Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

There are a lot of ways to get involved in the Sloan community, and by a lot, I mean for every professional, personal, cultural, and recreational interest you have, it is highly likely that you will find some club or group that shares your interests.  Going into the fall, I was already involved in a few LGO committees but knew I wanted to take advantage of the club opportunities at Sloan.  Because I'm interested in high tech, I joined MediaTech and MoMIT (Mobile, Media, and Internet Technology) as well as the Marketing Club and Sloan Women in Management (SWIM).

That may seem like a lot of clubs, but I knew my involvement in most of them would be pretty minimal given everything else going on.  More than anything, I wanted to be a part of these communities (and email distributions) so that if there was an event of particular interest to me, I would have the option of going.  So far I'm glad I joined them, because I've already had the opportunity to attend networking events for each one of the clubs.  Another big perk is that they've allowed me to integrate with the Sloan community on a more personal basis.

Of the four, I am the most involved in the Marketing Club, which has a semester long marketing project that members can participate in called MarketLab.  We're grouped together based on what project we would like to work on; I am in the group that is working with a roboticist in the Media Lab.  It's a good balance between using my technical background to understand his products and applying lessons learned so far in my marketing class.  I think my group is going to get a chance to tour the Media Lab next week, which I'm pretty excited about!

Overall, extracurriculars have definitely contributed to the highlights of my semester so far.  Being on committees and clubs in both the LGO and Sloan community has been one aspect of being able to take advantage of the broad opportunities presented to us in this program.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SIP Week & Fall Semester

First off, we're well into fall and it's so beautiful along the Charles.  :)

Last week was Sloan Innovation Period (SIP).  It was basically a week where we had a break from our Sloan classes and had the opportunity to explore classes in leadership and ethics.  Since LGOs still had engineering classes last week, we had different SIP requirements than the Sloanies and didn't technically have to sign up for any additional courses beyond the Core SIP Seminar.   

The Core Seminar titled "Ethics, Values, and Voice" was introduced for the first time this year.  The week started out with a case discussion on "BP and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 2010", was followed by a panel discussion on Ethics and the Financial Sector, and ended with class discussions on ethical frameworks and decision making.  I was enrolled in another SIP class, because I'm involved in a project called MarketLab, which I'll talk about in a later post, affiliated with Sloan's Marketing Club.  This class met Mon, Tues, and Wed evening.  Being out of sync with the normal semester schedule threw me off a bit, but overall, class discussions were interesting and for my MarketLab class, I enjoyed the time spent with my team members.   

SIP week is supposed to be lighter than other weeks but I think the week is just as busy for most LGOs.  Here's a comparison of my schedule:
Normal Week
SIP Week
Regular classes have resumed again, and I have to say, it feels good to be back to my normal schedule.  A few posts ago, I talked about the classes I was enrolled in for the fall.  Things have definitely changed since that post!  MIT's add/drop policies are pretty flexible and I have taken full advantage of them.  I ended up dropping my half-term marketing elective and my engineering course and adding another engineering course (15.093J Optimization Methods)I made my add/drop decisions based on the time required for each class and how well I would or wouldn't be able to prioritize them.  I'm finding that one of my biggest constraints here has been time, and I'm constantly learning what my limits are in terms of what I can handle.       

Many of you out there may be going through the application process right now.  Becca Ford, LGO '10, wrote an awesome post with great advice regarding applications. I especially like what she wrote on essays.  She had a very realistic perspective and very helpful information on what to consider when writing them.  I got a chance to meet several prospectives yesterday during Ambassador Day.  It was great to see such a good turn out and such a strong interest in the program.  Good luck to everyone applying! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stay tuned...

How has it already been almost two months since I've last blogged?  So much has happened since the end of August.  Even though this upcoming week is SIP week, my schedule looks just as, if not, busier than my other weeks, so I think I'll write a mini series with updates starting next week.

As a reminder for myself, topics I would like to write about include:
SIP Week
Cohort/Core Team
Being an LGO in the fall

Something I would like to mention in this post for all prospective applicants is that you should definitely try to make it to the LGO Ambassador Day and/or Information Evening on Monday, October 25th.  I went last year, and I thought it was a great way to learn more about the program, meet current students, and get a feel for Boston/Cambridge (it was my first time visiting the city!).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

1 Semester Down, 3 to Go!

With 4 projects, 2 presentations, 2 project/simulation write-ups, 3 homework assignments, 1 test, and 1 paper, the last two weeks of the summer semester were pretty hectic to say the least.  But because so much of the work was group work, most teams pushed through the end by resorting to the divide-and-conquer method of completing all of the tasks.  Although it was hectic, the end of the summer was a lot less stressful than I would have imagined.

