By Rahul Nechlani
As a student of the Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I am pursuing an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management along with an MS in mechanical engineering from the MIT School of Engineering.
When I applied to business school, my long-term goal was to lead the biopharmaceutical industry to truly embrace operational excellence and supply chain innovation to achieve affordable global access to health care. MIT Sloan, through a unique learning environment designed to create leaders who advance management practice, is enabling me to crystallize this while providing me with the tools and skills necessary to achieve it.
At Sloan, we learn from the people who change the way the world looks at business and management. Our access to paradigm-altering instructors is unparalleled. Business school faculty engage with students not only as a part of daily classroom routine but also on a one-on-one basis over casual lunch conversations.
With a mix of case study and knowledge-sharing sessions, each and every minute of a classroom session is meticulously planned. The balance between cases and lectures is unique to every course and has been carefully planned. The classroom is designed to deliver content in a lasting way
Through immersion into discussions on leadership, ethics, and, uniquely enough, product design, I learned how essential emotion is to business. As a part of the LGO program, I am enrolled in a two-year Leadership, Ethics and Organizational change class, which aims to engage students in conversations around these topics continually while giving them the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences. As a part of this experience, business leaders from across industries have visited our classroom and discussed ethical difficulties they face through open dialogue. We also learn from our fellow LGOs through sessions titled “Leading from the Middle,” where students present a case study of their most difficult experiences and how they tackled them.
MIT helped me bring empathy to business on a personal level during a product design class, where I was a part of a team designing a hand-held cotton harvester for the cotton farms of India. During the class we were asked to sit on different wheelchair designs and limit our usual physical ability while moving around the MIT campus for an hour to understand the design issues that hamper everyday living for the intended user. That single class brought home the most important point of empathizing with the end user, which in turn helped me design a product addressing problems faced by the average cotton picker in India. As a member of the MIT community, empathy is etched into my value system as I strive to achieve my long-term goal of affordable access to health care globally.
As someone who spent the first quarter of his life in western India between two cities—Ahmedabad and Mumbai—MIT has exposed me to so much beyond my background and broadened my perspective. Through MIT Sloan, I am thinking bigger, I know how to pursue my goals in concrete ways, and I have a global focus and empathy embedded in my experience.
Now I am in the first week of my six-month internship at Amgen’s futuristic world-class manufacturing site at Singapore, where I am helping Amgen scale up their first-ever small molecule. This internship gives me an opportunity to learn hands-on the best manufacturing practices in the biopharmaceutical industry. Additionally, this six-month internship is my next global immersion in another new culture in a series of many that my MIT experience entails, enabling me to understand cultural values and challenges around the world that will help prepare me for society’s greatest needs.
As I look ahead, I feel confident in my skills and abilities as a leader and in my vision of the future I wish to see. I feel I belong to a powerful community of leaders who think alike and can be counted on to do what’s right for our world. I believe I have developed relationships that go deeper than mere professional contacts—relationships that will push me to be the best version of myself. I believe that my MIT experience will make of me what MIT stands for: bold, pragmatic, crazy about science, insistent on seeking facts, and leading change to solve the problems of the world.