Stanford GSB | Mr. Corporate VC Hustler
GMAT 780, GPA 3.17
Darden | Mr. Strategy Manager
GRE 321, GPA 3.5
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Airline Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Smart Operations
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Wharton | Mr. Marketing Director
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Healthcare Startup
GRE 321, GPA 3.51
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. Finance To Education
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. Aussie Military Man
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0 (rough conversion from Weighted Average Mark)
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1

How ESADE Became A Startup Haven

Part of the ESADE campus

Part of the ESADE campus


The unique situation  – ESADE has about 70 startup companies on site– creates equally unique learning opportunities for both the companies and the school’s 170 full time MBA students, explains Melissa Handley, associate director at ESADE. “To be accepted at Creapolis, the companies must show they are innovative, and they must agree to share info with the other companies and the students,” the UK-born South African director explains.

Having such open-minded companies literally on board, enabled ESADE to set up its Action Learning Consultancy Project. The ALCP is a three-month, hands-on chance for students to analyze a real-world business challenge from an ESADE Creapolis company and propose a consultancy-style solution. It’s credited as one of the MBA students eight possible electives, and 102 out of 170 students signed up for it last year, Handley says.

The ALCP projects are done in teams of four to five students and are supervised by faculty and a group of tutors. This past year, for example, one e-commerce company was looking for a consulting team to help manage a five-fold sales increase over the coming years. The idea was to develop a workable plan that makes the company scalable in operational terms. It is just one of the many projects the students undertake.


In another recent initiative, the school set up a cooperative agreement with the Swiss-based CERN institute, best known for operating the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Teaming up with design and engineering students, as well as with CERN researchers, ESADE MBA students get the chance to work on what the school calls a “Challenge Based Innovation,” finding real world applications for scientific inventions.

These and other innovations in the curriculum made ESADE decide to give its students the chance to decide during the course of their studies how long to spend at the school, with an option of 12, 15, or 18 months, depending on a student’s choice of electives, internships, and exchanges (with schools such as CEIBS in China).

The results of this entrepreneurial focus can be seen in the school’s employment reports. In 2014, 9% of total graduating class started a company, up from 4% in 2013 and a mere 2% in 2012. In most U.S. schools, startup activity is typically half that level at 5%. At INSEAD, in comparison, 6% of last year’s graduates started companies. Aside from the MBA entrepreneurs, ESADE says that its graduates increase their pre-MBA pay by 65% with 88% of the class employed three months after graduation. The average starting salary at graduation was €68,489 in 2014, or $77,727 (the school has not yet published a 2015 employment report).


That becomes apparent as well in the diversity of ESADE’s student body, explains Mary Granger, a regional director of admissions, herself American and an alumna of the school. In all, 95% of its students are international, with 12% coming from the U.S and Canada. 20% from Europe, and just 5% from Spain. Beyond that, the countries best represented are India and Japan, with also students from China, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and others.

With an acceptance rate of 25%, ESADE remains among the most selective European schools. About 170 students are enrolled each year, making for what dean Franch called “a boutique MBA rather than a mass MBA.” “Such numbers make people feel more comfortable than elsewhere,” he says.

But for Gale, the international setup remained the number one selling point. “My friend at Harvard said he knew what I meant with an international group. He had Indians and Chinese in his class too,” Gale says. “But here it is at another level. We have 40 nationalities.”

Gale used his ESADE experience to fully embrace the school’s international makeup. He spent his last semester abroad on exchange at CEIBS Business School in China and now lives in London where he helped set up a business startup. “The world is global,” he says. “At ESADE, you understand what that means.”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.