Meet The IESE MBA Class of 2017

Members of the Class of 2017 at IESE Business School

Members of the Class of 2017 at IESE Business School

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.


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.”

Itziar de Ros

Itziar de Ros

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.”


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. 

  • Akshay Gupta

    Any tips on what makes a great IESE application

  • C. Taylor

    🙂 Sore spot, eh?

  • Warren

    Taylor !! weird person..

  • C. Taylor

    It is worth recognizing the motives behind such antisocial behavior.

    What we have here and often in P&Q discussions is a classic probing feint. The perpetrator is testing the response of any target(s) to assaults on potential weaknesses–perceived or otherwise. Often such feints carry little malice, despite their appearance.

    It is a method for assessing the mettle of the target. It is quite possible to gain the respect of such perpetrators–if desired–although a certain behavioral tolerance is required.

  • funckyONE

    do they teach you this language in IESE? because apparently you mastered such kind of words, no wonder you haven’t met wonderful people in your lost life. You know what, forget it, the donkey is a donkey..

  • Michel Rassy

    I grew in the house next door your mammy’s. Here is papa. Do as I taught you and avoid doing such futile worthless comment anonymously. Stop thinking you re the funky one.

  • funckyONE

    ” I have never met so many incredibly smart people in my life” … ! thats very sad! where did you grow up? where did you live? caves..deserets, ..

  • Michel Rassy

    I’m also in 17’s class and I can’t even express how happy I feel about my choice. I have never met so many incredibly smart people in my life, but this was expected for Kellogg and Duke too, which were my other options. What really surprised me the most was learning from second year’s who, all together, attended most of the best schools in US through the exchange program and said IESE is considerably more academically demanding. I’m now witnessing this huge load of work, which is totally focused on real cases, and I have no doubt it prepares us to face the most challenging positions afterwards. Everything in the course is really carefully planned by the school. The international aspect also makes IESE a better option for smart americans who are willing to understand why the world is so much bigger than your home country. And no, meeting 40% of international people in a US Bschool doesn’t provides the same experience. In IESE there is no dominating culture, and it obviously represent much better the increasingly globalized world we live in. It is definitely not by accident that IESE is always at Top 10 in the serious rankings. Not to mention the Barcelona factor, even considering that we don’t have much time during the first year to enjoy the most of the city.

  • C. Taylor

    I extensively commented below on non-US GMAT scores.

    Primarily, I suggest it is a matter of paying a higher GMAT price for a very inflexible supply of sought-after MBA programs in the US. Supply and demand.

    One data point: The number of applications to HBS has almost doubled since the class of 1985. See the July 2, 2014 WSJ article, “Want to Get Into Business School? Write Less, Talk More”

    Basically, the same people get in as before, they just now need higher scores, on average. Similarly, I suggest the great applicants to top non-US programs don’t have as much competition, so don’t need to study as much for the GMAT. See my below comment for additional detail.

  • AG

    Thanks C. Taylor. Very interesting progression of the GMAT results during last 20-30 years. I doubt generations got smarter, it looks like GMAT also suffers from inflation :-). Still it is an undeniable fact that the language plays a role and someone with English as mother tongue could (actually should) do better than someone who learned it as a second language. Do you think an English-speaking person would achieve the same level if they would take the test in Mandarin (assuming they studied it)? I highly doubt it.

  • C. Taylor

    That was an article I also recommend.

    GMAT scores have generally increased over time. US average was around 460-480 in 1979/80. Different methodology then, I hear so around 460, but would be around 480 using present methodology (26.8 Quant, 27.8 Verbal). Now it’s 530.

    Matt suggests below that more attempts are made by US test takers to increase their scores. Anyhow, the GMAT is a thinking-skills test, not an IQ test. Practically anyone can get a 700. Not everyone bothers.

