Sunday, March 4, 2012

WiSDM Update - SDM Pulse Spring 2012

By Melissa Rosen, SDM ’11


Women in SDM (WiSDM): A student-focused organization, conceived and led by women in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) Program.
Mission: To empower female leaders and to enhance the ongoing learning experience for SDM students and alums.
Goal: To reach out to mid-career women interested in engineering and management in order to achieve a balanced SDM cohort by 2017.
Initiatives:
• Launched a WiSDM page on the SDM website that explains what WiSDM is, why it was formed, and how to get involved. It includes profiles of SDM students, alumnae, and faculty, as well as information on other women’s groups at MIT.
• Invited women from industry who could be prospective SDM applicants to the MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges and hosted them at a pre-conference “Breakfast with Engineering Leaders” that highlighted the role of women in engineering leadership. Professor Deborah Nightingale presented a keynote (see sidebar).
• Collaborated with other MIT women’s groups at MIT such as the Society of Women Engineers (MIT SWE) and the Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT) to co-host a mentoring panel for female undergraduates.
• Supported the GWAMIT Fall Leadership Conference and Spring Empowerment Conferences in 2011 as well as the 2012 Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) Conference.
• Welcomed nine new members from the 2012 SDM cohort. Several have already assumed leadership roles in the SDM and MIT communities. They include Katy O’Brien, co-chair of the SDM Leadership Committee; Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan, SDM Social co-chair; and Leena Ratnam, co-chair of the SDM Tech Trek and an organizer for the SWIM Conference’s sponsorship team.
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Prof. Deborah Nightingale:
Engineering, Management,
Systems Thinking
One of WiSDM’s highlights this past year was hosting a “Breakfast with Engineering Leaders” at which MIT Professor Deborah Nightingale shared her experience and lessons learned in industry.
Her advice was:
• Adopt systems thinking. It works everywhere and provides a lens to help leaders balance competing objectives across an organization.
• Don’t focus on only methods and design – be sure to include the people who are needed for implementation.
• Have passion for your work and find work-life balance.

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