Remote working has become the norm after the coronavirus pandemic shut offices globally.
88% of businesses worldwide have encouraged employees not to come into the office, forcing people to become accustomed to working from home.
Stephanie Robles had to adjust to remote work in her role as director of global accounts at Xaxis, a media and advertising company which uses artificial intelligence and data to create tech-driven digital media for more than 3,000 clients worldwide.
Stephanie joined Xaxis in London in March 2020, as the UK became one of a number of European countries to announce lockdowns to fight the pandemic. She has never been to the office and has only met her colleagues once in 10 months with the company.
Almost her entire first year has been spent remote working, but Stephanie hasn’t been troubled by this transition because of her experience on the Global Online MBA at IE Business School, which she completed remotely in 2018.
Why an Online MBA?
After graduating with a masters degree in communication from the University of Amsterdam, Stephanie moved to Australia to work in marketing and communications for ING. After returning to Europe, she spent three years working in PR in France and the Netherlands, before finding a job with Maxus Global, a communications agency owned by British multinational communications and advertising company WPP.
Stephanie worked in a variety of advertising consultancy roles for a number of clients during seven years at Maxus. She was promoted to client service director in 2017 when the company merged to become Wavemaker, and switched to working on the company’s internal business, focusing on improving partnerships with third parties and commercial models, and boosting company engagement.
Introduced to the business side of things, Stephanie says: “I started to realize that our industry is very interesting and dynamic and things are constantly changing.
“You always run out of time to learn, so I wanted to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. After the merge, an MBA felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Although she wanted to take a step back, Stephanie still felt she needed to work at Wavemaker while completing a course. She felt this would allow her to continue her practical learning as she handled more of the business side of the company, including working on ways to encourage more appreciation of the new brand.
“The online MBA opened up a whole world of opportunities for me because it meant I could look at London, Asia, and anywhere else in the world,” she explains.
Stephanie chose IE because of the Global MBA’s top ranking and because the school’s focus on innovation matched with her interest in entrepreneurship.
IE Online MBA
Global Online MBA students at IE Business School can customize their experience by opting for a 17 or 24 month blended program, depending on their workload.
Modules cover key business elements including financial accounting and analysis, data analytics, and economics. They are taught via online video conferences and forums, as well as some face to face teaching which is spread across the course.
The blended approach gives students the chance to meet and connect with the people they work with remotely throughout the course. Stephanie says this helped the MBAs to communicate well during team led projects.
“We met face to face for the very first week, and if we hadn’t had that we wouldn’t have been as close,” she says. Meeting for a small amount of time meant the online section of the course worked well as students had a better connection with each other.
“It was so diverse because you had people who were older and younger and in different industries and parts of the world but it can easily come together because it’s online,” Stephanie recalls.
The online and physical teaching on the course aims to improve students in three key areas, innovation and disruption, management, and leadership. Stephanie found her leadership skills benefited most during the course.
Through classes in critical thinking, influence and persuasion, and leading through emotions, students are taught the fundamentals of being a leader. Along with the independence of working online, Stephanie found this helped her develop her leadership skills.
“You have to figure things out by yourself and have to learn how to adapt to new situations that you are not familiar with,” she says. “You don’t have time to go through books and books on it. You just have to go through it your own way and make it a success.”
Remote working during a pandemic
After leaving Wavemaker, Stephanie became director of global accounts at Xaxis.
There, she handles both strategic and commercial planning for clients all over the world, including top 20 leading global brands like Uber and Proctor & Gamble. This involves coming up with creative advertising campaigns using AI and other technology, and analyzing how the company can improve to provide the best possible value for their clients.
Handling clients from all over the world was important to Stephanie after her MBA. “The diversity of different minds was something I saw come to life in the program so that was definitely something I wanted in my next endeavour,” she explains.
She hadn’t planned to relive the online element of her MBA in her work at Xaxis, but the coronavirus pandemic has seen her handling her clients from home.
She says her experience on the MBA prepared her for life working remotely, so she has been able to effectively work alongside her coworkers in her new role.
“I have to network with my team and work very closely with them even though we’ve never met and they don’t really know me," she says.
"During the course, we were still a close group of people even though we hardly met each other, and we still are now. You can still network and work from a distance, that is definitely something I learned from the MBA program."