Meet Valeria Chepilev, MTM Class of 2024

Before joining the MTM program, Valeria worked in finance, tech, and startup environments across Europe and North America, and she received her Bachelor of Economics and Management from McGill University.

Q: Why did you join the MTM program?

A: What was appealing about MTM for me was that it was a master's program that's geared toward technology and technological change. I've worked in the tech field before in a tech startup. I've noticed that throughout my career (I've already worked for 10 years or so), technology has drastically changed the way we do things. Doing an MBA was something that I was thinking about, but I felt the programs I was looking at weren’t really geared enough toward technological changes. When I found this program at UCSB, I was drawn to it because it was local (I had just moved to Santa Barbara), in-person, and not online. I felt that MTM was the program that best suited my needs.

Q: What was one of your favorite moments of the year?

A: We had a project management course where we were tasked to create our own software using ChatGPT. I had to go on GitHub, create an account, and use ChatGPT to code Python. I had never touched Python code before in my life. It was a difficult experience in the moment, but after a while, I realized just how much more we can do using AI. AI opened a new door for me where I can try different things. I can try using different software that I wouldn't have been able to use before to perform complex analysis. Of course, there's a limit to that. I was still not a subject matter expert on Python, but the fact that those possibilities are there and I could at least try and do things and experiment was very eye opening. 

Q: What is something you learned in the coursework that you look forward to implementing into your future job endeavors? 

A: Being open-minded, experimenting, and trying new things are things I will implement in any future job going forward. Being open to change in this program really taught me that technology and technological changes are happening really fast. You have to adapt to them, and you have to experiment. Sometimes you’ll try things that fail and you’ll have to try something else. Being agile is very important, and this is something that I've learned in this program. Through all the case studies that we've done looking at different companies, most of the time doing things the way they’ve always been done is when things actually didn't work. It’s okay to try, to see the results fail, and to try again until you succeed.

I enjoyed the Digital Transformation class, where we looked at how companies employ new digital strategies and new technologies to improve certain processes, cut costs, increase their revenues, and so on. Some of the strategies and processes and how companies went about them also resonated with me. Depending on the role, I would definitely bring in some of those experiences from those case studies and implement them in my future career.

Q: What were your favorite MTM courses? 

A: I enjoyed the Digital Transformation course and the Entrepreneurship course. I'm an entrepreneur and an artist on the side. The Entrepreneurship class has been very helpful in giving me an understanding of how to set up your own business, what difficulties one might face, and why some companies succeed while others fail. This course gave me a more structured way of thinking about running my business. 

Q: What has been your favorite part about going to graduate school in Santa Barbara?

A: I lived in Santa Barbara before going to UCSB. The weather is an obvious favorite. I enjoyed how friendly the people are, and that MTM is a business-oriented program that's professional, but it didn't feel overly competitive or “cut throat.” The whole environment felt very collaborative, which I've enjoyed. 

Q: Do you have any future business endeavors or career aspirations that you're looking forward to?

A: I started off thinking I would stick to one thing, and I became more open-minded. I've learned more about different careers while speaking to different individuals, which is another plus of this program. The amount of different speakers from different companies that we've had that allowed us to learn more about different industries has been beneficial. I started off thinking that I would go more into project management, but after time had passed, I actually found that this wouldn’t be the only option. There are careers in digital transformation that I'd be interested in as well as maybe strategy, and program management. Overall, this program helped me learn about different paths. I still don't have a definitive answer, but MTM gave me different options and things to think about as I explore the job environment.

Q: What was your field project, and how did the coursework prepare you for it? 

A: We worked with Deckers on their go to market strategy. The ask from them was to reduce their go to market timeline by up to 50%. We looked at different ways they can utilize new technology to streamline some of their processes, whether they can make some other project management-related adjustments, and so on. We used a lot of information from our Data Science class. The Data Science class taught us how to share compelling data during presentations, and that's what we did when we presented different solutions to Deckers. The Project Management class was very helpful as well, because timeline reduction requires project management adjustments, compressing tasks, running tasks in parallel, and so on. Another course that has helped with this project is the Digital Transformation course, because we proposed digital tool implementation. 

Q: What is your favorite new technology? 

A: It might be redundant because everyone's using GenAI, but definitely GenAI, as its capabilities have been transformative. I enjoy how you can use these capabilities in a variety of ways. I use them for my art. I take pictures with my art and I ask Gen AI to give me feedback. It gives me insight into questions such as: Is my perspective correct? How's my art? Is my tonal value good?, and so on. It's very capable of walking me through that and has a wider range of application beyond technology and business.

Q: Is there anything you'd say or advice you'd give to a prospective student who's looking at joining the MTM program?

A: I would say just learn as much as you can during this year. It's a lot, but it gives you a really nice chance to get exposed to so many different things at UCSB, so many different speakers, guest lectures, and so on. Take advantage and attend as many events as you can. Take full advantage of this program and try to do as much as you can, and get exposed to different things. I would also say come with an open mind, because you might come in thinking that you want to do X, but if you expose yourself to different industries, different ideas, different careers, you might realize that maybe your passion lies in something else. It's nice to have an idea, but it's important to have an open mind.

To learn more about the MTM program, visit

Share this with FacebookShare this with TwitterShare this with LinkedInShare this with RedditShare this with EmailPrint this
News Type