Dear Incoming Class of 2020…

As the Class of 2020 start settling into Barcelona and getting ready for orientation, Calvin Yan, Class President of IESE Class of 2018 has some words of advice for these new students in this post.

You are all about to embark on a 20-month adventure that is the IESE MBA, and surely you have your different reasons for coming to Barcelona. What you don’t realize is that during this short (and I assure you it will feel very short) time, you will each change in your own way. Far be it from me to impart wisdom on how you should spend your time as you make your way through the MBA. What I can do is tell you the lessons I learned along the way which I value the most. I hope you take what I say here as just one experience out of a class of 353 and use it to help you make the most out of your MBA.

Get Involved

Sure, no matter what your education and work background may be, you are coming to IESE to gain a plethora of skills that will enable you to become an impactful and effective general manager and I was no different. However, at the same time, I allowed myself to discover the many other facets of IESE MBA life. Student life outside the classroom is incredibly rich and my peers and I never had enough time to do everything we wanted to do. We ran professional and social clubs, played sports, organized events, and represented the school on many stages. The lifelong connections and personal growth we gained from these activities were incomparable to anything else. Organizing IESE’s flagship sports event, Spring Games, was one of the most stressful yet satisfying experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I learned how to effectively manage a multi-functional team better than in any other situation.

Celebrating a successful Spring Games!

Forget what you think you know

No matter where you have lived or worked before, there is nothing quite like experiencing the MBA environment with the 50-odd countries represented by your class. Early on, I learned to discard anything I thought I knew about other cultures. This mentality afforded me the opportunity to experience and learn about other cultures straight from those who know it best. The countless country dinners, events, and cultural etiquette learning moments were often hilarious and truly unique to this environment. There’s nothing quite like a Spanish teammate slapping the bread out of my hands because I, the Canadian, was taking bites out of the bread instead of ripping pieces off.

Spending the week in Shanghai with my classmates

Be Genuine

Another thing that I realized quickly at IESE was that people respond well to people who are genuine and true to themselves. Your peers want to get to know you as who you are, and at the same time appreciate if you mean what you say whether it’s your opinions or commitments. This probably worked to my advantage since I’m not a very good liar and I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Nevertheless, many of the closest friends I’ve made at IESE have told me that I am easy to talk to because I speak genuinely.

I hope these notions give you a glimpse into life at IESE and make you look forward to the adventure ahead. Your time during the MBA will be truly unique in your life and the learnings and connections you make will serve you well for the rest of your life. Remember to enjoy it!


Calvin YanClass President, IESE Class of 2018








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Associate Director, Admissions (MBA '16)


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