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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

LGO Students Develop Business Leadership Skills with Outward Bound


By Leah Schouten
LGO Admissions and Career Development Coordinator



The Class of 2012 on the Thompson Island dock

On June 4, MIT and the Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program bid farewell to the Class of 2010. Graduation time is always bittersweet. As one class moves on, we welcome another talented, diverse and ambitious group of students.

LGOs begin their academic journey with The Universe Within, a required week-long course that is part of an ongoing two-year business leadership curriculum. As part of this first week of class, LGOs spend a day on an Outward Bound adventure that covers the theory and practice of leadership, encourages reflection on personal practice and experience, and provides a solid leadership foundation for the 24 months to come.

After arriving on Thompson Island via ferry, the 48 class members broke off into their eight cohorts — the teams they would work in throughout the LGO summer program. I joined Team 3 for the day to get an insider's perspective on how the group formed its own identity through a progression of outdoor activities, experiential learning exercises, and physical and mental challenges.

In the morning session, our team had the task of conquering a 60-foot climbing wall. With support and encouragement, every student on Team 3 climbed the wall — some were even bold enough to do it blindfolded!


Jason Chen, MIT LGO ’12, takes on the wall blindfolded

The afternoon session was less physically rigorous and more geared towards creative problem solving. Teams were given a specific goal for an activity and time to plan and strategize.

Teams then worked together to reach the goal and followed up with guided discussion and debrief. What went well? What didn't? How did the team work together? Where did the team fall apart? It was quickly apparent that each team featured different leadership styles and personalities, and groups were challenged to navigate these differences with inclusion and respect.

Throughout the day, I was struck by how the team members helped each other to build confidence, trust and resiliency. Every task and activity required intense communication and thoughtfulness and relied on listening skills, following directions and collaboration to succeed.

It was remarkable to see the level of cooperation and trust among LGOs, who had only known one another for days. Whether belaying a climber, providing a helping hand across a tightrope, offering an encouraging word or singing the ABC's (three times over) while trying to balance atop a large wooden plank, every person contributed.


Team 3 and 4!

At LGO, business leadership development and practice opportunities do not end at the conclusion of the The Universe Within. Spanning their 24 months at LGO, on internship and in the classroom, students cultivate leadership skills through skill development, practice and reflection. They also learn what it takes to balance detachment with involvement and to combine commitments to innovation and action.

Throughout the program, LGOs have opportunities to put their business leadership skills and classroom knowledge into action. All students go on a 6.5 month internship at an LGO partner company, where they address a significant industry need. They are also involved in LGO program management through a variety of committees, participate in case competitions at Sloan and go on domestic and international plant treks. The possibilities are endless.

Despite not being able to lift my arms for nearly a week, I genuinely enjoyed and valued this time spent with the 2012s. I can't wait to see how they continue growing closer as a class, developing their business leadership capabilities and helping one another face whatever challenges come their way.


Brian Hendrickson, MIT LGO ’12, gets lifted by his classmates

To learn more about LGO, please visit our page with MBA program FAQs. Or, find out about MBA internships available through the LGO program.

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