How to Be the CEO of Your Life
Quantic MBA graduate, Gilli Aliotti, is a seasoned senior executive driven by a passion for building high-performing teams and products that deliver the highest ROI. With over 25 years of experience in technology, media, entertainment, and learning, Gilli has led executive positions in Fortune 500 companies as well as startups, optimizing planning, execution, delivery, and the rhythm of business at scale. As Head of PMO and Support Operations at Google, she manages the technical program delivery for Google’s worldwide portfolio of Geo products, including Google Maps and Google Earth. With certifications as a Business Executive Coach and Agile Transformation Coach, Gilli is a sought-after speaker and author, and she is also a mother of 9-year-old twins.
Gilli has always been a passionate and goal-oriented leader. But how did her journey begin? Has she always been clear about her goals and had a plan in place? Did she know what she wanted when she was in her mid-twenties? What experiences and decisions drove Gilli through the early stages of her adulthood and eventually guided her to becoming the CEO of her career and life? Gilli’s journey, like many of ours, has not always been a linear one. In our recent Quantic Conversation with her, she shares how her experiences, openness, and ambition have helped her unlock opportunities and find success in work and in life.
“At 25, I was clear that I needed a purpose to steer my life, yet I didn’t think intentionally about what I would do in the future. Instead, I was an adventurer looking to try out all of life’s flavors around the world,” said Gilli. Travel and new experiences guided her and she set out on a journey taking her throughout Europe and North America. “I tried out multiple things, from playing music in bands to writing songs, dabbling with early tech developments — involving everything from event production, car launches, and trade shows — I hopped from city to city in the US, meeting people along the way — even if it meant sleeping on couches here and there.” Though her North Star had not yet taken shape, Gilli’s ambition pushed her forward.
Gilli has always led a parallel life — the artist’s life that she loves and is passionate about, and the work life that she thinks sometimes means achieving the greater good for most people. Ten years ago, Gilli decided to put the same effort and enthusiasm into her chosen career as she did with her artistic pursuits. To Gilli’s surprise, this resulted in an unexpected joy that enabled her to combine both passions into one role. As she’s gained more experience — both in life and in work — she’s gained new appreciation for each, and developed ever-deepening clarity on who she is and the active roles she plays in defining what’s next. “I am all of it. And it is okay because I actually love both. I have new dreams now,” says Gilli.
Despite a successful career and having traveled the world, Gilli found something was still missing in her life. “At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until the pandemic. Working from home while raising 9-year-old twins — it changed everything. That is when I realized that what would be most useful to add onto this plate of mine was the one thing I always wanted but never had: pursuing a graduate degree that could shape my leadership for the work I knew I would be in, in the next ten to twenty years,” explained Gilli. “With this degree, people are much more likely to take me seriously as a senior leader in my field and it shows the world what I can truly accomplish.”
Gilli was looking for something different when it came to getting her MBA, the traditional route just wasn’t quite right for her. That’s when Quantic came along — she fell in love with its self-paced online learning model that worked perfectly on her smartphone. It felt like a more modern way for people who work in cutting-edge industries to earn a degree. “Quantic is much more than an app — if you go through the modules, you’ll feel like, wow, this is refreshing! I really enjoyed my experience and learned a ton while having fun along the way,” says Gilli. “Now I found myself armed with useful tools and a better understanding of organizational development and strategic planning. In addition, its practical applications enabled me to apply the knowledge I’d gained in real-world situations. During my time studying with Quantic, I worked on team assignments that not only provided me with excellent opportunities, they also resulted in lifetime friendships!”
Life is an ever-unfolding journey where exciting and unexpected paths await at every corner. “Let your passion be your guide. Don’t let anything hold you back from taking advantage of this unique opportunity that allows us to create our own balance between career and life. We can now find ways to flourish in a hybrid workforce with greater flexibility than ever before,” says Gilli. “So go forth, prioritize what feels right for YOU!”
Being a CEO, whether in your career or life, means acknowledging and embracing the fact that you can chart your own course. Gilli describes the sense of feeling like you need to fit a certain mold to progress — that others look at your LinkedIn profile and ask how you got from point A to point B “and feeling like you have to put yourself in a box so others understand who you are… I didn’t want to be put into that box.” Gilli’s skills and success are a direct result of her varied experiences and diverging passions. She urges others to follow their passions and to “be all of it,” meaning, embrace the left turns, the round-abouts, the forks in the road that lead you to new adventures and new experiences. Resist the urge to shed your passions because they don’t “fit” within a narrowly defined path to success. Being the CEO in your life is about keeping an all-encompassing view and taking proactive ownership over what comes next — charting the course to make it exactly how YOU want. So while Gilli shares that crafting your path takes time and effort, and is often full of unexpected turns, ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat. As Gilli said, “You are all of it. Follow your heart. We’ve all been flying by the seat of our pants!
Watch Gilli’s live and more of our Quantic Conversations with inspiring our Quantic students and alumni: