What Sloan and MIT meant to me?
published: Aug. 1, 2013, recorded: October 2005, views: 2218
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To hear her tell it, Carly Fiorina’s year at the Sloan School proved pivotal to her education and career. She was “constantly running into brilliant people, faculty and students, which was both inspiring and intimidating.” As a mid-career professional, she found the program “extremely rigorous,” and “worried about every grade and test.” This challenging atmosphere was due in no small part to the fact that Sloan was part of MIT, “an institution that celebrates discipline and hard work.” Fiorina reads down a list of courses from her MIT transcript, noting that in Applied Economics, where she was “stressed to the max,” game theory taught her that “people could do irrational things simply because they thought someone else might behave irrationally.” And in Organizational Psychology, she “role-played through difficult negotiation sessions, and watched how rational well-meaning people could devolve incredibly quickly into ‘I win, you lose’ negotiating patterns.”
Fiorina pinpoints several critical aspects of her experience. MIT Sloan values balance and “exposure to all disciplines,” she notes. So while she took intensely quantitative courses, she also did readings in power and responsibility, including Zen and the Art of Archery. MIT Sloan emphasized collaboration, and Fiorina learned that “value is created at the boundaries between disciplines.” This is a lesson, remarks Fiorina, with a great deal of relevance for a CEO, and for those in charge during such crises as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, when problems “cannot be solved simply through vertical chains of command.” The ultimate take-home point for Fiorina, gained on her last day, was that “success and life are not a destination but a journey, and every step, even the hard ones, are important.”
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