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What Business School Professors Say About Elon Musk
November 25, 2022
Tesla founder Elon Musk isn’t too fond of MBAs
On October 28, Elon Musk completed the deal to acquire Twitter. In the following days, he installed himself as CEO, fired top executives and laid off about half of the company’s workforce. Hundreds of Twitter’s remaining employees have since resigned in rejection of Musk’s takeover and his attempt to tear down the current culture and replace it with what he calls “Twitter 2.0.”
One of Musk’s requirements for remaining Twitter employees is a full return to the office for at least 40 hours a week — a requirement that some experts say is not the most strategic.
“Removing employees’ choices about working flexibility, effectively using a stick instead of a carrot to motivate workers, is wrong,” says Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science at the Chicago Booth School of Business. Business manager. “Punishment rather than reward will not promote a productive mentality and can negatively impact the relationship between managers and employees, resulting in communication breakdowns and resistance to teamwork.”
Musk’s leadership style and his demands to return to office, Fishbach says, ultimately undermine employee motivation and happiness.
“There are a multitude of alternative ways to recognize efforts that would make employees feel motivated and engaged and encourage them to return to the office,” says Fishbach. “Recognizing those who return to the office, explaining how office presence is linked to teamwork and ultimately advancement opportunities, and making the office a more rewarding experience are just a few ways to pull the carrot instead of the stick. Ultimately Ultimately, success is about making employees feel recognized and valued, rather than excluded and ultimately forced to return against their will.”
A “ONE-OF-A-KIND” CEO
While most experts can agree that Musk is breeding a tough, competitive work environment, some say Twitter was due for new leadership. Andy Wu, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, is one expert who is not yet counting Musk out.
“Musk is definitely a hard-charging, impulsive and risk-tolerant leader, and he’s willing to go after the kind of changes at Twitter that I can’t imagine any other CEO or entrepreneur going after,” Wu said in an interview with Atlantic Ocean. “I think there is some logic to the madness.”
Wu isn’t exactly saying Musk is a “good” CEO, but he isn’t necessarily saying Musk is a “bad one” either.
“Musk is an exceptional CEO,” explains Wu. “I would say on the positive side, what Musk has accomplished so far at Tesla and SpaceX is really incredible and impressive and really special in terms of his generation of business leaders in terms of the amount of scale and resources needed to mass produce electric cars and building commercial spaceships. It’s unfathomable, and he actually got there.”
And it is Musk’s leadership, Wu believes, that is necessary to transform the future of Twitter – or any future it has left.
“The key point here is that Twitter was actually in very bad shape and didn’t quite have a future anyway,” Wu says. “In terms of really hard problems, that’s the kind of CEO you’re probably going to try. Twitter is actually a very, very difficult business challenge that no one else has been able to solve. So at this point, we might have to to swing the car around and see what happens.”
Sources: Business Leader, The Atlantic
Next page: Profiles of Stanford MBA Students Awarded Siebel Scholarships
MBA students outside of classes. Photo credit: Elena Zhukova
Five Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) students have been awarded the Siebel Scholarship for outstanding leadership and academic contribution, The Stanford Daily reports.
Siebel Scholars receive $35,000 for their second year of study and join a network of over 1,600 scholars from top schools around the world, including Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard University and Tsinghua University. Each year, Siebel Scholars meet at conferences to examine global issues with a network of scientists, legislators, and experts in search of solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
“To date, Siebel Scholars have driven innovations in over a dozen industries, launched more than 1,100 products, authored more than 370 patents, published nearly 40 books and more than 2,650 articles or book chapters, and managed more than $2.7 trillion in assets,” according to the Siebel Scholars Program, “Siebel Scholars represent the brightest minds from around the globe, bringing together diverse perspectives from business, science, and engineering to influence the technologies, policies, and economic and social decisions that shape the future.”
The Stanford Daily sat down with four of the Class of 2023 GSB Siebel Scholars and delve into each of their accomplishments.
Josh Rowley has a background in private equity investing and is passionate about workforce development and employee empowerment.
“One of the values that was instilled in me growing up was intellectual curiosity,” says Rowley The Stanford Daily. “I loved learning about how the world works, and I found that investing was a really good way to exercise that. I’ve also always been passionate about aviation and space, and I had a chance to invest in this sector that I was really passionate about. Finding an intersection where you have passions, a skill set and something to offer was a real turning point.”
