Meet IE Business School’s Class of 2016

Paul Stables

Paul Stables

IE Business School

Hometown: London, UK

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Durham (UK), Mathematics and Physics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Associated British Foods plc

1 Management Accountant

2 Site Finance Manager

3 Strategy Analyst

4 Acquisition Project Manager

BT plc

5 Contract Assurance Manager

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? The GMAT is unlike any exam I have done before, but I found that a few things really helped me to achieve a good mark.

First, book the exam early. I booked mine a number of months in advance. Like many others, I was working full time whilst studying towards the GMAT and found that having a deadline in mind helped to focus my attention towards it.

Understand the requirements of the exam. The format of the exam, the style of questions, and the way in which one should prepare are all quite unique to the GMAT. Taking the time to understand this helped me to design a study programme which focused on what mattered – it’s about learning to perform well in the exam, not necessarily gaining new knowledge.

Do lots and lots of practice questions. Question types repeat themselves often, so knowing how to approach them straight away saves valuable time in the exam. Where I got questions wrong, I made a note and revisited them.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? My best advice is not to follow my initial selection process! Having decided that I wanted to change careers, and that the best way to achieve this goal was to undertake an MBA, I threw myself into finding out as much about all the different programmes at all the different top business schools across the world. There are many sources out there and I quickly found myself lost in a sea of information.

Instead, I would recommend, first of all, spending time working out exactly what you want from completing an MBA. A great deal of this self-reflection should centre around post-MBA career goals, of course, but I would suggest also considering the wider opportunities that this time out of work can present. For example, it is worth thinking about whether you want to experience a new culture, learn a new language, or whether you will be happy to take 18 months off work or if a year is more suitable. By considering the MBA experience more holistically, I was able to hone down my list of options far more successfully.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf?  It is important to understand both why you want to attend that school specifically and what you would contribute to the programme. The admissions committees are looking for well-rounded individuals able to add to their fellow classmates’ experience as well as handle the workload. Having said that, don’t be tempted to try to second guess what they are looking for. Instead, try to be as authentic as possible as this will result in a more compelling application. Further, this will allow you to be more relaxed in the interview.

Specifically regarding references, don’t just ask a senior person  whose title sounds impressive, but who doesn’t know you that well; they won’t be able to talk about your best qualities. Instead, find someone who knows why you’re doing the MBA and appreciates what you’ll bring to the programme.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? Fully understanding in detail my own personal goals meant that the choice was rather straight forward. IE’s rankings among the best business schools in the world was an important primary filter of schools for me. However, it was other elements of this programme that really set it apart. Its focus on diversity and the resulting make-up of the class, which hails from all corners of the globe, was a particularly exciting prospect, especially considering my goal to enter an international role in the future. Its progressive approach to teaching and learning also attracted me; mirroring my personal belief in using knowledge and expertise from other fields of the sciences and humanities to improve business thinking. Finally, the school’s location in a vibrant city in the middle of a fascinating country offered the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture and, hopefully, learn a new language. As my partner was to join me, this was a particularly important factor, as many other schools are not in as central a location as IE.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Leaving the programme, I hope to have developed a broad global network and have an appreciation of the impact cultural differences from both personal and business perspectives. I feel that the combination of this and academic success will give me a breadth of options for future roles and exciting possibilities for working with different people in different locations around the world.

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