“Dive in! It’s a fun, exhausting, invigorating and challenging experience.”

Sarah, United States

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Sarah Castagnola

About me

Experienced international project manager for both the private and public sector in the United States, Uganda, Turkey, Kosovo, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Managed a diverse range of projects including micro- and small-business development in the United States, agricultural projects in Syria and coffee marketing in Uganda with the common goal of working with businesses to create social impact.

Sarah Castagnola, United States


Markets, Economic Recovery and Growth Specialist

Program studied

IE Global Online MBA

Describe your experience in the Global Online MBA in one word.


In what ways do you think the Global Online MBA has changed your life, professionally and personally?

Professionally, it has given me exposure to different industries and functions that I am interested in, a global network of people who I now call friends and confidence in my ability to analyze and synthesize complex information and to communicate my ideas. Personally, I find myself to be engaged and energized by my learning. I feel that energy in the classroom but also at home with my family. I am optimistic and excited about the future.

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

Dive in! It’s a fun, exhausting, invigorating and challenging experience. We all joke that part time feels more like full time. But we are doing it together and somehow balancing it with our jobs and home life. It’s been both a difficult and fulfilling experience. Spend time getting to know people in the program — they will be your support throughout. Also make sure your friends and family are on board. You’ll need them to understand how busy you will be.

What has been your favorite memory of the Global Online MBA so far?

We had to make a short film during our first week in Madrid. We were grouped randomly, given props, costumes, a time limit and a background story. None of us knew each other, yet we were thrown into an ambiguous situation that required us to work effectively, efficiently and creatively as a team. It was a good representation of the MBA journey and of how much we would rely on each other’s strengths and experiences as a team. As a bonus, we have plenty of goofy photos and some questionable acting to look back on at graduation.

What is networking like in the Global Online MBA?

The program facilitates networking both inside your section through rotating teams and within your entire cohort through on-campus sessions. In addition, the Global Immersion Week provides opportunities for you to meet a wide range of people outside of your section and program. IE also has career directors and alumni who help organize events while engaging the entire IE community. IE has created an environment in which relationships with classmates come naturally. We make daily posts on forums and communicate on WhatsApp every day. We have class together every Saturday. We are even planning vacations together.

You were selected as the IE Woman of the Month (April 2019). Which of your achievements do you think led to this recognition?

First of all I want to say what an honor it was to be selected. I am surrounded by brilliant women in the Global Online MBA program whose achievements are impressive and inspirational. I believe I was selected to highlight the diversity of Global MBA students and their professions. My background is in humanitarian relief, early post-disaster economic development and protracted crises. My work has been centered around Market Systems Development in Humanitarian Response and identifying ways to go beyond traditional in-kind aid. To this end, I have studied how to strengthen local systems and private businesses in order to promote inclusive livelihood opportunities for crisis-affected households.

You have been named a 2019 Best & Brightest Online MBA by Poets & Quants. Do you think this will have an impact on your career?

I am humbled to be included with such an accomplished group of people. The benefit of being included in the Poets & Quants’ list is the exposure it brings. The first thing I did was reach out on LinkedIn to the other IE student nominated, Chiara Molena, and ask her to connect. It’s a great opportunity to meet, engage and learn from a wider network of people.