Meet IESE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Laura Napoli

IESE Business School

Renaissance woman in the making, propelled by love of problem-solving, cultural exchanges and family.”

Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Fun Fact About Yourself: I live in a perpetual state of travel-planning. Currently on the horizon: a weekend getaway to Narbonne, France.

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, International Politics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Bitly, Director of Strategic Marketing

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In the startup world, high impact, measurable and scalable wins are the most coveted, so those are the accomplishments I’ve been chasing lately.

Having served as head of PR and communications at Bitly, I recently stretched into a marketing role while operating with a reduced workforce and budget. The content initiatives and growth tactics our team implemented produced 70% of new business deals in one quarter.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I could praise my classmates’ drive, their formidable pre-MBA careers, and their diverse backgrounds, but that is all par for the course at IESE!

What has truly impressed me is the collaborative spirit of this class — the belief that we can all be winners and help each other succeed. During the group interview where we were competing with each other, in theory, for admission at IESE. In practice, everyone approached the assignment with generosity when it came to sharing their expertise, and humility when it came to accepting it from others. As we get closer to the start of the semester I continue to see this cooperation in action, as classmates around the world share tips and tricks regarding visa appointments, apartment-hunting, or where to find the best tapas in town.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? There are many excellent, international MBA programs out there, but my conversations with alumni, students, and admissions staff convinced me that IESE is also a strong support system. Living in Barcelona is a dream come true for my husband and me, but we recognize that residing in a foreign country and pursuing full-time studies will bring their own set of challenges to our personal and professional lives. I placed special importance on finding an institution that valued family members and partners as part of the community, and offered them support and resources to succeed alongside the student.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Did you know there’s a Bar of the Week club at IESE?!

Happy hour aside, I’m excited to join the Women in Business club. I see they host great guest speakers, networking events, and even their own student-run conference to promote and empower women business leaders. Plus, I have a feeling it’s a great place to meet smart, determined, cool ladies!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Being trusted with a company’s narrative, public relations, and crisis management meant working closely with executive leadership early in my career. I saw up close the challenges, opportunities and myriad decisions faced at that level, and grew inspired by it. Over time, I desired not only to communicate a company’s mission, culture and strategic initiatives – I wanted to help shape them. I knew that the skills, experiences and network gained with the right MBA program would enable me to make that leap.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? When I first considered applying for business school, I spent months speaking with men and women in business I admire, both with people who held MBA degrees and those who didn’t. The advice itself was inconclusive, but what became clear is that the opportunity is what you make of it.

As someone who doesn’t have much quantitative and business training, I have a lot to gain academically, and I’m confident an MBA can only boost my solid professional trajectory. Yet the intangible prospects – of sowing lasting friendships all over the world, challenging my own mental and cultural boundaries, and experiencing an unforgettable two years in Barcelona with my partner– moved me just as much as the more measurable returns on my investment.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? IE in Madrid and ESADE in Barcelona (accepted at both)

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I went about determining the right fit in a very systematic way, identifying my non-negotiables from the outset to emerge with a handful of strong contenders. Every student has different priorities. In my case, they were location, academic rigor, and international reach. My husband and I decided to aim for Spain, which boasts some of the most competitive international MBA programs in the region. Here, my professional goal and our personal dream of living in a Spanish-speaking country converged.

Having a narrow focus from the beginning gave me the certainty that I wasn’t wasting my time or the institution’s during the admissions process. On the contrary, it allowed me to invest the necessary time to speak with members of the schools’ communities, to ask candid questions about MBA life, and to travel for interviews or visits. This process allowed me to perceive the nuanced differences between program cultures, didactic styles, and strengths and weaknesses that ultimately pointed me toward IESE.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My decision to go to Georgetown for undergrad has been more significant than I ever could have imagined. It was an environment that celebrated global citizenship, encouraged dialogue and understanding, and prioritized ethical education and leadership – values that have shaped me personally and professionally. Most importantly, I made lifelong friends and met the love of my life. (It’s a cliché, but it’s true!)

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I would like to pursue a strategic marketing role, preferably in Europe, combining my past professional experience and the skillset obtained at IESE. More than a specific industry, it is important for me to be at an innovation-driven, global company committed to ethical leadership. My personal interests align most with travel, hospitality and technology, so I am primarily seeking in that sector. More generally, I love brands that inspire people to come together.

Where do you see yourself in five years? My long-term aspiration is to be a senior executive at a global company, in a role that combines business strategy, marketing, and operations. Three years after graduating, I aspire to be on that trajectory at a global company, whether in Europe or the U.S. I can see myself leading and mentoring a marketing division to accomplish high-impact, measurable and scalable victories, and hopefully learning and honing new skills every day.

One caveat, though. I couldn’t have guessed five years ago that I’d be in Barcelona getting ready to attend IESE in the fall, and I couldn’t be happier about where I am right now. I think it’s okay to leave a little room in our plans for fate to play its hand!

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