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Why this film industry professional pursued a Gies MBA

Jun 4, 2024, 16:01 by Lindsey Halfar
Just one semester into the iMBA, Ines Weitgasser has already connected with several of her peers located around the world—a major benefit for someone who once chose her first career to work with uniquely talented people.

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When Ines Weitgasser first started out, her passion for storytelling and creativity led her to Los Angeles, where she began working for TV and film studios doing post-production. “I was always interested in creative work and working with a team of motivated professionals,” she said about her time in Hollywood. But after ten years, she was ready for a new challenge. 

Given the complementary skill set that productions and projects have in common, Weitgasser transitioned to start-ups and began honing more specific project management skills. At the same time, she began taking business-related specializations from Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found on Coursera, such as Business Analytics and Strategic Leadership and Management

That learning may have seemed independent at first—a way to build her skill set in a more business-savvy direction—but ultimately Weitgasser realized that she could really level up her learning with a graduate degree thanks to the way that Gies’ open courses on Coursera build into their full Master of Business Administration (iMBA) program. “You can start working on the degree as soon as you sign up for the Coursera part of the course,” she explained. 

That stackability made the decision to keep going and get her MBA more enticing. “The more courses I took, the more interested I was in the subject until I decided to look into applying for the Gies iMBA,” she recalled. The price point of the iMBA and the networking opportunities “were unbeatable.” 

Just one semester into the iMBA, and Weitgasser has already connected with several of her peers located around the world—a major benefit for someone who once chose her first career to work with uniquely talented people. “One of the main reasons why I decided on Gies was the diverse student body and the worldwide networking opportunities,” she said. “Because of the international student body, I can learn from others with a different professional and cultural background.”

Thanks to the way Gies formats its curriculum, Weitgasser got the opportunity to work alongside her fellow students all semester long. “I was assigned to a team at the beginning of the semester,” she explained.”My team and I (five people in total) worked across five time zones and three continents. It was great working on projects with people from around the world and from different backgrounds. I am still in touch with my teammates, and I think I have learned and grown a lot.”

She’s also expanded her knowledge in ways that benefit her work. “I just finished my first semester but I have already learned valuable lessons I can practically apply,” she said. 

Career changes—which can sometimes mean moving from one industry to another or one career path to an entirely new one—are on the rise. As people discover new interests, passions, or talents, they can explore related careers without feeling consigned to one type of career for the length of their professional life. 

Weitgasser may have started in film and TV, but her growing interest in business and leadership has led her to a degree that can help her pivot into something new. Weitgasser plans on applying what she’s learned in big ways. “I want to serve my community,” she said, “and become a better leader and change-maker.”

Learn more about the iMBA program with Gies College of Business.