At IESE, we are committed to increasing the number of women leaders in the global business field. We have many Women in Leadership initiatives in our MBA program ranging from our student-led Women in Business Club to scholarships dedicated to outstanding female candidates. IESE is proud to be part of the Forté Foundation, a non-profit consortium of leading companies and top business schools dedicated to empowering future women leaders. In this post, we feature Quyen Tran, MBA Class of 2023 who is a recipient of IESE’s Excellence Scholarship, granted to the top candidates in our application process and our Forté Foundation Fellowship. She will be joining Roland Berger London as a consultant after graduation.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Quyen – born and raised in Vietnam until I was 18 years old. Prior to the MBA, I had spent 10 years living in various countries and continents: the US, Denmark, and back in Vietnam. I am an economist and psychologist by training, yet my pre-MBA career centered around data analytics then marketing within the e-commerce sector. Driven by both a desire to learn and a wish to help others, I aspire to harness the power of data and technology to help empower people and businesses, particularly in emerging economies. This passion led me to pursue consulting as an immediate next step after graduating from the MBA, and in the long run, I hope to establish my own venture in the education technology space.
Outside of work, I am passionate about all things health and fitness. I am a to-be-certified Zumba instructor (I blame Covid for postponing my certification!). I also love coffee – not only because it has helped me (and plenty of my classmates!) through a sleep-deprived first year but also because I come from a country in which coffee is deeply woven into the social and economic fabric of our life.
What made you choose IESE for your MBA?
When evaluating different MBA offers, I looked for not only the pursuit of excellence but also diversity in perspectives and an alignment of values. IESE met all these important factors and stood out to me because of the amazing community of alumni and current students I interacted with. The people I talked to – from the IESE admissions team to students, alumni, and potential classmates I met on Assessment Day – were not only brilliant but also down-to-earth and incredibly approachable, exuding a sense of purpose and a desire to give back.
I knew that IESE would offer me a safe environment to experiment with, to fail, and to grow.
Did your MBA experience meet your expectations? What surprised you?
The MBA exceeded my expectations in many ways! It wasn’t easy at times but 100% worth it.
Having lived in various countries and been exposed to many cultures through my travel, I thought I knew a lot about diversity. I was wrong! Diversity in my IESE experience came in many shapes and forms. I had the opportunity to work with countless teams in which my teammates not only came from different nationalities, professional, and cultural backgrounds but also had different priorities and aspirations. This somewhat overwhelming yet exhilarating experience deepened my appreciation for diversity.
I, like most of my classmates, came to an MBA, and IESE in particular, because we wanted something different. Something more. Graduating from IESE, I managed to make a “triple jump” professionally – i.e., switching industry, function, and geography after the MBA. What surprised me was that I graduated with a lot more than a Master’s degree and a career change. Over the past 2 years, I have found MY people and now know that I have a support system no matter which corner of the world I am and they are.
What are some of the highlights of your time at IESE?
One of my favorite professors is David Teeters who taught us Corporate Finance in the 1st year. David is a brilliant professor, making finance easy to digest and so practical for us. Yet what impressed me was his efforts in teaching us to be better professionals and even better people! I appreciated the thorough recap emails after every session, the book recommendations, and snippets of life advice woven in each and every class.
Another highlight of my MBA is the Roland Berger – IESE International Case Competition. My team and I represented IESE, competing with 10 other business schools from Europe, the US, and Asia – including schools such as LBS, INSEAD, Kellogg, and Chicago Booth. We managed to win the competition and brought the championship back to our campus in Barcelona after 7 years! The experience taught me valuable lessons in working with others as a team, understanding stakeholders, and staying resilient throughout the process. In the 2nd year, I paid it forward by joining the organizing team and serving as an IESE ambassador to 2 participating teams from ESADE and LBS 😊
As travel is a big part of my MBA, my trip to South Africa was such a memorable experience! My classmate and his partner invited a group of us to visit the country and we got the South African experience from the local perspective. Having never been to the continent, I was equally impressed by the breathtaking nature and fascinated by the various cultural and historical aspects of South Africa. I left with a deeper appreciation for wildlife, admiration for the resilience of the people there, and gratitude for having the opportunity to travel and learn more about the world.
