LGO Program Blog

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Hispanic Heritage Month 2021: Scott Hungerford, LGO ’23

We celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the diverse cultures, achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans. During this time, I like to reflect not only on the major impacts Hispanics have made in the past, but also on the future made possible because of their contributions made towards education, civil and labor rights, and cultural inclusion. The greatness of the past has influenced the future success of all Hispanic generations, including myself.

Scott Hungerford LGO 23 with parents Hispanic Heritage Month 2021
Scott with his parents

I am proudly Mexican American thanks to both of my parents who have instilled in me the value and beauty of our Mexican identity. My family immigrated to California during the early to mid 1900’s, established roots in Los Angeles, and received military honors for their service during World War II. I have family members who picked produce in the fields of California, and family members who led labor unions and stood in solidarity with Cesar Chavez during the Chicano Movement. As a collective force over multiple generations, my family has made great strides in education and has led organizations that empowered Hispanic advancement across the nation. My family has continued to instill in me the importance of honoring my identity and my community. It’s their legacy and contributions that I reflect on this month.

Scott Hungerford LGO 23 Core Team 1 - Summer
LGO Core Team

Like many underrepresented minorities (URM), I began my pursuit for higher education at community college and funded my education by working at various restaurants. At that time, I never thought that I would ever be accepted into MIT, let alone into a dual-degree graduate program. I applied to the LGO program because it was the perfect opportunity to develop both the technical and leadership skills necessary to foster innovation and drive change. Although MIT is widely recognized for their high accolades in technology and innovation, what really drew me to the LGO program was the sense of community and acceptance. LGO students come from amazingly diverse backgrounds, they are incredibly passionate about their goals, and they are immensely humble about their accomplishments. I plan to utilize the thought leadership, management skills, and global perspective I gain through this program to equitably address climate change.

I’m excited to continue the great efforts of the LGO Active Allyship Committee: a program that seeks to significantly increase the representation of URM students in global business and engineering education. One of the most impactful moments for me during the summer term was my first interaction with the LGO URM Alumni Group. The strength and support from the URM community was amazing and I left that interaction with a strong sense of belonging and an unwavering confidence that I will continue to have the support of generations of alumni.

Scott with fellow LGO '23s on the first day of the LGO Summer Core
Scott with roommates and fellow LGO ’23s on the first day of the LGO Summer Core

If you’re considering graduate school at MIT, please know that you are not alone on this journey. You are supported by the many generations of URMs that endured so that we may have the opportunity to change our trajectory. We’re all here to support you. I hope to see many of you on campus next year.

Regards,

Scott Hungerford

 

October 4, 2021 | More

Meet the LGO ’23s: Onyinyechi Ukaire

Get to know the LGO Class of 2023! We checked in with Onyinyechi “Ukay” Ukaire from the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department as the class was settling into their first Fall semester to learn more about what he values about LGO and his advice for those thinking of applying.

 

Ukay Ukaire EECS LGO 2023 New Class Features Blog sized graphic

What were you doing before attending LGO?

Prior to LGO, I wrote code to understand the biology underlying how less than 1% of HIV-infected individuals control, even in the absence of medication, at the Ragon Institute. Knowing how these individuals control is critical to informing HIV vaccine strategies.

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, where I spent my years prior to LGO, is situated at the edge of MIT’s campus. Fortunately, I wasn’t far from the area. In fact, Terry Ragon who founded the institute and Intersystems—which is the engine behind MGH’s patient electronic healthcare record—was an alumni of MIT. So in many ways, what I was doing before LGO lured me into considering MIT and thus LGO for graduate school.

What factors informed your decision to attend MIT LGO?

There were three reasons why I applied to and ultimately accepted my offer to MIT LGO. First, I imagined deepening my interests in Management and Computer Science in a dual-degree program with a long history and strong record for academic excellence. The network of top faculty and classmates — who can become teachers, mentors and friends — promised both a high standard and strong support network that was virtually impossible to rival. Besides, I knew I would be routinely challenged to learn, grow and contribute to the Sloan, Engineering and larger MIT communities I would join.

Second, having roughly fifty students per cohort, the program seemed to have a close-knit community I could get to know very well, with people who could be more than classmates to become family. Given that these are also exceptional individuals with backgrounds in engineering disciplines that I certainly did not find at other notable schools, I was bound to find value within the school, as a student, and beyond, as an alumni.

Third, relative to other schools, the partnership with LGO companies offered exciting practical internships that also substantially subsidized tuition fees. The internship was six months: long enough to learn something meaningful. The opportunity of a practical experience to augment my academic training, juxtaposed with financial support, had a big sway.

Ukay Ukaire LGO 23 Core Team MIT Dome
Ukay with his LGO Core Team in Killian Court

Why did you choose your specific engineering department?

