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Informing the Board of Managers

July 15, 2011

The admissions offer from MIT Sloan in hand, I now set out to inform those around me, beginning with my wife, children, friends and the rest of my family. I was particularly happy when I had the opportunity to text my oldest son, August, who was still in school at the time. He got the text after school was over for the day. It was wonderful to read his, “Good job, Dad!”

Although my partners had known that I was applying to graduate school, I had decided to wait until I had a solid admissions offer prior to informing the Board of Managers of BluPanda, LLC. I felt that it was pointless to involve the Board until such time as a bona fide offer existed and I had had a chance to consider the pros and cons of attending whichever program offered admission.

I spoke with two of my partners at length, both of whom advised me to attend the program as long as I felt that I could manage the workload. One of them celebrated openly and began planning how to best offload me from various duties that might be delegated to others in the management team. I was very much encouraged by this reaction. Though the partners had talked several times at length about the possibility of one or more of us attending an MBA program, partners can always have different and less supportive reactions when theory becomes reality. I was pleased that this was not the case.

I was concerned that the Board of Managers might take the view that my participation in an Executive MBA program would detract from my ability to manage the company. I held the opposite opinion, as my prior management experiences had demonstrated that the fatal wound to my businesses had always been the transition to so-called professional management. Ultimately, such managers proved to be unfit because they had insufficient understanding of the implications of robotics technologies on the several functional areas of the business. Relying only on their prior successes, they generally attempted to run robotics companies like software companies. Calamity ensued. I am determined to see that this does not happen with BluPanda.

I was further concerned that I might find it difficult to convince the other Managers of the validity of my opinions. My concerns were completely unfounded. One of the Managers is a Booth graduate and was very supportive of the endeavor as soon as he understood that I had applied to an executive schedule MBA and would not be leaving the company. He did tease a bit that I had not applied to Booth, but this was only a gentle ribbing. He genuinely felt MIT to be the right school for me.

The other of our Managers surprised me equally. I told him in a face to face meeting. He was very pleased to hear that I had been admitted and saw the admission as a plum for the company saying, “Well, this will take BluPanda to a whole new level.” He saw in an instant the potential value of the degree program, the MIT network, and the opportunity to expand our company and its products into Boston.

I believe that the reputation and prestige of MIT was a very strong factor in the reaction, together with the executive schedule which ensured that I continue to lead while increasing my skill set. These two factors seemed to overcome any concern about the possibility of my being overly distracted from my duties as Chairman & CEO.  I feel that having waited for a definitive decision and being possessed of a definitive plan was the correct course to take with the Board of Managers. And they, in their turn, surprised and delighted me with their support.

-R.

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