Following the final class and before our summer barbecue, we had an LGO version of the Oscars, where some of the awards worth mentioning included the Bobble Head Award (person who sleeps the most in class), the Game Show Contestant Award (person who is most likely to raise his/her hand in class), and the 1 Angry Man Award (person who was the most frustrated in class).  All of the winners received a colorful bow-tie in honor of our High Velocity professor, Steven Spear.  It was all in good fun and all of the award-winners were great sports.  :)  

All of the Summer Standouts!

One other thing I wanted to mention about the end of the semester was that we had a visit from the CEO of Flextronics, Mike McNamara, the Monday before school got out.  He was very down-to-earth and honest, and it was very interesting to learn about a company I wasn't familiar with.  The information he shared along with all of the Q and As definitely sparked my interest, and I plan to further look into what the company does.

Once the semester ended, I headed back home to San Diego.  It's been great out here as always - spent with amazing people in amazing weather.  This week is actually Sloan's pre-term week with review sessions on several of the core classes.  Because the LGOs have already taken a few of the core classes and because I wanted to take advantage of my vacation time, I decided to opt out of pre-term week.

As LGOs we went through our own orientation during the first week of June, but now we get to experience the Sloan orientation for about a week starting Monday, August 30th.  For orientation and throughout the Fall semester, the 48 LGOs will be evenly split among the six Sloan cohorts (a.k.a. oceans) and within those oceans we'll be sub-divided into smaller groups and no longer be working in our LGO summer groups.  I think Sloan sets up the groups so that no two LGOs are in the same one.  I'm looking forward to meeting my new classmates and the people in my cohort.  I'm also looking forward to the classes I'll be taking this semester which include:
15.010 Economic Analysis for Business Decisions
15.280 Communication for Leaders
15.311 Organizational Processes (often called Organizational Behavior at other b-schools)
15.516 Corporate Financial Accounting (all Sloanies and most LGOs take 15.515 Financial Accounting, but a few of us LGOs are taking this class instead due to a schedule conflict with an engineering class)
15.810 Marketing Management
15.821 Listening to the Customer (half-term course)
6.341 Discrete-Time Signal Processing

I'll also be taking two seminars:
15.972J Global Operations Leadership Seminar
15.972 Leadership and Ethics
It should be a busy semester, but I'm sure balancing the academic and social aspects of the program won't be a problem, as it wasn't over the summer.  Until next time!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Flying V!

At the beginning of the program in June, we were assigned summer groups.  At first, I had a hard time understanding what exactly being in these groups entailed, but looking back at the last two months, I don't think I could have made it this far without them!  We meet several times a week, and all of our meetings start with a group check-in where each individual will share his or her input/thoughts on classes, assignments, plant trek visits or anything going on really.  Then we try to stick to the schedule we've mapped out for the next few hours.  Give or take a few times, I think we've done a great job staying on task.  We work on everything from group projects and assignments to simulation and case study analyses.     
Mike, Dan, Matt, Greg, John, and me
Our group, team five, is named The Flying V.  We got team shirts printed, and we wear our shirts on days we have leadership class.  In case the connection between the two isn't very clear, wearing the shirts on leadership days is in line with the theme of how a flock of birds have rotating leaders, which is something we also incorporate into our meetings.  We rotate through the group on who mediates the meetings for the week, and it's been pretty effective.  We manage to take the group name one step further by sitting in a V-formation during our leadership classes.  A bit dorky, I know, but I love it!  Today was awesome, because after our group meeting most of our group headed over to the Muddy Charles, the on-campus pub, and had a few beers while we worked on our Littlefield Simulation, which is a job shop simulation where we try to maximize our revenue through operations/production-related changes in a given amount of time.
At the Muddy Charles

We've worked in these groups for a majority of the summer, but last Friday we were assigned different groups for the day for the Leadership Reaction Course we did at Camp Edwards in Cape Cod.  Both Limor and Paul give descriptions on what the day was all about in their blogs.  Our team facilitator was Dr. Jaffe, and after it was my turn to play the leader role, he told me that I had a command-and-control style of leadership in that exercise, which I thought was interesting.  I had a great time working in a group with other members of my class.  We were also lucky enough to have Patty, the Program Coordinator, in our group!  
Sid, Amil, me, Daniel, Jose, and Patty
All in all, my LGO group experiences have been amazing so far, and it's bittersweet knowing that we'll be in new study groups in the fall when we're integrated with the rest of the Sloan first-years.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took both, and that has made all the difference.

So let me back track a bit now that I've posted an entry on some of the things we've been up to since the program started. 

