2017 Best MBAs: Andrea Fouché, IE Business School

Andrea Fouché

IE Business School

“Adventurous, passionate and persuasive; capable of setting fears aside to gain experiences.”

 Age: 32

Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa

Fun fact about yourself: When I broke my arm at the age of 16, two weeks before my final exams, I learnt to write with my left hand and today I am ambidextrous.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Cape Town (UCT), Master of Social Science – Organizational Psychology & Management Studies

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Mazars – Internal Consultant: Learning, Change and Strategy

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016?  I started business school at the beginning of September 2016 and spent the four weeks of summer prior to that in Madrid. I used this time as an opportunity to immerse myself in this new culture, practice my Spanish and begin to lay the foundation for lasting connections with my new classmates.

Where will you be working after graduation? My passion lies in enabling organizations to transform their mission and goals into tangible strategic outcomes. I am currently evaluating options for after graduation and would relish the opportunity to be able to leverage my MBA skills in a management consulting role.

 Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Elected MBA class representative, serving as a liaison between program management, professors and the class.
  • Wharton Global Consulting Practicum: I was fortunate enough to have been selected as one of five team members out of a four-hundred strong MBA to be a part of this international consulting project. This involved consulting a multi-national organization on their future-focused global strategy, ensuring future relevance and revenue growth.
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Candidate.
  • IE Women’s Leadership Scholarship: Awarded to women who have exhibited leadership potential in their community, organization and/or profession.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was honored to be chosen as the commencement speaker for the new January 2017, IE Business School MBA intake (300+ audience). It gave me the opportunity to take the time to reflect upon my personal journey and share my learnings with these future business leaders.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Being passionate about empowering others to achieve their full potential, coupled with a deep belief that this can be done through the power of education and mentorship resulted in an award-winning and innovative leadership development program targeted at previously disadvantaged individuals. In my previous role at Mazars, I was responsible for the design, implementation and management of this pioneering program that shaped empowering leadership behaviors and accelerated career opportunities for our high potential leadership candidates. More importantly, this program was adapted and implemented in the wider community, contributing to the provision a diverse pipeline of high potential leaders beyond the organization. The impact that I have seen this have on the lives of those involved was one of the most rewarding experiences.

Who was your favorite professor? This is a difficult decision since the caliber of professors at IE is so high; however, Teresa Recio, professor of Marketing Management stands out as one of my favorites. In addition to being well accomplished academically and professionally, the dedication that Teresa exhibits to her teaching and to building lasting relationships with her students is admirable. Passionate about engaging every student in the conversation, she made the subject relatable to all, despite varying backgrounds. In her course, she elevated marketing from basic qualitative analysis and taught us how to assess the profitability of marketing activities and the role it plays in creating value for the firm.  Andrea, IE

Why did you choose this business school? I was looking for a one-year full-time MBA program ranked among the top 10 business schools internationally. IE captured my attention for a number of reasons:

  1. My MBA intake is made up of 91% international students from 62 different countries around the world providing an international network, second to none. Over and above the geographic locations, classmates come from a variety of backgrounds with unique and diverse perspectives, fostering critical thinking and mutual growth.
  2. Entrepreneurial/Intrapeneurial mind-set. IE’s IMBA program is innovative and agile, forcing students to evolve and create new ways of thinking. The program dares to be different and fosters an environment of looking beyond your own perspectives, challenging the status quo.
  3. The fact that IE is located in Madrid enabled me to experience the IMBA program amidst the culture and vibrant lifestyle that the city offers, making it all the more appealing.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was most surprised that what I went to business school for, and what I got were two very different things. I went to learn and master the hard, quantitative skills, but what I got instead was even more beneficial – courage. There are always going to be situations that challenge me, push me out of my comfort zone or even scare me; business school has given me the courage to, with resilience and humility, face any situation confidently and courageously.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? They say; it is not about the destination, but the journey to get there. Doing your MBA at IE Business School will be one of your most amazing years, filled with ups and downs. Above all else, you’ll have some of the most rewarding experiences and friendships you will ever have. Make the most of all your time and every opportunity that comes your way – it goes too quickly!

This is an accelerated MBA and everything about it is accelerated and intensified, so hold on tight, it will be the ride of your life!