To advance my interests in computer science, I chose the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, or Course 6. Since 2014 when I first moved to the United States, I have witnessed the immense power of building stuff via writing code. It was a practical skill of immense importance, whether early on in my undergraduate research labs/courses, or more recently, in my past job. For example, I can hardly imagine making sense of the enormous genomic data surrounding HIV vaccine research; it would be onerous to complete such work. Moreover, in my personal life, writing code has enabled me to better handle my finances, since I can easily abstract the math surrounding budgeting. Thirty percent of income can go to rent and housing fees, twenty to commuting and other expenses around work or student life, thirty to having fun, and twenty to my coin wallet or the stock market or whatever I fancy. And I can change it all very easily—computer science made that obvious.

With the plethora of internet devices surrounding us, and the ever-rising use of technology, it is difficult to ignore computer science. In fact, I think everyone needs to take one or two core classes in Course 6 at some point, especially if you surf the web say via Google or care about privacy or want to just learn more — like everyone else — about Artificial Intelligence.

Even the weekly COVID test we do at MIT is powered, at least in part, by computations of various sorts. The EECS department is paramount.

Do you have any advice for future applicants?

JUST APPLY.

If you’re considering LGO, you’re likely the kind of person who will succeed here. By now the grades and testing are all done. It’s time you applied.

Don’t overthink it. Pondering if you’re the right fit, or stressing about a hypothetical rejection, is common. You have a compelling story. While finding your voice and the right way to convey that story is important, it is even more important to communicate an imperfect story than none. With one, you have a chance. Without one, you don’t.

Open the application, pen down your name, phone number and email. Then copy the prompts and write down an answer, just a word or two. Then one or two or even three sentences, splitting your time, until you have a draft. Share your draft with those you love, and seek feedback. Later share with others who can say the truth, even if it hurts; hopefully their feedback also strengthens your voice. See you on the other side, we want you!

Ukay Ukaire LGO 23, Formal Event with other LGOs
Ukay with other LGO ’23s at the Welcome (Back) Sea Function

What is your favorite memory from the LGO Summer Core experience?

Reflection Day. My classmates hosted an optional group-reflection one morning, and nearly everyone showed up. It was a testament to how we valued each other’s candid opinions about the events of the summer that was winding down. We exchanged highlights, the things we liked about the program, what really went well, and what we’d love to continue. We also traded lowlights, the things we loathed, what about them we did not appreciate and the opportunities for growth.

In a fast-paced summer with tight schedules, episodes of deliverables, more deliverables, and many more deliverables, intertwined with bouts of pure joy – coffee chats, dinners or banters at our program’s lounge — I was happy to digest some of my teammates’ experiences in ways I otherwise might not have. That we exchanged real thoughts, appraisals and disavowals alike, felt refreshing. I left that room, among others, feeling “damn, I am so glad I ended up in LGO.”

In truth, selecting a favorite memory among many top options was hard. See the pictures and notice how too many beautiful moments occurred over the summer.

How is the LGO experience so far different from what you expected when applying?

It is more fun than I imagined! Seriously!!

Everyone I talked to before the program stressed how intense it was to complete two degrees in two years. No wonder I couldn’t help but feel anxious about the program. Therefore, when I arrived, I was expecting really tough moments to be the norm. Surprisingly, it wasn’t quite that.

Yes, there’s lots of work to do, because MIT’s management and engineering schools know how to keep one’s brain working. Indeed, it’s this somewhat unyielding environment that brings out the best in us. But that’s not all. Interestingly, I have had some of my fondest moments in life in the past few weeks playing croquet, singing karaoke, or having a BBQ party under Cambridge’s infrequent sunshine. Just yesterday, I played an intramural soccer game with my LGO classmates, and we had a blast just practicing teamwork on the field. Though hard, LGO has allowed room for ample student life!

Ukay Ukaire LGO 23
Ukay with fellow Sloanies at an MBA Prefunction Event

September 30, 2021 | More

Meet the ’23s: Eduardo Maristany

Get to know the LGO Class of 2023! We checked in with Eduardo Maristany from the Aero/Astro department as the class transitioned from the LGO Summer Core into their first Fall semester to learn more about how LGO is helping him fulfill lifelong goals and his advice for current applicants.

 

Eduardo Maristany LGO 23 New Class Feature

What were you doing before attending LGO?

I was working as a Systems Engineer/Technical Program Manager at Amazon’s Project Kuiper. Kuiper is working on building a constellation of 3000+ satellites in Low Earth Orbit to provide high speed internet to unserved and underserved communities around the world. Before that I also worked as a Systems Engineer at Amazon Prime Air, Amazon’s drone delivery program!

Why did you choose your specific engineering department?

Ever since I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. My undergrad was in aerospace engineering and I spent my time between undergrad and LGO working in aerospace projects. I love anything that leaves the ground, especially if it goes to space and I want to keep working in the aerospace industry post LGO, so I decided to also do my masters in aerospace engineering.

