Meet IE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2018

Some of the MBA students of the Class of 2018 at IE Business School in Spain

Jack Ma is not a big fan of MBAs. The Alibaba founder – and Cheung Kong MBA – views the degree as a vestige of the 20th century. For him, the MBA teaches students what to do, but struggles to prepare them to fail forward and innovate. “Some people are really good at schooling, but some people are terrible at learning,” Ma told a Hangzhou audience in 2015. “For those people, we should give them a chance of the other side.”

Boy, would Ma love the IE Business School!

The well-behaved rarely make history and IE is “an unusual school for unusual people” who might struggle to fit the mold elsewhere. However, it is far from your proverbial entrepreneurial boot camp. Instead, it is a laboratory for the independent, persistent and never satisfied – the dreamers and doers who come to think critically, experiment, and reinvent. It is a place marked by imaginations, epiphanies, pivots, and transformations, where students question convention, grapple with uncertainty, and expand the possibilities. IE is the epicenter where a diversity of nationalities collides with a diversity of thought to produce a diversity of solutions. While the school is defined by entrepreneurial thinking, it often produces intrapreneurs who are hell-bent on turning ideas into reality – and possess the tools to do just that.


They don’t call it “An MBA out of the ordinary” for nothing. “IE is quick to innovate, quick to change, hungry and poised, says David Bach, a senior associate dean at Yale University’s School of Management. It makes for a pretty intense work environment.”

IE Business School

That hardly scares the Class of 2018. “I wanted a school with entrepreneurship at its core, rather than an additional class,” asserts Alexander Troughton, who studied theology at Oxford before moving into marketing. “Unlike other schools, IE was founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs and I wanted that to be the focus of the school that I attended. I have the opportunity to build my own venture with investors, guidance and technical support as part of my MBA…what more do I want!”

Kojiro Takayama would certainly second that motion. This Japanese consultant paid visits to eight other top MBA programs – “INSEAD, Stanford, Haas, HBS, MIT Sloan, Wharton, Kellogg, and Booth” – before choosing IE. He views IE’s entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with its embrace of new ways of thinking, as the ticket to achieve his career goal: founding or funding tech startups that foster sustainable health initiatives. “I have developed my strength in marketing and the healthcare industry knowledge through my consulting career,” Takayama explains. “To move on to the next step, I decided to pursue management education to develop entrepreneurial management skills, as well as general management skills.”

Troughton sums up the IE difference this way: “one year course, international intake, highly-regarded, and entrepreneurship-focused.”


These men are just two members of IE’s Class of 2018, an impressive group of tech-savvy, unconventional thinkers looking to build leading edge companies…often from the inside out. This zest to create and grow also manifests itself in how these students live. Omar Rodríguez describes himself as aMadrileño” (Madrid native) who is “in love with the world and new business experiences.” While Troughton touts being “entrepreneurial, ambitious and adventurous,” he also shows a humility by noting he still has “lots to learn.” For Sabina Iman, that learning comes from taking action. Her motto: “Sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.”

There is a joke around IE that you can only do two of the following during their MBA: sleep, socialize, or study. Based on their professional accomplishments, the Class of 2018 is probably foregoing sleep. Fady Moomen, once a physics teacher who studied medicine, followed Iman’s advice by starting (and eventually exiting) a business that created a new market entirely. As an assistant vice president of a reinsurer, Rodriguez led and mentored teams everywhere from the United Kingdom to China. And Takayama developed a new marketing framework in the pharmaceutical industry that was quickly snapped up by his consulting firm’s clients.

If you want to hear about sleepless nights, talk to Troughton. How is this for a set up? Just a month before celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was set to open his first pizzeria in India, the contractor quit on the project, which was already behind schedule. Picture this: “Deadlines had been missed, there was no communication with the brand, no systems in place, and at the time there was no chance of delivering the restaurant on schedule,” he rattles off. “Our marketing campaign was ready to go, the launch date had been set and our investors were coming for the grand opening.”

IE Business School Classroom

Although he had no experience with construction – let alone speaking Hindi – Troughton headed to India…and made the impossible happen. “I spent the next month trawling through the site, keeping up the pressure and motivating my team. Eventually, we completed the site on time and handed it over to our operations team for the opening.”


IE Business School traditionally ranks among the most international of programs. The Class of 2018 was no different. This year, 91% of the class hailed from outside Spain, down two points from the 2017 Class. In a program designed to amplify cultural intelligence, this 91% mark favors comparably to one-year programs like HEC Paris (93%), INSEAD (84%), and IESE (84%). Overall, the class is comprised of representatives from 63 countries, slightly up from the 2017 Class. In addition, the 411-member class features 30% women.

Academically, the class’ average GMAT fell 10 points to 670, though the median held steady at 680. Like the previous year, business majors occupied the largest number of seats at 30% — though this rate was down three points. Engineering made up the difference, going from 20% to 25% of the class over the past year. Economics (12%), sciences (11%), social sciences and humanities (10%) found out the top five. Professionally, it is a carefully-constructed class with a wide array of industries included. Industry, energy and construction heads the class with a 26% share. Financial services (16%), consulting (13%), technology and telecom (8%), consumer goods (7%), biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and health (7%), and media entertainment (5%) also boast sizable blocs of the class.

Although IE is associated with entrepreneurship, the program’s strengths – unorthodox thinking, customer-centric focus, and a take ownership mentality – are highly coveted by employers. The Class of 2012, for example, enjoyed a $145,400 five year gain in pay according to Forbes figures. Not surprisingly, the program earned the second-highest score in the most recent Bloomberg Businessweek international student survey.

Go to page 2 to see in-depth profiles of incoming IE Business School MBA students.

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