Historically, the image of a ‘city upon a hill’ has inspired Western artists and politicians. It conveys a sense of serenity and success, the embodiment of our aspirations for community and culture. That symbolism isn’t lost on the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra. From here, you can marvel at Barcelona’s mix of Classical, Gothic, and Surrealist architecture leading out to the Mediterranean Sea. Like any city carved into the hills, IESE prides itself on its cosmopolitan ways and entrepreneurial spirit.
IESE is a mix of the traditional and the cutting edge, no different than Barcelona itself. The MBA program itself was established in 1964 in partnership with Harvard Business School. Not surprisingly, the Harvard influence echoes through the IESE curriculum, with students absorbing 600 or more case studies before they graduate. At the same time, the school has evolved from a Spanish-centric program to a global business juggernaut. What’s more, it has emerged as a magnet for aspiring entrepreneurs, with a third of alumni starting businesses within a decade of graduation according to the school.
2017 CLASS HAILS FROM 50 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
And that makes for a tantalizing proposition for students around the world. “IESE had…everything I wanted,” writes Natasha Dara, a University of Texas grad who is among the 294 members of IESE’s Class of 2017. “[It has] a small, but diverse class, with 80% international students; short, international modules in various subjects; the opportunity to study abroad; the ability to be involved with non-academic groups, from learning about new industries to playing sports; the ability to learn more both about myself and my classmates; the chance to live in Barcelona, where I can improve my Spanish, both socially and professionally and possibly even earn a bilingual MBA; and activities that include partners of students, in order to make them feel part of the experience as well.”
Dara isn’t alone in championing the 2017 Class’ global diversity. For Itziar de Ros, IESE’s MBA admissions director, the class composition is a crucial component of the experience. “IESE´s 2017 class is very international, with participants hailing from over 50 different countries,” she wrote in a statement to Poets&Quants. “We also try and have a balance of nationalities from across the globe (some of the nationalities most represented this year come from the USA, Brazil, Japan, and the UK.) This mix of backgrounds, which we actively encourage, makes for a very enriching class experience. Working with and being challenged by different cultural points of view helps foster an international mindset to business, which is crucial in our increasingly global society, and something we know recruiters appreciate.”
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN JUMPS BY 7%
However, this immersive experience, in itself, is only part of the equation. IESE also targets a specific type of student, ones who are values-driven and still open to altering their viewpoints and plans. “A desire to contribute to society and conduct business ethically is the other quality that really makes IESE´s MBAs stand out,” de Ros adds. “We look for candidates that want to make a lasting impact and take a long term integrative approach to business. Our MBAs are also not just looking for a basic career change, but are seeking a transformative MBA experience.”
And many 2017 Class members are seeking this life-altering experience. For example, Florian Brock, who grew up in Bavaria and studied engineering at the UK’s Imperial College, hopes to start a business of his own after graduation. Karen Marian Crisostomo, a Philippines native, plans to spend the next two years exploring new careers, building a network, and mastering a new language after climbing the ranks in L’Oreal’s Luxury Division. And Paris native Josse Memmi is transitioning from finance to strategic management while working to remain in the fashion design industry.
Overall, IESE’s enrollment rose by four students with the Class of 2017, whose 680 GMAT average equaled the number posted by the previous class. Despite the school’s stress on recruiting a truly global cohort, the percentage of non-Spanish students slipped from 85% to 80%, with the number of countries falling from 57 to 50 countries with the 2017 Class. That said, the percentage of women at IESE jumped from 21% to 28%, putting the school within striking distance of INSEAD (30%) and IE Business School (31%) in this category. Like the previous class, banking and financial professionals comprised the high percentage of the class at 21% (down three percentage points). The biggest gains were made by consulting (19% from 14%), technology (14% from 12%), and private equity and venture capital (5% from 3%) professionals. Healthcare and retail each accounted for 5% of the incoming class, followed by consumer goods, energy, and logistics each at 4%.
Go to next page to access student profiles of this year’s incoming class.