LGO Students Blog

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  • Women’s History Month Feature

    Why LGO?
    After 5 years in consulting I had learned a lot about how to work in teams, communicate, and deliver; I didn’t feel like my work had much impact. I wanted to double down on my Industrial Engineering undergrad degree and transition to a career in operations in a way that would accelerate my career and allow me to see that my work was meaningful. LGO was distinctly appealing to me because in addition to the dual degree element, it had a strong focus on leadership development. The tight knit community and continued opportunities to work learn and practice leadership were a big part of the reason I chose to go to LGO, and I’m so glad I did!

    What are you doing post-LGO?
    I’m currently Vice President of Operations at HelloFresh, and am responsible for our Culinary, Product and Procurement teams. I joined HelloFresh’s Special Operations team in 2016 and have had the opportunity to work up and down the supply chain: leading a fulfillment Center (twice!), scaling our Procurement Operations team, setting up our Supply Chain Analytics team, leading our first ever acquisition and integration of Green Chef, and more. I’ve enjoyed being part of the ops leadership team that took this company public, through several years of massive growth, and delivered a profitable year in 2019!

    What has been your biggest takeaway from your time at MIT?
    I truly appreciate MIT’s motto “mens et manus” - Mind and Hands. Knowledge is nothing if you don’t have practical experience in applying it. At MIT I experienced how practice cements knowledge, and taking the time to reflect after big decisions or events has helped me learn how to be more effective. LGO provided practice not only in its curriculum, but also through the experiences of my other 49 peers - it would take several lifetimes to gather that practice, yet this tight knit community gives me access to them in a matter of minutes (even 4 years after graduating!)

    03/16/20

  • Women’s History Month Feature

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    Why LGO?
    “In my previous job, I had been observing a ‘gap’ between technical and business teams that created obstacles and elongated the process of reaching a goal. When I decided to pursue my passion in environmental sustainability, I realized that I need to master both sides to ‘close the gap’ and expedite real-life implementation for innovative solutions. I believe that the combination of leadership, business management, and technical knowledge that LGO offers will enable me to amplify my impact on the world. Besides, the tightly-knit LGO family is just the best!”

    What is the coolest project you’ve been able to work on since coming to MIT and LGO?
    “Last semester, my team worked with a startup which is growing and supplying pink algae for cattle feed that can reduce cattle’s methane emission by 80%! This semester, I am doing a project on building a product to help Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) patients with their thermoregulation, and a simulation of global carbon cycle - understanding how the Earth’s temperature changes will affect our planet’s carbon inventory and atmospheric carbon dioxide level.”

    How have you been able to engage with communities of women at MIT and LGO?
    “I like to seek out more-experienced female colleagues as “life mentors”. They help me figure things out when I have big life decisions, no matter if it involves academics, personal, or much more. At MIT, we have SWIM (Sloan Woman In Management) and I helped conduct an Ask Me Anything session about “Women In Workplace”, where people create open dialogue. More importantly, in LGO we have Ladies’ Wine and Cheese events! What’s better than aging a friendship over an aging wine ;)”

    03/09/20

  • Black History Month Feature

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    Why LGO?
    I chose LGO because the program offers an attractive balance between technical, business, and leadership experiences while surrounded by a great community of people. I want to leverage my engineering background in leading diverse teams to build and deliver transformative technology products. LGO not only provides me with the extensive toolkit needed to be successful in this space, but also welcomes me into the broader LGO family.

    What has been your biggest takeaway from your time at MIT?
    Since starting at MIT, I have come to realize that the journey is more important than the destination. We all are capable of accomplishing monumental goals in our lifetime. However, the paths we take will vary and differ. I am now more intentional about being mentally present each day, and subsequently taking the time to reflect on my experiences.

    What are your hopes for diversity in LGO and in industry?
    I feel strongly about maintaining diversity in LGO so that others who look like me can have this opportunity as well. Diversity brings different perspectives and backgrounds together, which has the power for great discussion and learning. Moving forward, I have three goals for diversity in LGO and industry:

    1) Sustained partnerships between LGO and diversity-oriented professional organizations such as MLT, NSBE, SHPE, and SWE.  

    2) LGO continues to increase the number of diverse protagonists for case-based discussions in the classroom.

