Claire Koplimaa

Nationality: American
Job title: Chief of staff to the CEO at Qventus
Previous degree: bachelor in political science, Davidson College, USA

1. Why did you decide to do an MBA?

“I want career growth, but hit a plateau at work because of my seniority in the organisation. I learn a lot on the job, but needed more from outside of the organisation. Also, I just moved from the USA to Estonia. The MBA is an opportunity to build relationships and create a network in Europe which I need for my long-term career development. I chose RSM because of the depth and design of its course work, and RSM is all about applying new skills and knowledge into a real-life context and global environment. Another differentiator is the personal leadership development track to become a better leader.”

2. What expectations did you have studying for your Global Executive MBA in a world in motion?

“The GEMBA provides me with frameworks to deal with the complexities in the environments we’re operating in. It’s not linear with one step after another. There are a lot of aspects to consider and it’s hard to understand how it affects other factors and interact with the environment. At RSM, I’m learning to understand this context and decision-making frameworks. Tomorrow just doesn’t look like today and there are a lot of unknowns associated with that.”

3. How would you describe your RSM MBA experience so far?

“It’s been wonderful, challenging and insightful – both professionally and personally – in terms of the course work and the class dynamic. It’s an incredible group of people from diverse cultures, nationalities and industries. I’ve learned just as much from interactions with them as in the traditional classroom setting. I didn’t expect this, but ended up getting a ton of value out of it.”

4. What has been the most challenging assignment or course during the GEMBA so far?

“Global marketing management is challenging because of its breadth. That class drove home how behavioural economics and analytics come together with strategy and operations to create an environment that organisations can market into. It was more expansive than what I knew about marketing. It’s much more than product and customer marketing. It’s about the high-level context of what that is driven by. It really pushed my thinking.”

5. What impact does the Strategic Leadership Development component (SLD) of the programme have on you?

“I better understand my own leadership style – good and bad – and how I can more effectively drive initiatives and people forward. You’re forced to develop and apply the skills at work right away, and set new milestones. One of my areas for personal development is stakeholder management. I need to make maps to figure out what’s in it for everyone throughout the process. I actively apply this on projects now. Doing these exercises helps me to identify how I can engage people across the organisation to ensure success.”

6. If you had to choose one Sustainable Development Goal, which one would you choose, and why?

“SDG3: Good health and well-being. Healthcare has been a thread in my career – from my studies, thesis topic and in every job I’ve been in. Along with education (SDG4), it’s the foundation that people have for everything else in their life. Health access and equity is a guiding principle in my own life.”

7. Has your MBA journey changed your outlook on what your career will look like?

“Yes and no. It opened my eyes to things I hadn’t previously considered, and also reinforced the things I know I love. I’ve worked in service industry, but I enjoyed the global operations management course more than I expected. My vision hasn’t changed, but the MBA supplements how I think about my career.”

8. What advice could you give to people who are considering doing a Global Executive MBA?

“Ensure that you have the appropriate level of support. The MBA is a lot of work. You need dedicated time from your employer, your partner and your family. And you need to be committed to your own development. It’s a big investment, and you’ll grow a lot.”