I was working out in San Diego, which is where I grew up, before I moved out to the Boston area.  I went to UCLA for undergrad where I studied Electrical Engineering.  I had plans to go to grad school to receive my MEng in EE at Cornell after undergrad, but I decided to take the industry route instead.  Since graduation, I've worked at two different aersopace companies in various engineering roles.  Soon after I started working, I began to discover how little I knew about the business/program side of things.  I still wanted to further my studies in engineering, but learning about business was sounding more and more appealing to me as well.  I was debating between engineering and business schools for a while until I found out that business/engineering dual degree programs existed.  After doing my research on the programs out there, I found that LGO was easily one of my top choices.  By then I had already starting taking a few business courses part-time at local community colleges to make sure that an MBA was something I really wanted to pursue as well.  I took the GMATs (I had taken the GREs my 4th year of undergrad but wanted to apply to LGO through Sloan.  Note: I am not a naturally strong test-taker, so it took me 3 (!!!) attempts at the GMATs before I was happy with my score), applied, got in, and happily accepted my offer!

Although working in aerospace provided me with great work/life experience, I came to LGO hoping to explore potential opportunities in product management, specifically in consumer technology -- a career path that seems like it might be a better fit for me.  I also came into the program knowing that I'd be exposed to so many new ideas that, although my initial course of action will still be focused towards product management, I'm open to other opportunities that may come my way as well. 

For my EE coursework, I'm planning to take classes in digital, image, and audio signal processing, which were the topics I was most interested in towards the end of my time at UCLA.  For my Sloan electives, I'm planning to primarily focus on marketing.  I'm interested in connecting products to their end customers and am hoping that a more technical background will alleviate some of the disconnect that seems to arise between the varied perspectives of those in engineering and marketing.  More to come on current courses and courses I plan to take in the fall in a later blog; for now, I should get back to preparing for a case we're going to go over in class tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The First Seven Weeks

We're seven weeks into the MIT LGO program and so much has already happened.  I realize that one post won't do the last seven weeks justice, but I thought I'd at least share a few of my favorite parts of the program thus far.

At the end of our first week, we went to Thompson Island Outward Bound - a day filled with team-building activities.  We spent the first half of our day on a ropes course (pictured below).  The last time I did one of these was in high school.  I went my sophomore, junior, and senior year to the same ropes course in Julian, CA, and I remember how each year progressively seemed more challenging than the previous one for some odd reason.  I was nervous and excited to attempt the Outward Bound course.  Sure enough, the moment I started climbing and realized how small and unstable some of the holds were, I wanted to be back on solid ground.  I slowly made my way up.  I was the second to last one to go in my group, so I had had plenty of time to plan out how I was going to get to the top.  I had decided and planned to take the cargo net route.  I managed to get past that portion of the course ok, but by the time I got to the last part of the climb, my arms were tired and shaky and I was scared.  I waited a bit to regain some strength and pushed through the rest of the course.  I definitely developed a small fear of heights over the years, because as soon as I got to the top, I was fine sitting down but only forced myself to stand since I had made it all the way up there.  It felt awesome reaching the top, but I think it felt even more awesome coming back down.  :P

Thanks to my team for being so encouraging and for all the helpful tips along the way!     
The Challenge
Starting my climb
Making my way to the top
Reluctant and tired
 Feeling safe sitting down

All of the class simulations we've had so far count as another favorite of mine from the first seven weeks.  Continuous and lean improvements, 6 sigma, and inventory, backlog, and demand have been a few of the applied lessons learned through all of the simulations.  Having had little to no background on all of these topics, I definitely feel like I've experienced a steep learning curve throughout these simulations and in several of the other classes we're taking this semester.

Another significant event I wanted to write about in this post was not directly program related but was a day spent with my fellow classmates; it was spending the 4th of July at MIT's Sailing Pavilion.  A few of us got there earlier in the day to stake out a large enough area for all 60+ LGOs, SOs, friends, and family who made it out.  It was a great day followed by the most impressive showing of fireworks I have ever seen. I even managed to tag along with a few others on a sail around the Charles during the afternoon.  Below is a picture of me and my roommate, Limor, another LGO '12, sitting at the deck of the pavilion on the 4th.  

Finally, the CLGO visit was a very notable part of the summer so far as well.  It was so great to meet our Shanghai Jiao Tong University counterparts.  The BBQs and nights out with the CLGOs were a lot of fun, and the shared discussions were invaluable.  Hearing their perspective on the program and on business was very interesting and definitely left an impression on me.

If you are an LGO inquirer, you may have received an email that a fellow LGO '12, Jason Chen, wrote.  He did an awesome job summarizing the LGO program thus far and also added his own testimony.  If monthly program updates are of interest to you, I'd definitely recommend signing up for them: Request for Information. (As one of the co-chairs for the New Student Recruiting Communications subcommittee, I couldn't help but put in a plug for the program.) :)

Thanks for bearing through my first entry.  It was a bit of a long one, but I'm hoping there won't be a seven week gap between any future posts.