    3) Companies will prioritize and dedicate resources towards creating inclusive workplace environments

    02/21/20

  • Black History Month Feature

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    Why LGO?
    I love operations, and I always wanted to become the leader who makes the difference in people’s lives. I saw LGO as the best place where I could equip myself with the tools to become a better leader. MIT LGO was not only the place where I expanded my knowledge in operations, but it was also a place where I felt super blessed for being able to share times with a group of amazing, talented and supportive classmates. Trust me, I was not taking anything for granted.

    What advice or resources would you recommend for interested LGO prospectives and applicants?
    So, the advice that I have for you, prospective applicant, would be that if you are ready to let your light shine so that others can see you as a model of excellence, if you want to fulfill your dream so that others can see it as an opportunity to do the same, I strongly recommend that you apply to the MIT LGO program. Don’t let the world around you tell you that it will be impossible for you to get into the school because you are not a perfect candidate. Instead, remind them that a tiny light always overcome darkness, that you will not give up, and that you will find a way to shine. I believe you can do this. I believe in you.

    02/14/20

  • New Student Feature

    What were you doing before LGO?
    “I was working at Amgen as a Strategic Planning and Operations Manager. My main focus was on data science and information technology but I was lucky to be involved in a broad spectrum of projects. Before Amgen I worked for a scientific computing company called Wolfram Research as a technology specialist.”

    Why did you decide on LGO?
    “I felt like it was the right time in my career to take a step back and refocus on improving my technical and managerial skill set. I thought LGO was exactly what I was looking for: a program offering broad technical knowledge with real-world experience.”

    What are you looking forward to doing while at MIT?
    “I’m looking forward to meeting new people, learning new things, and gaining a better understanding of the role technology will continue to play in industry.”

    12/06/19

  • New Student Feature

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    What were you doing before LGO?
    “I spent the last decade in the United States Marine Corps serving as an attack helicopter pilot. When I wasn’t flying, I took on many leadership roles in operations and aircraft maintenance across the globe. At my last duty station, I also got involved in standardizing some of the procedures and cockpit systems to help transition the service to a new aircraft series. By far, my favorite part of the job was the people that I’ve met and learned from along the way.”

    Why did you decide on LGO?
    “I’ve always been at the crossroads of engineering and business. I had a really great engineering experience as an undergraduate that I wanted to continue, and I also wanted to translate the leadership and management skills that I learned in the military to business. The world-class education that MIT offers speaks for itself, but what really drew me to LGO was all the inspiring people that I’ve met from across many different industries. Some are my classmates, some are from partner companies, and many are just visitors. The one thing that they have in common is the goal of making a positive impact on operations, and being part of such a team was the right decision for me.”

    What are you looking forward to doing while at MIT?
    "I am completely aligned with MIT’s motto of Mens et Manus, and there is no other program comparable to LGO when it comes to that. Naturally, I am looking forward to applying what I have learned in class during my internship with one of the partner companies. I am thankful for this opportunity and for my classmates, and I can’t wait for the future!”

    11/19/19

  • New Student Feature

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    What were you doing before LGO?
    “Before LGO, I was working in international relief and development, advising on the technical design of water and sanitation projects, supporting disaster relief efforts, facilitating knowledge sharing among country offices, and building field staff capacity.”

    Why did you decide on LGO?
    “Over the course of 7+ years in the field, I had carried both managerial and technical responsibilities, and I wanted to grow in both areas. I loved the intentionality with which LGO integrated these two competencies, and I was drawn to the practical, hands-on, collaborative nature of the program.”

    What are you looking forward to doing while at MIT?
    “While at MIT, I’m excited to connect with like-minded leaders and innovators via the Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab, D-Lab, or Water Club. I’m also looking forward to taking unique classes offered by some pretty impressive faculty.”

    10/30/19

  • New Student Feature

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    What were you doing before LGO?
    “Prior to LGO, I worked in consulting for ~4 years at Boston Consulting Group in both the Chicago and Berlin offices. I worked in a variety of industries including Retail and Industrial Goods, focusing primarily on projects related to supply chain and advanced analytics.”

    Why did you decide on LGO?
    “I was originally drawn to LGO based on my interest in solving complex operational problems that companies were facing and translating the results into actionable business recommendations. LGO offered a unique opportunity to develop my knowledge base and skill set in both engineering and business at an institution that was world-renowned in both disciplines. However, the non-academic aspect of LGO was equally as appealing to me. Once I visited campus and saw the tight-knit community that the class of ~50 students had developed, I was convinced that LGO was the right place for me.”

