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

“Student for life, curious and restless. Engineering background with philosophical issues and human psychology interests.

Age: 33

Home town: Athens, Greece (currently based in Dublin, Ireland)

Curiosities about you: I have a twin brother who is literally my alter-ego.

Graduate and graduate school: Computer Science from Athens University of Economics and Business (PhD in Computer Science from the same institution)

Where do you currently work? Senior Project Manager at Meta

What is the achievement you are most proud of in your professional career? Acquiring a PhD in Computer Science is probably one of the achievements I am most proud of. It’s not so much about the difficulty of doing the research on the subject, as it is about learning how to deal with your job rejection, gathering and selecting feedback, rearranging the job so that it addresses the concerns raised, and then going back to expose yourself and become di again vulnerable to rejection. Eventually, you learn to take it for what it is: opportunities for improvement rather than rejection as such.

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

Why did you choose IE Business School’s online MBA program? I attended an event where I connected to different MBA programs in an attempt to determine which one piqued my interest the most and would have been worth the time and effort I should have put in. Talking to people at universities helps you understand the culture and leadership styles these institutions cultivate. Additionally, you will get an idea of ​​the other students you will interact with in the courses. IE Business School stood out for me as accessible, understanding and professional, with the aim of inspiring students to make a difference, be bold and innovative by putting the human aspect at the center (wellness, social entrepreneurship, etc.). Then, of course, as a data-driven person, I looked at the rankings, graduate feedback, and the mix of background and diversity in the program. This is because I felt that this experience should be an opportunity to build a global network and learn about other cultures.

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

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The thing that surprised me the most is how you can truly bond with people you’ve never met in person and who you probably would never have the opportunity to meet if it weren’t for the online learning environment.

How did your online experience compare to your classroom experience as a college student? There is that misconception that online learning isn’t as effective as classroom experience. My online MBA experience has completely disproved that misconception. When it comes to learning, it all depends on how engagement and interest in the class is encouraged. This is up to the professors and your fellow students, not the room you are in or the medium used to deliver the lessons. Again, it’s all about the people you’re interacting with, and at that point, I feel the professor has really put a lot of effort into engaging students in the online format, so the overall quality is high. Along with flexibility, I guarantee the online experience with some classroom events that help people bond even more.

What would you change about an online MBA program? I’d probably add some more intentional informal events and even fun activities where even the families of the people you see in the courses can interact. Sometimes it’s easy to miss the human when you’re only getting together a few hours a week in a very specific professional setting, and it’s easy to make biased assumptions about them when you don’t know anything beyond these hours in the classroom.

How has your online education 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 observe, how to communicate and interact with people, and how to ensure everyone is on the same page. Plus, it taught me how to build meaningful connections with people when you can’t have that coffee chat moment in the office.

Did you earn a promotion during the program or immediately after graduation? I changed companies during the program and held a more senior position, from Technical Project Manager at IBM to Sr Project Manager at Meta.

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

Number of hours per week spent for 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 goal is difficult to define. I want to empower people and encourage them to challenge their own prejudices. For example, I see how people fear what technological advances may imply for humanity and choose to criticize and refrain from actively seeking ways to mitigate risks or recommend social welfare applications of such advances. Ultimately, we all want a better world, and what is the best way to achieve this than to actively aim to shape the future? My personal successes will perish with me when that time comes, but I hope that with my work I will make a difference in people’s lives and this is my long-term professional goal.

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