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ReachIvy Exclusive: Top College Series – An Interview with IESE Business School

Posted on Jul 14, 2018
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IESE Admission Officer

Name: Camille Chow

Designation: Associate Director (MBA Admissions & Career Services)

School Name: IESE Business School

 1. Being able to pick the right program is crucial given the number of options available in the market. Who should ideally be applying for the IESE Business School program?

IESE is a mission driven organization, with the purpose of developing global leaders who will have a lasting and positive impact on society. We choose to focus on the human aspect of doing business. We believe that business is never only about numbers or statistics or money but always about people.

We welcome applicants from all types of backgrounds and nationalities, typically with a minimum of 2 years of work experience. We believe this is ideal for students to get the most value out of the case based method of learning we use heavily.

2. Can you share with us what qualities are you looking for in your incoming class?

While it is true that we don’t have a “typical” student profile, I believe that one common characteristic of our students is the commitment to IESE and the motivation to give back to the school in their own way. In their applications, students should be able to clearly communicate why they are choosing IESE amongst the top business school programs out there and what they are contributing to the class.

3. Our students always want to know the program highlights, and how they will gain from it. What according to you are the most interesting classes and/or professors?

IESE is well known for our strength in the case method style of teaching, with approximately 80% of the curriculum being taught through cases. What this means is in 19 months, you will be going through 600+ cases, this is a lot (of time and effort but of learning too)! The purpose of this is to really rewire your brain and to train you in critical thinking skills, decision making skills, exposing you to different perspectives, teaching you how to deal with uncertainty, manage cross cultural teams, improve your communication and listening skills.

One interesting example is the Capstone project, which is mandatory in the first year and run as a case competition. It is essentially a real consulting project where your team will have to propose a solution to business executives on how to solve an issue. This was a truly memorable experience for me, as we had to work with limited data based on what we were given by the company and the CEO travelled to Barcelona to attend the final presentation. Although my team had limited experience in this industry (our project was related to publishing), we were selected the winners for our project so it was particularly exciting!

4. What are some of the facilities and faculty resources available to students who want to explore cutting edge careers, or pursue entrepreneurship while in the program?

At IESE, entrepreneurship is one of our core pillars so there are plenty of resources dedicated to this area. It is fully integrated into the curriculum because we believe that entrepreneurial skills are valuable and can be applied even within a large corporate organization.

Apart from courses, you can develop your own business plan or work with a local start-up in the Summer Entrepreneurship Experience. Instead of doing a summer internship, you can choose to stay in Barcelona on campus and get hands on experience in starting a business with other classmates.

We also have an Entrepreneurs Club and Innovation & Design Club that organizes activities as treks to Berlin or Barcelona to visit start-ups and network with other entrepreneurs. Finally, we also have an angel fund called Finaves, started by alumni that provides seed funding to business ventures started by IESE students.

5. There is a lot of curiosity among our students on what a classic day would be like at IESE Business School. Could you describe it for us?

The first year at IESE is very intense. The academic program is very rigorous and it is meant to stretch and challenge you. Students go through 3 case sessions a day, so typically you will be in class from 9am – 3:30pm. There is a mandatory team meeting in the morning where you will prepare and discuss cases with your team.

For those taking Business Spanish language courses offered at IESE, you will have extra hours of Spanish on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so you will finish at 6pm then. Of course, we have many student clubs on campus and most students are part of 2-3 professional or social clubs.

Every day there is always some type of careers or social activity – whether it is a company presentation, guest speaker, workshop or sports team training, cultural club dinner, fundraising or volunteer opportunity. And you still have to spend time preparing cases for the next day and applying for internships! It is very important to manage your time well and to be clear about your priorities.

In the second year, you can choose your elective courses so you have much more flexibility and control over your own schedule. You can choose to go on Exchange with any of our 30+ partner business schools or take our 1 or 2 week overseas modules in our campuses in New York, Sao Paolo, Shanghai or Nairobi.

For International Students

1. What assistance does IESE Business School provide to help them chalk their career path? For students looking to return to India – what type of support would they receive?

If you look at our Employment Report, you’ll find that our students pursue all types of careers from consulting to finance to tech and other industries. As our class size of 350 students is one of the smallest among the top global business schools, we adopt a personalized approach for our students and this is a conscious decision that we take. We understand that a cookie cutter approach would not work for us.

Our Career Services team has an open door policy so students can have as many personal counselling sessions as they need. We have many Career Days during the MBA where students attend labs and workshops whether its communication skills or how to optimize your LinkedIn profile or how to network effectively.

We also have a unique structure of having Associate Directors located in satellite offices around the world to ensure we have first-hand information on career opportunities in these regions.

2. Is there any financial aid available to international students? If yes, who according to you would be the ideal candidate?

Yes, our scholarships are merit-based and anyone is eligible to apply. You will have to submit a scholarship essay along with your application, explaining why you think you are deserving and what you will be contributing to the class. We have special scholarships for women, and this year we are pleased to share that our scholarship pool has significantly increased from last year, which will allow us to offer individual scholarships ranging from 10,000 to 60,000 Euros.

The scholarship committee tends to grant scholarships in rounds 1 and 2 so it is important to apply early. The competitiveness of the scholarship process is still very high, meaning that securing one will still require a solid GMAT and academics as well as outstanding professional experience.

3. Your final word for students:

I think a good first step is understanding the differences between the programs and deciding what type of program you are looking for. Going to websites, reading forums and blogs are also a good way to get started but it is not enough. It is very important to talk to alumni, students or the admissions team and engage with the school, because the MBA journey is a very personal experience. You are choosing what community you want to be a part of and you won’t really know what that is like until you talk to people and hear about the different experiences.

IESE alumni are usually pretty friendly so don’t be afraid to approach us! We also provide informal feedback on your profile through our website so send us your CV and we can talk!

About the Person:

Ms. Chow is from Singapore and is on the IESE MBA Admissions Committee, responsible for India, South East Asia and Oceania. She is also responsible for career services in these regions, by mentoring students as well as working closely with corporate recruiters to connect students to suitable career opportunities.