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Online Executive MBA Widens Career Opportunities For Women In Business

Cristina Franchini juggles a new baby and a full-time job with MIP Politecnico di Milano’s International Flex EMBA, 90% of which is delivered online

For Cristina Franchini, taking time off work to pursue a full-time, classroom-based MBA program was impossible. Her job had moved her from Canada to Italy, and she was pregnant with her first child.

Instead, she joined 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, the International Flex MBA mirrors a real-life working environment. Yammer is its social tool. Skype for Business brings students and professors together in immersive ‘live sessions.’

The flexibility of the program – combining online learning with optional international trips to China and Silicon Valley – means Cristina can juggle family, business, and an Executive MBA at the same time. Out of the 35 students from 19 different countries making up the program’s first intake, 50% are women.

An experienced engineer, Cristina works as a project manager at a leading Italian oil and gas company. With an EMBA, she’s considering new career opportunities. She predicts more and more MBA and Executive MBA programs will go online.

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

At the time, I was working in Canada for an Italian company. I was an expatriate employee, meaning there was always the possibility that my boss would call me in the middle of the night and ask me to come back to Italy or move to another country. Based on that uncertainty, a full-time MBA was not feasible. I would have had to choose between losing the job or the MBA.

The i-Flex EMBA, with the total flexibility, online international formula, and the Politecnico di Milano brand, was the answer to all my needs. Indeed, soon after I decided to jump on the MBA journey, my company asked me to move back to Italy, and I found out I was pregnant!

How have you profited from the program so far?

The program is really inspiring; the content, the forum where we are all invited to express our thoughts, the discussion with professors during the live sessions, and my classmates with their different backgrounds and experiences. You start reading an article that a professor suggested to you on Yammer and you spend the next couple of yours diving more into a subject you didn’t even know existed.

My company is going under huge reconstruction, and with the knowledge I’ve acquired so far I’m able to understand the reason why this revolution is needed and why they preferred one strategy over another.

After my baby was born, combining work and family with an MBA was quite challenging. I soon understood that efficiency and efficacy were key. I had to change my priorities, ask for help and use the free time I had to study. For sure, if I’d studied how I’m studying now at undergrad, I would have graduated two years early!

What are your plans for the future?

I started the MBA with a clear idea of what I wanted to do and, after five months, I’ve changed idea at least fifteen times. With each module, I’m opening a door to a completely new world with professional roles that I didn’t know about.

I’ve decided to focus on the present, to learn as much as I can and, at the end of this amazing journey, take my pick. The future is unpredictable and you have to be ready to take the career leap – the MBA is a good parachute!

At the moment, I’m thinking about changing industry. Now that tourism is exploding in my city, why not about develop a new service related to it? But I’m sure that after the next module, I will have changed my mind!

What is the future for online learning?

The future is calling for more and more online MBA and masters programs. Life is changing very quick and flexibility is the key word. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next week.

If a new job opportunity pops up and you need to move city or country, do you drop it because of a master’s that requires you to be in class one or two days a week? Absolutely not! Look at me. My pregnancy would have stopped my MBA dream come true – it’s impossible to be in class with a one-month-old baby. But with the i-Flex EMBA, I can put my baby to sleep, join the online class, and be fully-focused on the lesson.

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