“Learning happens in the minds and souls, not in the databases of multiple-choice tests”
– Sir Ken Robinson
To quote one of the lines from an iconic Spanish song, “What is a girl like you doing in a place like this?”, sometimes I can’t help but think what a person like me is doing in a place like IESE.
Why do I think so? Let me explain more about my background. I come from a school environment where 95% of students wanted to study business or law. Instead at the age of 18, I went to the University of Navarra to study Journalism. I wanted to pursue a degree that would enhance my skills, which were mainly focused on how to express complex realities through images, words, or sounds, as well as finding the right information when tons of content are created each day. Studying journalism helped me understand the importance of defining clearly the problems companies are facing and consequently understand the solutions companies need. By the time I was finishing my university studies, I discovered a great professional future in corporate communication, even though – once again – 95% of my fellow students wanted to become a journalist and work on the radio, television, or in a newspaper. To be honest, I wasn’t just trying to do the opposite thing, but I must admit that I was attracted to unexplored areas from which I could find great professional opportunities.
After several years working in this industry, I saw in the MBA program a perfect continuity in the academic learning that I have always wanted to acquire. That is why I started preparing the application for IESE Business School and two years later here I am, in the second year of the program and within months from graduation. Looking through the journey bringing me to this moment, I think I can recognize the importance of transversal learning for those who aspire for senior leadership positions in their careers.
Learning about business is paramount for those seeking corporate impact to make this a better world.
As such, I would like to use this opportunity to encourage all those potential candidates whose backgrounds are not directly related to business to contemplate an MBA, which is especially valuable in the current environment. Discovering that Finance is the basis of any corporation, that Marketing is both creative and numerical reality, that Operations are a complicated but fun aspect, that through Strategy companies design their future… These are essential learnings for people like me who are aspiring, for instance, to end up directing the communication department of a multinational company or leading my own communication agency. And yes, my dear architect, philosopher, or chemist, you will probably be a little bit lost during Accounting, you may not understand everything in Analytics, and perhaps you’ll have some extra questions in Economics. But that is fine, you come to the MBA to learn through your best efforts.
Transversal learning seems like a contradiction to all we have been told on the merits of hyper-specialization for a strong career. However, people like writer David Epstein think otherwise. In his book Range, Epstein argues that people who develop transversal learning enjoy their path to success in a deeper way and do so in more creative and impactful ways for themselves and society. As Epstein points out, “the more contexts in which something is learned, the more the learner creates abstract models, and the less they rely on any particular example. Learners become better at applying their knowledge to a situation they’ve never seen before, which is the essence of creativity.” This is what we learn at IESE, through the case methodology that exposes you to many different business situations.
Further to transversal learning, there are two fundamental aspects for professional and personal growth to recognize. Firstly, continuous learning. In a time of constant change where digital transformation is generating paradigm changes, individuals must become learning machines and enhance their talent. Only then will we be able to adapt to different environments. Secondly, personal humanistic development. It is as important to take care of the mind as well as the soul, being aware that, while we will be professionals for several decades, we will be humans throughout our lives. For this reason, knowing oneself, discovering other lives and ultimately knowing what worries and motivates human beings constitute the pillars from which to lead others. Undoubtedly, working with such a diverse group of people in the MBA can help you to become a better manager or leader a global organisation.
To all of you that do not have a business background but have always been curious about how the most efficient organizations work, perhaps an MBA is the answer you were looking for. And for all those needing some time away from their professional careers to discover themselves through a unique transversal learning experience, perhaps IESE Business School is the place you were looking for 😉
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