Still, IE is undergoing a bit of a transition. Earlier this year, it named Martin Boehm as its new dean. He replaced Santiago Iñiguez, whose celebrated 15-year term saw the school pioneer online learning and turn the program from a regional afterthought to a world power with a clearly differentiated brand and a trajectory that could place it among the very best business schools. During Iñiguez’s term, student enrollment skyrocketed by 136%; full-time faculty almost tripled; and annual revenue nearly quadrupled.
SCHOOL INVESTING HEAVILY TO STAY ON CUTTING EDGE
Like any true entrepreneur, IE will hardly going to rest on its laurels, however. In a recent email to Poets&Quants, Tino Elgner, senior associate director of admissions for IE’s full-time programs, laid out several new initiatives. On the institutional side, he notes, the school has introduced #IEWomen to promote gender equality. “It is a special fund with an endowment of 6 million euros for scholarships aimed at women candidates,” Elgner shares. “The project will not only provide ongoing support for women to help them achieve their personal and professional goals, but also extend the Mentor Program.”
Elgner also trumpets IE Rockets, which he describes as “part accelerator, part angel investor, part very committed educational client.” Targeted to the higher education space, the program provides intensive support to help selected entrepreneurs quickly enter the marketplace. “We launched IE Rockets to lead the way during the coming technology driven revolution in higher education by creating a space where startups can develop their technological ideas with the goal to reinvent the way we teach,” he says.
IE also plans to build up its physical infrastructure to boost its capabilities and ambience. “In the next 2-3 years,” Elgner discloses, “we plan to have expanded our urban campus in Madrid through the completion of Madrid´s 5th Tower that will house IE University’s new teaching facilities. The new space will not only have a surface area of 50,000 square meters, and will be situated on the Paseo de la Castellana in the Spanish capital’s fastest growing business district, but it will also combine the advantages of an urban campus with excellent communications and ample spaces dedicated to university life.”
Even more, the school is investing heavily in breakthrough areas expected to drive change in business – and beyond. This is personified in the IE’s new WOW room, a technology immersion designed to educate as well as inspire. “The WOW Room has the potential to transform the learning experience through elements that include artificial intelligence, simulations in real time, big data analysis, interactive robots, emotion recognition systems, and the presence of experts using holograms,” Elgner adds.
BEFORE MASTERING FUNDAMENTALS, STUDENTS LEARN HOW TO THINK LIKE ENTREPRENEURS
IE’s break-the-rules and open-new-doors ethos is also reflected in the structure of its full-time MBA program. Let’s just say it is not your cookie cutter business school curriculum. Taught 75% in English with the rest in Spanish – the world’s third-most spoken language – it opens with an online pre-program, where students brush up on quant concepts and complete career development assessments. While such offerings are common in most programs, the core places a new spin on what’s truly important.
Rather than starting with leadership or finance, the core opens with Entrepreneurial Venturing and Entrepreneurial Mindset to steep students in the frameworks, tools, and motivations behind identifying opportunity, measuring value, and establishing operations and financing. Such models inform the rest of the core, which cover standard fundamental topics as well as delving into digital innovation and the interplay between business and government.
Once the core is completed, students enter the five-week lab phase where they can choose from labs covering areas like social impact, entrepreneurship, and general management. Here, students apply what they learned in the core to project-based, interdisciplinary situations where they can create, disrupt, and transform. Afterwards, MBAs can choose from over 150 elective courses, which account for nearly 45% of the curriculum.
DISRUPTING THE “OLD SCHOOL” EDUCATION MODEL
Perhaps the best known elective is the acclaimed Venture Lab. In this course, students can prepare their enterprises for financing and launch, culminating in selected investors pitching to prospective investors. At the same time, IE runs a Professional Fitness regimen throughout the program, which provides career coaching and leadership training to help students with both their short-term job hunt and long-term career progression.
For Rodriguez, this “original” program structure offered both a flexibility and a breadth that wasn’t available anywhere else. “I visited other European campuses and attended MBA presentations, but their structure was very old school and non-customizable,” he observes. “The IMBA at IE gives you the opportunity to create your own puzzle with many different pieces. To be able to go deeper in areas of my personal interest was a key decisive factor.”
This fall, the school also added a Tech Lab to provide students with hands-on experience with the tech revolution. “Students can now choose to focus on disruptive technologies and how to apply them to strategic decision making,” Elgner emphasizes. ”Students will immediately apply what they learn to solve problems that arise in distinct industries and will present their technological solutions to experts and business leaders.”
In addition, the school offers seemingly every resource and event that a fledgling entrepreneur could ever dream of accessing. Want to build your venture while you’re studying? Apply to the Area 31 incubator, a free co-working space that can accommodate 100 student teams – not to mention sponsoring workshops, hackathons, and weekly pitch slams. Open to students and alumni alike, this ecosystem creates networking, mentoring, partnering, and financing opportunities that spur new ideas, prototypes, and ultimately commercial solutions.
A MELTING POT THAT FOSTERS COMMUNICATION AND CONNECTION
“At IE they don’t just talk the talk about entrepreneurship, they walk it,” observes Moomen. “They have been walking it since 1973 when the school was established as an entrepreneurial project itself. You can see this spirit in their curriculum which includes practical courses where you start your own venture, their Area 31 incubator and much more. This was important for me because I’m already an entrepreneur and I wanted to hone my skills and not just take a couple of theoretical courses.”
Beyond entrepreneurial thinking and startup life, IE also enjoys several other advantages. Notably, the program is based in Madrid, with its sun-never-sets social scene, warm summers and cool winters climate, iconic museums and culinary delights, and (of course) bullfighting and Real Madrid soccer. This cosmopolitan setting only enriches the diversity of the IE program, where students must learn to clearly communicate and comfortably collaborate with students from every corner. In doing so, they gain the advantage of being able to connect and lead in unfamiliar terrain.
“Emotional intelligence becomes essential for managing diverse teams in multinational companies,” notes Iman. “The IE IMBA program is the unique program which puts you in the diverse environment and helps you to understand the important details about managing teams from different parts of the world.”
This melting pot also creates a synergy at the school where contrast breeds a certain level of connection.
My main attraction in the IE IMBA is its people,” says Vimbai Faith Chamboko, an investment officer who grew up in Zimbabwe. “I love the diversity present in both the student body and the faculty that makes IE a melting pot of culture, race, academic and professional experience, beliefs and opinions.”
To read profiles of incoming IE Business School students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.
|Vimbai Faith Chamboko||Mutare, Zimbabwe||University of Zimbabwe||Hamilton Capital|
|Sabina Iman||Baku, Azerbaijan||Azerbaijan University of Languages||Omnicom Media Group Azerbaijan|
|Fady Moomen||Cairo, Egypt||Cairo University||The Room Egypt|
|Omar Rodríguez||Madrid, Spain||Universidad Autónoma de Madrid||SwissRe|
|Kojiro Takayama||Tsukuba, Japan||University of Tsukuba||QuintilesIMS|
|Alexander Troughton||London, UK||Oxford University||IMM|