feel so inspired and energized every time I meet or speak with a group of WLGOs.

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Annie: Product Management pushes me to be both strategic and detail-oriented. I am able to stay involved in every part of the product lifecycle while working across a cross-functional group of stakeholders. The diversity of the role, from collaborating with UX designers and developers to helping solve a problem for a particular user group, always brings a different set of challenges to tackle every day, which I find to be very exciting and rewarding.

Kacey: I lead a manufacturing facility for Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, where we are building a new facility for a cancer product in North Carolina.  As a leader, I am passionate about helping people, including patients through the medicines we make and as a leader for our teams.

There is currently unmet medical need in oncology, and we’re building a team to serve more of these patients with our products.  I am enjoying the opportunity to be part of this impact from the beginning, including designing the facility, hiring the new team, developing operational structures, and establishing the foundational team culture to enable our collective success.

 

Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?

Kacey: Attending MIT is an amazing, inspiring, challenging, and transformational experience.  The foundation and reputation of MIT and LGO, and the boundless innovative mindset from the student and alumni network is a strategic advantage of the program.  If you are energized by the opportunities and innovations that are possible in operations leadership then you have found the right place!

 

March 17, 2021 | More

Women’s History Month 2021: Alumni Highlight – 5 Years Out

In celebration of Women’s History Month 2021, we are highlighting alumni 5 years out from LGO! Jackee Mohl, LGO ’16, and Amy Gobel, LGO ’17, reflect on their time at MIT as well as the skills and networks they built while pursuing their dual degrees.

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Why did you decide on attending MIT LGO?

Amy: For as long as I have had a career goal, I have wanted to make a positive impact on the environment. My pre-LGO work experience in hazardous waste remediation led me to focus on how I can find win-win opportunities within industry that can help manufacturing companies create more sustainable products, develop more efficient processes, and effectively manage risks. I knew as I was thinking about my next steps that I would need a strong business toolkit as well as a deep understanding of operations to make an impact. The LGO program offered exactly the toolkit I was looking for. But it also offered more than that – as I got to know the community of current students during the application process, I was continuously surprised and delighted to encounter people with similar interests but with an extraordinary range of backgrounds. The program offerings got me to apply; and the feeling of community got me to accept.

 

How were you able to engage with communities of women at MIT and LGO?

Amy: The women in my class were an important support system during my time in LGO. We organized frequent events – book club meetings, wine & cheese nights, holiday cookie exchanges – that helped us create a sense of community outside the classroom. I also valued the connections I made in the broader Sloan community, particularly with the women I met over the course of my Sustainability Certificate. I chose all-women teams for my S-Lab project and a sustainability case competition, and I valued the chance to work with and learn from these thoughtful, values-driven female leaders.

Jackee: During my time at LGO,  I was able to be a part of Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) and represent LGO on the Dean’s Task Force for Gender Diversity, where we worked with students and administrative teams to increase gender diversity in recruiting applicants for Sloan and LGO.  In addition, the group of LGO women in my class were and continue to be some of the closest relationships I formed during my time in graduate school.  I genuinely appreciate being inspired, supported and motivated by my female classmates during school and continuing in the 5 years since graduation.  There is so much value in this support network sharing our experiences as leaders and the challenges that come with those roles across multiple industries.  Being able to connect with LGO alumna specifically at Boeing has been a tremendous benefit as I navigate my career through the company.

 

What was the most valuable takeaway from MIT that has helped in your career post-LGO?

Amy: I came into the LGO program with substantial Imposter Syndrome. Even knowing how common that feeling is didn’t alleviate the symptoms. But through the program, I gained both a framework to evaluate complex operations challenges and also plenty of experience applying this framework in the real world. The time with LGO gave me both the practical skills to be able to address important problems and the confidence to know that I can add value.

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Jackee: What I enjoy most about my work is being able to develop and mentor talent at Boeing.  I have been fortunate to work with great team members across multiple functions, as I’ve moved through many roles at Boeing by leveraging the LGO playbook.  I now enjoy using the network of people and experiences I have built to connect talent with potential opportunities for growth.  I am particularly passionate about mentoring women in engineering, operations and program management to ensure greater diversity of leadership.  My hope for the future is that we can provide more opportunities for diverse talent in operational leadership and I am encouraged by the macro steps that I see Boeing and other companies taking to ensure that.

Amy: I enjoy the chance to operate at many different levels of zoom. I get to dive into the details of a problem, and I can pull back to understand the strategic context for this problem. And I can repeat this process both for the technical dimension and the people/culture dimensions.

 

What are your hopes for diversity in LGO and in industry?

Amy: Prejudice in our community creates unnecessary friction for good people and good ideas. It slows people down and turns their forward momentum into so much waste heat. In the spirit of Lean manufacturing, we should all want to eliminate that waste. I hope that we as an LGO community continue to make good on the title and lead industry to a place where people can fulfill their full potential as their full selves.

