Meet IESE’s MBA Class of 2019


Looking ahead, Pascal notes that IESE has revisited its scholarship strategy, resulting in an “unprecedented scholarship budget” at the school. He also points to the Class of 2018, where 100% of the class landed summer internships. That’s doesn’t even count the 2017 Class, where over 90% of the class had landed offers within the first three months of graduation. The extra year of school pays off at IESE. Over five years, the Class of 2012, for example, was able to boost their starting pay by $97,100, which placed IESE second in Forbes’ two-year international MBA ranking this year.

In fact, the program fared especially well in the 2017 rankings. IESE ranked 2rd overall in Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2017 international MBA ranking, earning the highest marks of any school in the student survey and finishing 4th among recruiters. It ranked 10th with the Financial Times and 2nd among international programs at The Economist. The latter’s performance hinged closely on the school’s network, which ranked 5th for Potential to Network and #1 for Internationalism of Alumni.

It is an expansive network indeed, boasting 12,000 MBA alumni and 45,000 business school alumni overall. IESE’s high alumni engagement stems from the life-changing experience that they enjoyed as students, says Lea.


Bruno Lea, assistant director of MBA admissions at IESE

“At IESE, networking is not the system. Networking is the consequence of genuine relationships. Let me tell you a story. [At our graduation ceremony], I was talking with the Class of 2017. That day, there is a lot of emotions. You have your family there, your friends, your classmates. So there are a lot of joy. There is also a bit of sadness at leaving the school. You know why? It’s not because they will miss the nice weather of Barcelona. It’s not because they have to go back to work. What they will miss most is the people they have met at IESE, their classmates that they spent 19 amazing months with them, 24/7, and they will miss professors who mentored them, staff members who know them by their first name. They know why they will miss that because they know there are very few places on earth where you can enjoy so much the differences. IESE is a place where you can enjoy that difference.”

Another word for difference is diversity. While students will be exposed to a slew of cases and ideas over their two years, IESE’s richness stems from the diverse backgrounds and cultures that students bring to Barcelona. That creates a learning experience unlike any other. For Markova, this diversity fosters a culture where students “learn to look at familiar situations with fresh eyes and different viewpoints.” In other words, it is the perfect preparation for an international business career.

“It is a fact that most of what one learns during the MBA comes from the classmates,” observes De Chiara. “Being immersed in a class that has almost 60 different nationalities from a variety of backgrounds is definitely the perfect environment for personal growth. Less than 20% of the students are from Spain, so the vast majority of comments made in class come from people of all around the world. It is not just about creating an international professional network. At IESE, I am constantly surrounded and challenged by other cultures and different points of views, something that you cannot find in many other places.”


A truly case-driven program is also difficult to find outside HBS and Darden. At IESE, the Class of 2019 will absorb 600 (or more) cases over their two years. The goal of the case method, of course, is to nurture a framework for approaching issues and making decisions. In the process, students learn how to break down complex scenarios; sift through the important elements; identify prospective solutions and their accompanying tradeoffs; frame their positions to persuade stakeholders; and defend their solutions under the pressure of addressing skeptical questions and swaying fence-sitters who are weighing alternatives. In other words, the case methods simulates the c-suite. It enables students to practice the analytical and interpersonal skills expected from those who hold influence and create impact. Better yet, the method’s potency is only amplified in a setting like IESE, which attracts students from a wide array of cultural and professional backgrounds.

As a result, IESE has earned a reputation for being “intense.” The 2019 Class wouldn’t expect anything less. “I like to choose the difficult path generally because that’s the best way to grow,” Brownlee asserts.

“So when the admissions director said during my open day something along the lines of, “Barcelona is an amazing city, full of culture, beauty, etc. etc. etc…but none of that matters, because you’re not going to have time to see any of it,” they more or less had me. Yes, it was a joke, but it actually seemed pretty consistent with the other things I had learned about the course (and now know to be true). They were going to work me hard and make me earn my MBA – and treat me like an apprentice rather than a client.”

The case method may be IESE’s defining feature, but it isn’t the school’s only wrinkle. For one, the program has emerged as an entrepreneurial leader, with roughly 5% of each class launching their own businesses after graduation. Some of these firms are supported at IESE Finaves, an incubator that has created 2,500 jobs and $80 million dollars in revenue since 2000. The school also hosts the Business Angels Network, a group of 140 investors who coach students and fund their ventures. Thus far, the network has invested over $23 million dollars in student startups, with nearly 100 of them still operating.

View of Barcelona from IESE campus.

Another delight is the school’s Barcelona location. A commercial and cultural hub, the city is renowned for its cool Mediterranean climate, sun-drenched beaches, never-ending nightlife, and rich Catalan cuisine (highlighted by fresh seafood and tasty tapas). Like IESE, Barcelona has emerged as one of the world’s truly cosmopolitan cities, whose 2,000 years of architectural styles are as diverse as its populace.


Barcelona’s buoyant spirit also infuses IESE. This school mission says it all: “IESE is committed to the development of leaders who aspire to have a deep, positive and lasting impact on people, firms and society.” This focus on service, character, and accountability is more than just naïve idealism at best and cynical lip service at worst. Instead, impact is IESE’s cultural cornerstone, one that Julie Jin experienced first-hand during Assessment Day. An admissions event where students compete for admissions and scholarship support by pitching business ideas as teams, Assessment Day might be rife with cutthroat competition in some programs. To Jin’s surprise, the event was less Hunger Games and more Lean On Me. “I believe the most commonly said phrase that day was “And ___, what do you think,” she recalls. “The people that come to IESE want to make an impact that will make the world a better place.”

So what will success look like to the Class of 2019? Christin Monville, who once ran nine simultaneous consumer tests in three countries at Nestle, the best result would involve being able to apply what she has learned from her classmates. After her first year, Markova hopes to say that she achieved all of her goals…without feeling like she missed out (Good luck with that). Now that she has started class, Julie Jin has a more modest goal in mind.

“It’s only day four and I’ve already read 12 cases, danced until 3:00am (not a good idea with 8:30am classes), had four hours of business Spanish, been to three career services or club events, and somehow found time to call my mom. At this point, maybe simply survival would be success.”

To read profiles of incoming IESE MBA students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.


Student Hometown Alma Mater Employer
 Duncan Brownlee  Glasgow, Scotland  University of Strathclyde  Atkins
 Edgar De Chiara  Sao Paulo, Brazil  Universidade de Sao Paulo  Embraer
 Jean-Baptiste de Harenne  Chiny, Belgium  Université catholique de Louvain  Barajii Group
 Ryan Fritsch  Edwardsville, IL  Southern Illinois University  U.S. Navy
 Chao Jin  Beijing, China  Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications  Faraday Future
 Julie Jin  San Diego, CA  University of California – Berkeley  Ernst & Young
 Kateryna Markova  Kiev, Ukraine  Kyiv National Economics University  Imperial Tobacco
 Christin Monville  Bremen, Germany  University of Hohenheim  Nestlé
 Marta Valcarcel Fernandez  Lugo, Spain  Universidad Pontificia de Comillas  KPMG