The MBA programme at the IESE Business School – the graduate business school of Spain’s University of Navarra – is focused on general management at the apex of business organisations.
IESE MBA admissions director Itziar de Ros says students are challenged to analyse business issues rigorously to find solutions and make crucial decisions.
“The end result is that our students graduate as culturally sensitive global leaders who possess critical thinking and effective decision-making capabilities,” she says.
IESE’s campus for the full-time MBA is in Barcelona. Students in their second year can opt for elective modules in Shanghai, Nigeria, Singapore, Sao Paulo or New York. They may also join the international exchange programme and spend a semester in one of 24 top-ranked schools in the US, Europe, Asia, or Latin America. A corporate internship also allows MBA students to spend the summer between the first and second years doing practical training in a part of the world of their choice.
The full-time MBA lasts for around 19 months, with the first year focusing on general management knowledge.
“Students will build upon that foundation to go further in-depth into any management area in which they are interested in the second year,” de Ros says.
“The base of every business management issue involves people, hence understanding the impact of decisions on people, respecting others, and business ethics are discussed in almost every class of the programme.”
Enhancing students’ entrepreneurial spirit is another focus. The introductory module on the subject in the first year is followed by related electives, such as entrepreneurial finance, and business-growth challenges and strategies.
“Beyond specific curriculum content, our general-management focus develops leadership and critical decision-making that are complementary skills to entrepreneurship,” de Ros says. “Furthermore, our Entrepreneurship Research Centre and FINAVES investment fund are additional resources available to entrepreneurial students looking to launch their own businesses.”
Through real-world case studies from different sectors across the globe, students are exposed to various management issues. The course is aimed at bright young professionals of all nationalities who seek personal and professional development and aspire to develop leadership with a global mindset.
“Our students typically represent about 55 nationalities, with 80 per cent coming from outside of Spain. The average profile is a 28-year-old professional who has four years of local and international work experience, and speaks three languages,” de Ros says.
Students are graded on both continuous assessment and final examinations. The former includes personal assignments, team projects and class participation. Prior to their second year, students are also required to do a three-month corporate internship.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university. They should also submit their GMAT test result and two letters of recommendation. Selected candidates will then be interviewed for further screening.
Applicants should learn as much as they can about the IESE MBA programme before making a decision, de Ros says. “Besides doing research on the IESE website, potential applicants can also request for our counselling sessions, where we offer feedback on their profiles and answer questions they may have about the school and the MBA programme. They should try to meet as many alumni as they can and visit our campus to get a clearer sense of what IESE is like,” she adds.
Tony Li, an IESE MBA first-year student, was working as an engineer in Hong Kong before he was admitted into the programme in Barcelona.
He says he wanted to shift his career to business and develop a global mindset by doing an MBA. “I was born in Hong Kong and have spent many years in North America. I knew I wanted some exposure in Europe, and IESE was at the top of my list in terms of location, reputation and ability to provide an international perspective.”
Li says the diverse mix of students in his class is impressive. “I have the opportunity to work with a diverse mix of classmates from more than 50 countries and with different professional backgrounds. Gaining insights from individuals of different cultures and learning how to co-operate effectively amid such diversity is truly invaluable.”
He says he plans to run his own business and he thinks the IESE MBA’s global perspective will help him achieve his goal.
“In the Analysis of Business Problems course, we studied cases from more than 20 companies and analysed the complex problems they were facing. The professor taught us how to look at unstructured business problems with a holistic approach. There was even a case on Hong Kong Disneyland that I particularly enjoyed,” Li says.
Acquiring another foreign language is a bonus, Li adds. “My favourite course is Business Spanish. After graduation, I will have not only an MBA but also another language at my disposal. The language classes are light-hearted and fun, which provided a nice break from the intense business courses in the core curriculum.”