How an MBA Can Help to Pursue a Career Without Having Any Regrets

September 01, 2021

Daniela Dorner talks about her career path and the role of her MBA

Can you, please, share with us your career development until now?

Accompanying my bachelor studies at WU Vienna, I had a very interesting and educational student job as a member of OMV’s Group Reporting team. After graduating in both International Business and Business Law, I joined Mondi in 2012 for an internship in their Uncoated Fine Paper Sales & Marketing team and chose to stay when an opportunity for a full time position arose. During the first 2 years, I collected experiences in product and brand management as well as business development. Working with customers in business development helped me identify that I actually really enjoyed and was good at engaging with customers. I changed into a sales role and over the course of 2.5 years developed from Sales Manager Austria to International Key Account Manager, being responsible for one of Mondi’s biggest customers. Finishing my MBA in 2018, my responsibilities grew, taking on a Channel Management role, leading a sales region and team next to the International Key Account. At the end of 2019, I was promoted to Head of Strategic Channel Partners, driving brand distribution strategy, networks and partnerships as a member of the Sales & Marketing management team in Uncoated Fine Paper. With April 2021, I was appointed Group eCommerce Director at Mondi, entering the packaging business and driving the important growth area of eCommerce packaging.

Did you originally want to pursue a different career? If so, what made you change your plans?

For a long time before and during my bachelor studies, I thought I want to become an auditor. Diving deeper into the field and thanks to my most exciting student job in OMV’s Group Reporting department, I realized that while I clearly enjoy numbers, I would rather spend my professional life collaborating with people shaping the future. Following this realization, I was intrigued by the thought of a diplomatic career. It was actually a very interesting conversation at the “Career Calling” fair around “how sustainability makes business sense” with a (future) colleague representing Mondi, which got me really interested, with sustainability being one of my passions. Several months later, I joined Mondi for an internship in the marketing & sales department and soon thereafter, a full time position materialized so I had the opportunity to stay. Working at Mondi felt “right” so I gladly accepted.

Thus, it was a journey discovering where I want be and pursue my career. Until today, my various passions for people, diplomacy, sustainability, the future, numbers etc. have largely been reflected with my choice of Mondi as an employer and the roles I worked in. In the end, I experimented, followed my gut feeling, was courageous to change routes and plans, seized opportunities – and never had any regrets.

What was your biggest professional/personal success?

I am proudly looking back at my career development and a tremendous learning and growth journey over the past years. Success stories I enjoy most are those, where people collaborate and achieve something bigger together, which none of them could have achieved alone. Effective collaboration across teams, functions, segments, business units, with external partners and customers is essential as well in my role as Group eCommere Director.

What was your biggest challenge?

Without doubt, being part of a sales & marketing management team leading through the Covid-19 pandemic was challenging. Taking care of our teams, our families, ourselves, securing business with our customers and for our operations, changing habits at work and at home – literally over the weekend and all of it in parallel – was stretching. I have highest respect for every parent who, on top of all of this, was also engaged in homeschooling.

I am sure all of us are taking away many learnings from this crisis.

Which 3 most important experiences in your life have led you to where you are right now?

  1. Travelling places and exploring cultures

  2. Getting to know myself better, as well as my strengths, values, passion, drivers, and motivators.

  3. Seizing opportunities as they presented themselves

When you think of the most talented high potential in your company, what 3 pieces of advice would you give him or her to live a successful and fulfilling life?

  • Be courageous: take opportunities, learn something new every day and move out of your comfort zone

  • Connect: “If you want to go fast, go alone – if you want to go far, go together” (African Proverb) – Seek opportunities to connect with others, take an interest in them, build a network, and collaborate

  • Mens sana in corpore sano: physical and psychological wellbeing of yourself and the people around you matter most

Using just 5 words, how would your team describe you as a leader?

From my latest 360° feedback I can share: solution-oriented, optimistic, ambitious, determined, leading by example

What has changed in your career because of your MBA degree? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals? What concrete career opportunities have opened up for you?

Every day, I benefit from the knowledge and skills gathered and interesting discussions we had during class and among the colleagues. It truly broadened my horizon. Professionally, I took a bigger step in my career towards the end of the MBA program, taking on my first leadership role managing a sales region and team next to an international key account. Enrolling in the MBA program was a great decision – and I would take it again without second thought. Invaluable time spent, relationships built and memories made which I would not want to miss.

As far as the workload is concerned, how did you manage an MBA next to a demanding job and your family life?

3 elements helped me on this demanding, exciting and definitely rewarding journey:

  1. rigorous planning of priorities

  2. discipline in follow-through

  3. tremendous support & understanding from my employer, my then-manager, my partner and family

What do you consider a “great luxury”?

The privileged life I get to live and which I am very grateful for. Living in a country like Austria with all its beauty and benefits, enjoying great education, working in a leading position for a company with values strongly resonating with my own, freedom and independence, health in my family, being in a loving and supportive relationship – and this got even more obvious during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?

Let me share two: from a business perspective, I enjoyed “Better, Simpler Strategy” by Felix Oberholzer-Gee. His suggestions help to focus on what really matters. A real treat in our fast-paced environment. And personally, I found “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle very impressive and inspiring.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

I am actually feeling pleased with the person I became and am still becoming.


I can laugh about:
many situations and myself. A good laugh is enormously powerful and healing!
Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook:
Every person is unique - nothing and nobody is perfect
My funniest/most exciting travel experience was:
15 days travelling on horseback with nomads through Mongolia's northern mountains and lakes
I could not survive without this smartphone app:
My fridge is always stocked with:
I would spend my last money on:
a delicious dish
Ten years ago, I thought:
It will take me ages to grow into a leadership role
Today, I know:
Dreaming big, courage, vulnerability, kindness, love and lifelong-learning are essential ingredients for all aspects of life.

Read more interesting career stories of our students and graduates here.

Share this