As an incoming IESE MBA ‘17 student, I am very much looking forward to moving to Barcelona later this summer. But why did I choose IESE and what was my journey like to get there? As the saying goes, “the journey is half the battle,” yet I would disagree with this as I would characterize my journey to the MBA as anything but a battle, unless you are talking about the GMAT, which is a different story!
I would describe the journey from applying to my dream MBA to receiving my acceptance as one of self-discovery and exploration. It is through this process that you get to “press pause” on your career thus far and really reflect on what you have accomplished and how the MBA will help transform you as a person.
For me, I always knew that an MBA would form part of my journey, but it was a matter of “when” and “where” to make this dream a reality. When I began to prepare for it, I was certain that I wanted an international experience that offered the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I had always wanted to live in Europe, so naturally I narrowed my focus to top European schools. Looking back, I truly believe that writing the application essays is when you truly challenge yourself to ask tough questions on who you really are and what you want to achieve through your MBA. While it’s not easy to summarize your entire life story in a few short paragraphs, I can assure you that you will know yourself much better afterwards.
My research to find the perfect school went much deeper than the usual criteria like rankings and brand name. After all, you are investing in your future and want to ensure that it is the right fit. What drew me to IESE was the diversity of its student body, which comprises MBAs from more than 56 different countries. The ability to learn from my classmates, who collectively bring a wealth of international experience, is an unparalleled opportunity to broaden my perspective of the world.
Next, the small class size of the IESE MBA fosters a tight-knit community, which was another aspect I was looking for. I not only wanted to be part of a great school, but one that has a strong sense of community where people support one another.
The case study method was also something that drew me to IESE, since it allows you to learn from practical, real-life business problems. I thought this would be a nice complement to the theoretical approach of my undergraduate degree. Since completing my degree, I have gained a few years of industry experience, which will allow me to share my own perspective while also learning from my classmates’ experiences. The more I researched IESE, the more it distinguished itself from the rest of the pack in terms of what I was looking for in an MBA.
Location, location, location! As I mentioned before, I have always wanted to live in Europe and where better than Barcelona, a city full of history, architecture, charm and culture. I honestly can’t imagine a better place!
Lastly, I really liked the plethora of options that the IESE MBA offers to fit your needs. For example, the option to participate in an International Exchange and the various overseas modules made me feel that I had the ability to customize my student experience.
Experiencing IESE Firsthand
My first interactions with IESE were when they visited my hometown of Toronto. I had been invited for an informational interview with a member of the Admissions Committee to learn more about the program. A few days later, I also attended an Information Session that included a case presentation, which I highly recommend to potential applicants to get a better flavor of IESE. We were given a case to read beforehand and participated in a case discussion session led by an IESE professor. It was a great opportunity to experience the classroom environment in action. The case discussion was followed by a Q&A session with local alumni, who shared unique insights on their MBA experiences. After the information session, the decision to apply to IESE was easy.
Throughout the application process, every single person I interacted with at IESE was extremely helpful and willing to get to know me as a person. I really appreciated this personalized approach.
After submitting my application, I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, so I reached out the Admissions Committee to see the school in person. Initially I had simply hoped to sit in on a class and tour the campus, but was blown away by the thought and consideration that the school put into planning my visit. The Admissions Team went above and beyond my expectations to make me feel welcomed and answered all of my questions with a smile.
When I arrived on campus, I was promptly greeted by a current student who acted as my “IESE ambassador” for the day. I was lucky enough to sit in on a marketing class, where I felt very welcomed by the professor and students. This is the moment when I knew IESE was a great fit for me. Afterwards I had lunch with my student ambassador and met a few other students. It was great to have candid conversations with them to learn about their experiences and what life was like at IESE. During my campus tour, I could not get over how gorgeous the campus is. Pictures do not do it justice! Overall, the day greatly exceeded my expectations. The level of hospitality of the students and staff members that I met that day only made me more confident that I wanted to be a part of the IESE community.
So here I am, three months away from the start of the MBA program and I couldn’t be more thrilled to begin my IESE MBA journey. It hasn’t really hit me yet, but I am sure that the full reality will hit the minute my plane touches down in Barcelona.