Eduardo Maristany LGO 23 Core Team
Eduardo Maristany and his LGO Summer Core Team

Do you have any advice for future applicants?

It sounds simple but just be yourself! Make sure your application reflects you, what you have done, and what you aspire to do. If you are considering applying to the program you probably already have an amazing background and LGO would likely be lucky to have you. LGO looks for diverse people and backgrounds so make sure your individuality shows!

What are you most looking forward to in the fall/for the rest of your two years with LGO?

I am really looking forward to all the amazing classes I am going to be able to take both at Sloan and in the Aero/Astro Engineering Department. MIT has so many world-class faculty and such interesting classes that I am actually having a hard time picking which classes I want to take during my limited time on campus. This is a great problem to have!

What is your favorite memory from the LGO Summer Core experience?

For the last day of our Intro Operations Management class, our whole class dressed up like our professor (who always wears the same outfit) and we all showed up to class at the exact same time!

LGO 2023 Sean Willems Dress-Up Day
LGO 2023 Professor Sean Willems Dress-Up Day

September 23, 2021 | More

Meet the LGO ’23s: Allison Smedberg

Get to know the LGO Class of 2023! We checked in with Allison Smedberg from Mechanical Engineering as the class transitioned from the LGO Summer Core into their first Fall semester to learn more about why she chose LGO and how she prepared for her application to the program.

 

Allison Smedberg LGO 23 New Class Feature

What were you doing before LGO?

​Before LGO I was a Lead Integration & Test Engineer at SpaceX. I managed a team of 10 engineers responsible for the final integration, build, and systems testing of the Dragon Spacecraft, which carries astronauts and cargo up to the International Space Station. The job was incredibly dynamic – I loved working with a range of technical disciplines, developing our engineers, and getting hands-on with technicians and the vehicle in the cleanroom.

What factors informed your decision to attend MIT LGO?

The LGO program offered the opportunity to take my MBA experience and pivot it towards what I am passionate about: manufacturing and new product introduction. In addition to gaining two degrees, I knew that MIT was the right fit for me after talking to current students and seeing first-hand how passionate and collaborative the culture is here.

Do you have any advice for future applicants?

The best advice I received when applying was to identify my ultimate dream job, and begin building a mental image around that. What does that future you look like, both professionally and personally? Doing this mental exercise definitely helped me put forward a strong and authentic application. Envisioning that future will help you identify where you are headed, how LGO fits into that picture, and what experiences you are looking for during grad school to move you in that direction. I also highly recommend reaching out to current students and the LGO staff to ask questions and get a feel for the program!

MIT LGO 23 Killian Court Steps

What is your favorite memory from the LGO Summer Core Experience?

I loved working with my “core team” of 5 other LGOs throughout the summer. Our collaboration further enhanced the summer core curriculum, and our friendship extended well beyond the classroom. I remember prepping our final project presentation in System Optimization – it was a busy week, and we held an evening working session. We were working hard but also getting very silly, to the point where we were crying laughing in the LGO lounge together.

How is the LGO experience different from what you expected when applying?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how practical and applicable our coursework has been so far. Our discussions and homework are rooted in real-life problems that our professors have faced in industry or that previous students solved during their thesis projects. The courses really align well with MIT’s slogan “mens et manus“, which was important to me as an incoming student who had already spent 5 years in industry.

 

September 16, 2021 | More

What to Know About LGO: Application Advice

A year ago, the current LGO ’23s were preparing their materials for applying to MIT LGO. With hindsight and the LGO Summer Core behind them, the Class of 2023 has lots of application advice for current candidates. Julie Sarasua and Fiona Gouthro share their experiences prior to LGO and reflect on what helped them apply and ultimately decide to attend LGO!

Julie Sarasua LGO 23, MIT Dome

This is Julie Sarasua, LGO ’23! I studied Industrial Engineering in undergrad but am now in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department, focusing on supply chain optimization and resiliency. Before LGO, I worked in logistics and distribution in roles focused on distribution center performance and last mile delivery. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent spike in demand for e-commerce prompted me to think more seriously about going to graduate school. I wanted to understand how supply chain operations could be more resilient to breakdown, both from a business and engineering perspective. The dual MS/MBA degree option was the perfect fit for me. Before applying to LGO, I reached out to current students and alumni of various graduate programs to learn more about the programs from an insider’s perspective. LGO students were particularly enthusiastic about talking with me and shared helpful pieces of advice about reflecting on my career, as well as general application tips.

The best piece of advice I received prior to applying was to take a step back and reflect on why I wanted to go to graduate school in the first place. What was I passionate about? What were my goals? Why does LGO fit better than continuing to gain work experience or attending another graduate program? At the end of the day, you are the driver of your own career. The more you know yourself, the more you will get out of graduate school and the better positioned you will be to embark on a career you love.

Best of luck on your application! Please feel free to reach out with any specific questions about the program.


