FOUR QUESTIONS FOR ASSISTANT DEAN MAURA HERSON
In January, MIT Sloan began offering deferred admission to qualified college seniors. That’s not the only big news on campus. This summer, P&Q submitted a series of questions to Maura Herson, Assistant Dean of Sloan’s MBA and MSMS Programs, on topics such as how Sloan helps MBA students build relationships outside the business school and the value of Action Learning Labs. Here were her responses.
A) What are the most exciting new developments at your program? With new Assistant Dean Susan Brennan at the helm, the MIT Sloan Career Development Office (CDO) is reimagining the student and employer experience. MIT Sloan’s culture demands high-tech and high-touch solutions, and our strategy combines innovative AI technology that gives students access to feedback 24/7 with the guidance of experienced career advisors and one-on-one career conversations.
This year, our team has focused on building customized learning experiences, creating online career communities, and engaging a community of peer mentors, alumni industry advisors, and faculty to support career development as an integral part of the MIT Sloan experience.
Career activity is happening everywhere at MIT Sloan; the sheer volume of events and opportunities is astounding. In July, our team launched Your CDO, a collaborative hub for MIT Sloan’s career activities and expertise, on campus and around the world. The portal connects students with career advice, events, resources, and job postings, customized by their program and career interests. We want to ensure that every student and member of our community is aware of and able to tap into the excellent work happening at MIT Sloan.
Many admitted MBAs want to prepare for new careers right away, and this summer, our MBA advising team launched Career Foundations, a comprehensive online career course to prepare newly admitted MBAs for successful career transitions. By mid-August, 77% of the incoming class had engaged in the course.
We see our students as CEOs of their careers, and our goal is to help them understand how their unique talents and contributions can help them leave a unique fingerprint on the future of business.
B) What is the most underrated part of your program that you wish prospective students knew more about? Being MIT’s school of management is a meaningful part of our identity as a business school. This means we attract students from a wide variety of backgrounds who are interested in innovation, and in making their ideas matter in their chosen field. MIT Sloan admits students into the MBA Program from a wide diversity of undergraduate and professional backgrounds, ranging from artists to investment bankers, policy wonks to product managers. It’s the diverse mix of perspectives combined with access to the resources of MIT that nurtures new and thoughtful leadership at a time when technology is driving change at a rapid rate.
C) Sloan is part of the larger Massachusetts Institute of Technology. How do you help MBA students tap into this larger MIT ecosystem? Students access the larger MIT ecosystem through multiple channels. They can take classes at the Media Lab, the Center for Real Estate, the Department of Urban Studies or any other department at MIT. Leaders for Global Operations students simultaneously complete an engineering degree and an MBA in two years. Resources for innovation are designed to serve all students at MIT, and many clubs and initiatives including the Trust Center for Entrepreneurship are campus-wide and involve collaboration between undergrad, grad and Ph.D. students. Grad dorms integrate students from different disciplines as well, giving students who choose to live on campus informal opportunities to build community across disciplines. Upon graduation MBA students become activated as MIT alumni, which opens up lifelong access to a global network that reaches well beyond MIT Sloan.
D) Sloan is considered a pioneer in experiential learning with its Action Learning Labs. How do these labs reinforce the program’s Mens et Manus philosophy and foster the program’s team-driven approach? The core of Action Learning at MIT Sloan is the pedagogy of learning through doing—mind and hand. Students bring essential knowledge from the classroom to the field, working with host organizations through structured problem-solving to address real-world business challenges. Through a portfolio of 16+ electives covering a range of fields from analytics and healthcare operations to regional growth in China or India, students deliver pivotal solutions to organizational challenges, while benefiting from teamwork, mentor support and intentional reflection that is designed into Action Learning courses. As students work in small teams, they bring a rich diversity of skills and experience to the fore while practicing collaboration and developing their leadership capabilities.
A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Boston has emerged as a startup Mecca. In 2018, metro area ventures raised $8.8 billion in funding according to CrunchBase, a 41% boost over the previous year. In a 2019 report by Startup Genome, Boston ranked 5th in the world for its startup ecosystem – behind just Silicon Valley, New York City, Beijing, and London – thanks to high scores in talent. In fact, the Boston area boasts over 30 colleges and universities, with nearly half of its residents holding college degrees. That doesn’t count over 40 incubators and accelerators, including TechStars and the Cambridge Innovation Center. Beyond infrastructure, the area features a tradition of churning out successful ventures in recent decades, including Wayfair, TripAdvisor, HubSpot, CarGurus, and EdX.
In fact, P&Q ranked Sloan 5th for the most founders among the best-funded startups in recent years. That number can only rise as Boston area startups continue to excel. “Sloan is part of this high-powered MIT and Cambridge ecosystem, where the futures of work, energy, analytics, sports, media, and many other fields are being built,” asserts Sam Walsh. “I was searching for a program that at its core helps its students build the future, and MIT Sloan is that.”
The business school’s deep investments in the startup space, coupled with its connections to the larger university and Boston ecosystem, only amplifies the program’s value to prospective founders. “The numbers speak for themselves,” adds Carlos Delgado González. “MIT alumni have launched more than 30,200 active companies, employ 4.6+ million people and generate roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenues (10th-largest world economy). Furthermore, when you look at the resources (Martin Trust Center, 100k competition, delta v, MIT fuse, Clean Energy Prize, DesignX, Sandbox Innovation Fund, The Legatum Center, fellowships…) dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship at MIT, there is no doubt that you are at the right place if you want to start up.”
To access 12 in-depth profiles of 2021 Sloan MBA candidates, go to Page 4.
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