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Danae Vassilopoulou

  • Programme: Executive MBA Dubai
  • Nationality: Greek
  • Job Pre-programme: Area Marketing Manager - Middle East & Africa, Bulgari (LVMH Group)

Professional background

Danae holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Central Michigan University and a Master of Arts from City University of London. She is currently Area Marketing Manager for Middle East & Africa at Bulgari (LVMH). Danae was awarded the EMBA Scholarship when she began the programme in 2014. Her motivations for joining the programme were clear: to gain the knowledge and confidence to manage tasks outside her field of expertise - marketing and advertising.

Scholarship success

I had been considering an MBA for a couple of years prior to applying to London Business School (LBS), but I did not want to stop working or completely relocate in order to attend classes. After attending information sessions and speaking with alumni, LBS was my first choice; the programme was highly ranked, the format was the least disruptive to work, the dual Dubai and London locations offered were suitable and the calibre of students and faculty was highly appealing. 

Receiving a scholarship to help fund my tuition fees was beneficial, not only in financial aid, but also in terms of the feeling of recognition. It was very rewarding to see that I fit the profile that LBS look for in its candidates – a profile I admired from my pre-application experiences with alumni. However, the prospect of a scholarship, while being a positive, was not the ultimate deciding factor, more like added value.

Academia with the personal touch

The EMBA experience at LBS is definitely intense, but incredibly insightful and educating: both from an academic, but more so, from a personal and professional perspective. It’s evident from the way the programme is structured: the format is centred on ambitious professionals who are in a transitional phase in their career – either looking to change field or to accelerate growth in their current role.  

LBS community at the core

One of the biggest advantages of doing an MBA programme at LBS is the community. The academic curriculum is both educating and challenging, but the unexpected learning value are the insights you get from your classmates, whether during class discussions, or informal chats during lecture breaks. This level of knowledge cannot be written in a textbook or taken from class notes. 

Another advantage is the diversity of the student body, which allows for the exchange of insights from different industries and geographical areas. This was especially the case for the Dubai stream where the majority of the class is based outside of Dubai: students brought a wealth of information and real-life insights of current events into the classroom.  
There have been several highlights in the programme so far – from the orientation week to the social events during core modules, as well as the electives both at the London and Dubai campuses. The electives allowed me to immerse myself in London-campus life and I was able to meet students from other programmes as well as exchange students from various top US business schools. I loved the diversity of each class and the interactive format: virtually every elective I took required in-class team exercises and group presentations.  I was also very happy to experience the EMBA lifestyle in New York, as an exchange student at Columbia Business School, which was an incredible experience and one of my personal highlights this year. And to top it all, the International Assignment in Argentina really was the cherry on top, as it gave a real-life perspective on how businesses cope with and can survive in turbulent markets.
From an academic perspective, the professors have been incredibly inspiring and impactful. Their real-life work experience and industry recognition has added another layer of knowledge that, again, you can’t get from a textbook. The LBS community is embedded in the very core of this programme. 

Confidence in communicating

One of the immediate impacts of the programme is the ability to collaborate with other departments in my organisation in a more efficient way. I feel like I can speak and understand other departments' languages, which makes communication more effective and productive. At the same time, the professional skills workshops have enhanced my 'softer' skills, which are useful when working with teams, or presenting ideas to large groups of people from different backgrounds.  

What I have gained the most from my experience so far is my enhanced confidence, not only in my skills and capabilities, but in the goals and objectives that I set for myself. I feel like my scope of options and possibilities has multiplied exponentially and virtually no goal is unattainable. On a personal level, I have acquired better time management skills, a more structured way of thinking and working, and I now have an action-plan-approach to life. I’m better equipped to handle complex projects involving different departments and I’m more confident at the prospect of exploring entrepreneurial opportunities in the future. 

And finally, I now understand that there will always be room for learning. I’ve learnt that people can improve and enhance their existing set of skills, no matter where they are in their career –  as in the business world nothing remains constant.