    What are you looking forward to doing while at MIT?
    “I’m most looking forward to getting to know my other classmates and becoming friends with all of the talented and interesting people that are part of LGO, Sloan, and the broader MIT community. In addition, I’m looking forward to learning from professors who are leaders in their respective fields and are at the forefront of cutting edge research. MIT has so many exciting opportunities, and I can’t wait to take advantage of them over these next two years.”

    10/02/19

  • LGO: Year 1

    2019 Harrison Smith awardee, LGO ‘20 Nalaka Kahawatte, reflects on his time at LGO before starting his second year!

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    By Nalaka Kahawatte, LGO 2020

    Hi Everyone! Nalaka here from LGO Class of 2020. 

    Brief Background:

    Growing up in Sri Lanka, I always dreamed about designing and building flying machines: airplanes, rockets, etc. I wanted to someday work for an aerospace company and I feel very fortunate that California State University, Chico gave me a scholarship that made it possible for me to come to the United States and study Mechatronics. Afterwards, I got the opportunity to learn more about factory automation at RobbJack Corporation and while working there, I completed a Masters in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at University of California, Davis.

    Before LGO, I contributed to the NMA and 787 programs as a Lead Engineer and 737MAX as a Controls Engineer, and served as an Acting Engineering Manager at The Boeing Company. It was really exciting and rewarding to work with a team of computational fluid dynamics, thermal analysis and ice protection experts who supported multiple development programs: 777X, KC-46 Pegasus Multirole tanker, VC-25B presidential aircraft, etc.

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    LGO Experience:

    LGO has been an incredible experience so far! During the first summer, even though it was academically intense, I got the chance to bond with my fellow LGO classmates. It is awesome to be surrounded by such an accomplished, passionate, brilliant, and yet down-to-earth, group of people. They have constantly challenged my perspective and inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and grow as a leader. During the MBA Core, I also had the chance to bond with all my Sloan classmates as the Chant Leader for my Ocean (CARIIIIBBEANS!!), which was a lot of fun.

    My main engineering focus area is Supply Chain (within Civil Engineering) and, from the business-side, I love diving deep into the areas of Competitive Strategy, Economics, and Lean Operations. I am wrapping up my internship with the partner company Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen (MR) in Regensburg, Germany, where I focused primarily on business models for electrical power transformer monitoring tools.

    Living and working in Germany as part of my internship has been a transformative experience. I loved working with the brilliant Venture Architects team at MR and learning the German language (which is not as easy as I thought, by the way), culture, and history. Every weekend, my family and I explored different beautiful areas in Bavaria and neighboring countries like Austria, Switzerland and Czech Republic.

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    Balancing LGO with Family Life:

    My lovely wife is Taniya and we have an amazing two-year old, Ayla. We love spending time with Ayla and she brings us so much joy into our lives. She’s full of energy and she loves exploring. She also loves numbers, the alphabet, jigsaw puzzles and…elevators!  Everywhere we go (malls, museums, etc.), we end up spending at least 15 minutes going up and down the elevator while she keeps yelling out the numbers of each floor.

    Coming to LGO with a 10-month old baby, I was nervous at first. But the incredible support from my amazing wife makes it all possible. During the semester, I start my day early and get to school around 6AM. That gives me plenty of time to focus on the preparation for classes that day. Between and after class, I spend time on homework and call it a day around 6pm. I try to maintain the same schedule on Fridays even though we don’t have classes. My LGO and MBA teammates have been very accommodating, and we do not schedule any meetings outside of these hours.

    This structure has helped me not worry about schoolwork and be fully present when I am at home during the evenings and weekends. You will also learn a lot of Lean tools that can be used to increase productivity not only in Business Operations but also in your personal life.

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    Housing:

    We lived on-campus for the first semester and it was a very pleasant experience. Westgate complex has a large play area that my daughter and I loved spending almost every evening in. It is also nice that the main recreational facilities (Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, soccer fields, track, etc.) are nearby and we are excited to take Ayla to swim lessons offered by MIT Recreation during the weekends. There is also an added benefit of on-campus housing when it comes to internship logistics: no penalty for moving out if you choose to do a February-start internship outside of Boston. We will be moving back to Westgate after the internship.

