How do successful leaders use networks? What sorts of problems most often derail IT projects? Is Twitter strategic?
These were just a few of the questions pondered by the participants attending McIntire’s second annual Knowledge Continuum, a two-day executive residency designed to provide alumni of McIntire’s M.S. in MIT Program and other IT professionals with a continuation of their academic learning experience. The Continuum was held Oct. 29-30 in the McIntire School of Commerce’s Rouss & Robertson Halls.
“We were delighted to see our alumni back on Grounds for the 2009 Knowledge Continuum,” says IT Professor Ryan Nelson, who, with Director of Graduate Alumni Development Nicole Fitzwater, helped to initiate the program last year. “It’s a win-win situation. Not only are we able to provide our alumni with cutting-edge research on such critical topics as networking, innovation, social media, and best practices in project management, but our alumni also provide us with tremendous insight into the sorts of challenges—and solutions—they’re seeing every day.”
Participants in the program got the full “back to school” experience, with the opportunity to hear from—and actively engage with—Management Professor Rob Cross; IT Professors Stefano Grazioli, Peter Gray, Ryan Nelson, and Gigi Kelly; and world-renowned leadership communication expert Belle Halpern, who helped found leadership consultancy The Ariel Group. Of course, the Continuum wasn’t all work and no play: Students and faculty also enjoyed an evening out in downtown Charlottesville, and had a look at original documents from the Lewis and Clark expedition in the University’s Small Special Collections Library, accompanied by an analysis of the “project management” aspects of the expedition with IT Professor Gigi Kelly.
“Having attended the Knowledge Continuum last year, I was interested to see how the content would be revived and refreshed,” says Drew Vozzolo (M.S. in MIT ‘06), an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton. “I was very pleased to find that the content had not only changed, but had a completely new trajectory, while still in keeping with the M.S. in MIT mantra that IT is only as valuable as the business strategy behind it.” Moreover, Vozzolo says he left the Continuum with a number of valuable “takeaways” in the areas of leadership, strategy, workforce management, and networking. Factor in the “Hit Song Science” discussion with Music Intelligence Solutions CEO David Meredith (M.S. in MIT ’03) and the outstanding and unorthodox leadership workshop with Belle Halpern’s Ariel Group, he says, and “this year’s Knowledge Continuum turned out to be one of the best executive workshops I’ve attended.”
April Wiggs (M.S. in MIT ‘08), Director, Operations & Client Account Services at a travel management and logistical consulting company, agrees. “I took nuggets from each segment of the program—social networking, innovation, and leadership presence—that I’ll be able to use with my direct reports. In addition, I truly enjoyed hearing about a real live project management retrospective from Michael Wisler (M.S. in MIT ’10).” Wisler is Vice President, IT, Capital One Bank Europe.
Indeed, Wiggs says the Knowledge Continuum program definitely met her expectations. “As Warren Buffet would say,” she says, “‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get.'”