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.