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

Iouliana Litou

IE Business School, Global Online MBA Program

“Lifelong student, curious and restless. Engineering background with philosophical questions and human psychology interests.”

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 DegreeInformatics at Athens University of Economics & 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? Acquiring a PhD in Computer Science is probably one of the achievements I am most proud of. It’s not so much on the difficulty of doing the research on the subject, as it is in learning how to deal with rejection of your work, gathering and sorting out the feedback, re-adjusting the work so that it addresses concerns raised, and then going back exposing yourself, and becoming vulnerable to rejection once more. In the end, you learn to take it for what it is: opportunity for improvement rather than rejection as such.

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

Why did you choose IE Business School’s online MBA program? I participated in an event where I connected with different MBA programs in an attempt to determine which one sparked my interest the most and would be worth of the time and effort I would have to dedicate. Talking to people from the universities helps you understand the culture and the leadership styles these institutions cultivate. Furthermore, you get a sense of the other students with whom you will be interacting in the courses. IE Business School stood out to me as approachable, understanding and professional, with a focus on inspiring students to make a difference, be bold and innovative while putting the human aspect at the core (well-being, social entrepreneurship, etc). Then, of course, as a data driven person, I looked at the rankings, feedback from graduates, and the mix of backgrounds and diversity in the program. That’s because I felt this experience should be an opportunity to build a global network and learn about other cultures.

What was your favourite part of being in an online MBA program?  The biggest advantage of the online MBA is the global community you have the opportunity 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 was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The thing that surprised me the most is how you can actually really bond with people you never met in person and that you probably would never have the opportunity to meet if it was not for the online learning environment.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student?  There’s that misconception of online learning not being as effective as the in-class experience. My online MBA experience has totally disproven that misconception. When it comes to learning, it is all on how the engagement and interest in the class is encouraged. That falls 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 that you are interacting with, and to that point I feel that the professor really put great effort into engaging 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 some more intentional informal events and even fun activities where families of the people you see in the courses can also interact. It’s easy to miss the human sometimes when you are together just a few hours a week in a very specific professional context – and it is easy to make biased assumptions about them when you don’t know anything beyond these hours in the class.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I work in a global team, hence online calls and interactions are common. The online education prepared me for this and taught me what to observe, how to communicate and engage with people, and how to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Furthermore, it taught me how to build meaningful connections with people when you cannot have that coffee chat time in the office.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? I switched companies during the program and to 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 On Online MBA: Approximately 20 hours per week.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I know the impact I want to make, but the professional goal is hard to define. I want to empower people and encourage them to challenge their own biases. For instance, I see how people are scared of what technology advancements may imply for humanity and they choose to criticize and abstain from actively trying to find ways to mitigate risks or recommending applications for the social welfare of such advancements. Ultimately, we all want a better world and what is a better way to achieve this than actively aiming to shape the future? My personal achievements will perish with me when that time comes, but I hope with my work I’ll make a difference in people’s lives and that is my long-term professional goal.




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