Fiona Gouthro LGO 23, MIT Dome

Hi everyone! My name is Fiona Gouthro, and I am an LGO 2023 pursuing my MBA and MS in Mechanical Engineering. Before coming to MIT, I worked as a project manager in the oil and gas industry for three years. I am a proud Canadian, and I love winter sports, all-dressed chips, and the metric system. I found out about the LGO program while working on my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. It seemed like the perfect fit for me as I wanted to pursue a career where I could solve problems at the intersection of both technology and business. LGO allows you to learn from the best in both of these fields and apply your learning through project-based classes and internships with industry-leading companies.

My biggest piece of advice during the application process is to be specific with your goals for graduate school, recognize how MIT can help you achieve those goals, and identify how you can contribute to the MIT community. During my application process, I spent a lot of time researching specific classes and labs, engineering disciplines, and clubs that fit my interests and goals. I found it extremely helpful to reach out to students and professors if I had any questions about what I was reading online. Everyone I reached out to was incredibly responsive and helpful. If you are able to call out these specifics and tie them to your personal goals, it shows initiative and interest in the program and the school. Remember that identifying these in your application does not mean that you cannot explore new interests once you get to MIT!

Feel free to reach out with any questions you have. Good luck! You got this! 🙂


We asked the LGO Class of 2023 to provide one piece of advice they would give to incoming LGO students preparing their applications. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Invest equal amounts of time in your GMAT/GRE as in the rest of each other component in the application (essays, interviews, recommendation letters, etc.). Every piece is equally important and stubbornly studying GMAT/GRE rarely raises your score significantly.
  2. Check out the research in your engineering department and see if you can link the department’s innovative work with your own career aspirations.
  3. Take the time to think critically about what strengths and areas for growth you want to highlight in your application and pull together a collection of stories (3-5) from your past experiences (personal or professional) that highlight those key messages you want to convey.
  4. Truly understand why BOTH the MS and the MBA fit your career path/ambitions. Why not just an MBA?
  5. Be yourself in the video submission and interviews. They want to know you personally!
  6. Be introspective. Figure out what you want in your career and how LGO and the MIT community will help you get there. Then, focus on putting together the best application you can. Attend as many events you can to understand the application process and reach out to LGO Admissions if you have any questions at all!
  7. Find someone in your family, friend group, or work that you trust to be honest and impartial that is willing to read through your essays/application and give you honest feedback.
  8. As Nike’s motto goes: just do it! (No second thoughts)
  9. Reach out to professors and grad students doing the work you are interested in and attend seminars/talks related to those topics (e.g. find ways to show your face and make connections).
  10. Reflect on your life and career experiences so far and where you want to go. Take that and craft a story about how the LGO program fits in and will help you achieve your goals. Be specific!
  11. Think about how to use each detail of your application to highlight the things that are important to you and demonstrate who you are beyond the resume. Follow the suggested formatting!
  12. For the one minute video introduction, keep it light!
  13. Get in touch with a current or recent LGO if you can. You’ll get personalized advice and you can also use that time to make sure that LGO is the program that is right for you. LGO is demanding and specific, and the best way to figure out if it’s a good fit is by talking to people who have already done it.
  14. Talk to as many people as possible so you can pick up key talking points for the interview. You can also list these people in your application.
  15. Know that you’re already totally qualified. Be confident and showcase whatever you think makes you unique!

 

~

By Julie Sarasua, LGO ’23, and Fiona Gouthro, LGO ’23

 

September 15, 2021 | More

Meet the LGO ’23s: Nayeli Arellano

Get to know the LGO Class of 2023! We checked in with Nayeli Arellano from Civil and Environmental Engineering as the class transitions from the LGO Summer Core into their first Fall semester to learn more about why LGO was the best fit for her.

 

Nayeli Arellano LGO 23 New Class Feature

What were you doing before attending LGO?

Before coming to LGO, I was working in Supply Chain, holding two different positions (now that I think about it, I guess the dual degree was meant to be for me). I started as an Americas Trade Compliance Manager in 2017, leading optimization efforts that support import/export operations while interfacing with global team members, business leaders and other key stakeholders to successfully implement and upgrade the internal policies and processes, as well as identifying risks areas to develop actionable plans and procedures to maximize the organization’s performance. Additionally, in early 2020 I was appointed as the Americas E-commerce Operations Manager. I was responsible for the development of the company’s cross-border e-commerce initiative, from the 4PL’s Control Tower side. I was accountable for key metrics and vendor service level agreement monitoring and assessment to ensure optimal customer service from my local team as well as stakeholders located in different countries in the Americas and Europe.

What factors informed your decision to attend MIT LGO?