    Best Advice I Received:

    The Boeing Company has an incredible network of LGO alumni and many of them provided valuable advice and insights throughout the process of applying. (Shout out to Laura Bogusch, Adam Marshall, Tom Sanderson, Brandon Gorang and Guillermo Pamanes!). One common piece of advice from all of them was: “It will be the best and most transformative two years of your life, so soak it all in and make the most of every minute, hour, and day!”  

    It can be nerve-wracking to go back to school full time for two degrees plus an internship in two years, especially if you have to uproot your family and move to Boston. At times, it may seem overwhelming logistically. It was for me.

    But know that it will be the best investment you can make in yourself and your family. Take one step at a time and also know that you have an incredible support system here at MIT who will be there for you each step of the way.

    Post LGO:

    I am super excited to go back to The Boeing Company after graduation to help design and build innovative products that Connect, Protect, Explore, and Inspire the world!

    If you have any questions about the LGO program, please feel free to reach out anytime: naka@mit.edu.

    Onwards,
    Nalaka

    08/26/19

  • A PhD or a SM/MBA?

    Every year LGO looks for the best and brightest engineers, scientists, and innovators to come in and become change makers in their field. Many times our prospective students and admits are weighing different options before saying YES to LGO. Read more from LGO 2021, Angela Murray, on her decision-making process between a PhD and the SM/MBA with LGO. 

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    By Angela Murray, LGO 2021

    Hello there! My name is Angela Murray and I am a new MIT Aero/Astro student in the LGO Class of 2021. Prior to LGO, I was working in the commercial avionics industry in LA as a software engineering manager. I really enjoyed working in industry but after 7 years I had reached a point where I wanted to take on a completely new kind of challenge and wanted to realign with my passions by pivoting to the space sector. When I started looking at graduate programs, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to deepen my technical knowledge by entering a PhD program or if I wanted to continue down the management path I had more recently embarked on. I began my research with MBA programs since that was less intimidating than the 5-6 year commitment of a PhD. I was intrigued by some of the top business programs but I feared I would not feel comfortable completely walking away from the technical side, so I began to re-entertain a long-ago plan to get a PhD in Astrodynamics. I delved further into research, talking to former professors, connecting with engineers in mission design at NASA’s JPL facility, and setting up calls with former classmates working at commercial satellite companies in both technical roles and business roles. 

    About a month into my exploration, I learned about the Leader for Global Operations (LGO) program by chance from a friend who had just visited Boston. I was really intrigued by the idea of working toward a masters in aeronautical/astronautical engineering and an MBA in parallel, especially from a university as prestigious as MIT. I began the application process for both LGO and PhD programs, asking for letters of recommendation, and working on essays and statements of purpose. At the time, I felt confident I wouldn’t get into any programs, but I was hopeful enough to try anyway. Fast forward a few months, I was lucky enough to get an interview at LGO, where I met some of my current classmates and friends and an interview for a PhD program, where I was really fascinated by the research being done in Geodesy. Not too long after, I was ecstatic to be offered admissions from both LGO and the research lab I was interested in. The next several months were torturous for me as I tried to decide which program offer to accept (although I was very aware of the fortunate position I sat in). Shortly before the admissions deadline for LGO, I attended the LGO adMIT weekend in Boston for admitted students. I was incredibly impressed by the community of accomplished people that I met and I believed that I was truly surrounded by tomorrow’s leaders. I was so compelled to be a part of this community that this is ultimately what solidified my decision to accept LGO.

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    It has been an exciting first few weeks of the summer semester packed with classes, workshops, social events, networking activities, and plant tours. Being on campus and connecting with my talented classmates has been a humbling experience but has reassured me that I made the right choice. Transitioning back to academia after 7 years in the work world has certainly been a challenge but being surrounded by this community has been tremendously motivating. One thing we all have in common is our love to learn. Despite being in the same classroom for nearly 7-8 hours some days, you can find almost the whole class in the LGO lounge down the hall after class, working on group projects, asking for help on problem sets, planning social events, and procrastinating case write ups by any means available. Our class of 45 already feels like a family.

    My advice to any prospective students going through the graduate school research process is talk to as many current students and alumni as you possibly can. Talking to former, current, and other prospective students was the absolute best way to get a feel for life on campus and it is these people that really make your experience.  

    08/12/19