 

Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?

Jackee: I’d advise prospective LGOs to take advantage of everything that the full school has to offer.  It’s super easy to get involved with clubs and programs on campus, across both MIT and Sloan.  LGO is uniquely positioned to be able to make the most of relationships at both the engineering and business schools.  Because of this, there is a wealth of experiences available to the students.  By rounding out your education with varied extracurricular activities, you are able to grow the diversity of your connections and set yourself up for greater success when taking on leadership roles as you graduate.

 

March 9, 2021 | More

New Industry Partner: Rivian

MIT LGO was very excited to recently announce our new industry partnership with Rivian! An independent U.S. automotive company, Rivian manufactures electric adventure and delivery vehicles and aims to accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels. The company plans to host MIT LGO internships and recruit graduates into product development and scaling up manufacturing and operations.

 

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March 5, 2021 | More

Black History Month 2021: Bi Zan Valery Lorou, LGO ’19

I was blessed to be part of the LGO Class of 2019. I had a great time with an amazing group of talented and supportive classmates, and received the best education I could have ever imagined getting. The program provided me with the tools to be successful in life. In every class I took at LGO, I looked around and I saw very few students of color. I realized that I was very fortunate, and I always wondered how I could help other minority students have the same opportunity. Growing up in Cote d’Ivoire, I learned that my success could lead others to do the same. As a student, I would often volunteer for admission events, where I hoped to meet minority students so that I could explain why LGO could be the right place for them. After graduation, alongside other LGO alumni, I wanted to continue this initiative and with the support of LGO leadership, we founded the LGO URMAG (Underrepresented Minority Alumni Group).

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Our mission is to bring more underrepresented minority students to the LGO program and to help strengthen a more diverse community of students and alumni through networking and mentoring. We are very excited with this initiative as we see a need to grow the URM community at LGO.

The advice that I have for you, prospective minority applicants, would be that if you are wondering whether you have a place in the room full of talented LGO students, I will assure you that you not only deserve to have a seat in that room, but most importantly the room needs you, your future classmates need you. They need you to share with them your talent, your awesome achievements, your opinions, your innovative ideas so that you can create a better LGO community. So when you are putting your application together, don’t think about what you can’t do, instead think about what you will be bringing to the LGO community, think about the difference you made in the life of people around you, think about how you will change for the better. There is a seat for you at LGO. You just need to go get it. Trust yourself, stay confident in what you can achieve, and you will do great. LGO wants you!

~

By Bi Zan Valery Lorou, LGO Class of 2019

February 22, 2021 | More

Black History Month 2021: Taylor Facen, LGO ’22

What were you doing before LGO and why did you decide that LGO was the next step for you?

“After graduating from Howard University, I started my career in finance as a technical business analyst. Throughout this time, I got involved in the New York City tech scene by learning how to code on the side and by attending and soon leading tech conferences in the city. Later on, I was able to merge my technical and leadership skills as CTO of a FinTech startup. Each of these experiences really helped me understand my strengths, areas of growth, and the direction I wanted my career to go in. I decided to apply to and join the LGO program because I wanted to cultivate these skills as well as learn about new, emerging technologies and industries.”

What is your favorite memory from your time at MIT?

“Summer core started the same week as protests about the wrongful murder of George Floyd were materializing across the globe. Some of my fellow LGO classmates decided to watch Ava DuVernay’s 13th documentary on Netflix as a group followed by a discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement and historical events that got us to this point. I originally thought that only a handful of people would be interested in this type of event. However, I was surprised to see over half of my class attend and actively engage in this voluntary event. This experience definitely helped me to feel more welcomed and supported by my peers.”

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What were your goals for the new Active Allyship committee and what have you accomplished so far?

“I wanted the Active Allyship committee to drive tangible improvements to the LGO program to make it more inclusive and supportive of all current and potential students. So far, we’ve worked with faculty to increase the diversity in the protagonists of cases and other class materials. We also drove a new initiative to provide guidance and support to marginalized groups throughout the application process. I’m especially looking forward to the diversity, equity, and inclusion best practice session that we’re having with our partner companies this upcoming spring semester.”

Do you have any advice for prospective students thinking about applying?

“For many, the graduate school application process is the first time one can reflect on their educational and professional career. My biggest piece of advice is to do some deep introspective thought on who you are as a person and as a leader. Not only will this help you clearly articulate who you are and why you’re interested in the graduate program on the application, it will also help you choose the right program, classes, professors, student clubs, etc. after you get in. Trust the process.”

