Application Tips for 2018 intake from new Director of MBA Admissions, Pascal Michels

Dear applicants to the Class of 2020,

It is my pleasure to address you as the new Director of MBA Admissions and to share with you a few tips regarding IESE’s application process, which has just gone live. Below you will find a guide to your application but first allow me to briefly introduce myself.

Exactly 10 years ago, I was in your shoes. After six years in different audit roles, last at the European Commission in Brussels, I had reached a professional plateau and found out that civil service, be it of the international kind, was not for me. Doing a full-time MBA had been at the back of my mind for a number of years and it is by researching European two-year programs that I fell in love with IESE. I applied, got in and had the best two years of my life!

Alas, all good things have an end. After graduating in 2010, I joined Citi in London, working in different financial management roles. I will forever be grateful to the banking industry for all the learning (and square-miles of Excel spreadsheets) but when IESE approached me in 2013 about joining their Career Services team, the opportunity was too good to pass on. Taking that role was the best professional decision of my life. Ultimately, it had been recruiting related activities that I most enjoyed as a “banker”. One of the first things I did upon joining Citi was to approach HR about helping them, so switching sides did indeed make sense.

The past four years in Career Services have been a blast: few things are more rewarding than helping high-caliber individuals manage their careers. Ironically, one of the first things I did upon joining IESE was to approach the MBA Admissions department to help them out with fairs and interviews. Therefore, now that I am given the privilege of heading that team, the circle is closed. I am incredibly proud of IESE and the work we do in the MBA. As a candidate, I found the application process to be instructive and enjoyable and I am convinced you too will find this to be the case. It is a two-way process of getting to know each other and ultimately a journey of self-discovery for the applicants. I hope to meet many of you along the way and that you will find the below guidance useful.

Good luck to all of you!


Pascal Michels

Essay Writing

Guide to your IESE MBA application:

You can view and start working on the application here.  Here are the important dates to keep track of during the application process:

Round 1 Deadline: October 17, 2017

Round 2 Deadline: January 9, 2018         

Round 3 Deadline: March 6, 2018

Round 4 Deadline: April 24, 2018

To ease some of the anxiety associated with the application process, I will take this opportunity to clarify what the admissions team is looking for in our essay questions. This is where you can show your personality, motivation and values.  We understand that some people may think they are not able to fully express themselves in 200 or 300 words, but view it as an opportunity to drill down to what is truly importantThis is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions team, so we can get to know you beyond the cold data that makes up the rest of your application. Try to show your personality.  Just make sure that in the end you are actually answering the question that is asked of you.

This year we have two new application questions you can chose between for your mandatory essay and one optional essay.

Question 1: If you look yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Please give examples of both your strengths & weaknesses.

We want to understand how you view your personality, your place in the community and world around you.  What aspects of your life are you proud of? Are there areas that you need to work on?

Try to include examples that demonstrate the characteristics that you view as central to your sense of self, projects you have taken on, tough choices you have made, and experiences that formed the adult you are today.

Question 2: Describe a recent situation (1-2 years ago maximum) that demonstrates your fit with IESE’s mission and values.

You can learn about IESE’s mission and values here. IESE’s mission is the bedrock on which the school is built.  It strongly informs the culture of the school and it is something that we want to see reflected in our student body. There are many ways to demonstrate the values of the school.  You can share an example of where you went above and beyond at work, how you made a difference in your community or some other aspect of your life inside or outside of a professional setting.

However, make sure that your example is recent.  We would like to see you embody these principles today, not just where you might have volunteered in high school.

Optional Question: I wish the application had asked me…

The optional question is your opportunity to discuss something that you have not had a chance to discuss in another part of the application.  Do keep in mind that it is truly optional.  If you don’t have something to say that goes beyond what has already been discussed, then it is better to skip this question.  You can use this to highlight some strength that you couldn’t describe elsewhere, or share an interesting hobby or anecdote that would let us understand you better. It can also be used to explain a weakness or gap in your application that you feel would benefit from context.

This essay can be submitted in writing or video format.  You can choose to be as creative as you like.  We do understand that not everyone is experienced videographer, so you will be judged based on content rather than production value.

All the best and we look forward to reading your application!


Would you like to find out more about IESE MBA’s full time program? Click here.

To get informal feedback on your profile, click here

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 + 9 =