"The Global Online MBA was a transformational experience. Beyond learning about business and administration, Global Online MBA was a unique journey."
My name is Chiara Molena, and I am the company director and operations manager at GOMA: an international digital marketing services provider. GOMA leverages a global network of vetted, freedom-loving freelancers to deliver exciting, multi-market digital campaigns, helping clients from a range of markets grow their international business and manage their reputation online.
My career kicked off as a marketer in the drink industry, and since then I've spent the last 10 years working across Asia, Oceania and Europe to grow and develop premium drink brands. I now collaborate as a strategic consultant with ambitious startups in the drinks industry to help them accelerate their growth in domestic and international markets. I am passionate about gender equality, and last year set up GloWB—a nascent support network and community for international women in business.
Chiara Molena, Italy
Co-founder & Operations Director at GOMA (Globally Outsourced Marketing)
- Program studied
Define your experience in the Global Online MBA using one word.
In what ways do you think the Global Online MBA has changed your life, both professionally and personally?
The Global Online MBA was a transformational experience. Beyond learning about business and administration, IE Business School’s Global Online MBA was a unique journey. As someone who loves endurance sports—hiking 150 km and swimming for hours is what I like to do for fun—it means something when I say this has been my most challenging endurance sport so far!
The program has pushed me in many positive ways.
I’ve learned to make time where I thought there weren’t enough hours in the day. I made friends from cultures I’ve never been exposed to. I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve competed, excelled, and failed. I’ve created the strongest teams with people from completely different walks of life, who live on the other side of the world. I’ve gained a broader understanding of businesses, discovering how different people from different countries think and work.
It also significantly improved my confidence and communication skills, which I didn’t think were bad before!
I step in a boardroom now and I feel more aware of how to project gravitas. I’m much better at reading the room, and communicating more effectively.
Also, now I’m able to do my company’s financial budget, which has been very helpful!
What advice would you give to students who are about to begin the program?
The first day, when you step in your class and meet your team, you decide who you want to be in the program. You decide whether to compete with your classmates, or work alongside them during this intense 15-month journey comprising many 15-hour days. Be clear how important recognition really is to you. Do you want to be top of the class? In the top 10% of the program? Or do you want to pick up the phone ten years down the line and find a warm welcome waiting from any of your classmates?
I am a very ambitious person—competitive to the bone. I’ve excelled in every academic program before, but I had to learn to be more humble through this MBA. There were subjects where I could succeed only because my classmates helped me. They took the time to explain concepts that were difficult for me, despite the long days.
So here’s my advice: go into this program thinking about the value your skills and experience can bring to your fellow classmates. Be ready to help and support them, and accept their knowledge, appreciating they’re often going to be better than you. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll meet some brilliant people who will become lifelong friends.
What has been your favorite memory of the Global Online MBA so far?
I don’t have a specific moment. I can honestly say that any time spent with the amazing people in our intake. I felt thankful, humbled and inspired more often than I thought possible! I also had a lot of “a-ha!” moments, catching myself enjoying subjects I was previously very reluctant to approach, like accounting or management control. There were classes and professors that were simply outstanding.
What is networking like in the Global Online MBA?
I think the networking potential is incredible—but only for those who will work for it. We were not together for eight hours a day like in a full-time MBA, and didn’t have coffees and beers together. We had families and friends to see after our full-time jobs, not to mention the countless hours spent on classes and forums.
It’s up to the individuals to make the most of it and be active with alumni associations. Personally, I favor quality over quantity. I met great people at IE Business School, and took the time to get to know them better by chatting a bit longer. But I wasn’t necessarily thinking about what I could get out of them.
Doing this required a lot of picking up the phone, saying “Hey, how are you?” on Skype and checking our team’s chat on WhatsApp. It’s not a waste of time—it’s the way networking in a global online program works. It requires going the extra mile, being proactive and a good proclivity to social media!
You have been included in the 50 Best & Brightest shortlist of 2019 online MBA programs from Poets & Quants. Do you think it will have an impact in your career?
Not really. I was flattered and humbled, but I don’t think it will ever be a topic of conversation with clients or colleagues. That said, I am proud to be one of the bearers of the IE flag within the top 50, and I hope I was a good representative for our Global Online MBA 2019 intake.
In your interview at Poets & Quants for the 50 Best and Brightest, you mentioned that during the course of your Global Online MBA you co-founded the digital marketing platform GOMA and moved from a corporate role to the world of entrepreneurship and start-ups. How did the IE Global Online MBA program help you in this transition?
I was fortunate to get married to a man who is one of the smartest digital PR and communications geeks I know. He is a natural business partner who possesses a complementary skill set and a similar vision. My husband, Bogdan, had been working in multi-market digital campaigns for years, both in agencies and as a consultant. On the other hand, I had spent most of my career as an international marketer. Our dinner table conversations were often about the costs and challenges of running international marketing campaigns from a central hub.
As soon as I started the program, I was bombarded with ideas and concepts. I gained knowledge of business models that could be borrowed by other industries, and a better understanding of efficiencies and financial implications. At that point, our dinner table conversations shifted from discussing challenges to solutions. Many date nights turned into brain-storming sessions. Before we knew it, I had resigned from Beam Suntory, the multi-billion dollar drinks giant where I had spent three and a half amazing years. Not long after, I was creating our own value proposition alongside my Global Online MBA entrepreneurial classes.
This is how GOMA, or Globally Outsourced Marketing, was born.
Led by Bogdan, the company grew quietly but rapidly. Meanwhile, I decided to take a second career leap and joined Distill Ventures—the only accelerator in the drinks industry—for a six-month project as Head of Commercial Marketing.
Over the following months, Bogdan looked after GOMA’s growing client base as Managing Director, leading the company’s accelerated growth.
As the business required more planning and organisation, I joined full time as Director of Operations.
We now run campaigns for several large clients in the services and e-commerce sectors, with partnerships and a network of vetted freelancers across the UK, Germany, Italy, as well as other markets in continental Europe and the US.
We don’t ask our collaborators to work nine to five, commute or sit in an office unless strictly necessary. Our business model is based on a large network of top-notch experts that form ad-hoc teams to create and deliver digital marketing campaigns, and manage our client’s online reputation. Our talent management philosophy is based on the belief that in order to deliver results, people should be accountable and self-motivated. This result-oriented philosophy allows us to collaborate with high-performing talent, who we attract and retain by providing the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world.
Would GOMA exist had you not been part of the IE Business School Global Online MBA?
I think so.
However, I believe the program played a huge role in helping us foresee and prevent challenges. It helped us build the company in the right way from an operational and financial point of view, alongside inspiring a different viewpoint on opportunities and how to capitalize on them.