This interview is the first latest blog series featuring interviews with current and future MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the IESE MBA Program. And now, introducing Olga Climova, Admitted Student of the MBA Class of 2017.
IESE: Congrats on your acceptance to IESE. Where are you from? What’s your profile?
Olga: Thank you. I’m super excited and honored to be joining IESE MBA in September 2015.
A little bit about myself – I was born in a tiny Gagauz village in southern Moldova. My first language is Gagauz (archaic Turkish), but I gradually learned Russian, Romanian, English and Spanish. I lived most of my life in Moldova, however for the past 10 years I’ve been living in Canada.
My undergraduate degree is in International Business with a major in Finance, International Investments and Banking. Right after graduation I successfully landed two exciting job offers: one for Google’s entry-level position in the Online Media Associate Program (OMAP) and one for lesser known company, but more challenging opportunity at Mxi Technologies, a software company that provides specialized solutions for managing maintenance in the aviation and aerospace domains. It was a tough decision, because I’ve always wanted to work for Google, but I accepted the offer at Mxi.
At Mxi I have led numerous teams of up to 40 people responding to multi-million dollar Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to leading commercial airlines, defense operators and original equipment manufacturers. I also managed maintenance contracts for over 30 global customers securing 20% of company’s annual revenue. It has been a blast working at Mxi with its most unique culture.
I: Why did you choose IESE? Could you highlight some of the things that brought you to our MBA?
O: Since my undergraduate degree is from a North American university I wanted to diversify my academic background and was considering European schools only. I was targeting leading European schools with superb offerings in business strategy and technology, international focus and leadership development. I was gravitating towards a two-year program where I could build a business foundation in the first term and put this immediate knowledge to test during the corporate internship opportunity. Based on that, during the second term I could fine-tune my MBA through the number of elective courses. And if there was an opportunity to take some business classes in another language that’d be a cherry on top!
So far my experience with the IESE Business School has been nothing but exceptional. Of course we all look at the hard numbers like the class profile, program structure, professors’ qualifications, rankings etc., but for me the biggest differentiator was my experience with the people at IESE. It boiled down to my experience with the AdComm, Career Services, professors, current and past students during my investigation stage while in Canada either through email or phone and then later during the interview and acceptance stage. Visiting the campus during the Open Day confirmed my decision to pursue my MBA at IESE.
I: Some MBAs prefer to stay in the same industry, while others prefer to head into a new field. What’s your post-MBA plan?
O: Through my experience at Mxi I gained full appreciation of technological impact and developed strong project management, solution selling and value proposition skills. You could say I want to stay in the same high tech industry, but my hands-on experience has been exclusively focused in the aviation and aerospace sectors. IESE MBA will broaden my knowledge of high tech strategy and implementation of Internet related products. This will uniquely position me to join Google now in new shoes.
Post-MBA I will start as a Pricing Strategy Principal building on my IT solution pricing experience at Mxi. In this position I will understand how Google products’ value is derived from the pricing perspective. Then, in couple of years I plan to move to the Operations Branding Studio department and become a strategist at Google. There I plan to develop positioning and branding strategies for innovative new products and technologies that attain the same market penetration as Google Search does today.
I: Have you ever been to Barcelona? What’s your opinion of the city?
O: Yes, I spent my third year studying in Valencia and was fortunate to travel a bit within Spain, including Barcelona. I also visited Barcelona again during the Open House weekend and I love it dearly! Barcelona is such a vibrant city and there is always something to do, see, eat and whatever you please to do.
Of course Antonio Gaudi’s architecture left a unique mark on the city, that I’m sure anyone would appreciate, even if they don’t see themselves living in one of his buildings.
I am also excited about Barcelona and the Catalan gastronomy that is competing head-to-head with the Nordic cuisine. It is a bit disappointing that the legendary Ferran Adria’s elBulli is closed now, but I look forward to visiting Catalan’s El Celler De Can Roca that has been constantly challenging world’s best Danish Noma.
From sunny and sandy beaches to skiing in Andorra just an hour away are a few distractions that I look forward to doing while in Barcelona.
I: What do you believe are the advantages of attending a 19-month program like IESE compared to others?
O: Pursuing MBA is a significant investment of time and money that we want to spend wisely. So for me it came down to value. IESE’s two-year MBA program provides the perfect length to learn about the fundamentals, but also get hands-on experience during the corporate internship program. There are also oversees modules for those that want to change the scenery, but also take some cool courses that are only offered at specific IESE campuses. I know I am really interested in the Internet Enabling Strategies course that is available at the IESE’s New York campus.
I: If someone asked you for admissions tips, what would your advice be?
O: My biggest advice is to do your homework and by that I mean do invest your time to really understand why you need an MBA and then where. Once you know why you need an MBA narrow down your choices to only those schools that interest you the most. Then go full steam into applying. One of the ways to learn more about the school is talk to people that are part of it now or were in the past.
I reached out to people through Linkedin, I asked to be introduced and I also met people at different Fairs. I remember I had last minute commitment at work and wasn’t able to fly out to meet IESE in Toronto, but was immediately given an opportunity to connect through skype. Also, leading up to receiving my acceptance I was always notified first by phone then by email. It was very personal and genuine. It’s the little things like that won me over.
Another thing, IESE offers a unique opportunity to experience the program during its Open Day and Assessment experience. This is where you will get a flavor of how your two years are going to be. I know it might be a bit of burden for some to travel to Barcelona, especially if you’d be flying from as far as Asia or South/North America, but I would highly recommend it.
At the same time please feel free to reach out to me for any questions you might have and I will be more than happy to share my experience. I’m always available for a chat or coffee if you’re in Ottawa. The best of luck!