My IESE MBA journey has finally come to its end. Of course, no MBA student from any 2020 class in the world was expecting to be known as “the corona class”. Our graduation ceremony has been postponed to the next year, our graduation trip to Japan was canceled, and farewell events will never happen. The worst part was not having the chance to say a proper goodbye to my friends from different parts of the world.
Even with all the facts that happened in the last weeks, I was reflecting on my MBA journey at IESE over the previous 19 months. The main conclusion is: it was the best decision of my life! In the following paragraphs, I will share with you why and what are my key learnings:
~ Developing an international perspective: as a global MBA program, IESE courses present business cases from companies and institutions from all over the world. Apart from the content displayed in the syllabus, having students from many countries definitely enriches the discussions in the classroom and outside it. Besides that, The fact that I was in Europe was a key factor, as it allowed me to visit several countries and have contact with their local cultures.
After two years of this international exposure, I realize that I have a broader perspective when analyzing problems or situations than I used to have before.
For example, when I analyze the current crisis, I’m more aware of what is going on in the different regions of the world, why it is happening, how the local culture influences the way these regions are dealing with the COVID-19 and their perspectives for the near future. I can even ask my MBA colleagues what their view as a local is. “Elizabeth from two years ago”, would probably analyze this crisis and its impacts in Brazil, with a very narrow perspective.
~ Diversity plays an important role: in the class of 2020, you can find more than 50 nationalities and a vast spectrum of career backgrounds. International students are 85% of the class.
Being exposed to such a diverse environment made me significantly reduce my cultural bias. At IESE, we are split into teams of 8-10 people. You will work with this same team daily for the entire first year. In my beloved team A3, we were eight teammates from 7 nationalities: Spanish, German, North American, Chinese, Indian, Peruvian, and Brazilian. I learned so much from them! I realized how much cultural bias I had before coming to the MBA. Some common beliefs I had at the beginning: “the Chinese will be shy and introverted”, “the German will always worry about time”, “the American from the US Army will be rude”. These beliefs all proved to be wrong in the first days of my experience at IESE.
You realize that you can be way more similar to a person who was born and raised on the other side of the world, than to a person who lived all his/her life in the same neighborhood as you. Common values are what create a strong bond between people. It doesn’t matter where the people are from.
~ Be more open to share your ideas and to discuss them with other people: IESE applies the business case method to all the courses. In this approach, the professor conducts the discussion in the classroom and foster the participation of the students. As I studied in Brazil during my whole life, I was used to taking a more passive approach as a student. In university, I only took notes and sometimes asked questions at the end of the class. But the case method made me develop my analytical skills and my approach to investigate different elements of a situation and structure a solution to it. I also became more open to discuss an idea and to hear different approaches to the same problem. There will always be different ways to solve a problem. And not every time your way to solving it will be the most effective one.
~ Networking is a necessity. So, learn how to enjoy it: there are lots of researches showing that professional networks lead to more business opportunities, innovation, and greater authority. During my MBA experience, I learned some basic concepts about networking and how to enjoy doing it. IESE and its professional clubs gave me tons of opportunities to network: the events such as career fairs, guest speakers’ presentations, treks to visit companies in different countries, companies’ networking events. Building and nurturing professional relationships with people from various industries and geographies were a crucial part of my learning experience.
~ Developing a sense of community: after some weeks at IESE MBA Program, I developed a high sense of belonging. I could understand what the MBA community was. I was surrounded by people willing to help me and to share experiences with me. I didn’t have many barriers to approach second-year students or alumni to help me with the recruiting processes. The professors were available to talk and always kept their doors opened to students. My classmates built a fantastic campus environment, and it will definitely be something that I will miss a lot!
The experiences I lived with my MBA colleagues (inside and outside campus) and the relationships I’ve built during the last two years are the most valuable things I will take from my MBA journey.
I’m sure that all these learnings helped me to become a better person after two years. I will always be proud of making part of the IESE community! And I hope that IESE Business School keeps improving the experience provided to its students so more people can have such an incredible journey as I had (or even a better one)!
I feel very thankful to everyone who somehow contributed to my MBA experience.
Congrats, to all of my fellow classmates in IESE MBA Class of 2020![This article is re-posted from Linkedin]
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