“I was drawn to the IE Business School Global Online MBA for the opportunity to continue my career and advance my education at a well-reputed program that followed the case method.”

Florence, EEUU & Great Britain

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Florence Williams

About Me

Florence is an experienced program manager and change leader with a track record of driving product development and transformation efforts in the insurance industry. She is passionate about innovation, scanning for partnership opportunities with start-ups for her organization and developing pilots to test new product and service concepts. Florence is a certified change management practitioner and a dual citizen of the U.S. and the U.K. Her Bachelors of Science in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University were the foundation for her recent completion of her Masters of Business Administration at IE Business School.
WHO

Florence Williams, EEUU & Great Britain

POSITION

Director of Strategy & Product Development at Unum

Program studied

Global Online MBA

Define your experience in the Global Online MBA in just one word.

Marathon.

How do you think the Global Online MBA changed your life, professionally and personally?

Balancing an MBA with a full-time job heightened my ability to decipher what adds the most value in my professional life and what sparks joy in my personal life.

I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for world politics and regional dynamics through the diversity of my colleagues and professors. My professors brought a unique perspective by using business cases from varying countries, and my colleagues offered relevant examples from their industries and regions. Global Immersion Week was an incredible learning experience.

Most importantly, the Global Online MBA has given me confidence. Completing an MBA is the ultimate investment in your personal and professional development, and I’m so glad I decided to pursue it at IE Business School.

What advice would you give to students who are about to begin the program?

Be you. Be intentional about your objectives for the MBA overall, and stay true to them. Maintain presence wherever you are and aspire to have perfect attendance and participate actively. Focus on one thing at a time. Follow through—nobody wants to be on a team with somebody who makes excuses. Stick to your commitments to your co-workers, your colleagues, your family, your mental health, and your physical health. Embrace growth, be curious, ask thoughtful questions, allow your classmates to teach you new things, and take advantage of the knowledge your highly talented professors have to offer. Most importantly, have fun! A sense of humor and willingness to laugh at yourself will get you far in the MBA program, and life itself!

What was your favorite memory from the Global Online MBA?

My favorite memories are those that were made during our Global Immersion Week. We traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to meet with local start-ups, venture capitalists and innovation accelerators in the region. I loved the opportunity to see my section colleagues face-to-face, network with other IE Business School programs and travel to a place I had never been.

What is networking like in the Global Online MBA?

Despite being scattered across the globe, I would feel comfortable calling any of the classmates, professors or school administrators to reconnect or ask for advice. Even through virtual learning, strong bonds and a tight-knit community can be developed after an immersive 18 months. Networking beyond your intake does require dedicated effort, but is not impossible. The Global Immersion Week was an excellent way to meet people outside of my program, as well as local contacts in the region we visited. I look forward to staying connected with IE Business School as an alum.

Why did you choose to study the IE Business School Global Online MBA?

Completing a master’s degree has been a lifelong dream. After deciding to pursue an MBA, I did as much research as I could on full-time versus part-time, teaching methodology, class size, tuition, ROI etc. Ultimately, I was drawn to the IE Business School Global Online MBA for the opportunity to continue my career and advance my education at a well-reputed program that followed the case method. An additional highlight was not having to put my personal financial goals on hold or having to relocate to do so. I also aspired to brush up on my Spanish and my classmates have patiently indulged me in that.

What would you change about an online MBA program?

The challenge of an online MBA program is that you build incredibly strong bonds with your colleagues along the way, but you have limited face-to-face time during the program. This is, of course, what you sign up for as an online MBA student. Nevertheless, if I could change one thing about an online program, it would be more or longer face-to-face portions that help to strengthen connections. Since completing the program, I have already made plans with my colleagues for reunion trips to Madrid and elsewhere. I am thankful and inspired to be connected to this dynamic group of professionals across the globe and to be part of the IE Business School alumni network.

What are the residential weeks like? What are the online periods like?

The residential weeks are a beautiful whirlwind of getting to know your colleagues. We participated in team-building activities, attended seminars, explored and of course, socialized. I would argue the most important component of the residential weeks are the ability to build rapport with your colleagues with whom you will spend a lot of virtual time over the next 17 months. I have a lot of fond memories from my residential week in Spain, as well as the Global Immersion Week in Tel Aviv.

If residential weeks are a 100-meter sprint, the online periods are a marathon! After the thrill of a residential period comes what feels like a non-stop cadence of online forums. Classes are Monday through Thursday, with two additional live classes on Saturdays. After much experimentation, I found a rhythm that worked for me—but it was only possible because I embraced the following mindset:

  • Perfectionism is not productive. After a certain point, any additional time spent on an assignment has diminishing return. I chose to learn from my mistakes and move on, rather than be “right” all of the time.
  • Be communicative and transparent, especially about capacity. Unless you share it, nobody fully understands the time constraints you face. Up-front communication about your availability goes a long way with colleagues, family and friends.
  • Be kind to yourself. Building time for me into my routine was imperative. Prioritizing a regular workout routine, taking one to two nights off studies per week, and having a vacation to look forward to kept me balanced.

How did your online experience compare with your experience as an undergraduate student?

I interacted with my professors more during my MBA than I ever did as an undergraduate. I found the case method to be especially engaging—it’s difficult not to have an opinion worth sharing in class if you’ve fully read the case ahead of time. I really enjoyed how the case method gives you a real-world business problem and asks you: “What next?” The thought-provoking process of the case method is more personal and memorable. I also believe the virtual classroom removes barriers between professors and students. I often left undergraduate courses with a question unanswered, but this never occurred in my virtual classes.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?

I am proud of my ability to successfully transition from industry to management consulting, and then back into industry. I began my career in a rotational development program at Cigna, later joined PA Consulting to gain exposure to other industries and geographies, and then joined Unum 18 months ago to focus on product development strategy. Each chapter has built on my previous experiences and has helped to shape the leader I am today.

What is your ultimate long-term goal?

My long term goals are to continue to build my corporate career while fostering my family’s businesses, to give back via mentorship and service in my community, and to one day become a professor.

You have been named a 2020 Best & Brightest Online MBA by Poets & Quants. Which of your achievements do you think led to this recognition?

Serving as a class representative, especially as we navigated the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, deepened my connections with my colleagues, professors, and school administrators.