Meet IE Business School’s Class of 2016

Members of IE Business School's Class of 2016

Members of IE Business School’s Class of 2016

“Practice makes perfect.” That’s great advice for mastering the violin – and even better for starting a business. At Spain’s IE Business School, students get plenty of practice with startups. The school was actually founded by entrepreneurs. Among alumni and students, as the joke goes, IE is said to stand for “innovation” and “entrepreneurship.” And the curriculum is geared towards helping students take an idea to market, start-to-finish.

How serious is IE about entrepreneurship? Consider this: Two entrepreneurial management courses are taught alongside the core accounting, finance, operations, and economics courses. And that doesn’t even include a required innovation course! Beyond that, you’ll find a startup laboratory worthy of East Coast Ivies.

Let’s start with the school’s Venture Lab, an incubator where students and alumni receive space and support (and even academic credit) for developing startups. Venture Lab firms can also participate in the school’s Venture Day. Held twice annually in Madrid – and also at campuses in Tokyo, Shanghai, Berlin and São Paulo – IE entrepreneurs pitch their plans to private equity investors and executives. Coupled with workshops and meet-and-greets, each Venture Day provides a forum for students to sharpen their presentation skills and shore up their professional networks.


The school also underwrites the famed Area 31 incubator, which includes access to legal advice, crowdfunding platforms, and partnerships with such firms as Amazon and PayPal. The school runs an investment fund to funnel dollars to deserving Spanish firms and a weekly Venture Network to help aspiring entrepreneurs further sharpen their selling and relationship-building skills. What’s more, IE leads the International Center for Entrepreneurship and Ventures Development, a consortium of thought leaders in the field. Indeed, IE dedicates 12 professors strictly to entrepreneurship, with the IE community nurturing more than 300 startups annually. In fact, the school estimates that 15% of its graduates begin their post-MBA careers as startup owners. Even more, the program has spawned recent startup darlings like Busuu, a global social network launched in 2009 that has been used by over 50 million people to learn another language.

However, the school’s value proposition encompasses far more than a startup wanderlust, says Liz White, an American who previously headed a women’s leadership think tank in Washington, DC. “I wanted a program with a true international focus,” she states. “IE Business School is internationally recognized as one of the top business schools in the world and its alumni network spans across the globe. Innovation and social responsibility are areas I would like to improve on or explore and IE is known to have one of the most entrepreneurial and socially conscious MBA programs. I also liked that the program is just one year so I won’t have to spend much time out of the workforce and also not spend quite as much on tuition! An added bonus is that I can improve on my Spanish.”

White is part of the 354 member of IE’s September full-time MBA intake (The school also starts classes in April and January). And this class is in for a treat, remarks Pilar Vicente, the school’s director of admissions for IE Business School. “It is truly an occasion to celebrate – not only because it marks four decades in which we’ve been training sustainable leaders with an entrepreneurial mindset, but also because this September is the first fall intake of our revamped curriculum.”

Pilar Vicente

Pilar Vicente

But the class is special beyond its place in IE history, said Vicente. “The students starting the International MBA in September 2015 belong to one of the most diverse cohorts to date, with more than 64 nationalities represented.” he carefully pointed out to Poets&Quants. “They come to IE with a global mindset, can speak an average of three languages and have lived in two or more countries before starting the MBA. 91% of our students come from outside Spain and 31% are female. This diversity gives our students the opportunity to experience the world during their MBA, and to enrich their view during classes and workgroups as well as extracurricular activities.”

They are also quite an accomplished cohort, she added, clicking off the names of companies where the 2016 class had worked: “Accenture, Apple, Bayer, GE, Ford, HSBC, IBM, Kraft, P&G, PWC and the UN.” At the same time, students’ interests closely align with IE’s strengths. “Many students in this class have already made clear that they will be active in IE’s Net Impact Club and are, as a whole, interested in social responsibility and giving back to their communities,” Vicente added. 19% of this class has previous entrepreneurial experience and more than 50% would like to be an entrepreneur in the future.”

Beyond their academic and professional credentials, the Class of 2016 is a well-rounded and fun group with big futures ahead of them. “[This] is a class of students who love golf, soccer, basketball, rugby, and scuba diving,” Vicente concludes. “They are talented musicians and dancers; they have been involved in arts exhibitions and movie productions. They are helicopter pilots, stand-up comedians, apps designers, and winners of national debating competitions. Through the applications process, they have shown themselves to be enthusiastic, innovative, committed, determined, reliable, optimistic, sociable, and creative. These are all characteristics that are key to rethinking the world, and we at IE Business School look forward to helping them get started on their journey during their International MBA experience.”

Statistically, IE received 1,428 applications for the 2015 fall intake, with a 25% acceptance rate. Their GMAT scores ranged from 600-700, with the students, who are 29 years old on average, coming to class with five years of work experience.  The largest portion of the class – 35% – earned undergraduate business degrees. At 19%, engineering majors comprise the second-largest bloc of the class, followed by social sciences and humanities (15%), sciences (10%), economics (6%), law (6%), and information technology (5%).  Professionally, nearly a quarter (23%) hail from energy and construction. Other industries represented in the class include financial services (20%), consumer goods (15%), consulting (12%), technology (11%), law (5%), pharmaceuticals (3%), the public sector (3%), and media and entertainment (3%).

Go to next page to see student profiles of this year’s incoming class. 

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