It was July 18 when my MBA journey started. I still had the World Cup hangover when I arrived in Spain (or Catalunya for some). Barcelona was taken by the magic and warmth of the summer. After a few days settling down, I met the first group of the IESE Class of 2016. Together we began our pre-MBA adventure. We discovered some of the best tapas in the city and the best pintxos in San Sebastián. We visited a very diverse list of bars, from the hidden gem La Pipa to the old-fashioned Marsella, where we were kicked out kindly asked to leave the place after singing a warm “Happy Birthday” to Kris. We enjoyed many picnics at the top of Montjuïc. We dove into the local culture, partying with Catalans in La Festa Major de Gràcia and running from the fireworks in the correfocs. And sometimes we just chilled at a nice beach. We had a new person joining the group every single day: a distinct face, a different country, a unique story.
On August 25, the Business Spanish Program began and connected the group even more, changing our greetings from “hi” to “hola”. By then, the class was almost complete, but something was still missing: the heart of the Latin Americans and Spaniards. They finally arrived and the MBA started.
Orientation Week was our “red carpet entrance” to the IESE world. The first week of classes was fun: there were no “first-day-at-school” feelings. All of our lingering doubts were vanishing and any remaining concerns were being answered. Our seats were assigned. Our teams were built. Our professors were experts. IESE’s case method was effective (and demanding). Our free time was short. Suddenly, day by day, we were having all sorts of lessons. We developed our teamwork skills by working in self-managed teams. We learned how to sell chicken lenses to farmers and how to survive if you are in a boat lost in the middle of the Pacific. We discussed the boundaries of transactional costs and ethics. We understood the power of cold calling in class the importance of reading the Financial Times every morning. We also learned that playing in the stock market is dangerous and will probably empty your pockets, even though some lucked out. We learned that religion is like pizza and that every speech needs a ham.
The last three months passed by like a summer storm: teams, cases, class participation, CoW, BoW, clubs, projects, assignments, company presentations, exams, treks, Communication Week, competitions, Thanksgiving, interviews, Movember…and December. Soon it was winter, but the magic was still in the air, of course: the end of the term! However, there is also a feeling of sadness.
The footprint of our first step in the MBA walk reminds me that this track will have a finish line. Time is finite even though the intensity of each moment seems to have no limit. Enjoy the checkpoint. Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with your families back home or with your friends traveling around Europe. But never forget what brought you here.
“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”