~

By Taylor Facen, LGO Class of 2022

February 11, 2021 | More

The (Virtual) LGO Seminar Experience

Once a week, LGOs come together for Global Operations Leadership Seminar, to hear from world-class speakers about how to lead effectively in a changing world. By tying together lessons learned at MIT with leaders’ stories in the real world, Seminar is a unique experience that prepares LGOs to lead real-world organizations. Because it’s such a valuable perspective for LGOs, we haven’t compromised even a bit for the constraints of COVID this semester. In fact, we’ve made the most of our now-virtual world to make 2020’s seminar as engaging and important as it’s ever been. If you’re thinking about LGO, and you’re worried about the possibility of continued virtual classes, I want you to know that LGO has created a best-in-class leadership education in any setting.

"The mission is often changing... You’re going to steer the ship in a direction that will enable the company to win" Rathi Murthy

This semester, we’ve been able to bring in a diverse and truly incredible group of speakers, and covered super-important topics for any future leader. New this year, our first ‘theme’ was sustainability: we brought in MIT Professors John Sterman, Jason Jay and Andrew McAfee to speak about how emissions will be an increasingly important topic for all businesses, and we discussed the enormously role that leaders from LGO can play and need to play in addressing the climate crisis. John Sterman and Andrew McAfee provided a juxtaposition of a dire and an optimistic outlook on climate change, which has forced all of us to closely re-examine our assumptions about climate change. Jason Jay brought in a panel of business leaders to talk about how they’ve been able to promote sustainability in their organizations, and led a deeply reflective session about having difficult conversations without the other side getting defensive. The sustainability theme has become a regular topic of conversation among the LGO community, and equipped us to be effective leaders in this new world.

A screenshot of how students participated in a virtual seminar this year. In the bottom left, LGOs roommates that live in the same household video-called-in together. In the top right, LGOs that happened to be on-campus together video-called-in from a break room with safety precautions.
A screenshot of how students participated in a virtual seminar this year. In the bottom left, LGOs roommates that live in the same household video-called-in together. In the top right, LGOs that happened to be on-campus together video-called-in from a break room with safety precautions.

Our second ‘theme’ was technology and influence. We invited Prof. Raj Reddy, Rathi Murthy (CTO Verizon Media) and Aicha Evans (CEO Zoox) to speak to LGOs about where the world is going, and how to remain an effective leader as the world changes. Raj Reddy reflected on a career pioneering the field of AI, and discussed how to create AI systems for businesses that behave ethically. Rathi Murthy and Aicha Evans both spoke about leading organizations at different stages of technology development; both of them are incredible leaders in their fields, and they shared key insights about making their teams super-productive. Technology is a key aspect of every LGO’s career, and together these speakers have been invaluable in preparing LGOs to lead technology teams effectively.

Our third ‘theme’ was doing the right thing. We heard from several LGO alumni from a variety of businesses; each one shared a different dilemma that leaders can face in their careers, and how leaders can feel stuck with doing the wrong thing. But having these conversations now has equipped us to graduate knowing how to identify and stick with doing the right thing as a leader. And in light of 2020’s national push to improve racial justice in policing, we brought in a prominent police chief who faced racial justice dilemmas recently; some LGOs appreciated his perspective, while others disagreed, but in all cases LGOs became more conscious about how leaders must do the right thing.

"You are the average of the people you hang out with." Steve Cook

The level of student engagement in seminar has been truly incredible, made all the more impressive by its virtual nature. Speakers have made their seminars highly interactive, often incorporating small-group reflection activities, student reactions and Q&A sections. And LGO students in the class of ’21 and ’22 have stepped up, asking our speakers perceptive and impactful questions.

Here are some of the things students said about seminars this semester:

  • “One of the best speakers I have ever listened to! Truly exceptional seminar”
  • “Great insights about how to flex different skills along the path to leadership! Nice to hear from someone who has worked in both tech and non-tech companies.”
  • “This was the ‘realest’ session we had so far and I really appreciate it. These are the types of conversations that we should all be having.”

“If you want to be a leader, people are most important – have a service mentality to your teams, as opposed to a boss mentality.” Aicha Evans

Finally, I want to let you in on a little ‘secret’: the class Global Operations Leadership Seminar is actually shaped and run by current LGO students on the committee! Kenny Groszman and I co-chaired the committee together this year, and the staff affords us tremendous flexibility to build the seminar experience that we think will be the most meaningful for our classmates. Not only that, but working on a close-knit committee has been a wonderful leadership opportunity; never before have I led such a talented group of team members. The rest of the committee members have been absolutely invaluable in selecting speakers, and taking each session end-to-end from outreach to live moderation. So I want to give a HUGE thank you to Amit Galgali, Christian Allinson, Lampros Tsontzos, Luke Higgins, Paige Wyler, Sean O’Donnell, Sravani Yajamanam Kidambi and Taylor Facen!

~

By Colin Poler, LGO Class of 2022

Colin Poler LGO '22

 

Colin Poler is an LGO ’22, pursuing an SM in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He co-chaired the LGO ’22 Seminar Committee, and he is interested in using interpretable AI to improve manufacturing operations.

