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Meet IESE’s MBA Class of 2019

Duncan Brownlee 

IESE Business School 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Fascinated by people. I like to challenge norms. Always dissecting and optimising.

Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland

Fun Fact About Yourself: I represented Sweden at the European Yukigassen Championships in 2011. Yukigassen is the ancient Japanese art of snowball fighting. We did terribly.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Strathclyde – Master of Aero-Mechanical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Atkins – Senior Engineer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My company has always been very supportive of its employees and receptive to change, so a few years back I persuaded the board of directors for my business segment to give me a substantial sum of money to start a graduate forum. I assembled a kickass team, gave them a structure and a mission, and set them loose to try and create an amazing development programme and experience for the 100ish graduates in the segment. And they did great. They organised national events, challenged the board on policy, and generally made people feel cared for, developed, and part of the same big team. And they’re still doing it.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? A common topic of conversation for us right now at IESE is how people can possibly achieve what they need to achieve during the MBA. We’ve got 19 months at IESE and it still doesn’t seem nearly long enough. I am aiming to make a triple career jump after graduating, but even for those who aren’t: really think hard about choosing a longer degree. If you want to learn amazing things, build an inspiring network, and find your dream job (plus learn a new language, properly explore a new culture, and try your hand at any of the plethora of new sport and activity clubs that your MBA probably offers); you’re going to need time to do it. There’s an opportunity here to get more than just a tick-in-the-box MBA, for you to grow a lot as a person, and as an overall package. Just have a think about it.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?  I’m a bit of a knowledge sponge and like to choose the difficult path generally because that’s the best way to grow. 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.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  

To have developed some really good close friendships with inspiring people.

To have a firm and confident grasp on what I want from the next phase in my career.

To have challenged my moral framework and perspectives on life.