  • Perfect Fit: Having worked in Supply Chain Operations with teams all over the world, I knew LGO was the right program for me ever since I heard about it. The focus on Operations and how the program builds on the technical aspect of our respective engineering specialties while also elevating our leadership skills made it the perfect next step in my professional career.
  • Time effective: Being able to complete an MBA and an MS degree at the same time was an excellent opportunity since I was planning on getting both degrees in the near future.
  • Community: Either from virtual events or by talking to LGOs directly, I learned that LGO cohorts were known for creating tight bonds and supporting environments. Also, this program is filled with amazing people with similar interests and very different backgrounds and personalities. Of course I wanted to be part of this incredible community.

The four LGO ’23s from Mexico: (left to right) Paolo Luciano (ORC), Eduardo Maristany (AA), Nayeli Arellano (CEE), and Santiago Andrade Aparicio (NSE)

Why did you choose your specific engineering department?

I was initially interested in the Supply Chain Management Masters.  It was while I was doing my research for it that I first found the LGO program.

I have been interested in Sustainable Operations since my undergrad, and in more recent years, I started focusing in Sustainable Supply Chain. After researching the offerings from each engineering department, it was very clear to me that Civil & Environmental Engineering was the way to go. Its offerings on the different applications of Sustainability and Supply Chain are exactly what I was looking for.

Do you have any advice for future applicants?

  • Connect with as many LGOs as you can. Ask questions. Learn about the program: the good and the bad (Summer Core is hard!).
  • Do your research. Get familiar with the program, the faculty, the requirements, and the partner companies.
  • Do some soul searching and identify what you bring to LGO and what can LGO give you.
  • Be yourself. Let your passion for your discipline shine. Make sure your application reflects who you are and why you want to be part of this community.
  • Learn (at least) basic Python before you come! Seriously, it will make your life so much easier.

What is your favorite memory from the LGO Summer Core experience?

Not exactly a memory, but my favorite part of the LGO Summer Core experience was discovering that regardless of how accomplished and amazing they are, everyone is incredibly humble and approachable. There was always someone willing to help, even if it was just checking in when the deliverables piled up.

Also, being part of the most diverse class in the history of LGO (so far) and being the first Mexican female in the program is something I am very proud of!

Nayeli with fellow ’23s Toni Guiriba (MechE) and Julie Sarasua (CEE) on the Charles River

September 9, 2021 | More

LGO 2023

While colleges and universities are gearing up to start the fall semester, the newest LGO Class of 2023 has already been on-campus and in class since June. LGO’s full 24 months of curriculum begin every summer at the very start of June, when the new class comes together just as the 2nd years are graduating and re-entering the workforce. The first three months of the program are dedicated to the LGO Summer Core and is a busy time for our students as they get to know each other and get started on their credits for their dual degrees.

 

The Class of 2023 is one of our most diverse classes ever, in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, industry, work experience, engineering department distribution, and what they are hoping to accomplish over the next two years.

 

quotes for LGO '23 Profile Blog Summer 2021

LGO '23 Profile for Blog 2021

Quotes forLGO '23 Class Profile Blog

 

The 2020/21 admissions cycle was unique for many reasons, but it was also our biggest pool of applications, making this class one of the most competitive we have ever had. We were excited to welcome the LGO ’23s who are bringing a lot of new perspectives to the class, showing increasing interest in healthcare, data analytics, and sustainability focuses along with the strong manufacturing and operations that have always been at the foundation of LGO. This year we are welcoming 2 students to our newest engineering department: Nuclear Science and Engineering. These students will focus on exploring sustainable energy and will pioneer a new engineering curriculum.

 

We also have students from non-tradtional admissions pathways joining us this year. The first student to pass through Sloan’s MBA Early Admissions program and apply to join LGO has started this year in Mechanical Engineering. Sloan’s MBA Early and LGO Early (for current MIT seniors) are admissions pathways that are for undergraduates looking to get a head start on their graduate school timeline. We also have a Department of Material Science and Engineering PhD joining us to finish out his PhD along with a Sloan MBA. This is the third DSME PhD student who has pursued LGO to maximize their time at MIT and opportunities for industry research.

 

quotes for LGO '23 Profile Blog Summer 2021

LGO '23 profile blog graphic 2

quotes for LGO '23 Profile Blog Summer 2021

 

The Class of 2023 has shared a wide variety of reasons and factors that led to them joining LGO this year. Top considerations included access to MIT as a world-class institution and network, the short-term and long-term benefits and ROI of a dual degree, accelerated career outcomes, access to industry partner companies, the enthusiastic and tight-knit community of students and alumni, and the generous fellowship that is granted to each student admitted into the program. This was also a cycle where LGO was able to expand its scholarship offerings to support our diversity efforts, with the new LGO Diversity Fellowships for students who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in their life experiences, personally and/or professionally.

 

quotes for LGO '23 Profile Blog Summer 2021

quotes for LGO '23 Profile Blog Summer 2021

 

We were excited to welcome the 55 LGO ’23s earlier this summer, marking one of the biggest classes admitted into LGO. The next two years will be busy, but we are looking forward to all the newest cohort of LGOs will explore and accomplish at the intersection of business and technology.