 

 

February 1, 2021 | More

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Taxie’s Mission to Electrify Ridesharing

When deciding if LGO was the right program for me as an aspiring entrepreneur, I didn’t know whether I could manage a dual degree program while also working on a venture. The prospect  seemed daunting, to say the least. Having just completed my second semester at MIT, my fears were unfounded. There is no better program or university to pursue a new venture than with LGO at MIT.

Entrepreneurship at MIT is built upon the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework, a 24 step process created by MIT professor Bill Aulet. I knew I wanted to combat rising CO2 emissions in rideshare, but did not know where to start. Throughout the LGO Summer Core, I discussed my idea with friends and classmates who were supportive and helped me think through critical assumptions. My LGO classmates supported me like family and without those conversations, I would not have built up the confidence to actively pursue building a new venture.

During the Sloan core, I knew I wanted to take 15.390: New Enterprises with Aulet. If there is one word to describe 15.390, it’s “speed.” The first week of class we pitched ideas and were required to form teams within a week. It is during that time that I saw just how well integrated LGO students are to the greater MIT community. My team of four ranged with backgrounds from a Ph.D. in Materials Science to MS in Design and City Planning. Over the course of the semester, we grew into a team with a mission to make ridesharing more sustainable for drivers and our planet. We named our new enterprise Taxie.

The most important lesson we learned in 15.390 was the importance of talking to customers. Through dozens of customer interviews with Uber and Lyft drivers in Boston, we discovered the reasons why drivers lack the incentive to switch to electric vehicles (EV) and their daily pain points. These conversations pointed us towards our solution: a vehicle subscription service offering short-term, premium EVs rentals for rideshare drivers – with insurance, charging, and maintenance included.

Ideating a solution is half the challenge when creating a new enterprise. The other, more important half, is having the funds and the network required to execute and bring the product to market. Luckily MIT provides its students resources for those too. MIT has a campus-wide program called Sandbox where students can apply for a grant ranging from $1,000 – $25,000. Only a month into working on Taxie we applied and received $1,000. The grant helped us build momentum and funded the launch of our website: taxie.us.

MIT provides a range of  events for its student entrepreneurs to get exposure to investors and venture capital (VC) firms. Three months into working on Taxie we applied and got the incredible opportunity to pitch our idea at PITCH, one of the $100k Competition events, which culminate in a $100,000 grand prize for the winning startup with no strings attached. Prior to pitching, the LGO office connected me with an alum who two years earlier had won the PITCH competition and who helped our team prepare. At the event, we pitched Taxie to an audience of over 2,000 attendees of MIT students, VCs, and other investors. The exposure from PITCH led to other, smaller pitches to several partners at VC firms and set the foundation for VC relationships we are building.

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My dad, Gustavo Sr, watching me present Taxie at PITCH on Zoom from Los Angeles, CA

One of my favorite parts of MIT is Independent Activities Period (IAP). This takes place during the month of January and is an open period in between semesters where MIT offers additional courses and activities where – true to MIT culture – we learn by doing. This IAP my team and I were admitted into Fuse, a startup accelerator hosted by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. Fuse is the first time the team is working full-time on Taxie and we set ambitious goals for ourselves. We have since achieved a critical milestone: getting our first customer. As a team, it feels amazing to see our work actually make a difference by displacing one combustion vehicle used for ridesharing with an electric one.

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Michael, Taxie’s first customer next to his first electric vehicle

One lesson I learned at MIT is that entrepreneurship is never a solo journey. My team Eesha Khare (Materials Science PhD), Amrutha Killada (IDM), and Haley Ketterer (MBA) have been monumental in making Taxie what it is today. What’s next for Taxie? We are growing our fleet of vehicles to get drivers off our waitlist and into premium EVs. We’re looking to continue taking advantage of all MIT offers its entrepreneurs by enrolling in the Sloan class 15.378: Building an Entrepreneurial Venture, a project based course designed for founding teams already working on a venture, and also by applying to MIT’s summer accelerator, delta v. Our team is motivated, above all, by the prospect of helping rideshare drivers make a living wage while curbing CO2 emissions.

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The Taxie team on day one of Fuse. To this day, I still haven’t met Eesha or Haley in person. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish as a team virtually.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur looking to leverage your MBA experience to launch your business there is no better place than LGO and MIT. As an applicant, I knew I wanted to start a business but I had no idea where to begin. At MIT I gained the confidence to become an entrepreneur and I now see a path forward to continue scaling our business. If you are ready to take your first step in your entrepreneurial venture, the LGO community is here to support and guide you on your way to success.

