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IE-Brown Executive MBA Alumni Recognized as 21st century Virtual Workforce Thought Leaders with Key Reflection Project (KRP)

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Three executive MBA students from the IE-Brown joint program publish their Key Reflection Final Project (KRP) in the prestigious Management Information Systems Executive Quarterly Journal (MISQE).

Two years after graduating from the IE Brown Executive MBA, a senior Google employee, a corporate lawyer, and a successful entrepreneur took their final project to the next level, publishing their research on how to successfully transition to a virtual workforce. “Three Stages to a Virtual Workforce” was released this week in Management Information Systems Executive Quarterly Journal (MISQE), one of the leading peer reviewed journals in management.

The three alumni– Florian Endter, Enmacc General Counsel and Finance; Anthony Giordano, Monad Founder; and, Paul Somers, the former Google Head of Global Apps Partnerships, Australia and New Zealand, now Principal and Founder of Pecunia Research — interviewed individuals representing organizations Trello (70% virtual workers) and Buffer (100% virtual workers), committed to engaging virtual workers.

They inquired into a variety of perspectives and ultimately developed a model identifying mental readiness, technology readiness and relationship readiness as critical for shifting from a solely in-office environment to meaningfully engaging with virtual employees.

Inevitable shift towards virtual workers:
The team identified that many millennials and Gen Zers reject the traditional full time employee model with rigidly defined working hours and compulsory presence that entities have grown accustomed to over the course of the 20th century. A recent Upwork study reinforces this with its prediction that 73% of teams will have remote workers in the next decade.

The topic propelled them to continue their research after they graduated, as a path of lifelong learning, which they said was thanks to the program.

“We found that the majority of companies we looked at did not achieve their virtual work management goals”

“We found that the majority of companies we looked at did not achieve their virtual work management goals because they failed to adapt to and embrace the specific types of social and knowledge networks that remote employees form” said Somers. “Solving the physical challenge is the easy part. Engaging, inspiring, and accommodating workers whose relationships with work and non-work activities are increasingly complex is the real challenge.”

The question then turned to ‘how to best integrate this new wave of virtual workers?’

“At IE Brown we learned to apply methods of learning and discovery from a broad array of academic disciplines”

“Our research required asking a different set of questions that we would not have been trained to do in a standard MBA program” said Giordano. “At IE Brown we learned to apply methods of learning and discovery from a broad array of academic disciplines including economics, anthropology and political science. From these perspectives, we were able to uncover diverse insights and more powerfully problem-solve the complex workplace challenges that today’s companies face.”

The Virtual Work Stage Model:
Based on their research, the team developed the Virtual Work Stage Model, which provides guidance on how to exactly transition to a virtual workforce.

 

1. Preparation:

Decision made for individual to work virtually

Goal
Mental Readiness

Employee Level of Virtualization
Individual indicates desire to work remotely

Management Actions
* Alongside Human Resources
* Alongside Learning & Development

2. Implementation

First virtual work period with a mix of in-office and virtual settings

Goal
Technology Readiness

Employee Level of Virtualization
First virtual work periods

Management Actions
* Alongside Information Technology
* Alongside existing team – all optional

3. Virtualization

Shift to 100% of time working in virtual team where individual is located remotely

Goal
Relationship Readiness

Employee Level of Virtualization
Complete virtual work setting

Management Actions
* Alongside virtual employee

 

The ROI of Going Beyond the MBA
“This publication demonstrates that IE Brown isn’t a 15-month journey. It’s not a one and done. It’s a life-long relationship with the members of your cohort, the IE Brown community, and two of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions, which we will always be able to turn to” Endter said.

The three classmates-turned-colleagues worked closely with IE Brown faculty – specifically IE Professors Cristina Simón, Jill Waymire Paine, and Ignacio Gafo, and Brown Professor Patrick McHugh, who provided ongoing support and invaluable feedback – as well as the team’s external supervisor Andreas Eckhardt, Professor of Human Resource Management at German Graduate School of Management and Law who joined them on the journey to the MISQE publication.

“Our continued work on this research for two years reveals two career-changing assets that IE Brown graduates walk away with after graduation” continues Endter. “First of all, during the course of this rigorous program, we learned to truly understand a topic by immersing ourselves in it. Fast forward to today, we still love to devote time to explore new horizons.”

The three alumni have proposed extensions to their project designed to benefit the IE Brown program and are committed to promoting the program’s key reflection project as a path to thought leadership status for future IE Brown students.