Faculty Member Cathy Iacobo on Being an Action Learning Mentor


[MUSIC PLAYING] The mentors don’t
fit any one profile. Some of the mentors are
professors or senior lecturers themselves and have
their own Action Learning class or another
class that they teach. Other people are like myself,
where we come from industry and we bring our work
experience with us. And while we are
mentoring a specific team, we also let the
teams know that they can reach out to
the entire mentor team for that particular class. To be a mentor for
Action Learning is somewhat similar
to being a mentor in any part of your life, but
also has some unique elements associated with it because
they are, indeed, students. Our job is to help facilitate
the students’ learning, to help navigate them
as they’re working on their deliverables for
the class and for their host. Their job is to manage the
project, drive the project, lead the communications
with their host. And we’re behind
the scenes to make sure they’re gelling
nicely as a team, that they’re being
as productive as they can, that they’re
enjoying the experience, learning the experience. So anything that we
can bring to help make it a successful activity
for them and for the sponsor. My goal, in addition
to helping making sure they create a
good work product at the end for their
sponsor, is also to help them reflect on
how this would carry out in the workplace,
what they might be learning in leadership skills. Because they are all
equal team members, they’re also all leaders,
leaders for each other. You want them to
succeed as individuals. You want them to
succeed as a team. And part of that is because
you want them to do a good job. Part of it is because
it is just wonderful that we have these
host companies that are interested in working
with our students. It’s a great experience
on both sides. You want it to also
reflect well on MIT Sloan. You just really want to be
engaged with the students. You care about the outcome
without putting yourself in the process. So that’s sort of the balance. You’re invested, but
it’s their work project. It’s their work product. It’s their team.

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