~

By Gustavo Castillo, LGO Class of 2022

January 25, 2021 | More

The Playbook: An MIT LGO Podcast #12

Current students Juliette Chevallier (LGO ’21), Liza Xu (LGO ’21) and Lauren Sakerka (LGO ’22) share their candid experiences with the program. We chat about transitioning into virtual learning, experiencing imposter syndrome, maintaining relationships with significant others and planning future careers.

The LGO Playbook is a unique set of skills and strategies that have helped generations of LGOs provide leadership in operations. This year we are inviting alumni to share pages from their unique LGO Playbooks through stories of impactful experiences. Join us to learn more about our diverse community while gaining tangible skills for the future.

 

January 21, 2021 | More

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at MIT LGO

MIT has a world-renowned reputation for being an institution of highly innovative research leaders and for continuously advancing the cutting edge of technology. This brand attracts students to Sloan and LGO that share an inherently curious nature and a passion for learning. In the wake of Americans’ reckoning with racism in the US in the spring of 2020, Sloan and LGO students have also embraced a responsibility for unlearning their implicit biases and taking personal responsibility for driving the change we want to see. I am proud of Sloan and LGO students now committing to being both lifelong learners and lifelong un-learners. I’d like to share some of the initiatives Sloanies and LGOs are leading while knowing we have an incredibly long way to go.

As a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, thin, able-bodied, university-educated, middle class female, the countless privileges afforded to me by my many dominant identities also bring blind spots. As I continue to learn and unlearn, I am amazed at how many areas of ignorance have been illuminated. I know there are many more blind spots I am not yet aware of that put me at risk of perpetrating micro-aggressions within the context of this post. While most of the initiatives I have included focus on systemic racism, I acknowledge that many forms of systemic oppressions exist and need to be addressed. I am committed to engaging in this conversation to my best ability given my current state of knowledge and awareness and I welcome any feedback readers are willing to share as a learning opportunity.

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MIT Sloan Ideas Made to Matter: 3 ways leaders can make Black lives matter in the workplace, Oct 8, 2020

For as long as there has been organized law enforcement in the United States, there have been senseless murders of Black men and women at the hands of police brutality. Although far from the first, when the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor made national headlines this spring, America and the Sloan community had a reckoning with the presence of racism within our communities. In this moment, many students, like myself, felt paralyzed, not saying enough out of fear of saying the wrong thing. Sloan’s Black Business Student Association (BBSA) called a townhall and expressed that the silence of the community had been deafening. BBSA president and second year Sloanie, Slate Noronha, led the townhall with an overview of the history of slavery and racism in the US and opened the floor to Black community members to share their own experiences with racism in and out of Sloan. For me this felt like an incredibly generous gift from the BBSA during a time of pain for them to help educate us as their classmates, and to help lead us in navigating something incredibly complex, far-reaching, and personal. It was a direct call to action to do better, and from my perspective a turning point with Sloan students’ engagement with diversity equity and inclusion.

Second year Sloanie, Chandler Perry, who had already dedicated many hours to ensuring Sloan students graduate as leaders who can advocate for a more equitable world, leveraged the momentum of this moment to call on Sloan leadership for commitments to tangible change. She spearheaded a major effort to research, review, select, and promote business school cases that explore issues such as mass incarceration, the war on drugs, police brutality and has worked to ensure some of these cases are now included in the MBA core curriculum. Incorporating these topics into core builds a foundation where these imperative issues can be openly discussed moving forward and any class can be analyzed through this lens.

Embodying the commitment to take responsibility for her own learning, my core teammate and co-president of Sloan For Inclusion, Josie Liu, invited me to read an anti-racism book with her, and what started as an open invitation on Instagram for our friends to join us, turned into a Sloan summer anti-racism book club. We read 3 books over the summer with over 60 Sloanies and held thoughtful discussions in zoom breakout rooms where we could explore our own relationships with racism. The book club has now been incorporated into Sloan For Inclusion and plans to continue next semester.

Two of the books read over the summer by Sloanies.

As my classmates’ and my journeys of anti-racism progressed over the summer, there was an increasing sense of urgency to take action where we could make a difference. Fellow LGO second year, Caitlin Auffinger, and I felt the LGO community with its summer core classes and unique relationship with partner companies had many avenues for growth and that being a class of only 45 students, we could have a lot of influence. We began brainstorming some ideas of how we could make a more inclusive LGO program and leverage our partner companies to incorporate their best practices as well as challenge them to do better too. After coming up with a list of ideas, we realized both that we wouldn’t be able to execute them all on our own and that we were missing some brilliant ideas that my classmates surely had.

We reached out to our LGO class, the class that had just graduated, as well as the class that had just started their summer semester to see if people would be interested in a LGO DEI hackathon. We learned many small groups had been forming where people were brainstorming ideas for action and there was an overwhelming response of interest in a hackathon. So we set up an informal virtual hackathon one afternoon with 3 prompts. Students were shuffled into different break out rooms for each prompt and documented their ideas. After the event, I went through and parsed ideas from each break out rooms’ notes and added emphasis to ideas that were raised by multiple groups.

