In this series, we speak to IESE alumni from around the world to find out about the different paths they have followed and the impact of IESE on their lives.
Name: Andrew Pratt
Year of Graduation: 2015
Country of Residence: United Kingdom
Current Employer: Strategy Insights and Planning Manager, ZS Associates
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role.
I’m American, I did my undergrad in the University of Minnesota and got my major in Economics and minor in Business and Spanish. My number one passion is running. When I was at IESE I was able to do the Barcelona Marathon, which was a great milestone for me. I like to travel a lot, which works well being located in Europe.
My IESE career journey consisted of me doing an internship at a big 3 consultancy firm back in the United States, and I enjoyed consulting which leads me to where I am today. I’m a manager at ZS Associates in London.
Can you please tell us about your career path and why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I had a few jobs after college, I ended up working at 3M in procurement and really enjoyed my position there. I was responsible for sourcing papers and fibers, developing products that people know such as Post It Notes. 3M is a company where employees tend to spend their entire career moving between departments without leaving. If I had stayed I saw myself being in my boss’s position in ten years, and then her boss’s position in another ten years or so. I wanted to accelerate my career so I thought of going back to school and getting a little more education to strengthen the business side of my resume. That’s how I ended up at IESE.
How did you decide to come to IESE?
I applied to the top schools, all of them. What really got me interested in IESE was going to the interview and Open Day where I really got to see how the school operates. It was a great fit for what I was looking to do and I really enjoyed the case study method of learning. Previously, I had sat in some lectures of other schools and people weren’t as engaged in those compared to the case study method which I felt was a stronger learning process. That combined with the international class, I think we had about 60 nationalities in my class, just added another layer to the perspectives shared in the case study discussion and made it even stronger. Being in a beautiful city such as Barcelona with great weather wasn’t too bad either – that wasn’t the main driver but definitely a bonus!
How did the IESE MBA help you transition from your previous role into consulting?
Making a transition from industry into consulting isn’t very typical or easy to do. An MBA also gives you a chance to try things which you wouldn’t get to do otherwise. I applied to all the consultancies, got some offers and chose one (kind of at random). You can do that because you get to go and try it for 12 weeks in your internship and if you like it, great, and if you don’t you get to hone in on what you really want – which in my case worked very well. In my internship I got placed on a pharmaceutical project which I found quite interesting and challenging, but I didn’t enjoy working at that particular consulting firm as much. So, when I applied to full time roles, I applied to pharmaceutical focused consultancies which brings me to where I am today. To transition into consulting, you need the business knowledge and you need to show that you are smart and the MBA helps you with that. At the same time, it also gives you a chance for you to test something out and see if it works for you. The structured consulting recruiting process at IESE also played a big role in specific preparation that the consulting club and the career services team gave us. You need to do approximately 1 million case interviews and once you get through to 1 million and 1 you will be ready. Everyone just helps each other out, you can’t do it alone. I remember on Thursday evenings, before ‘Bar of the Week’ our classmates would get together, do mock interviews and then go out.
How has your MBA impacted you personally and professionally?
Personally, it is very easy. I met my girlfriend through IESE and have a ton of friends who I still keep in touch with. Also, through IESE I have a friend in nearly every country in the world which is pretty cool. I have actually met 3 or 4 clients who are former classmates of mine who I just happen to work on projects with because we are all in relative high-level jobs working together. It’s been great.
Professionally, there are direct technical applications of learnings from the school, when it comes to statistical analysis or how finances work or what is on the top of my client’s mind. Then, it is kind of cliché, but they will tell you throughout the program and it ends up being true, the most important thing you learn in the MBA is about leadership and leading people and all those soft skills, especially the higher up you go. I have found myself using more and more of those skills as I build my team, like how do I help them develop and grow.
Can you tell us about a recent business decision you took in which your MBA training helped you?
From a client side, there are projects which require sales analysis where I have heavily leaned on the statistical classes I took during the MBA. I am dangerous enough in marketing now that I can talk to marketing leader at my client and help them make some decisions, as I have the language to have a productive conversation. From my own company’s side it circles back to the leadership decision making – how do we lead, how do we ensure people are growing & succeeding?
What do you miss the most about your MBA?
As cliché as it sounds, the people. It is not a huge school and you all know each other. I’m still in touch with a lot of classmates and faculty which is really important to me.
Thank you Andy for sharing your story!
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