How has the IESE MBA transformed you, professionally and personally?
The past 2 years at IESE has helped me grow so much as a professional and as a person.
Professionally, I came out of the MBA with an international network, a well-rounded general management perspective, and a purpose-driven set of leadership skills. To elaborate, I now have classmates working across the world – from Asia to the U.S and Latin America – that I can reach out to for advice or connect with when my travel takes me to those places. The core curriculum in the 1st year equipped me with knowledge across functions, from finance to marketing and operations, while 2nd year electives enabled me to deepen my professional interests that are marketing and digital strategies. What’s more, courses such as Leadership, EXECUTE!, and Power & Influence gave me much-needed space for reflecting on the type of manager/leader I want to me, as well as the tools to influence others and get things done.
Personally, the overwhelming and intensive nature of the MBA forced me to think deeply about my priorities as I would never be able to do everything and there’s always a trade-off, or opportunity cost. I made mistakes, got rejected countless times while applying for internships, and had to come up with several last-minute plans to get my travel visas. In return, I have grown (slightly) more comfortable with being rejected (it still stings!), become more resourceful in finding solutions to my problems, and come to have faith in myself i.e., trust that I have the ability to overcome these obstacles. I have also come to find centeredness in the busyness of life and appreciate so much more the support system that I have – from my family and friends back home to my classmates in the MBA and mentors who ask me the honest/tough questions, share with me their insights, or simply lend a listening ear.
To sum up, the journey has been about figuring out what I value, about standing up after failing, and about being resilient in a world of uncertainty.
How did the IESE Excellence Scholarship and Forte Foundation Fellowship impact your life? How do you plan to “pay it forward”?
The Excellence and Forte Scholarships have alleviated the financial pressure for me as a candidate coming from a developing economy such as Vietnam. This allowed me to focus more on my career exploration – prioritizing a career of impact and growth over pursuing the highest-paying opportunities. I was also able to enjoy to the fullest what the MBA and Barcelona had to offer. For this support, I am really grateful to IESE and the Forte Foundation.
My education, coupled with the mentorship I have received from others, has helped me gain the skills to pursue meaningful life goals and propelled my career forward. Previously, I wrote in my MBA application essay that I hope to continue to open doors and create opportunities for others – the way my mother, my mentors, and my supporters have opened doors for me. I have been and still plan to do exactly that.
During my time at IESE, I actively worked with the MBA Admissions team and Women in Business club to connect with more female applicants and candidates from Southeast Asia. Furthermore, in my 2nd year, I also served as a mentor to 1st years in the Consulting Club, Asia Business Club, and Women in Business Club. Passionate about technology, I was also involved with the Tech Club and served as an Executive Vice President – focusing on Relations – for the Fintech Club.
After the program, I plan to continue in these mentor roles as much as I can. At the same time, I would love to bring a similar education-focused mindset to the organization I will be joining – Roland Berger Consulting in London. Through my role as a senior consultant, I aspire to advise businesses in ways that harness the power of both technology and people!
What do you look forward to as an IESE alumni?
I look forward to bringing my newfound knowledge and recently honed leadership skills to make a positive impact in the community I am a part of! In addition, I hope to connect with even more IESE alumni and prospective students – expanding IESE footprint around the world and making the brand stronger.
Do you have any message to your fellow and future scholars?
Have faith in yourself and go out there to make your mark! In my opinion, receiving a scholarship from IESE is both an honor and a privilege that we need to pay forward. I believe that any of us can be an entrepreneurial leader by creating an initiative that we personally resonate with, founding a venture that will help hundreds or even millions of people, or supporting other entrepreneurs with our skills, capital and knowledge! It is that entrepreneurial mindset and spirit of service that will bring the world forward.
Congratulations Quyen and the MBA Class of 2023, we look forward to seeing you make your mark!
To find out more about how to support the IESE Scholarship program and our Annual Fund, you can go to https://giving.iese.edu/annualfund
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