In parallel, first year LGO, Taylor Facen, was organizing an Active Allyship committee that she has been chair of since the summer. The committee assessed each of the action items and decided if they should be included in other LGO committees’ goals or if we needed a volunteer to own that action. She organized a meeting with the LGO program staff to present some of our highest priority initiatives and successfully got approval for an official long standing committee and got leadership buy in to support the committee’s goals.

Under Taylor’s leadership and with incredible support and interest from the LGO program staff, the Active Allyship committee has made big steps even in just one semester. Within the incoming class of LGO 2022s, there will be 3 fellowships available to students who demonstrate a commitment to DEI. DEI efforts often fall on the shoulders of students from racial and gender minorities who volunteer much of their time towards these initiatives at the benefit of their university without being compensated. These fellowships are important because they emphasize that LGO values DEI initiatives and is willing to pay to retain students who are passionate about driving these changes.

Another joint initiative led by the committee and the LGO staff has been an analysis of admissions statistics at each stage between pre-application events to matriculation. This analysis has helped us understand our weak points in recruiting and make a more targeted effort at ensuring students from racial and gender minorities feel supported and welcomed at those steps of the process. For example, this semester, all applicants that were invited to interview were given a list of current students who had volunteered to be a point of contact for different non-dominant identities. In our committee meetings, we learned that when we were interviewing, most of us had contacted a current student, whether it was a friend or a cold outreach on LinkedIn, to help prepare for the interview process. We wanted to make sure this type of interview prep information was equitably accessible to all interviewees regardless if they knew someone in the program or successfully reached someone on LinkedIn. As we have started our own full time recruiting, we have seen organizations give applicants the option to be contacted by Employee Resource Groups for more information and for interview prep. Learning from this process, during the next admissions cycle, candidates invited to interview will be able to opt in to be actively contacted by a current student that represents their non-dominant identity.

In collaboration with the LGO operating committee (composed of LGO partner company representatives, LGO alumni, LGO staff, and current LGO students), there is another on-going initiative to share best DEI practices among partner companies. Led by second year LGO, Julia Chen, and LGO program staff, 16 current students volunteered to reach out to the LGO partner companies and to request an interview with a company representative about their current best practices. We have been conducting these interviews over the course of the semester and those leading the initiative are now compiling this information to be shared with the operating committee. We also collected as much data as was available around racial and gender representation at each company (with the option to contribute the information anonymously and only be shared in aggregate) to establish a current baseline, challenge partner companies to continue to improve this baseline, and track progress over time. Throughout the course of these interviews, dialogues have been initiated about possible future collaboration between partner companies and students. Some of these ideas include DEI implementation best practices panels and Q&As within the operating committee, as well as a program for current students to shadow the work of partner company Employee Resource Groups.

Inspired by Chandler Perry’s work to update the Sloan core curriculum, the committee has been evaluating the LGO summer core curriculum. Led by first year LGO, Paige Wyler, students have been collaborating with the summer core professors to find (and in some situations write) cases that include more diverse protagonists and broader themes while still teaching the operations lessons essential to the existing case work. These students have also been collaborating with LGO staff to incorporate a DEI workshop in LGO orientation.

Beyond summer curriculum, the Active Allyship committee has also been collaborating with the LGO seminar committee, who organize weekly guest speakers to share their experiences with LGO students. Historically this weekly LGO leadership seminar speakers have been primarily program alumni who speak about their career journeys, run through difficult problems from their own work experience, and share advice they would have given themselves when they were students. This semester, the seminar committee made a very concerted effort to make sure our speakers were a diverse representation of leaders regardless of alumni status and that topics from operations, to police brutality, to climate change were open for discussion. We had a workshop led by Sloan professor Jason Jay on how to break through gridlock in difficult conversations with someone who may have conflicting views or values. We had a lecture and discussion on leading through difficulty with a Chief of Police who offered his resignation this spring (which wasn’t accepted) when an unarmed Latinx man died in police custody. We discussed integrity with a CEO who dealt with employees being sexually harassed by clients and other employees within her company. We still had many traditional lectures on leadership lessons, hard problems, and career advice, but the committee made sure the speakers were more representative including military veterans, women of color, and immigrants with various experiences and backgrounds.

Outside of LGO, the broader Sloan community is also working on many DEI initiatives. Communications professor, Kara Blackburn, leveraged the heightened awareness and interest in analyzing allyship over summer to introduce a new class this fall, Crucial Conversations About and Across Difference. I had the privilege of taking this class with roughly 30 other Sloanies who were eager to learn from one another how to be better allies and how to create and lead an inclusive organization. It was incredible to have a formal structure with learning materials and gently guided discussion for 90 minutes twice a week with classmates that were equally passionate about equity and belonging in the workplace.

