This summer MIT XL (Experimental Learning) and GetSmarter collaborated to launch a 12-week online program on FinTech: Future Commerce. I had the exciting opportunity to invest my time and efforts in this program from June'16 - August'16. The online program attracted global professionals from a wide variety of industries - financial services, consulting and technology firms were prominent among many others.
The MIT Fintech: Future Commerce course is designed and developed by MIT Lead Instructors - Dave Shrier, Alex Pentland, Brian Forde, and Joost Bonsen, who appear in lecture videos throughout the course and also oversee the course presentation. The students are supported by a team of GetSmarter Performance Coach Team who helped us stay on track to meet our course objectives.
The course curriculum focused on the insights and guidance from world leading minds in Fintech world - entrepreneurs, strategic advisors within large financial institutions who served as intrapreneurs and global consulting firms. David Shrier, the lead MIT instructor, kept the program exciting with his contagious energy, brilliant commentary and beautifully conducted interview videos + weekly updates.
12 Modules: Inclusive of individual assignments; Example Project - where we applied our learnings to a recent Fintech endeavor; Capstone Project - picked a project theme from a list of initiatives and applied the strategic road-map / business plan, financial modeling, competitive analysis and a pitch to the venture capitalists.
What I Loved:
The course content emphasized on crafting a compelling pitch to sell our idea, developing a business plan/strategic road-map, conducting competitive analysis, working through regulatory framework in different geos and financial modeling.
Example Project and Capstone Project provided an excellent team collaboration experience and networking with industry leaders.
Besides grading, the tutor team provided excellent guidance on refining our drift, when and as necessary.
GetSmarter assigned coaches maintained a regular connection and were extremely responsive and attentive to the students' questions/needs.
GetSmarter portal was easy to navigate and the updates were provided as promised. The portability of the course made it very convenient for a student to access it from anywhere. It was very convenient to access the course notes and videos after my outdoor workout or during my travels.
The course focused on providing an insight into various Fintech organizations as well as large financial institutions investing in Fintech. The focus on Fintech innovators related how they were reshaping the financial services industry in each of the four thematic areas defined in the course - infrastructure, money and payments, markets, and marketplaces. Various sections within the course featured cases of Fintech innovations that span across multiple thematic areas.
"The course notes explained that infrastructure in the financial industry comprised of the systems and resources used to facilitate the transfer of value. The broad thematic area spanned issues concerning identity, privacy and security, and innovations pertaining to the front- and back-ends of business models."
Few Important Considerations
You have to organize your life schedule to accommodate weekly late night google hangouts with your project teams on week-day evenings or weekends. In addition, you have to pay special attention to Monday nights for your final review of your assignment that is due on Tuesday around midnight. Every Wednesday a new module is issued.
There is a huge focus to participate in online discussion forums for each module to connect with the course attendees. It is in an attendee's best interest to participate to connect with the like-minded and learn from the best of breed. The discussion forums also highlight meetups in different parts of the world. You will have to regularly read the forum discussions to share and learn.
The tutors are not accessible 1x1. You will have to go through the GetSmarter coaches to get a question answered or you can post your questions in the forum discussions for a response.
The curriculum has set video interviews of the c-level, entrepreneurs, strategists and others. You have to listen through them as they offer great insights and should not be skipped. The assignments pertain to some of these video interview discussions.
When selecting your Capstone Project, it is always a great idea to shortlist at least a few projects and connect with the project leader to ensure the theme matches your area of interest and drift.
In summary, I had a great experience of collaborating with industry leaders and great minds during my example project and the capstone initiative. The connections formed during the program contributed to my professional learning and growth. I would highly recommend this program to those who are interested in expanding their horizons in various nuances of FinTech and would like to have an interesting online learning experience over the course of 12 weeks.
Some Helpful Links
Zahra Jamshed is a business and technology executive with extensive expertise in data center, converged infrastructure and managed hosting / cloud solutions. Zahra has held leadership roles with various global technology solutions providers and advisory firms in financial services, insurance, pharma, and public sectors. Zahra has an expertise in strategic solutions, alliances, program management & governance in both application and infrastructure space. Zahra holds an executive certificate program in Strategy and Innovation from MIT Sloan School of Management, a Masters in Computer Information Systems and a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering. Zahra is an avid non-fiction reader, loves to practice yin yoga and Pilates; and plays squash. Zahra can be reached at Zahra.firstname.lastname@example.org.