Meet IESE’s MBA Class of 2019

Ryan Fritsch 

IESE Business School 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Bomb suit to business suits: Impact driven veteran striving to make his mark in business

Hometown: Edwardsville, IL

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am an avid beer homebrewer with a keen interest in brewing science and the brewing industry.

Undergraduate Major/Graduate Degree: 

Bachelor of Science in Business with a Concentration in Finance

Southern Illinois University: Master of Business Administration

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: I spent nearly 10 years in the US Navy as a bomb defusal expert, or Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD). After two years of training and five years of deploying around the world, I spent my final three years in the military at the Navy’s school for Explosive Ordnance Disposal as a bomb defusal/demolition instructor, where I taught and evaluated candidates from all branches of the US military (as well as members from 96 additional countries).

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my career, I have gone from advising foreign militaries throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia while responding to bomb threats to traveling to Vietnam to assist in the search and recovery of the remains of US service members who went missing during the Vietnam War. During this time, I have had countless moments as a bomb defusal expert that I am proud to say that I was a part of. The training and deployments for EOD operations, as well as the duties of an EOD instructor were incredibly difficult, but also immensely rewarding. I have been fortunate to be a part of a small but incredibly brave community of men and women who undoubtedly change and save lives.

One accomplishment that stands out in my memory, however, is because it was not part of my regular duties as a bomb expert. The military has a bone marrow and stem cell donor program called the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program, also known as the Salute to Life, which links military members to those in need of a bone marrow or stem cell donation. Almost two years ago, I was contacted that I was a potential stem cell match for a 52-year-old Marine Corps veteran suffering from  Leukemia. My sister had recently passed away from cancer, so the opportunity to potentially save his life was something I simply could not turn down. After all the necessary tests were complete, the necessary steps were taken to withdraw the stem cells they needed for the donation and subsequent transplant. At that point, I had not spoken to my potential recipient, nor did I know his name. It is the organization’s policy to provide you with regular updates, but contact between the donor and recipient is restricted until one year after the transplant.

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. While I was just one small piece of his treatment, from the medical staff to the program coordination and logistics team, I am very lucky that I could help this fellow veteran and his family, and am very happy the military has such a program to help these individuals in need.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Everyone who has been to business school can provide a myriad of tips on business school applications. It is obvious that topics such as GMAT prep and essay and resume writing are essential. However, a topic that is often overlooked is “fit.” Determining which school or schools you feel fit your personality, wants, and goals is paramount.

Many applicants feel overwhelmed by this topic, as it can be difficult to grasp the concept of fit initially. However, an important first step is to take time for personal reflection. If you cannot adequately describe who you are, where you came from, what you want to accomplish during your MBA, and what you want to do post-MBA, it is quite difficult to complete a business school application, let alone an application to a school that compliments who you are. This is often not a short process and will continue to develop throughout your business school research.

From the business school side, you must go beyond the school website to determine if you fit with the school, and vice versa. Talk to current students and alumni. If who you are and what you want closely aligns with these individuals, this is a positive indicator for potential fit. Additionally, physically going to the school is incredibly important. Visiting the school, even for only one day, can provide key insights on if that school is the right fit. Every school has its own distinct personality, and it is important to see and understand these distinctions.

The reason fit is important is two-fold. First, admissions staffers are looking for students who fit the personality of the program, and they are very good at what they do. It is apparent to them if you have done your research on the school, but also if you are genuinely passionate about their MBA program. Second, you will spend, normally, nearly two years of your life in that MBA program, often moving to attend. If you have not experienced the school first-hand, you cannot pick the program where you will thrive the most once the acceptance letters arrive. There are plenty of outstanding programs, but finding the program that makes you the happiest and the most motivated will push you to become the best version of yourself.

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 have spent most of my adult life working in foreign countries or working alongside foreign counterparts. 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. For anyone who plans to pursue a career with an international focus, IESE is an outstanding choice.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Many MBA candidates weigh the success of their first year on their summer internship. While every MBA candidate hopes to find the “perfect” internship for the summer, IESE’s program, matched with its Career Services, make this possibility much more attainable. With that in mind, I will evaluate my first-year success based on my ability to give back. First, I hope to bring IESE to the forefront of military veteran’s minds who are wishing to pursue an MBA. Veterans have a unique set of skills and experiences and often vast international exposure, which pairs very well with IESE. I plan to work with admissions and the Ambassador’s club to market IESE to veterans, and hopefully see the number of veteran applicants double for the MBA Class of 2020, if not more. Also, as social impact is something I feel is very important, I am hoping to capitalize on IESE’s resources, as well as current students, on advancing social impact missions, such as potentially providing nonprofit consultancy for a nonprofit in Haiti I worked alongside previously.

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