Hack for Inclusion MIT Sloan 2020
MIT Sloan’s Hack for Inclusion 2020

Sloan For Inclusion has continued to provide excellent resources to Sloanies who are passionate about DEI. In October, they introduced a bi-weekly newsletter to keep the community updated on relevant topics. They advertise events they are hosting, such as the anti-racism book club and  a “Putting Principles to Action” panel with managers at Microsoft who have successfully implemented real-world DEI initiatives. Additionally, they advertise DEI events hosted by separate on-campus organizations as well as virtual events at other universities. They share relevant news articles like LGBTQ communities fighting voter ID laws that restricted up to 42% of eligible transgender voters, an analysis of what S&P 100 companies pledged in DEI initiatives and how they have acted, or a study on the state of DEI topics in business school cases.  In each newsletter, they also share a small, actionable challenge to encourage readers to reflect, learn, and grow their understanding of DE&I. Some of these challenges have included picking a novel to read by an author of a different identity than the you, asking some questions (from a provided list) on DEI policies and practices at your target company in your next coffee chat, and learning more about the indigenous people that lived on the land you currently live on with provided resources to do so.

Sloan For Inclusion has also been busy planning a virtual edition of their flagship event, Hack For Inclusion, February 19-21. Hack For Inclusion is a weekend long event that brings together students and working professionals to brainstorm solutions for problems related to bias, diversity, and inclusion. Sponsor companies present real DEI challenges they face such as increasing inclusion and improving retention of people of color working as frontline manufacturing workers, improving support and programs for female entrepreneurs to help them scale their ventures, or reducing the stigma around mental illness to increase utilization of employer-supplied mental health resources. Individual participants are assigned to random teams to invent and pitch a potential solution to a problem over the course of the weekend. This year’s virtual platform and asynchronous model will allow for even greater participation from individuals who cannot travel to Cambridge.

Second year Sloanies, Joe Haddad and Jose Ramos, have been working to create a ten-year social justice pledge. The pledge is designed to support and encourage individuals to attach quantifiable and measurable actions to their public statements, and to hold themselves accountable as we collectively drive sustainable, positive change. The pledge allows participants to donate a self-determined percentage of their annual salary to an inclusion fund that will be used to help cover expenses for racial and gender minorities while attending Sloan. Moreover, the pledge includes other declarations around proactively addressing identity-based harassment and many other commitments to drive change across a breadth of workplaces.  While the pledges themselves are confidential, participants will receive automatically generated email reminders over the ten-year period to support accountability after graduation.

Sloan is known for its “Sloanies helping Sloanies” inclusive culture. Continuing to build inclusive communities, three second year Sloanies, Olga Timirgalieva, Nhat Nguyen, and Riana Shah, founded the First-Generation Low Income (FLI) Club this semester. The club has organized awesome events from a workshop on how to be a better networker to an Ask Me Anything event with the entire Sloan community to a panel of alumni speakers of similar backgrounds now at tech companies. The community shares resources on affordable academic and social events and aims to provide mentorship and empower FLI students.

Sloan FLI founders
Sloan FLI founders

The Sloan Student Senate is leading a host of initiatives aiming to build a continuously more inclusive Sloan community. Each initiative has dedicated leaders who provide updates to the broader Senate. Some of these initiatives include DEI training for student club leadership and specific club funding for DEI events, an international students’ inclusion working group (which is especially important this year while many of our international students are remote), mental health and virtual community building, admission support, procurement from diverse suppliers for Sloan needs, and increasing representation of women and racial minority students on club leadership and in Senate.

These are only some of the initiatives going on within Sloan that I have been involved with or exposed to. Based on conversations with classmates, I know students are taking large and small steps in many channels to unlearn a lifetime of socialization in a culture that disproportionately values dominant identities and to learn how to lead inclusive initiatives and organizations. While LGO, Sloan, and academia have a long way to go to create a fully inclusive and representative community that prepares students to be leaders that can bring these values and culture into the world, I am inspired by the passion I see in my classmates to build a better community one step at a time.

