Dear Incoming Class of 2022…

While it has been an unprecedented year, we are thrilled to welcome a strong MBA Class of 2022 on campus in the coming months. Sandeep Yella, Class President of IESE MBA 2020 shares some inspiring words with our incoming students.

The above quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorites and closely related to my definition of leadership. I would recommend every student of IESE’s incoming class of 2022 to “Forge your own IESE experience,” and find their own path. This post is inspired by my own IESE experience and I hope that it proves to be helpful along your journey.

The past two years of my life at IESE have been the most rewarding in my life: 1) I am now armed with an ecosystem that’s incredibly talented, diverse and supportive for the rest of my life, 2) I understand myself better – both in terms of who I am and what type of leader I want to be in future, and 3) I understand business world better – after solving around 400 business cases!

I further want to highlight the following three actions I took which helped make my experience at IESE so positive:

Add value wherever you can!

When you’re surrounded by talented peers from different nationalities and industries, you need to remember that you’re talented too and that you have something unique to bring to the table. Identify that and build on it, especially in the first few months of IESE MBA. For me, coming from an engineering background meant that I was more comfortable with numbers/math compared with some of my peers. Therefore, I proactively organized teaching sessions for my section mates and facilitated group learning where we helped each other tackle exams better! During the same period, one of the students from the group, Laura Scott, who comes from a humanities background helped review my cover letters to perfection when I was applying to summer internships at management consulting firms. We traded help with accounting for cover letter reviews! Throughout my MBA, I continued to find ways to support others in my ecosystem, thereby strengthening it.

Team picture: our first team dinner at our mentor Professor Sebastien Brion’s house

Explore your own leadership style!

IESE offers you an environment where you can make mistakes and learn/improve from them. It also offers you plenty of leadership opportunities with really diverse teams – from team projects, case competitions or professional & social clubs leadership positions. In my case, I can recall two sets of experiences that helped me explore my leadership style: My first-year journey with my team, which consisted of nine members from eight different nationalities, and my second-year journey leading the consulting club alongside my best friend Rene Hyun, with 44 classmates as VPs. It was inevitable that different teammates had different levels of motivation and engagement on different projects for both personal (expecting a baby, spending time with family, travel with friends etc) and professional (going through recruiting activities) reasons. I learned the importance of understanding and motivating others to get the job done up to the level I’d have liked to! Exploring different leadership styles and witnessing what works and what doesn’t work helped me develop my own style.

MBA 20 consulting club leadership team: at our kickoff meeting where we started planning next year’s activities

Prioritize only what you really value!

Time management is something every IESE MBA student is forced to learn. Between the enormous course-work load, recruitment activities, socializing with classmates, club leadership activities, sports/exercises, spending time with family, traveling and social media, you will soon identify what your priorities are and might need to sacrifice others. For me, I only ever left Barcelona once during my whole MBA – and only to go to Madrid (other than for summer internship related activities)! I deleted Instagram & Facebook from my mobile phone for 1st year to help really focus on what I valued: academics, recruitment activities, club leadership activities and socializing with classmates. Personally, I encourage everyone to read and solve as many cases as you can because case method at IESE relies upon its students preparing every case and contributing in class discussions with their insights based on their diverse backgrounds.

Home parties with friends: this was hosted by our wonderful Chinese friends

In conclusion, take control and ownership of your journey! I imagine that Covid-19 will offer you even more opportunities to learn from. I witnessed first-hand how our school’s administration team, professors and IT team came together to transfer the classes to online within days after lockdown and continued to provide a high quality learning experience! In one of my close friends’ groups, we started a zoom movie night tradition where we stream a different movie every week, exploring new cultures! Essentially, make sure you leverage all the resources around you to fulfill your personal and professional goals. I wish you all the best in forging your own IESE experience!


Sandeep Yella, Class President

IESE Class of 2020


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MBA Class of 2020

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