This interview belongs to the blog series featuring interviews with current and future MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the IESE MBA Program. And now, introducing Mariano Torrente, magician and Student of the MBA Class of 2016.
IESE: Tell us about yourself: Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree and where did you study? What did you do before joining the MBA program?
Mariano: I was born in a little town in the north of Spain called Huesca, close to the Pyrenees. I left Huesca when I was 18 to study industrial engineering in Madrid, where I lived in the San Pablo College residence hall. As an undergraduate, I had the chance to intern at Accenture. The experience was great, and I joined the firm’s Strategy Consulting Practice right after I finished my degree. I worked there for four years, right up until starting my MBA adventure!
I: We were told that you are also a magician. Could you explain a bit more about that?
M: Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by magicians and would experiment with great curiosity to try to figure out how they could achieve something that seemed impossible for the rest of us. Last year, I read a book called “The Sense of Wonder” in which the author states that this sense of wonderment, which we all have, unfortunately tends to disappear with age. I think magic is an art that helps create an illusion while allowing us to believe in the impossible. We are often no longer surprised by the small details of life and forget that it is through these details that we discover the really remarkable things of true greatness.
I: Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at IESE? What are your plans after graduation?
M: I chose IESE for its excellent atmosphere, international and diverse culture, and challenging case study method. For me, the chance to exchange ideas and work with people from all over the world is priceless. In a fast-paced, changing and globalized world, I truly believe that IESE will help me gain the necessary skills and knowledge not only to adapt, but also to make a positive impact on organizations and change people’s lives for the better, which is my ultimate goal in life.
With regards to my plans, I must say that I find it difficult to imagine my life in the near or distant future. Life has taught me that each person is the result of his unique situation and that at times, the roadmap we set out for ourselves cannot always be followed. However, this is not to say that the results are always negative. Over time, our experiences and challenges, addressed with resolution and motivation, help us to grow and mature.
I: How do you like living Barcelona?
M: It’s probably one of the best parts of the MBA! I’m passionate about sports and am especially keen on triathlon. The weather and the city design make it the perfect place to practice all kinds of sports, generally throughout the whole year. The proximity to the sea is also great. In addition, located close to the IESE campus is the Carretera de les Aigües, which is a great running path where the Swim-Bike-Run Club has organized some races. Aside from that, the city history and architecture, with its Gaudi references, make it an impressive place to live where even just going for a walk is a gift.
I: What are some of your favorite things about the school? In what ways do you consider yourself a good fit for IESE?
M: My favorite thing about IESE is the people. On one hand, the students are all very diverse. For example, our Class of 2016 includes people from about 60 different countries and backgrounds. In addition to bankers or consultants, you can find unique profiles, like someone from Japan who worked for a shipping company, another who was a professional water polo player, someone from Manila with a family business, and so on. On the other hand, the professors’ level of expertise is amazing. They are very well prepared and have extraordinary experience, which makes classes very interesting.
I think that everyone can be a good fit at IESE. I knew that I had solid professional experience in consulting but think that other factors, like having a passion for people and doing things with values and creativity, were also crucial to fit in at the school. To be honest, IESE was the only school I applied to. For me, the decision was pretty straightforward!
M: The truth is that all of them have been great, different, complementary and necessary. If I had to choose one, I would probably say Decision Analysis with Prof. Rafael de Santiago. It was very interesting to see how one makes decisions by analyzing all the possible data and understanding our individual risk profile. However, as a future leader, what impressed me the most was the impact that my decisions can have on others. Another aspect that impressed me was that, in all of the decisions that we make in life or business, there will always be a small percentage of variables that we will never be able to control. There will always be something that won’t depend on us, which is the precise reason why it is necessary to work with the correct tools and determination to do our best and achieve the best possible result.
I: Are you involved in any clubs at IESE? Do you think it is important to supplement your education with extracurricular activities?
M: Yes! I find the clubs very interesting! I’m a member of the Marketing Club, Fashion and Luxury Goods Club, Sports Club, Swim-Bike-Run Club, Social Action Club, Spanish Business Club, TMT Club and IESE Ambassadors Club.
In my view, the clubs are necessary to complement everything we learn in class. They help us become more familiar with issues in which we are not experts and explore others that we find cool and interesting, as well as expand our network.
I: Do you have an internship lined up yet for next summer? If not, what are your plans?
M: I’m currently in the process of applying for internships for the summer of 2015. Since I have experience in consulting, I’m focused on finding a job in the industry. Up till now, I have been able to collaborate on projects related to the transformation of large companies, but always from an outsider’s point of view. In the future, I hope to be able to participate in these renovation processes but working from the company’s core. Aside from that, I’m also collaborating with some classmates in the entrepreneurship environment and exchanging ideas that may change the world for the better.
I: What are your top three admissions tips for applicants who aspire to go to IESE?
M: As far as tips go, I can only speak from my own experience. For me, it was very important to know what really differentiates IESE from other business schools, such as the use of the case method and the mission of the school itself.
It was also helpful to get in touch with IESE alumni via social media such as LinkedIn to ask all of the questions you find necessary. I was in touch with the MBA Admissions team throughout my application last year.
Finally, although it may seem obvious, it is important to remember to be yourself during the application process. I’m pretty sure that each one of us has something that makes us unique which would be great to bring and contribute to IESE. Just say it in the application!