It is our pleasure to interview Carlos García Martín (MBA’15). Currently Associate at Oliver Wyman in the US, Carlos was one of the 5 students last year who received the IESE MBA Award, an honor bestowed on the most exceptional students for their great contributions to their classmates, school, and larger community.
Question: Hi, Carlos. Where are you from? What and where did you study as an undergraduate?
Answer: Hi, I was born and raised in Spain. I acquired the majority of my education in Spain, although I spent several summers in the U.S. learning English. For my undergraduate degree, I studied Industrial Engineering at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, Spain. I decided to study Engineering because I have always been passionate about solving complex problems.
During my time as an engineering student, I realized the importance of having an international experience. Specifically, I came to appreciate that the “old school” approach to solving problems with a local mindset is no longer valid; one needs to be able to come up with innovative solutions for companies, and the only way to learn this is by traveling and working in different places. For that reason, I decided to spend the last year of my undergraduate degree doing an exchange program in the UK in order to gain some international exposure.
Q: Yours is a peculiar case, as you did most of your career internationally and finally moved to the US. What have you done so far and where?
A: I started my career doing a summer internship for a renewable energy company in Colorado, U.S. After I graduated, I joined the strategy department of that energy company where I had been working for but in Madrid. At time, my objective was to learn more about the business, and then to return to the U.S. However, after having spent more than a year in the renewable energy sector, I decided that I wanted to continue learning how to solve problems for different companies in different countries, instead of specializing at this stage of my career in one sector. For that reason I decided to join an international management consulting firm.
During the two years that I spent in this consulting firm before enrolling in my MBA, I had the opportunity to work in ten different countries in four different industries. I worked mostly in Europe and the Middle East, but I also had the opportunity to work in exotic places like the Dominican Republic. Without any doubt, the most interesting place where I worked was Saudi Arabia, where I helped define the renewable energy strategy for the United Kingdom. While working internationally, I had the opportunity to interact with a wide range of clients and colleagues from different backgrounds that helped me to broaden my interpersonal skills.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at IESE? Were you considering other schools?
A: Doing an MBA was a really important milestone in my career. During the first years of my professional life, I realized that having a technical background is really useful to tackle difficult problems. However, having a business background is also fundamental for a successful career. For that reason, I decided to pursue an MBA so that I might supplement my technical knowledge and experience with the business knowledge and soft skills that an MBA is able to provide.
I truly believe that deciding where to study your MBA could be one of the most important decisions that one makes during a professional career. A Business School is the place to learn the skills necessary to catapult an already productive career.
In making my decision, I spent a lot of time doing research and talking to friends that attended different MBA programs. After my research, and especially after I attended the IESE open day, I knew that IESE was the right fit for me. I focused all of my effort towards IESE and opted out of applying to a slew of alternative and back-up programs.
There was a combination of factors that helped me to select IESE over other schools. The main factors were that IESE uses the case method to teach cases, the unparalleled network available, the great quality of the professors, the variety of core and electives classes, the international character of the program and most importantly, the values of IESE.
“One needs to be able to come up with innovative solutions for companies, and the only way to learn this is by traveling and working in different places”
Q: Why did you choose IESE when you could have studied in the US or other schools in Europe?
A: In my assessment at the time of the different Business Schools, attending an international program was one of my key priorities when deciding where to study my MBA. IESE was the only School that offered the possibility to have classmates from more than 50 different countries, have the flexibility to do an exchange program in other top tier Business Schools and attend overseas modules.
During my time at IESE, I enjoyed a truly European and American MBA experience. In my second year I had the opportunity to do my exchange program at MIT Sloan School of Management and take several classes at Harvard Business School. Attending three of the top Business Schools, both in Europe and in U.S., helped me to expand my knowledge and meet new friends from all over the world. Having gone through the experience of the MBA, I am confident that I made the right decision selecting IESE because all these opportunities that I enjoyed wouldn’t have been possible in any other Business School.
Q: How do you think the MBA enabled you to get a job in the US?
A: IESE provides a wide range of services and has an experienced team of professionals tasked with helping students to find the right job. Students have opportunities to attend employment workshops, and meet advisors who can answer questions regarding any industry or company.
In my personal case, IESE helped me in two different ways. Firstly, it helped me to identify the type of work and industry where I would like to focus the rest of my career. When you are in your day to day work, you don’t typically reflect upon what you want to do with your career in the long term. IESE helps you to reflect and discover your real passion. Secondly, IESE helped me to acquire the job that I wanted in the place that I wanted. In my case, working as an advisor to Airline companies in the U.S. Therefore, IESE helped me to make one of the most important transitions in my career. If I hadn’t attended IESE, I wouldn’t have found what I really enjoy doing.
Q: Could you share with us some of your favorite things about the MBA?
A: IESE was the best two years of my life, so it is difficult to choose my favorite things from the MBA. I would like to highlight three different areas that I really consider unique to the IESE experience:
The professors at IESE, apart from being experts in their fields, manage in every single of their classes to drive engaging conversations between students. But what is truly unique about them is the open door policy. Students can ask professors questions anytime, not only during classes.
“Friends that I met during the MBA are friends for life”
When you join IESE, you are assigned a mentor for your time at the school. The objective of the mentor is to make sure that you are accomplishing your goals while likewise serving as a person to ask any type of personal question. In my case I am deeply grateful to Alberto Ribera, who taught me valuable lessons, both in the context of the MBA and in my general life.
Last but not least, I would like to highlight the friends that I met during the MBA. As I briefly mentioned before, I met incredible people during the two years of the program. We spent long hours working together, preparing cases, traveling, having fun and of course enjoying beautiful Barcelona. Friends that I met during the MBA are friends for life.
Q: And finally, how do you imagine your career in the upcoming years?
A: It is difficult to imagine how my career will progress during the coming years; however, what I would like to accomplish in my career is to be able to make decisions that shape the evolution of the airline industry. During the coming years, I want to continue learning about the industry, with an eye towards becoming an airline executive. Although I have challenging ambitions, I am confident that my time in the IESE MBA program will ultimately propel me towards my goals.