2015 MBA To Watch: Bernhard Bonelli

Bernhard Bonelli

Bernhard Bonelli

Bernhard Bonelli


IESE Business School

How do you know someone really wants to attend a business school? How about someone who learns another language to increase his odds of getting accepted into a target school. That’s what IESE’s Bernhard Bonelli did. An Austrian, Bonelli mastered Spanish so he could gain the entrepreneurship and international business tools he craved. Bonelli may have struggled initially, but he quickly became president of both the Venture Capital Club and the Social Action Club, where he was an ardent supporter of Mary’s Meals. Awarded the IESE MBA Award for academic achievement and extracurricular contributions, Bonelli will return to the Boston Consulting Group after graduation.

Age: 32

Hometown: Vienna, Austria

Undergraduate School: University of Vienna

Undergraduate Degree: Philosophy

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group in Vienna

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Research Assistant at IESE Business School (Finance department)

Where will you be working after graduation? Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group in Vienna

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was sent to the controller of the client company to ask for the P&L of the company and on the question “IFRS or US GAAP“ I had to answer “both“, because I didn’t have a clue what the difference was.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…I would be still working at BCG.”

What are your long-term professional goals? After two more years at BCG, if possible, I’d like to contribute to my home country’s development (as an advisor role in politics). If this does not work, I’d like to start a search fund and try to acquire a company together with investors.

Favorite Courses: Personality & Leadership, Entrepreneurial Finance

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? The bilingual degree (Spanish/English) that I will receive from IESE – I started from scratch in the summer before the MBA with learning Spanish. Learning a new language is quite humbling – and then not being able to express what you have in mind due to the language restriction was sometimes frustrating. So obtaining the requirements for the bilingual degree is probably the part where I struggled the most, put the most effort and I’m very grateful for all the support that IESE provided for that.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My wife. We got married right before the MBA and over the last two years she has always been understanding with everything that I had to do for school. We were blessed with a child and she did an amazing job taking care of the little baby while I had to study and was involved in many activities.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to get an international exposure as broad as possible, was interested in the whole entrepreneurial environment (more on the investment side) where IESE has a strong reputation, also the focus on business ethics appealed to me (as a philosophy undergrad) and the opportunity to learn a new language (Spanish) was the icing on the cake.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Getting a solid theory and framework for so many business topics that I encountered in my work as a consultant and being able to develop that together with my classmates (through the case study method) rather than receiving lectures.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? The birth of my son Samuel. A joy that is not comparable with anything else in this world.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m already preparing a speech to be delivered in front of a joint session of the US congress.

Favorite book: Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle

Favorite movie: Matrix (1-3)

Favorite musical performer: Bono, U2

Favorite television show: Friends

Favorite vacation spot: Salzkammergut (lake area in Austria)

What are your hobbies? My family, soccer, reading

Twitter Handle: @bernhardbonelli

What made Bernhard such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“As well as being a stellar scholar, Bernhard took leadership of the Social Action Club and organised numerous fund raising and volunteering events, getting his classmates involved in many activities they would not normally choose to do. He became a passionate supporter of Mary’s Meals, an NGO which now feeds almost a million of the world’s poorest children every day they attend school. He was also very involved in supporting the Family Club, having become a first-time dad during the program.

Bernhard stepped in to head the consulting project for Médicos sin Fronteras and it is through his dedication and leadership that this project has delivered beyond MSF’s expectations. Thanks to this MFS are considering additional projects students can work on. As one of the heads of the Social Action Club Bernhard in addition been actively involved in raising funds for Mary’s Meals, Bernard is a great example of generosity, spirit of service and leadership.” – Elena Liquete, Executive Director