 

August 23, 2021 | More

LGO Class of 2021 Graduation Feature: Julia Chen

Recently graduated CEE LGO ’21 Julia Chen reflects on her two years at MIT LGO. Making the most of her many projects and experiences in a difficult time, Julia showcases the true variety of opportunity around MIT. Congratulations to Julia and all the LGO ’21s!

 

What LGO and/or Sloan extracurriculars and leadership activities did you participate in? How accessible were Sloan activities and communities as an LGO student?

In LGO, I was a co-chair of the Action Learning Operations Lab Committee, member of the LGO Program Director’s Advisory Committee and Partner Relations Committee. Within Sloan, I was a Sloan Core Fellow and a Spring Fellow. I co-organized the Asia Business Conference as the Marketing Director and the ClimateTech and Energy Prize @ MIT as the Mentorship Director. I served as a Mentor for the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program for MIT undergraduate students from the School of Engineering. I also participated in several hackathons including MIT COVID-19 Challenge and Energy Hack with our fellow LGOs.

Despite LGOs being away from campus for one semester for the six month research internship, there is an abundance of opportunities for LGOs to take leadership positions and get involved with Sloan activities. The MBA program office and our fellow Sloanies are generally willing to accommodate our schedule as long as we proactively communicate and make arrangements beforehand.

LGO 2021 Graduation Julia Chen Feature

What was the most valuable leadership learning and how do you think your leadership experience will influence your future career?

I truly enjoyed my time in LGO and the wider Sloan community. Through the core semester and the core fellow program, I worked closely with many Sloanies and met friends who have been a constant source of inspiration to me. Among my closest friends from Sloan were Olga Timirgalieva, who co-founded the First Generation / Low Income Club to support underprivileged students and build an inclusive community in Sloan, and Jessica Leon, who co-founded Latinx MBA Association to empower aspiring Latinx students with educational and professional development opportunities across the US.

I am very fortunate to be close friends with many LGOs and Sloanies like Olga and Jessica. They made me realized the three things that are essential in becoming a principled, innovative leader: gratitude, empathy, and the ability to listen. Maintaining a grateful heart allows us to appreciate what we have, stay positive and make the most out of the less-than-ideal environments. Empathy enables us to see the needs of not just our immediate surroundings but those from the wider society. It helps us identify the opportunities to maximize our potentials. The ability to listen, not just through communication tools but truly attending to the stories of the many brilliant minds around us, motivates me to keep learning and growing. Going through 2020 with a global pandemic and many awakening moments on social issues across the world, I appreciate that my Sloan experience has offered valuable formal leadership training and, more importantly, helped me realize these important qualities as a future leader and a global citizen.

What entrepreneurial resources did you take advantage of while an MIT student? What surprised you most when learning more about entrepreneurship? How do you plan to apply these lessons in your career and broader approach to business? What advice do you have for those interested in learning more about entrepreneurship at MIT?

Over the past year, I worked on a start-up that develops droned enabled robots to address the labor shortage and workplace safety. With co-founders from MIT and Harvard, we were able to take advantage of resources from both schools and outside organizations. We received funding, awards, and mentorship support from MIT SandBox, MIT 100K, Sloan Collaborative Intelligence Competition, Mass Robotics, as well as incubator and accelerator programs such as MIT DesignX, Harvard Innovation Lab, and Launch Lab. We recently won the top prize from RaboBank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize.

The key takeaways from my start-up entrepreneurship experience were to stay agile and disciplined. Agility helps startups re-orient from failures and move on to the next iteration. Discipline allows us to stay focused under resource constraints while exploring different opportunities. Besides start-up entrepreneurship, I am also a believer of corporate entrepreneurship where innovators and ventures are able to leverage the technical and business resources from established organizations to create impact opportunities. In the corporate environment, our organizational processes learnings from Sloan through the three lenses framework offers practical guidance in navigating structural, culture and political dynamics for the success of corporate entrepreneurs.

LGO 21, DPT 2019, Julia Chen Graduation
2019 Domestic Plant Trek

How has DEI engagement in LGO changed since you became a student? What were your ideals and goals motivating your participation in DEI in LGO? What was your experience as an international student in LGO? How have you had an impact on the program?

It has been extremely encouraging to see the transformation of LGO as result of joint efforts from the program staff and the LGO students on DEI-related issues. In 2020 we started the Active Allyship Committee aiming to create an inclusive environment that empowers talents from all ethnicities, genders, and nationalities. As an international student and a minority in my previous professional experience, I see firsthand the value of a diverse workplace. It has been an extraordinary experience learning about the granularity of DEI issues in different organizations and societies while exploring implementable solutions. In the past year, I led a group of LGO students and started an outreach exercise examining DEI practices from LGO Partner Companies. While we celebrate a more diverse incoming Class of 2023, I truly hope we continue the effort to make LGO an all-rounded program with global perspectives.

