From MBA candidate to account strategist: Interview with Elena Heilig

Elena Heilig

Program Name: MBA
Year of Graduation: 2018
Program Schedule: Full Time

What drew you to The Portland MBA in particular?

Before I started The Portland MBA, I studied International Business at ESB Business School in Germany. Between 2014 and 2017, I completed my undergraduate degree while working as an intern with several companies such as Porsche Consulting, Google and Lufthansa Cargo. After finishing school, I decided to do an almost three-year long apprenticeship before going to college in order to apply my theoretical business knowledge in a practical context. My work experience before and during my undergraduate program helped me understand the direction I want to go in and discover my passion for international business, languages and cultures.

A scholarship allowed me to follow-through with my plan, and I applied and got accepted to The Portland MBA as one of ESB’s partner universities. I was especially fascinated and impressed by the diversity and range of people in Portland and the sustainability focus of the program.

You worked at Google as an intern and now you are working full-time with the company. Tell us more about that experience and how The Portland MBA prepared you for your current role.

I did an internship as a business intern within the Google Customer Solutions unit in 2017, just before I came to Portland. I got to work with end clients as well as online marketing agencies to enhance our customers’ digital marketing activities. 

While attending PSU, I completed a digital marketing certificate through the Center for Executive and Professional Education along with my regular classes to broaden my knowledge in the field and understand the components of digital marketing. Furthermore, it led me to gain a deeper understanding of the digital advertising landscape, i.e. social media, analytics and content creation. 

The MBA classes, instructed by some of the most knowledgeable and inspiring professors in the field, conveyed invaluable lessons. I learned a variety of skills and had the opportunity to gain experiences, some of which were pivotal for my career and personal development. 

One of the greatest assets of the The Portland MBA is how it is set up. Each cohort consists of well-chosen individuals with tremendous sets of skills and experiences. The professors have incredible practical experience working in their industries. Faculty and staff encourage and enable students to focus on themselves and the program. 

This all-encompassing program encouraged me to fail fast and be successful in a safe environment, understand the importance of emotional intelligence, and be humble by lifting myself and others. I am eminently grateful for the opportunity to learn from the professors and practitioners at PSU.

How did your time at The School of Business impact your business mindset most?

Completing the The Portland MBA has been one of the most exciting, yet challenging experiences so far. Living in the US, working with a diverse set of people with different mindsets and values and balancing my interests led me to become more confident in myself and my skills — I’ve attained a higher level of conscientiousness. The course work, especially the capstone project, required me to give my personal best at all times and understand the ratio of effort to impact. It led me to change my way of thinking when approaching challenging situations and unexpected complications to always focus on the goal.

What activities were you part of while attending PSU?

In the winter term, I started working as a research assistant with one of the most inspiring professors, Jeanne Enders, to understand what ethical leaders do differently and how they become an ethical leader in the first place. I was also a guest speaker in one of the marketing classes and got to share some sales frameworks.

What inspires you?

What a question! I get inspired by so many little things in life. Sometimes it’s a song, sometimes it’s a paragraph I read, sometimes it’s working with a colleague and sometimes it’s positive feedback. What I love about the little things that inspire me: They make me become the best version of myself and amplify my inner drive.

What advice do you have for current or prospective School of Business students who want to advance in their careers?

People always tell you that you should find a purpose and an ultimate end goal. I don’t think there is an ultimate goal to achieve in life, but rather, I think as the world becomes more fast-paced and agile, so do we — and so do our goals. Try as many things as possible and find out what satisfies you, excites you, and makes you want to get up in the morning and then have the courage to follow-through. That follow-through is where I am currently. 


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