Programme: OneMBA Class of 2020
Job title: Director of operations at Exadel
Previous degree: Master of law, University of Gomel, Belarus
Elena lives in Minsk, Belarus. She’s married, and has a seven-year-old daughter who started school in the same year that Elena started her OneMBA at RSM. Elena works for an American company and has evening phone meetings. She wakes up at 5:00 to have some time to herself, she then walks and listens to a book or music. The rest of her time goes to the OneMBA, her family, and her work.
1. Why did you decide to do your OneMBA?
“The MBA provides a pool of knowledge that I was missing, for example financial stuff, marketing, and accounting. Also: the people I study with have enriched my life in many ways. I’ve worked for Exadel, a digital software engineering company, for 11 years. The MBA is like fresh air to see issues from different points of view, and see how other companies are built and what their strategies are.
And I didn’t have to relocate for the OneMBA. It’s the most practical option as I wanted to combine it with my family and work. Now I have to dedicate one week every six weeks.”
2. How is the OneMBA experience affecting your work?
“I see business problems from different angles than I did before. I’ve learned new approaches, and how to deal with issues. I can speak different business languages, for example the language of finance and numbers with the CFO. And there are different ways to optimise collaboration with people.”
3. How has the Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLD) affected you?
“It’s beautiful. It stops time to think about your aims. In our everyday routine we don’t dedicate time to it. PLD pushes you to think about it. I’ve learned to see and deal with my weak points. I see my purpose in more details and how I can achieve it. Thanks to the teacher I have a plan. I can’t wait for every coaching session.”
4. Do you notice different cultural approaches to working within your global teams?
“Even though people are different, we have a lot in common. For example honesty, respect and family. It’s just that the way we show it and interpret it is different. You learn from that. And the directness from people in the Netherlands isn’t offensive, it’s a wakeup call. I hadn’t heard people comment on other people’s behaviour before. This kind of feedback is awesome. It shows your life from different angles. At the beginning it was a little shocking to work with people from all over the world, but now we understand each other’s jokes.”
5. With your schedule, how do you manage the cross-continental projects?
“The first three months were the hardest. It’s hard to manage. Things are so busy. You have to dedicate your time and set priorities. I match my timetable with my husband, my daughter, work and the OneMBA to make it work.”
6. How are you experiencing the Global Residencies?
“Champagne tastes differently when you’re together celebrating achievements! It’s a great opportunity to exchange experiences, and to reflect on what we’ve already done and achieved. It’s fun and important to spend time together, it’s different than our virtual conversations about assignments. We share our ideas and knowledge, and also political views, with each other in hotel rooms and lobbies.”
7. What has been the best part of OneMBA for you so far?
“You’re never alone. When you face a problem, you can always rely on the people around you. Not only my team mates, but also the professors and the faculty administration. Professors are amazing because they explain difficult stuff with simple words, and there’s a place for dialogue in lectures. There’s a huge source of information and knowledge. Not only about business but also cultures and politics. Generally it’s fascinating to learn the different spheres of our lives.”
8. How is the RSM MBA helping you to be a force for positive change?
“The beauty is not only to learn information, but also to share. We have in-company communities in the company and I share my knowledge with them. We’ve applied several interesting theories there. I also do some presentations at Gomel State University, and talk about the labour market and what type of skills are required. It’s all about collaborating and caring. I’m helping people think differently, and to have more opportunities and approaches to choose from.”
9. After the OneMBA, what does the future hold?
“I have a bank of new ideas I can implement but haven’t always had time to apply them in real life. I love the company I work for, and I plan to bring it to the next level, for example by being involved with setting up new office locations across Europe. But first, I’ll book a vacation!”