Meet IESE’s MBA Class of 2019

Some of the MBA members of IESE Business School’s Class of 2019

IESE is one of those schools that seems to always be “under construction.” That’s because it is as ambitious as it is accomplished. “Growth” is the goal at IESE on every front. And the school is setting a break-neck pace that’s leaving many programs behind.

To meet student demand, for example, IESE increased the full-time MBA program by 70 students in 2016. This past fall, the program added 35 electives according to Bruno Lea, associate director of MBA admissions. As its size and scope have grown, IESE has raised the bar in other areas too. For example, it recently upgraded its Barcelona campus, carving out three new lecture rooms and over a dozen new meeting rooms – not to mention a revamp of the cafeteria and library.


“Starting a fifth section and increasing student quality simultaneously made the whole school strive for excellence in all areas,” says Pascal Michels, director of MBA admissions.

“Excellence” is a fleeting proposition. That’s why IESE is continuously experimenting, enhancing, and evolving. Not only is the program committed to remaining a top two-year MBA program, but also – as one student describes it – “an experience of a lifetime.”

One reason is the program’s global scope, which starts from an internationalization strategy that extends far beyond most of the full-time student population hailing from outside Spain. Since 2010, the program has opened campuses in Sao Paulo, Munich, New York to go along with its Barcelona and Madrid centers. What’s more, IESE is investing $24 million dollars in a new campus in Madrid, which will double current space so it can expand programming, research, and entrepreneurship there. Of course, space is hardly an issue at IESE, which also maintains executive education centers in Singapore, Silicon Valley, Miami, Warsaw, Nairobi and Shanghai.


IESE Students

This truly global identity – coupled with the deep resources of a far-flung enterprise – definitely caught the attention of incoming MBA candidates like Ryan Fritsch, who comes to IESE after serving in the U.S. Navy.

“I have spent most of my adult life working in foreign countries or working alongside foreign counterparts,” he shares. “Working abroad and learning about other cultures is something I am very passionate about. I wanted my transition out of the military and into business to follow the same trajectory. With that in mind, I cannot overstate how truly international IESE’s MBA program is. Moving to Barcelona, learning Spanish in the Business Spanish Program, and being part of a program in which 84% of the class hails from a country other than Spain is truly an international experience.”

IESE isn’t just defined as a bustling program that refuses to rest on its laurels. It is also a school that integrates the best of MBA programs worldwide. As a program founded in partnership with Harvard Business School over a half century ago, the curriculum is deeply case-driven. This general management approach makes IESE the “Iberian Ivy.” Along with this rigor, however, comes a very personalized approach. It is one that is heavy on coaching and mentoring, where personal development is treated as seriously as professional development.

“It is an atmosphere,” says Lea, “where everyone knows your name.”


There will be plenty of people who’ll know the Class of 2019 is after graduation. One reason: Courage. Look no further than Belgian Jean-Baptiste de Harenne.  He took a leap of faith by launching his career outside his comfort zone in West Africa, where he climbed the ranks to manage 325 technicians and workers. Think that’s gutsy? Try being a bomb defusal expert. That was Fritsch’s lot for nearly a decade, which included stints in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. After teaching this trade to students from 96 countries, you can bet that Fritsch will feel quite at home in a class that boasts 57 countries.

Speaking of courage, want to know what Brazil’s Edgar De Chiara did over his honeymoon? He went scuba diving…with sharks. An unusual venture, you see? Not when compared to Duncan Brownlee. He has competed in the European Yukigassen Championships – a Japanese form of snowball fighting. Thankfully, Julie Jin’s hobby is a bit less dangerous. “I make cosmetics and personal care products like lip balms, soaps or body butter bars,” she admits “I don’t know what it is, but everything from pouring the wax to stirring in the colors and scents is just so soothing.”

Chao Jin also deserved to kick back after achieving an auto industry first: Generating 300 orders and $2.5 million in sales for a vehicle that hadn’t even been prototyped yet. Talk about salesmanship! As an engineer, De Chiara was part of team that developed the autopilot for Brazil’s largest-ever aircraft. Want leadership? Check out Kateryna Markova, who spearheaded a process optimization project that saved her employer millions of dollars by cutting the level of expired good by eight times. Then again, Marta Valcarcel Fernandez posted an impressive number of her own. At KPMG, she reached management in three years – half the average time for junior consultants.


Sometimes, however, the biggest accomplishments occur outside the office. That was the case for Fritsch, who saved the life of a stranger – a Marine Corps veteran with Leukemia – by donating his stem cells. For him, the payoff could hardly be expressed with words. “A few months ago, I had the chance to meet my stem cell recipient, who is now cancer free. To hear someone, along with their family, thank you for saving his life is a moment I will never forget.”


So how does the Class of 2019 fare by the numbers? That’s hard to say as the school doesn’t disclose data like applications, acceptances, and yield (though it does note that applications have risen by 28% over the past seven years). Overall, the class features 359 students, up nine students over the previous year. Academically, the class matched the previous cohort with a 690 GMAT average – and 20 points higher than its Spanish rival IE Business School.

By the same token, the percentage of women continue to rise, climbing four points to a 32% share of the class. At the same time, the percentage of non-Spanish students at the school rose from 81% to 84%. Americans represent the second largest segment of the class at 11%, followed by Brazil (6%), India (6%), and China (5%). The professional backgrounds of the incoming class are equally diverse. At 19%, finance accounts for the largest percentage of students in the class, followed by consulting at 16%. Entrepreneurs make up another 4%.

Go to page 2 to see in-depth profiles of incoming IESE MBA students.