Best and Brightest Online MBA 2022: Iouliana Litou, IE Business School

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“A long-time student, curious and restless. Engineering background with philosophical questions and interests in human psychology.

Age: 33

Hometown: Athens, Greece (currently based in Dublin, Ireland)

Fun fact about yourself: I have a twin brother who is literally my alter ego.

Undergraduate school and degree: Computer Science at Athens University of Economics and Business (PhD in Computer Science from the same institution)

Where are you currently working? Senior Project Manager at Meta

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Obtaining a doctorate in computer science is probably one of the accomplishments of which I am most proud. It’s not so much about the difficulty of researching the topic as learning how to deal with rejection of your work, collecting and triaging feedback, readjusting the work to address the concerns raised, and then backtracking by exposing yourself and becoming vulnerable to rejection again. In the end, you learn to take it for what it is: an opportunity for improvement rather than a rejection as such.

Another achievement I’m proud of is that I wasn’t afraid to move to a country where I didn’t know anyone (twice). I thought the opportunity was worth it, if a bit scary. It’s an experience that teaches you to open up, communicate and connect with people. Essentially, no matter how good you are at your job, if you’re not brave enough to communicate it, it’s as if you never did. I feel like this experience taught me how to approach people and communicate ideas in an unfamiliar environment. I am still learning this and pursued the MBA program to make sure I do it in the best way possible.

Why did you choose IE Business School’s online MBA program? I attended an event where I met with different MBA programs with the goal of determining which one piqued my interest the most and was worth the time and effort I would have to put into it. Talking to people at universities helps you understand the culture and leadership styles these institutions cultivate. Plus, you’ll get an idea of ​​the other students you’ll be interacting with in class. IE Business School stood out for me as being accessible, understanding and professional, with a focus on inspiring students to make a difference, be bold and innovative while putting the human aspect at the heart (well- being, social entrepreneurship, etc.). Then, of course, as a data-driven person, I looked at the rankings, graduate feedback, and the mix of backgrounds and diversity in the program. It’s because I thought this experience should be an opportunity to build a global network and learn about other cultures.

What was your favorite part of an online MBA program? The biggest advantage of the Online MBA is the global community you get to interact with – because, as physical presence is not required, you can meet and work with people from Japan, Peru and Canada – all at the same time.

What has been the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? What surprised me the most was how you can really bond with people you’ve never met in person and probably never would have the opportunity to meet without the environment. online learning.

How does your online experience compare to your classroom experience as an undergraduate student? There’s this misconception that online learning isn’t as effective as the classroom experience. My online MBA experience totally disproved this misconception. When it comes to learning, it all depends on how class engagement and interest is encouraged. That’s up to the teachers and your classmates, not the room you’re in or the medium you’re using to deliver the lessons. Again, it all depends on the people you are interacting with, and at this point I think the professor has really gone to great lengths to engage students in the online format, so the overall quality is high. Combined with the flexibility, I vouch for the online experience with some in-class events that help people bond even more.

What would you change about an online MBA program? I would probably add more intentional informal events and even fun activities where the families of the people you see in the yards can also interact. It’s easy to miss the human sometimes when we’re only together a few hours a week in a very specific professional context – and it’s easy to make biased assumptions about them when you don’t know anything beyond that. of those hours in class.

How has your online training helped you in your current job? I work in a global team, so calls and online interactions are common. Online education prepared me for this and taught me what to watch, how to communicate and interact with people, and how to make sure everyone is on the same page. Plus, it taught me how to make meaningful connections with people when you can’t get coffee at the office.

Did you get promoted while in the program or immediately after graduation? I changed companies during the program and in a higher position, from technical project manager at IBM to senior project manager at Meta.

Did you get a raise during the online MBA program? Yes

Number of hours per week devoted to the online MBA: About 20 hours per week.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I know the impact I want to have, but the professional objective is difficult to define. I want to empower people and encourage them to challenge their own biases. For example, I see how people are afraid of what advances in technology may mean for humanity and they choose to criticize and refrain from actively trying to find ways to mitigate risk or recommend applications for the social welfare of this progress. Ultimately, we all want a better world and what better way to get there than to actively aim to shape the future? My personal accomplishments will perish with me when the time comes, but I hope that with my work I will make a difference in people’s lives and that is my long-term professional goal.

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