THINKING FORWARD – Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management


Ideas for your work from
MIT Sloan School of Management | Office of Communications

June 13 – June 19, 2021

1. The market for tech engineers is highly competitive. At the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, technology executives detailed the ways they have modernized their hiring processes to adapt.

  • Ask the right questions. Traditionally, when a company is hiring engineering talent, it might ask about a candidate’s technical skills. Now, soft skills are part of that mix.

    At Travelers Insurance, hiring managers will ask a candidate about a situation or problem, then have that person explain how they would address it. “The more specific they are, the more you can learn from that,” said Mojgan Lefebvre, Travelers’ executive vice president and chief technology and operations officer.

  • Revamp the hiring process. To speed up hiring, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center cut the number of interviews it conducts with candidates. “Good engineers have a choice on where to work, and if your ‘talent competition’ does things in a leaner and more effective fashion, that makes it harder for you to hire the right people,” said Claus Jensen, then the chief digital officer and chief technology officer at MSK.
  • Offer alternative career paths. MSK’s “distinguished technologist” career path shows tech candidates who might not want to be people managers that there is still room for individual growth and opportunity.


2. In June 2020, MIT Sloan launched The Bias Cut, a women’s leadership series profiling the career paths and creative problem-solving of alumnae. One year in, here is bedrock career advice from female executives and experts:

  • Meet your problems head on, no matter who or what they are. Whether it’s being ignored in meetings or passed over for job opportunities, alumnae said speaking up in the moment was the most effective way to shed light on, and resolve, roadblocks.
  • Learn from your mistakes. One executive was dismayed when her heads-down work ethic failed to earn her the attention she needed to gain a promotion. Another realized that trying to mimic her predecessor’s management style was seen as inauthentic by her employees. In all cases, a course correction solved the problem and reset the women’s careers.
  • If you can’t find the support you need, create your own. “We need a place to talk openly and honestly about what it really takes to excel in our jobs,” said Angelique Adams, an executive at steel producer Aperam and creator of The Lady Visitor Project on LinkedIn. “We need a place to celebrate our wins and lift us up when we stumble.”


3. Many Western politicians and business executives still don’t get China. Writing in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan senior lecturer Elsbeth Johnson and Oxford historian Rana Mitter say many people have wrongly assumed that political freedom would follow new economic freedoms in China and that its economic growth would be built on the same foundations as in the West.

The authors suggest that those assumptions are rooted in three myths about modern China:

Economics and democracy are two sides of the same coin. In China, growth came in the context of stable communist rule, suggesting that democracy and growth are not inevitably mutually dependent.

Authoritarian political systems can’t be legitimate. Many Chinese not only don’t believe that democracy is necessary for economic success, they do believe that their form of government is legitimate and effective.

The Chinese live, work, and invest like Westerners. Chinese consumers, who have lived through turbulent times, make choices in a more short-term way than Westerners do. But policymakers, looking for ways to gain control over the future, play a longer game than the West does.

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