Erika Dias on the HST Mentor Program & the perks of unorthodox learning

Meet the smiling faces behind HST’s Mentor Program. Today, we hear from Erika Dias, alum from the Dual Degree IMBA + Master in Customer Experience & Innovation. She tells us why she chose to become a mentor, who’s right for the program, and the main takeaways from her time at IE University.

At HST, we strive to make our students’ experience as smooth and inspiring as possible. With that in mind, we launched the HST Mentor Program, designed to connect current students with alumni from their program. This lasting connection helps students get answers to any questions they may have, find support in stressful times, and build links in the professional world.

But what’s the benefit for the mentors? In this series of interviews, we talk to current mentors to find out what they love about getting involved. Today we hear from Erika Dias, a dual degree alum who’s paving the way in the world of customer experience.

So tell us about yourself. Where are you from, what did you study, what are you working in currently?

I am Brazilian and my undergrad was in Business Administration. Before going to IE, I was a partner at a social media analysis company back home. Now, I’m working as a customer success manager—I make sure companies have a smooth journey as clients of a social media analysis software. 

What inspired you to join the HST Mentor Program?

A few things. First of all, I’ve always believed in the power of a strong community. Getting closer to the university, faculty members, and current students makes us all stronger. Secondly, when I started my program, I was a bit lost in terms of professional paths I could take after the course. Talking about that with former students helped me understand things a bit better. Lastly, being in contact with students and preparing for our meetings serves as a refresher training session for me. It’s a long-lasting learning process and I love it!  

What was your key takeaway from the Master in Customer Experience & Innovation?

My main takeaway was to embrace my creativity in a more professional way. I have always considered myself creative in my personal life, but during the course I understood the importance of discovering, exercising and taking that creativity to different places. Ultimately, it’s a process that makes one approach problems in a different way and this is so valuable in the professional environment!

What kind of person would fit well with the program?

To be honest, I think that so many different professionals and backgrounds could benefit from this program! The key point here is to have your expectations in place—understanding what this course offers and being open to new methodologies. 

For example, we talk a lot about empathy and customer experience, but this does not mean students will become UX experts (in the more technical part of things). The course structure is, by design, less orthodox than the ones I had contact with during undergrad or in the IMBA. There is a lot of design thinking, a lot of pivoting during projects, a lot of «there is no one correct way to do things,» no wrong answers, no step-by-step process to be successful. 

All of this makes some more structured personalities feel uneasy about the process, but if they allow themselves to fully be in it, they end up loving it! 

How did the program affect your comfort zone?

I guess I’m one of those people I just mentioned [laughs]. I am used to some structure and kind of expect frameworks and patterns. What the course gave me, though, was a toolkit: many different tools I can mix and match according to whatever situation I am facing. 

How important were your classmates in your learning process?

It makes all the difference, really! I was already someone who appreciated teamwork, but in a course like this, that’s even more important! Everyone brings a different skill to the table, and the learning environment we were in made me feel comfortable presenting myself as someone vulnerable who didn’t have the answer to everything. I had the chance to work with colleagues much younger and less experienced than me, and they taught me so much! 

Is there any particularly surprising thing that you’ve been using in your professional life that you learned in the Master in Customer Experience & Innovation?

The course made me a much more open person when it comes to feedback. During the course we learn that you’re not supposed to fall in love with your own ideas and solutions, that we are always prototyping (and evolving), and that bad feedback is just the perfect opportunity for growth. This is nothing groundbreaking, but we do put it in practice during the master’s on a daily basis. It eventually sticks to us!


Erika Dias is co-founder of one of the first Latin American consultancies dedicated to strategic analysis of social media. She has 8 years of experience as a customer success manager and cross-functional project manager for multinational firms. She is highly proficient in data analysis and translating findings into actionable recommendations. Connect with her on LinkedIn.