I will end with some actionable suggestions for readers that may be interested in taking another step in their journey toward equity and inclusivity:

  1.  Check out Sloan’s DEI page which includes links to educational resources and events https://mitsloan.mit.edu/diversity/standing-together
  2. Sign up to participate in Sloan’s Hack For Inclusion which proudly welcomes anyone who is interested in joining http://hackforinclusion.com/
  3. If you have the means, set up a recurring donation to an organization that is doing DEI work. There are many organizations working to provide resources to underrepresented communities and to advocate for more equitable legal reform, such as Black Lives Matter, or the Equal Justice Initiative. Many of these services make it easy to set up recurring donations with no minimum dollar amount required. Donations help support that organization but it also serves as a trigger to reflect on what action you have taken in the last month to continue your education and to support the mission of the organization.
  4. Diversify your feed. Like many millennials, I spend far too much time on social media. I have been shocked at how much anti-racism education and inclusive content is available for free on Instagram when I started looking. Here are some (far from an exhaustive list) that I have found useful for incorporating many perspectives into my everyday:
    1. Political – Following news organizations and representatives with opposing political leaning supports productive conversations across differing opinions and it has helped me increasingly identify sensationalism in reporting on both sides.
    2. Anti-racism educators – @antiracismdaily, Rachel Cargle, Ijeoma Oluo, Blair Imani, Ibram X. Kendi, The Conscious Kid, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Layla F. Saad, Ericka Hart, Rachel Ricketts, @nowhitesaviors, Austin Channing Brown, DeRay Mckesson, @privtoprog, @soyouwanttotalkabout
    3. Feminism educators – @feminist, @i_weigh, @femalecollective, @jameelajamilofficial, @the_female_lead, @astro_jessica, @fiercebymitu, @latinarebels
    4. Indigenous advocacy- @ndncollective, @culturalsurvival, @native_mvmt, @lakotalaw, @nativelandnet, @seedingsovereignty, @mmiwusa, @indigenousrising
    5. LGBTQ non-binary advocacy- @lgbt_history, @alokvmenon, @ lesbianherstoryarchives, @queerbible, @ h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y
    6. Inclusivity in the outdoors- @pattiegonia, @outdoorafro, @unlikelyhikers, @naturechola, @queerappalachia, @brownpeoplecamping, @browngirlsclimb, @disabledhikers, @blackgirlstrekkin
    7. Body positivity- @bodyposipanda, @glitterandlazers, @kenziebrenna, @hi.ur.beautiful
  5. Use google 😊! If you’re into podcasts, google anti-racism, LGBTQ, differently abled, inclusive, etc. podcasts to listen to. If you’re into books, do the same thing! If you’re into movies, the same! Google why a phrase you are unsure about may be offensive, google a better phrase to use instead. Google why people are protesting, go to their website if they have one, read their mission. Google how to be a better ally. There is a lot of information for free and it has been parsed and made more accessible than ever in the last 9 months.
  6. Advocate for compensation for your classmates and coworkers who volunteer on DEI initiatives especially if they identify with the community are advocating for.

~

By Angela Murray, LGO Class of 2021

January 19, 2021 | More

The Playbook: An MIT LGO Podcast #11

Josh Jensen is an LGO Class of 2016 graduate with a wide range of work experiences from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups. He is the cofounder and CEO of Inspectify, a Y-Combinator backed company that uses technology to solve the headaches of home inspections. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Mary (LGO ‘12), their two daughters, and a husky puppy.

The LGO Playbook is a unique set of skills and strategies that have helped generations of LGOs provide leadership in operations. This year we are inviting alumni to share pages from their unique LGO Playbooks through stories of impactful experiences. Join us to learn more about our diverse community while gaining tangible skills for the future.

 

December 15, 2020 | More

Blending LGO with Family

At MIT LGO, significant others and family are part of our community too! We often get asked how students are able to earn two degrees in two years and find balance? Shane Vigil, LGO ’21 and father of two, shares some insights on how he has been able to blend LGO with family.

What are the age(s) of your child/children? 

I have two girls. My youngest is 3, and the other turned 7 recently.

How have you managed to balance family with LGO? 

Before COVID-19, we set a routine where I would be on campus morning to late afternoon every day during the week. Even if I didn’t have class, I would study and get work done in the LGO lounge or one of the spectacular MIT libraries. This afforded me the opportunity to maximize my time with my family during the nights and weekends. Things are a little bit different now. I try to maintain a similar schedule virtually – but my youngest isn’t shy about Zoom bombing my class once in a while! At the end of the day, I’m really lucky to have such a loving wife who has supported me throughout my LGO journey. I’m sure she has picked up parental duties that I haven’t even noticed, all while working and earning her Master’s degree.

 

 

Has your significant other and family been involved in the MIT/LGO Community? If so, how? 

The student life committee welcomes those with families and ensures there are community events geared towards kids. In 2019, we had a great 4th of July party, and I won’t forget our LGO class apple picking trip during the fall. Even with COVID-19 this year, we still managed to have a virtual baby shower for 2 classmates who are expecting (Yes, LGOs start families during their time here, too!).

What resources have been helpful to transition into LGO? 

The most helpful resources during my transition were other MIT/LGO parents. I remember when we first got to Boston, one of the parents in the class ahead of me sat down with us to talk about childcare options, places to go sightseeing, and the best parks to take the kids.

Here are some other resources I found helpful:

~

By Shane Vigil, LGO Class of 2021

December 7, 2020 | More