CommLeader Spotlight|Molly O’Donnell, Cohort 12


Graduation date or expected graduation date: December 2014

Area of interest (within the MCDM/MCCN program or in general): 

Multimedia Storytelling

What exactly do you do professionally or what are your professional goals?

I am an ethnographer with 9 years of research experience currently working for Microsoft . As a visual anthropologist, I am passionate about capturing experiences and telling compelling visual stories that strive to inspire empathy with my research subjects. I am a trained social scientist committed to identifying tensions and barriers that get in the way of achieving goals and success in product design and experiences.

How are you directly applying knowledge from the MCDM or MCCN program in your daily life?

It’s been amazing how timely and relevant every class has been in my work as a researcher. Almost every quarter, I found myself bringing books, articles, and discussions from class to share with my colleagues.

As a full-time or part-time student, how have classes worked into your schedule?

It’s pretty tricky juggling a full-time job as a part-time grad student, but the professors are so flexible and willing to work with our schedules. It has also been crucial to have the support of my managers and colleagues at work who understood my commitment and recognized the value of my time at the MCDM. And over the last two years, I think I’ve slowly become a Jedi Master of time management, so that helps.

Which classes have had the most impact on you personally and professionally?

The DrugsOverDinner project was an incredible and eye-opening experience. I got to work with some amazing people, including Michael Hebb, Scott Macklin, David Llama and the extremely talented design team at Civilization. To be a part of bringing it to life now and hopefully affecting positive change on the conversation Americans have about drugs and addiction is truly gratifying.

What’s your favorite Comm Lead experience?

I probably shouldn’t mention this here, but during our core research strategy class, a couple of my fellow cohorts and I decided to apply the skills we were learning in class to come up with a mixed method approach for objectively rating our satisfaction with international chewing gum flavors…

What digital trends are you most intrigued by right now?

I’m really interested in collaborative consumption and economy in digital media. Companies like AirBnB, Uber and Duolingo are (for better or worse) a huge disruption to traditional business models. I think it’s fascinating to see how companies will respond through their marketing and product/service delivery systems.

And for the sake of a silly question:

What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten and under what circumstances?

Chicken feet, pig intestines, and jellyfish. I was on a business trip in China and I kept asking to try the local delicacies in the cities we visited.


Ilona IdlisCommLeader Spotlight|Molly O’Donnell, Cohort 12
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