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Bringing women to forefront: Valentina Llinas’ path to success

Valentina Llinas | IE Business School International MBA 50th Class

For Valentina Llinas, experiencing the world through work has always been a priority. Being part of a large family whose nomadic lifestyle took them to cities including Abu Dhabi, Buenos Aires, Houston and London, Valentina’s sense of home was never limited to one place in particular. Instead, it was the tales and wisdom of her parents that provided familiarity.

Having earned her Bachelor in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad de Los Andes with a double minor in business administration and French studies, Valentina’s skill set is by no means restricted to just one area. As she moved into a professional setting, however, it was her long-standing international experience—and being an innate storyteller and future-forward thinker—that truly set her apart.

For Valentina, the field of marketing was a natural fit. As a way to tell stories and connect with an international audience, this calling has led to her current role as Senior Manager Global Marketing Strategy for world-renowned luxury brand Swarovski.

Currently spearheading a new portfolio strategy for home décor as part of the company’s first rebrand in its 125-year history, Valentina counts on her mindset of disruption, transformation and global orientation. The most enriching part of her role is collaborating with colleagues from every corner of the globe. “There are never two people from the same background in one meeting,” she says. “It’s this kind of diversity that sparks creativity, innovation and a lot of fun!”

The fight for diversity and representation in the corporate world is one that Valentina is particularly passionate about. After observing the chronic lack of visibility for women in senior positions, she is committed to redefining the status quo of male-dominated work environments.

“As I continue to work my way upwards,” she says. “I haven’t seen many women with families where I want to be. But I have decided to be part of the change.”

Valentina has certainly been true to her word. She spearheaded a project at brewing multinational SABMiller to reduce gender bias in the Latin American beer industry, which successfully increased female representation throughout the recruitment pipeline.

According to Valentina, the key was recognizing and addressing the influence of bias and stereotypes that limit a woman’s opportunities for career progression. In turn, her team effectively implemented new training initiatives for the talent management process in seven countries across the region. Now, the company is well on its way to achieving gender balance.

The idea of diversity is also what compelled Valentina to pursue the International MBA at IE Business School. She was excited about the opportunity to study alongside peers from a wealth of backgrounds and travel around Europe. The program helped Valentina reach her full potential. Throughout her studies, she made sure to stay mindful of her intentions and keep track of her goals, sparking a ritual that she has continued throughout her career.

“Upon graduation, I realized this didn’t have to stop after my MBA,” she says. “Why couldn’t I approach life in the same manner? I could continue to define my goals, reflect on my aspirations and periodically plan to squeeze out every last drop from life.”

“Upon graduation, I realized this didn’t have to stop after my MBA,” she says. “Why couldn’t I approach life in the same manner? I could continue to define my goals, reflect on my aspirations and periodically plan to squeeze out every last drop from life.”

During the next stage of her professional journey, Valentina is confident that her International MBA will continue to serve her well. For prospective students, she recommends thinking of the program as an investment worth making sacrifices for. The International MBA, she says, “is a gift that cannot be replaced; a gift that keeps on giving; and one your future self will forever thank you for!”

For now, Valentina is determined to continue working in a way that accommodates her spirit of wanderlust. Of course, moving between countries has not always been easy; it involves constant readjustment, and, as she puts it, occasionally “taking steps sideways.” But above all, it provides an opportunity for growth and discovery that Valentina continues to harness in both her personal and professional life.

To celebrate the 50th intake of the International MBA at IE Business School, we’re sharing stories from our impressive alumni. This impactful leader is just one of the stand-out International MBA alumni who have passed through the doors of IE Business School. To read even more inspiring stories from graduates of the International MBA, and to learn more about the program, click here.