New York Overseas Module: In the Centre of Everything

Last month, almost a hundred IESE MBA students started their second year with the New York Overseas Module, where they chose to spend either 1 or 2 weeks taking intensive courses at IESE’s New York campus. Matthew Gardiner (MBA Class of 2018) spent two weeks in the Big Apple soaking in the vibrant business environment and shares some highlights of his experience.

I’m sure it was an intense two weeks for you in New York. What was the best experience you had during the module?

There were many highlights, but two stand out. Firstly, one of the guest speakers for our “Internet Enabling Strategies” course was Steve Capus, the Executive Producer of CBS Evening News. It was a small, intimate class where he gave us deep insight into how the broadcast news business was being shaped and impacted by the changing way we consume news, as well as the phenomena of fake news and Donald Trump. I’d never had the opportunity to engage with a senior media figure like Steve before, so I found it a very valuable experience.

Secondly, Career Services organized several company visits for us, one of which was from OffrBox, a Manhattan based start-up with a disruptive online platform for buying and selling property. It was an insightful session hearing the story of the business from the Founder and CEO as well as the VP Operations, and we even went for drinks with them after the presentation and Q&A.

Did anything surprise you during your time there?

The last time I was in New York was (by coincidence) the day of the 2016 Presidential Election, and at the time the mood was, to be honest, bleak and somber. But ten months later it felt completely different! I suppose the shock of the election had passed, and in its place there was the energy, dynamism and optimism that we all expect to see in New York. It made me appreciate what a vibrant and resilient city it really is.

Can you tell us about what you learnt from working with the locals in the US? 

Living in Europe we are used to cross-border business, customers and movement, but the New York Module made me realize how much Europe is still very much a loose organization of different countries with still quite hard borders, rather than a fully integrated market like the U.S. I consistently had my mind blown by the services, technologies and products available in the U.S. market that are just not possible (or not yet available) in Europe: Waze, Instacart and Amazon’s Alexa. Don’t even get me started on Uber!

IESE students participating in the New York module in September 2017

How did this experience help you in terms of your personal development?

Prior to the MBA I spent eight years working in wealth management in Australia, and I’m a trained financial adviser, so when I enrolled in Professor Javier Estrada’s “Winning Investment Strategies” class I went in with a bit of an “I got this” attitude. I didn’t expect that I’d come out of the class with too many learnings. But Javier had a completely different approach to what I’d trained in previously, and he ended up inspiring me to restructure my retirement portfolio to improve the return. Winning Investment Strategies is a tremendously useful class for any MBA to learn how to efficiently invest their own personal savings.

I suppose I’ll have to wait a few years to see if Javier was right…

In your opinion, how do the international modules contribute to the MBA experience?

Firstly, I believe travel is a critical part of our ongoing learning and personal development. An MBA isn’t just spreadsheets and 2×2 strategy boxes. It’s a life experience where you draw on the pool of knowledge and experience of the people and places around you. The international modules (as well as treks) offer that opportunity to learn from new people and places.

Secondly, the international modules allow the faculty and IESE to teach in a new professional and corporate ‘ecosystem’. Most of the time we experience the Barcelona ecosystem, but the international modules offer new ecosystems with access to industries and companies that are not present in Barcelona.

Finally, any advice for students who are considering the New York module?

Less is more! I only took a half day of classes for two weeks (rather than one week of full days) and it was perfect. It gave me plenty of time to explore the city and feel like I was living there, not just visiting.

IESE students exploring New York City after classes

Thank you Matt for sharing this awesome experience!

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