For Rowley, Stanford GSB has been instrumental in supporting his intellectual curiosity and fostering an environment of innovation.
“So many of my colleagues are focused on starting companies, researching problems and thinking of interesting ways to solve them,” says Rowley. “The faculty is also unparalleled in the academic part of the institution. It is a world-class vocational education. You get access to the world’s leading researchers, academics and business practitioners. The ecosystem that is being created, focused around the classroom, I don’t think can be matched anywhere.”
Kate Gautier does not come from a stereotypical business background. She got her start in mathematics and eventually ended up starting a company with her professor from Banard College. Her interests lie in the intersection between data, design and technology and building solutions for challenges across a wide range of disciplines. What’s special about the Siebel Scholars program, says Gautier, is the diverse community.
“We are connecting with not only our current class of scholars, but also the alumni who have come before us,” says Gautier. “Personally, I’m really grateful that it’s an interdisciplinary organization because there’s a lot of really interesting work and interesting thinking happening across multiple disciplines. So to have this fellowship that’s not just about business, I think really fantastic.”
Oliver Babin has a background in investment banking and venture capital. Babin says he ultimately chose Stanford GSB because of the human element the business school provided.
“Stanford has a great school reputation and would always be one of my top choices. I think what reinforced it was the entrepreneurial angle of the school and the human aspect, which really came through in the application process,” says Babin. “There was a human element that stood out at Stanford. The care and expectation that everyone represents themselves and the organization comes through in every interaction, whether it’s the admissions team, the professors, or the people involved in clubs. People are really nice and want to do what’s best for the school and the students, which is great.”
Elizabeth Rosenblatt, JD/MBA dual degree candidate, is interested in bringing innovation to the media and telecommunications markets. Rosenblatt says Stanford GSB’s strong curriculum gave her the skills needed to succeed in business, but ultimately it was the GSB community that got her to where she is today.
“I owe a lot of where I am today to mentors who were willing to give me opportunities to try things outside of my comfort zone and provide constructive guidance to help me succeed,” says Rosenblatt. “I would encourage aspiring students interested in business to seek out mentors and constructive feedback and remember that your career is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Sources: The Stanford Daily, Siebel Scholars
Next page: Tips for military vets
Military service members typically make up 5 to 10% of a given cohort within the top 25 MBA programs.
But what does it really take to get into a top B-school? And what should veteran applicants look for when researching MBA programs? Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently offered a few tips for veterans considering a transition from active duty military to B-school.
FOCUS ON FIT
When it comes to the MBA, fit is perhaps one of the most important considerations for applicants. But, Blackman says, fit is even more critical for veteran applicants.
“Their backgrounds are quite different than most graduates, and going from active duty to a classroom can be challenging,” says Blackman. “Having strong options for support from the school makes a world of difference.”
Blackman suggests veteran applicants research what types of support groups or programs are available at B-schools.
“Start by finding out how many military veteran students are in the MBA program,” says Blackman. “Too few fellow servicemen and women may leave students wanting more relatable peers. Next, find out what kinds of special programs for veterans exist. Does the business school have student clubs or organizations created specifically for veterans? Also, learn if it offers personalized academic and career support to help veterans translate their military skills into civilian life.”
LOOK FOR RECRUITMENT EFFORTS
B-schools will typically have admissions events specifically for military applicants—which is a good sign that the MBA program is military-friendly.
“If the school isn’t hosting an admissions event specifically for military applicants, your job is a little tougher,” says Blackman. “But you can still determine how eager the program is to recruit veterans by looking at whether it provides support services that start in the application phase — not just when you get in.”
SEEK FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Veterans have access to a number of financial incentives, including waived application fees and dedicated veterans scholarships. One program Blackman recommends considering is the Yellow Ribbon program.
“Under this program, the federal government matches, dollar for dollar, any financial aid that participating schools commit to, essentially providing eligible student veterans with free or reduced tuition,” says Blackman. “It’s designed to make out-of-state public colleges, private institutions and graduate programs more affordable for veterans. Schools offer different levels of support under the Yellow Ribbon program. For example, the NYU Stern School of Business will offer up to $30,000 a year in Yellow Ribbon scholarship support, and VA will provide up to $30,000 in additional funding Meanwhile, Stanford GSB will match up to full tuition and mandatory fees (minus Stanford health insurance) for MBA students who are Yellow Ribbon eligible and choose to receive these advantage.”
Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q
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