LGO 21 Lavender Graduation, Julia Chen Graduation
2021 Graduation

What did you do before LGO? Why did you decide to attend LGO? How have your expectations about your career post-LGO changed as you went through the program? What was the pivotal moment that you decided to switch industries (pre or during LGO)?

I worked as a project manager on large-scale building and infrastructure projects in Hong Kong prior to LGO. I have been an advocate for new technologies to improve productivity in my past projects. The experience made me realize the need for additional engineering and business training to develop innovative solutions for traditional industries transitioning into the future of works. The interdisciplinary nature of our LGO cohort and the flexibility offered by the curriculum has helped prepare me to achieve these career goals.

LGO '21 Group in front of MIT Dome, Julia Chen Graduation Graphic
LGO ’21s in Killian Court

How was the recruiting experience? What resources were most helpful during recruitment? What are you looking forward to in the next step of your career?

The Class of 2021 has gone through an unusual recruitment season through the pandemic and it was particularly challenging as an international student to find opportunities in the US. I am grateful for the LGO and Sloan alumni network during job search, interview preparation, full-time position matching or role creation process. I am excited to share that I will be joining Amgen’s Global Operations Leadership Program and becoming part of the team delivering Amgen’s sustainability target.

 

June 22, 2021 | More

MIT LGO Best Thesis Award 2021: AJ Tan

After MIT’s virtual Commencement Ceremonies, the LGO program held another virtual celebration for the Class of 2021. As a yearly tradition, the LGO program celebrated each member of the class with friends and family in attendance, and the winner of the LGO Best Thesis award was announced.

This year’s best thesis winner was AJ Tan, who developed deep learning image augmentation to improve performance of automated visual inspection (AVI) systems at Amgen. AJ developed deep learning tools to generate synthetic images for training AVI systems. Synthetic images significantly increased the overall accuracy of visual inspection systems, leading to smaller false eject and accept rates and less manual reinspection. AJ’s tools also reduced characterization and setup time for new products as images are artificially generated. AJ was advised by Duane Boning, the Clarence J. LeBel Professor in Electrical Engineering, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the EECS department, and Roy Welsch, the Eastman Kodak Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management and Professor of Statistics and Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan.

Of the project and its impact, AJ said: “This is probably one of the most exciting projects I have worked on. At its core, the project is about figuring out how to use deep learning for machine vision in a small data environment. It is exciting because many companies do actually operate in this environment but most research publications often overlook this fact. If we can provide some solutions to the small data problem, then the range of companies that can actually benefit from the deep learning revolution will be increased significantly.”

Best Thesis 2021, AJ Tan

One of AJ’s advisors described his research as “a comprehensive analysis of how the engineering solutions would reduce the need for detailed defect characterization, reduce training and inspection time and, therefore save enough to more than justify their cost while providing a basis for further development of savings in the future.” An LGO Alumni reviewer cited that AJ’s research was “well designed and implemented, clearly an extraordinary amount of work for the LGO internship period.”

Earlier this month, AJ received his MBA and MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from LGO program. He joined the program after finishing his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at MIT and holds a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Post-LGO, AJ has accepted a position with Amgen.

 

June 14, 2021 | More

New Industry Partner: NextEra Energy

Earlier this year, NextEra Energy joined the lineup of LGO industry partner companies. A leading clean energy company, NextEra is the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy and operates the largest regulated utility company in the United States. NextEra has been recognized as a Top 20 Innovative Company by Fortune and received the S&P Global Platts Energy Transition Award in 2020.

NextEra is offering internships and recruiting in how energy is delivered to thousands of homes and businesses. NextEra offers challenges that are compelling in their content and their scale. Already the largest operator of renewable generation in the world, NextEra is investing in technologies such as green hydrogen, fleet electrification solutions, and distributed water hubs that will contribute to the long-term sustainability of how Americans meet their basic needs. NextEra Energy launched its first LGO internship this month with Gustavo Castillo, MechE LGO ’22, who will analyze and build models for EV adoption and infrastructure build out.

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June 11, 2021 | More

Pride Month 2021: Andrew Foster, LGO ’19

Why did you decide on attending MIT LGO?

As soon as I learned about LGO, I felt as if it were a no-brainer. “Two MIT degrees in two years” is hard to ignore. And I think the value proposition just grew stronger and stronger as I learned more. In particular, I loved how the program so closely integrated business, operations, and technology. That was exactly where my interests laid, and I think the way LGO weaves them together is unparalleled. When I met the people (students, professors, and administration) I was just so thrilled – it was just such an inspiring, engaging, smart, and genuinely friendly group.

Pride month 2021 Blog graphic, Andrew Foster LGO '19

Where do you currently work and what do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I’m currently a consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where I’ve focused on a broad range of digital topics, including optimizing IT functions, doing studies on digital marketing, and helping enterprise tech companies go to market more effectively.

