Online Executive MBA Helps Me Juggle Business And A New Baby At The Same Time

Vira Smyshliaieva is one of the first intake of students on MIP Politecnico di Milano’s new International Flex EMBA, 90% of which is delivered online

Vira Smyshliaieva is COO of a global outsourcing firm based in her native Ukraine. She’s responsible for 1000 employees in 30 offices across Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, controlling an annual HR budget of around $4.8 million.

Last year, she decided to do an MBA. But there are no accredited Executive MBA programs in Ukraine. With her job, she couldn’t move to study a full-time MBA program abroad. And she’d just given birth to her first daughter.

Instead, she joined the first intake of MIP Politecnico di Milano’s new International Flex EMBA (i-Flex), an 18-month Executive MBA program, 90% of which is delivered online.

Developed in partnership with Microsoft, MIP’s new Executive MBA marks a trend towards increasingly flexible programs for the experienced working professional. Students and professors connect in an immersive online learning environment which can be accessed from any device.

Vira joined the program together with her husband Edward, a CIO of a leading Ukrainian law firm. 35 executives based in 19 different countries make up the program’s first intake. 50% of the program’s participants are women.

Why did you decide to pursue the International Flex EMBA at MIP?

I am very into self-education and the MBA was one of the steps that I was planning to take in my career development. A full-time MBA in another country was not an option. And, unfortunately, in Ukraine there are no certified Executive MBA programs.

As a mom of beautiful baby girl, I needed a program which would give me an option of sitting on three chairs simultaneously. MIP’s International Flex EMBA came up as the perfect solution. Both my husband Edward and I decided to enroll together!

How have you found combining family, full-time work, and an Executive MBA?

It’s easy because our whole family is studying! Even our baby, because she usually listens to all our live sessions. Sometimes my husband and my group calls happen simultaneously and we play with baby in rotation.

We understand each other, support each other, and cooperate, because we are on the same wavelength. Travelling is one of our passions as a family. We continue to travel, and go on business trips, since we can study from anywhere in the world.

What stands out from your experience of the program so far?

I enjoy studying with such interesting, engaged, smart and diverse people. I’ve made a lot of new friends and encountered a lot of different perspectives.

Obviously, I appreciate flexibility of the program, since I can multitask and study without sticking to any specific time constraints. It’s important for me in terms of work and planning of family activities. 

What have you gained?

There is no limit to perfection. The more experience you get, the more you understand how much you still have to get to know. The EMBA has shown me that I still have a lot of time for other tasks and that nothing is impossible.

From my personal experience, I must say that I was surprised when one of colleague recently told me that I have changed quite a lot. She said that even my e-mails, and the way I usually write them, has changed.

I feel that I am ready for the next career level and new challenges. The EMBA will give me the opportunity to reach them in the short term.

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