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Akiko Perona

Alumni Story

Akiko is currently the Chief of Communication and Information Technology Support Unit at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research in Geneva, Switzerland. Before moving to Geneva, she worked in Ethiopia as a United Nations volunteer, helping with a project to introduce internet to high schools in the country. She also worked as an online marketing specialist in a medical equipment company as well as a software development company in Tokyo, Japan. She currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Law, Master’s degree in International Policy Studies, and Master’s in Corporate and Marketing Communication.
POSITION

Chief, Communication and Information Technology Support Unit, United Nations Institute for Training and Research

Nationality

Japanese

Program studied

MCMC 2019

Current Location

Geneva, Switzerland

Q&A WITH AKIKO

Define your experience in part-time MCMC in one word.
Enriching

In what ways do you think the program changed your life professionally and personally?
I have been working in the marketing and communication field for many years, but at one point I felt I needed to update my knowledge and learn new skills. The Master’s program gave me not only the academic underpinning in marketing and corporate communication, but also confidence in the current work in managing the overall communication at the UN Institute. Personally, I feel very lucky to have met the amazing group of my classmates all of whom are an inspiration to me.

What was your favorite memory from your experience?
Late night chats with teammates, while working frantically on projects trying to juggle multiple deadlines.

Why did you choose to study this program at IE?
I was looking for a Master’s program in communication in a hybrid format – online and face-to- face combined – as I could not take months away from the office. I also did not want to do a 100% online course either, since I wanted to build network of other communication professionals. IE’s Master’s program in Marketing and Corporate Communication (part-time) seemed to be a good combination of online and face-to-face and the curricula matched my interests and needs. The fact that the face-to-face courses are in Madrid, not so far from Geneva, was also a positive element. Comparing other similar Master’s programs in other countries, the tuition at IE also seemed to be reasonable.

What were some of the main challenges that you encountered on your way? How did your master program and IE help you through these challenges?
One of the main challenges was time management – meeting multiple deadlines for different courses and keeping up with reading assignments while working full-time and having a family to take care of. For 13 months, I did not have any time for myself, spending nights and weekends working on assignments. It was particularly challenging when I had work deadlines during the face-to-face period, so I had to be available for calls and work during the night hours after classes ended. The master program helped me to be extremely organized, set and focus on priorities. Of course, it would not have been possible without my family’s understanding and support.

What is networking like in the part-time MCMC?
I would say the networking was easy. Even from day one, I had an impression that everyone felt welcomed and was at ease to talk to other classmates. As the days passed and courses advanced, we had numerous heated discussions, we became very close. Socializing events during the face-to-face period certainly helped further deepen our relationships. One and a half years after our graduation, we are still actively exchanging messages and birthday wishes, and I hope this network stays as a lifetime group of friends.

How was the experience of doing the master in a format that allows you to continue working while studying?
It was challenging to juggle full-time work, completing assignments, and trying to accommodate family requirements. It was a very condensed 13-month period, but the sense of achievement was very satisfying. I would have not been able to do it if it had been a 2-year master’s program.

What advice would you give to students who are about to begin the program?
I think you need to have very strong motivation to tackle this Master’s program, as it requires a high level of commitment and focus during the 13 months, while working full time. Also, it requires you to be open, to have willingness to learn, and share with other classmates. Last but not least, you need to have a clear purpose of doing the Master’s program – “WHY do you want to do this Master?” Otherwise, it would be easy to lose sight while being overwhelmed by assignments and deadlines.

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