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New Marketing Analytics Student Brings Global Education and Journalism Background to Poole College

By Samantha Beavers

From working with CNN International’s Inside Africa series to doing hurricane coverage with Spectrum News, teaching about cultural competency and putting on a conference for EFL teachers in Baku, Azerbaijan, incoming Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) student Ilin Misaras has learned a lot about telling stories and delivering information over the years. Her biggest takeaway? Building bridges is the key to communicating with diverse audiences.

“If you can learn to bridge the gaps between what you deliver and other people’s assumptions and expectations, you can make a huge impact. A lot of times, the barrier to trust and strong relationships is not what information you’re presenting, but how you’re presenting it,” Misaras explains. “It’s important to understand different thinking styles and cultural values, and then tailor your messages to others in a way that’s consistent with how they think and process information.”

Telling stories

As associate director of NC State’s Global Training Initiative (GTI), an initiative providing global training and professional development resources and opportunities for students, professionals and educators, Misaras aims to do just that. Overseeing GTI’s digital marketing and content creation efforts, Misaras leverages her background in journalism to craft powerful messages that resonate with the unit’s various audiences. 

As more and more information becomes available, however, Misaras recognizes that audiences don’t only need emotional anecdotes that move them – they also need data that convinces and drives them. But data, too, is most powerful when it’s presented with a story.

“For most of my life, words have been my main tool. But in today’s world, it’s important to make data-driven decisions. And while the numbers don’t lie, the way you interpret and present numbers can really affect the way others make decisions. For me, it’s important to brush up on my data skills in order to glean accurate insights – and then share those with others in a compelling way,” she explains.

“For example, my two boys have Legos scattered all over the house. I can sort those into piles of green Legos and blue Legos, and there’s nothing wrong with that – that is helpful. Or, I can take those piles and begin to stack them. But when I use Legos to build a house with a lawn, that’s when you can see the value of Legos, right? That’s just like data. I can sort it and stack it, and that’s great – but when I use it to tell a story, that’s when others see how meaningful it is,” she explains.

Misaras with her family during their summer trip to Europe this year

Developing skills

Because data analytics and storytelling are such complementary skills, Misaras believes it’s important to have a strong foundation in both. That’s why she turned to the MMA program at NC State.

“In my time with GTI, I’ve done some certificate programs in digital marketing to teach myself skills, but I’d really like to build a more comprehensive foundation in marketing analytics and learn best practices from industry leaders and folks in the private sector. I heard some really good things about the MMA program, and because my kids are getting older, I now have a little more free time to pursue a degree,” she continues.

Plus, Misaras says, it’s right on schedule.

“It seems like I get a degree every ten years or so. After getting my bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, I spent ten years working as a broadcast journalist and then got my master’s in international studies from NC State, which allowed me to transition into a role with GTI,” she explains. “It’s now been a little over a decade that I’ve worked as an international educator, so it seems right that I go back to school and get another degree. I’m very excited to start this new phase and looking forward to seeing where my new skills take me.” 

Leveraging analytics

Already, Misaras has seen the power analytics and technology have to drive initiatives forward, facilitate cross-cultural experiences and enable strategic decision-making – and that’s what excites her about building on the skills she already has.

“A few years ago, I worked closely with another unit and faculty member on campus to develop a virtual reality module on cultural competence. We are in the process of incorporating artificial intelligence, so we kind of married ChatGPT with one of the characters we’ve created – and this character has come to life now. We hope this will be an amazing educational tool to engage students, because if you approach a student and say, ‘Hey, would you like to learn about cultural competence?’ they may or may not be interested. But if you say, ‘Hey, you want to play with virtual reality and AI?’ they’re nearly always interested,” she explains.

By expanding her skills in analytics and marketing, Misaras is eager to become even more effective in her ability to streamline brand strategies and demonstrate the value of programs and services to different audiences. Applying these skills to her role with GTI, she hopes to strengthen the initiative’s efforts to leave a legacy by advancing cultural competence, professional development and innovation around the globe. 

Broadening perspectives

Misaras also looks forward to learning from faculty and students in the MMA program who come from different backgrounds and disciplines. Working in international education for the last decade, she has appreciated the opportunity to connect with educators across the globe who share her passions for global education and cross-cultural understanding. Through these relationships, Misaras says she has learned a great deal about herself and the world, and she knows she will carry these perspectives wherever she goes in the future.

At the same time, she recognizes that every field tends to attract people who are cut from the same cloth – so she thinks networking with professionals from different industries in the private sector will be incredibly valuable. 

“I think they’ll teach me a lot of new things about myself, kind of like how certain friends can draw out different aspects of your personality. It’s not that you’re a different person around different people, but a specific context or group can highlight different interests and show you things about yourself you hadn’t discovered before,” she says. “So, I look forward to seeing how they broaden my perspective and help me identify new opportunities for career growth, and I’m really excited to see what the future holds for me.”

To learn more about the Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) program at NC State’s Poole College of Management, click here.