After receiving his Ph.D. in operations research, Robert Freund followed a path less traveled when he went to work for a consulting company. After three years, his longing for academia grew too strong to ignore, and he joined the faculty at MIT. Since 1983 Freund has been teaching management science (“Everyone’s favorite subject,” he says sarcastically) at one of the nation’s top schools.
Mix and Match
MIT represents a strange combination of being practical, and yet very research and innovation driven. We set out to develop the theories that are going to drive tomorrow’s best practices. We believe that if we put the best minds to a task, they can define the future.
MIT people are generally pretty happy and not very class-conscious. They’re too busy having a lot of fun to think about who they’re being seen with or how they’re dressing. It’s like we put a bunch of brains together and let them play.
The biggest mistake people make is worrying about competition with their fellow students. Students should set their own standards for performance because the best manager is internally motivated, not externally motivated.
Students should regard business school as their last opportunity to be on a college campus, to learn both in the classroom and from fellow students, and to make friends with some of the brightest and most dynamic people in the world – Bright and dynamic — that’s exactly what I think Sloan students are.
Choose at least some of your elective courses in areas you might not naturally gravitate toward. When you grow into your career, you’re going to be a general manager and you’ll be expected to dabble in finance, marketing, and operations. You’ve got to look at the big picture.
Give and Take
Learning outside the classroom is substantial. Students get together in study groups, bust through their assignments, and if they have problems we notify a pilot. A pilot is a fellow student who understands the material and is willing to help others. Collaboration is at the heart of business school – one person concentrates in marketing, their best friend concentrates in finance, and they learn from each other. It’s just part of the culture.
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