Go back

Roland Simon

Alumni Story

Roland is passionate about marketing, where he can combine his curiosity for human behavior, sharp sense of business, and love for creativity. He has worked for large corporations like L’Oréal, TBWA, and AholdDelhaize. Last year, he studied at IE to learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation. He is now leading marketing & growth at Pixyle.ai, an AI startup that uses computer vision to recognize fashion items in images, helping e-commerce retailers streamline their operations.
POSITION

Head of Marketing & Growth at Pixyle.ai

Nationality

Dutch

Current Location

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Q&A WITH ROLAND

Define your experience in the Executive Master in Digital Transformation & Innovation Leadership program in one word.
Enriching

In what ways do you think the program has changed your life professionally and personally?
Having been in an intense, 13-month program alongside a group of 30 very diverse students from completely different cultures, with completely different business backgrounds, undoubtedly opened my mind and stretched my thinking in a major way. It sounds obvious in retrospect, by I came to realize that “the Dutch way” (which can be quite direct) was not always the best and certainly not the only way to communicate in a group. Additionally, mid-way through January it became apparent that the face-to-face element of the program would be cut short due to COVID-19, possibly negatively affecting the impact of the learning experience. That for me was a pivotal moment. Of course, it was disappointing to not be able to physically engage with my classmates and faculty, but I told myself it’s impossible to control what will come next, but I can control how I should react to change – with an open and flexible mind. The (online) classroom was the perfect “safe” environment for me to develop that ability to adapt and thrive in an environment of change.

What has been your favorite memory from your experience?
Tough one, I really enjoyed the on-campus weeks in Madrid, from company visits, to interactive workshops, to quick lunches in between classes, to late-night drinks with classmates. But if I have to choose from the academic program: the capstone project. This was a collaborative group assignment at the end of the program, where we could put everything we’ve learned into practice. Everyone in my group, without any exceptions, really stepped out of his/her comfort zone and learned a ton. We basically did customer discovery, customer validation, and MVP building over the course of just 12 weeks. We applied never-used-before Lean Startup and Design Thinking methodologies, conducted interviews, and came up with a completely new model of higher education where professionals could develop the necessary skillsets and mindsets while working in Europe’s fastest-growing scaleups. We worked long hours until the very last moment of presenting, but it was all worth it.

Why did you choose to study this program at IE?
I was looking for a way to “up-skill” in tech and move into a start-up. IE is recognized as a school that has a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. The combination with the blended and part-time character of the program, made it the perfect fit for me.

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?
Time management was definitely a challenge; the program is demanding with weekly Saturday classes. These were tough, especially when I was travelling with my family on the weekends. IE’s “liquid” learning methodology gave me the tools to take my classes, even when I was on the road.

What is networking like in the program?
The program kicked-off with a face-to-face week in Madrid. It was packed with classes, workshops, company visits, and recreational activities (attending an Atlético Madrid match being one the highlights!) This was a great way to get to know the academic team and my fellow students. We had another awesome week a few months later, but unfortunately COVID-19 prevented us from going to Shanghai and celebrating our graduation in Madrid. Despite that setback, we still really connected with each other. Our cohort developed a strong bond during the 13-months program. And our Whatsapp group is still very much alive and kicking, 6 months after graduation!

CONNECT WITH ROLAND, CLICK HERE. MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PIXYLE.AI CAN BE FOUND HERE