What is the biggest myth about your school? IE Business School seemed to be synonymous with entrepreneurship, but it is not until you experience it that you find that it is truly embedded in the foundation of the school. It turns out that this isn’t just a myth – it’s reality! They are fully committed to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit. This extends further than just entrepreneurship classes, but rather is a way of thinking and doing that is entrenched within the very core of the school. The result is a balance between traditional and more visionary courses, as well as peers who are unconventional thinkers.

What was your biggest regret in business school? To work alongside people who are equally (and more) driven, brave, and educated than what I am was a privilege. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough time to interact and get to know every one of them on a personal level.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It takes great strength and courage to apply to do an MBA half way across the world, but to do it three times is admirable. A husband and wife from my class, Axel von Sneidern and Isabela Gutierrez applied to do their MBA and were accepted to begin in September 2015.  Due to personal reasons, (and at the very last minute), they had to defer their commencement to September 2016. They returned a year later. Six weeks into the program, they once again had to make the difficult decision to put their pursuit of a MBA on hold. They returned to Colombia due to an illness in the family. Sadly, while they were at home, Axel’s mom passed away. This however, although a challenging time, didn’t deter them from starting the MBA again with the January 2017 intake.

I admire that even after their trials and tribulations, they still had the drive and persistence to come back, determined to live out their dream together. This is a true testament to the spirit and quality of person that IE attracts.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was sitting in a business meeting and felt completely out of my depth. I realized that I needed to combine my psychology background with business acumen if I wanted to progress in my career. I had passed the point of no return when I couldn’t think about anything else, and not going was no longer an option for me.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…feeling frustrated, unchanged and significantly less rich in experience.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Firstly, let me say that being the Dean of an International MBA program is no small feat and our current dean does such a fantastic job, that I was hard-pressed to decide on something meaningful that I would change.

The key reason for my choice of this MBA was to enjoy a range of diverse experiences and views within a network of best in class students and academics. While I have certainly gained this, particularly in my section, facilitating the process in a meaningful way amongst 400 students is challenging.  As Dean for a day, I would formalize the cross-section integration through organized and formalized debates or critical management thinking sessions.

Promoting intellectual discourse with classmates from other sections would go a long way to increasing our circle of influence and international network, extending us even further in terms of understanding and considering diverse thinking and action in business

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would not limit myself to a single profession or business sector. My aspiration is to be a world class global practitioner in consulting, growing through a range of careers, driving innovative business practices through the implementation of thought leadership; ultimately influencing corporate strategy through direct involvement at an executive level.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? There are none more central to my success than my parents, with their great sacrifice and unwavering belief in my potential to succeed. They always said I was destined for great things. While this remains a cliché for most, their steadfast belief in this is what has shaped my journey today. Settling for mediocrity was never an option, as they encouraged and enabled life-long learning and curiosity. The ultimate testament to their unwavering support was when they stopped at nothing to ensure that I realized my dream of doing my MBA at one of the world’s most elite institutions.

It would be amiss of me not to acknowledge the immeasurable impact that two particular mentors had on my professional success. Not only did they place immense trust in me, they took a chance on me and provided me with a platform upon which to springboard my success. They remain my go-to people.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As the one who keeps a calm head amongst the madness – but packs a punch with enthusiasm and ambition.

Favorite book: Shantaram

 Favorite movie or television show: Shawshank Redemption

 Favorite musical performer: Coldplay

 Favorite vacation spot: Bazaruto Island, Mozambique

 Hobbies: Open-water diving, travel, reading

What made Andrea such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Andrea is a great student who not only performs at an outstanding academic level, but does her best to help others along the way too. While she was in my course, Andrea went through a difficult personal time. Instead of using this as an understandable excuse to step down from some of her responsibilities, she put on a strong face and continued providing me and her class with invaluable help in her role as class representative, while keeping her active involvement with her team mates in the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum. I find her emotional strength as remarkable as her intellectual capabilities. Andrea shines amongst her peers, not just because of her brains, but because of her warmth, kindness, honesty and commitment. She is definitely one of the best and brightest!”

Professor. Teresa Recio
MBA Program, IE Business School

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017