Mirabela Lemak has spent the last 15 years circling the world on luxury private yachts. As chief stewardess on a millionaire’s private yacht, she stays out at sea for two-to-three months at a time, visiting islands in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. But now, she’s planning a way out.
This year, she started the AMBA-accredited blended MBA at the International University of Monaco (IUM). Combining work with study, she primarily works on group projects and speaks with professors and distant-MBA colleagues online.
Every five weeks, she meets on campus in Monaco with IUM’s entire MBA class (residential and distant MBA, full-time and part-time); around 45 students in total, representing around 18 different nationalities.
Mirabela wants to change career track and start her own business. She’s well placed to do so. A quarter of IUM MBA grads go on to start their own businesses.
Why did you decide to pursue a blended MBA at IUM?
I love my job but I feel like I’ve been living in a beautiful bubble. I haven’t been in touch with what’s happening ashore, in the real world. I still want to work. And with IUM’s MBA I can work and study at the same time. It’s intense and fast-paced. It’s quite a challenge, but I don’t mind challenges.
In the near future, I would like to start my own business. Before I do that, I need to learn solid business skills. By studying an MBA, I’m gaining access to a wider network, more opportunities and ideas.
What stands out from your MBA experience so far?
At IUM, you’re not just a number. The professors are very open and they listen to you. They’ve been very helpful. Every time we have exams or projects, they always ask me if I need support, if I want to change track or take different modules. It’s very customizable.
We do a lot of group projects together with colleagues from Switzerland, South Africa, France, Iran, and Russia. They never put us in the same group twice. And, on our milestone weeks, we’re combined with the residential and full-time MBA students. We get to know the entire MBA class really well. I’ve made a lot of friends. If I wanted to find a business partner, I know I could find someone in my class.
What have you gained?
The MBA has changed the way I look at the world. I understand economics better now. I’m learning every day.
When I started the MBA, I had all these ideas in my head about starting my own business. Now, I’m slowly starting to narrow it down to something relating to yachting and luxury. Just by doing projects during the milestone weeks, I’ve realized how easily you can come up with new ideas during an MBA.
How are you applying your learnings in your current job?
In our latest modules, we’re working on organizational behavior which is very interesting for me to learn about. Living and working on a yacht is all about the crew. We have to make sure we’re all happy and we’re all getting along.
The turnover of staff is a big issue on a yachts. I’m learning ways of how to prevent this problem. And I’m learning a lot about dealing with different cultures and personalities.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
Go for a school where you’re not just a number. Where you’re in a classroom where you can speak out and the professors get to know you by name. Where you’re not anonymous and you feel valued and recognized. I think that’s a huge benefit.