  • AG

    Let me guess…you are at a US school. What an ignorant comment. My friend shall I remind you that in Europe only in UK the mother language is English? Would you think this is a factor? Did you look at the diversity of the students in terms of nationality in Europe vs US schools? Do some homework before you make such an offensive and idiotic comment…”they are willing to take a less intelligent class”. So basically in your mind the intelligence of a student is driven by the result of a test. No wonder there is an issue with the test-driven education system in US. You are brainwashed my friend. Wake up, don’t assume you are smarter. By the way, read the issue of the Oct 3rd of Economist, the briefing section and then tell me more about how much the intelligence matters in the US schools…

  • Tarima

    Yes, as someone said below, people at european schools are still evolving, their brains aren’t developed yet like people in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, etc.. so, give them more time please..

  • 6(3537)

    I think I can answer this argument about why European schools have lower gmat than US schools – because the European schools are less competitive and are willing to take a less intelligent class of students.

  • C. Taylor

    I suggest it is simply market driven via supply and demand. More US applicants place a higher value on MBAs from specific schools, driving up the GMAT price of sought after programs which are quite inflexible in increasing supply. Simple economics.

    Potential causes? Business culture. Driven by;
    A) The relative level of economic development. For
    example–in aggregate–the US has a higher GDP per capita than Europe. More developed regions place greater value on business sophistication. See the WEF’s stages of growth. Failing that, consider the management structure required for a mom and pop vs GS.
    B) The EU attitude towards education is quite different and the general flavor is more socialist than capitalist. This means;
    1) More socialist applicants will view education as a great bit
    of camaraderie, placing more value on quality of education
    than competitive advantage. This would mean they are
    generally more accepting of quality without prestige.
    2) If MBA applicants are more capitalist, the pool is relatively
    smaller, holding other factors constant.
    C) The largest EU economy, Germany, has a quite effective
    alternative—the apprenticeship. Someone mentioned France also values the HEC Masters in Management over the MBA, I can’t speak for that one way or another but it would fit this paradigm.

    Separate from this, non-US programs have more non-native English speakers who come from a different background. These factors affect the interpretation of societally implicit information in some GMAT questions.

  • Matt

    Cause: US schools weight GMAT higher in selecting students
    Effect: Applicants to US schools index to higher average scores and prepare/retake the GMAT more than their Euro counterparts.

    Want data? check out the GMATclub US v Euro school applicant stats, US school applicants are retaking the GMAT far more times on average.

    I don’t buy the whole self-selection argument, geography is far more important as a factor in itself. If someone wants to work in the US but has a low GMAT, would they really chose to apply to European schools?

  • C. Taylor

    My take; the great applicants are still great. Primarily, they just don’t have the competition forcing them to get a 750. So they don’t bother.

    Someone on here referenced self selection.

  • C. Taylor

    Fantastic program. And it’s in Barcelona.

  • Matt

    Forget the stock international student mix answer, the US schools have plenty of European/Asian students with exceptional GMATs.

    The real answer is USNWR rankings heavily weight the GMAT so the schools in turn put more weight on this in admissions; US schools rate USNWR much higher than any other ranking. European schools don’t feature in USNWR and GMAT is less prominent in other rankings.

    It is a second-order effect that those applying to only European schools will have lower GMATs; they on average spend less time studying for it as there is less focus on breaking 700. This doesn’t necessarily mean the students are lower quality, I know many 750+ GMAT kids at US schools scored sub-700 on their first attempt.

  • Rami

    I’m at IESE right now with these guys and they are incredible. Honestly, our entire class is unreal. This list should have been 294 people long. (I think that’s how many people are in 2017 hahhaa)

    And for those at IESE.. Section C is on the board! La Copa, this has got to count for something!!!

  • Spartan 22

    More of an international class means less emphasis on GMAT Verbal, which heavily weighs GMAT scores. Presumably if your TOEFL is good enough, they’ll blink at a slightly lower verbal score for students hailing from outside of predominately English speaking countries.

  • C. Taylor

    Your compatriot, “wondering,” asked the same thing on the LBS class of 2017 thread. See my answer there.

    I assume you are not being facetious and are a different person.

  • Waca

    people there haven’t yet been developed. they need time to evolve.

  • wundering

    why are the european schools GMAT scores so much lower than the US schools?