This is not necessarily a typical path for LGOs, but I have still found my time at LGO to be immensely valuable in this role. All the lean manufacturing principles I learned in LGO applied directly to the agile development work I’ve done with IT organizations, and all the experience I got around IoT has been really helpful in my work with my current tech client.

I have really enjoyed continuing to operate at the intersection of technology and business, but I have to say that my favorite part of the job continues to be the people. BCG was the biggest employer of MIT Sloan grads in my year, so the culture and people are aligned in all the right ways.

 

What is your favorite memory from your time at LGO?

It’s so hard to pick just one! You just pack so many moments into those 2 years.

The one that comes to mind was at the end of LGO Summer Core (for context – LGOs start about 3 months before Sloan starts at the beginning of June every year) when we did class superlatives at our last group lunch of the summer. I helped draft and present the superlatives, so I’m admittedly biased, but I just loved the event. We had so many funny and heartwarming anecdotes to share about our classmates and professors – it made me realize how much we had come together as a group in less than 3 months.

Honorable mention also goes to serving as COO of MIT Driverless, which is North America’s first student-run driverless racing team. LGO sponsored the team and helped us win 3rd place at a large international competition.

Pride month 2021 Blog graphic, Andrew Foster LGO '19
Andrew riding in a BMW electric racing vehicle on a Formula-E track, which one of the MIT Driverless sponsors, Magna International, invited the team to attend.

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

I know this is a cop out, but I have to say two things. They’re both equally good in my book.

First, limit work-in-process (WIP)! It’s life changing. I even go so far as to fold my laundry and place it directly into my drawers. And even as a consultant it helps me and my team be so much more efficient

Second is the growth mindset. Of course, the hard skills I mentioned above have been super valuable, but LGO also taught me how to get comfortable being uncomfortable and gave me the confidence and toolkit I needed to quickly grow and learn in different situations.

 

How were you able to engage with LGBTQ+ communities at MIT?

I was one of the co-presidents of Sloan Pride, which is Sloan’s LGBTQ+ affinity group. This was a great way to meet queer peers across programs and years. We had various social events, including a weekend in Provincetown that I helped organize in my 2nd year. I’m still close with a lot of the people in that group – I actually just saw two of them last weekend!

MIT also has broader campus-wide resources that I engaged with. At one point I was pulled into a lunch with MIT Chancellor (Cynthia Barnhart) to help offer perspective on how MIT might respond to a ballot proposition for banning gender neutral bathrooms in Massachusetts. The proposition thankfully did not pass, but I deeply appreciated that MIT leadership had the foresight and care to consider the potential impact on transgender and genderqueer members of the community.

 

What are your hopes for the future of diversity in LGO and in industry?

I, of course, hope that LGO and industry will eventually reflect the diversity of the communities they serve – in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, and other underrepresented groups/identities. Like many organizations, LGO is still on a journey for the first two groups, although I’d argue LGO has been good on the third (albeit with a small N, as my LGO stats professor would be quick to point out!)

For me, diversity is just a first step. What I really hope for is inclusion and I do think LGO and, more broadly, MIT are ahead of the curve there. For example, every year MIT hosts the Hack for Inclusion, which is an incredibly empowering, inspiring, and action-oriented event. In the year I attended, my team designed a concept for an open job platform where candidates could take double-blind talent assessments to help connect them with qualified opportunities in an unbiased way. Other teams came up with dozens of innovative concepts, such as a smart cane for visually impaired people. That particular idea was sponsored by Microsoft, which made its first investment in a smart cane startup two years later.

Pride month 2021 Blog graphic, Andrew Foster LGO '19
Andrew attending the 2019 Hack for Inclusion, sporting a Sloan Pride t-shirt!

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

LGO and MIT offer incredible opportunities. I would do it again in a heartbeat, so if you’re at all on the fence, I’d strongly encourage you to apply. I think the more you learn about it, the more you’ll like it.

And if you do decide to apply – let your personality show! So many people get caught up trying to come across a certain way, and that ultimately makes their application or interview performance less memorable. I’d still recommend practicing for the interview and getting input on your essay from others, but I hope you never let that dampen or alter who you are.

 

June 7, 2021 | More

The Playbook: An MIT LGO Podcast #13

Gene Kim is a multiple award winning CTO, DevOps researcher, and co-author of The Phoenix Project and The Unicorn Project. In this episode, we chat about Gene’s experiences at Tripwire and what high-performance looks like, as defined by the State of DevOps report. We also touch on the importance of culture, the criticality of psychological safety, and the imperative for developers and leaders to have the courage to say what they’re really thinking.

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 students, alumni, and industry leaders to share pages from their unique Playbooks through stories of impactful experiences. Join us to learn more about our diverse community while gaining tangible skills for the future.

 

May 6, 2021 | More