2019 Best Online MBAs: Chiara Molena, IE Business School

Chiara Molena

IE Business School 

“A senior global marketer with a strong passion for innovation and positive social impact.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Padova, Italy – Currently living in London, UK (having first ticked off Russia, China and Australia…)

Fun fact about yourself: I have an unusual mix of hobbies, ranging from behavioral economics to motorbikes and multi-day mountain hikes. I am also a trained sommelier and love studying languages.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Milan State University, BSc in Cultural Mediation with specialism in Russian and Chinese (First Class Honors)

Where are you currently working? Distill Ventures, Head of Commercial Marketing. I am also Director of Operations at Globally Outsourced Marketing (GOMA), an international digital marketing service provider founded with my husband in 2018 and the founder of GloWB Club, a nascent not-for-profit club focused on increasing gender equality in the business environment for international women.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2015, while working at Beam Suntory Australia, I led the performance turnaround of our super-premium brands portfolio, from a declining performance to +36% in only 10 months – becoming the fastest growing portfolio in its segment in Australia. I must say: I was fortunate to have the best team in Beam Suntory and our distribution partner – Coca Cola Amatil. I firmly believe that success is never owned by only one person.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program?  I did a fair amount of research before choosing this program. The day I sat through the IE presentation at their London offices, I knew that was the course I’d be going for. IE has a unique brand and identity amongst the top business schools in Europe, combining innovation and entrepreneurship with a passion for diversity. I was looking for the best possible quality of education, delivered in a forward-thinking format that would allow me to progress in my professional life while exposing me to a network of talented professionals from around the world.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program?  The flexibility and the team. I work with a class of 24 people from 24 countries – from Nigeria to South Africa Germany, Saudi Arabia and Japan, with diverse backgrounds. We all work full time and bring experiences from our everyday professional life to the forums and the classes. This makes the learning powerful and relevant. I love the flexibility of being able to deliver a presentation during a live class from an airport lounge!

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? 

I was afraid the networking wouldn’t have been as good as with a face-to-face format. Surprisingly, we created strong bonds and relationships. We are in it together – 5 a.m. alarms and late nights on the books – it can’t not bring you closer. Through this MBA, I met the amazing women who are now starting GloWB – our women in business international network – in Dubai, Madrid, and London. It most certainly helped that the quality of people in my intake was truly outstanding.

 How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? It’s difficult for me to say. I worked full time through my bachelor’s program. I left for Russia a few months after starting university. By the time I graduated, I was working full time in Hong Kong. I previously went through an online mini-MBA program in strategic marketing and I think this format is the future of executive education: it unlocks improvement opportunities for people who want to pack more into their already-busy lives.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Go for it! Be mindful: a good online MBA program is going to be tough and require you to dedicate at least 20-25 hours a week to studying. Online doesn’t mean easy.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? The IE online MBA is blended: we have periods where we get together in Madrid for one week of face-to-face classes. This exposure is crucial to build relationships, though I wish we had had one more week of face-to-face.

 How has your online education helped you in your current job? I come from a mainly corporate background as ‘traditional’ marketer, working on large global consumer brands. I loved it and learned a lot, but I wanted to be immersed in the reality and companies that are disrupting the way we work, think, and consume products and services. The IE Global MBA was a key part and enabler of a substantial career shift. Since starting my MBA, I moved to working with a VC and accelerator, launching my own social responsibility project, and becoming a director of the startup created with my husband in 2018 – a platform called Globally Outsourced Marketing (GOMA) – that’s shaping a different way to provide international digital marketing services.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why?  Yes, absolutely. It’s been a great and enriching experience, allowing me to boost my career while attending a top education program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to achieve a senior leadership role within new ventures creation or corporate innovation.

I have always been immersed in marketing and strategy, but this MBA allowed me to understand other critical subjects of business management that will help me becoming a better leader.

In my journey, I hope I can achieve a positive social impact: inclusivity and sustainability are subjects I deeply care about.



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.