2018 MBAs To Watch: Andrew Sims, IESE Business School

Andrew Sims

IESE Business School

Go big or go home – if it’s worth doing, do it with your best effort.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I have blue eyes, but the left one has a brown section in it.  Generally only noticed by people who make really intense eye contact… and dentists.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Southern California, B.S. Electrical Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Paramount Pictures – Sr Systems Analyst, World Wide Technical Operations

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Credit Suisse, Chicago, IL

Where will you be working after graduation? Credit Suisse, Chicago, IL

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Finance Club Vice President

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Coming into the MBA with an engineering degree and largely tech & IT focused work experience, I knew that I was going to have a bit more intense of an adjustment period than some of my colleagues with academic or professional experience in more “traditional” business disciplines. This was especially true regarding preparation for recruitment into investment banking, which represented a major career shift for me. As such, I decided from an early stage to prioritize two goals to focus on to ensure my time and energy were well spent: to land a job in investment banking and to be a positive contributor to the class. I am happy to say that I was able to manage the career shift, while maintaining high marks and participating consistently in all subjects in what I hope was a helpful fashion.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working at Paramount, the first project I had been assigned to manage was the implementation of their automated digital preservation system. Aside from general project management duties, I would be responsible for the drafting of technical specifications; the development of software components; management of a complex array of contributors and stakeholders (ranging from media archivists to network engineers and software developers); and ultimately the deployment and configuration of the system as a whole. This was the largest and most complex project that I had been involved with to that point in my career and had been a priority for company for several years.

Nearing my one-year anniversary at the company, we successfully completed the project. Although there are follow-on projects planned for the system, this one represented the most substantial overhaul to the digital asset management system (DAM) and laid the groundwork for future enhancements. On a personal level, it is very satisfying to have put my fingerprints on the company by helping to establish a critical operational system which will hopefully remain in place for some time to come. From a bigger picture perspective, it was fun to have been able to contribute to the long-term safety of assets that are not only important to the company’s profitability, but in some cases are historically and culturally significant pieces of media (i.e. The Godfather, Titanic, The 10 Commandments, etc.)

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a difficult question because there have been many excellent ones. If I had to narrow it down to one choice, it would be Jan Simon. Aside from finding him a generally interesting person based on his background in both NATO and the financial sector, I really appreciate the degree of professionalism he brings to the classroom and asks from the students in it. There is a level of preparedness and performance expected in his Capital Markets classes that conveys a sense of respect for the quality and capabilities of the class. Furthermore, he always makes himself available for questions, and volunteers extra time each year for corporate finance coaching in preparation for first year banking interviews. He is a great example of a professor who doesn’t just want their pupils to be successful, he wants them to be the best students and professionals they can be.

What was your favorite MBA Course? In Entrepreneurial Finance this term, we discuss the financing decisions for early stage companies and most sessions are accompanied by a speaker session from the entrepreneur, angel, or VC in the case.  It has been a very unique opportunity to see the different aims and attitudes of people in these roles, and to see how the financing decisions in an early stage business can have a major impact on their growth and operation, as well as later exit opportunities. Much is made of the entrepreneur’s team impact on the success of the business. However, it is interesting to see how the alignment of investors and their relationship with the management team can be just as critical to the success of the enterprise.

Why did you choose this business school? Although I am originally from the US, I went to middle and high school in Antwerp, Belgium. Having spent nearly 10 years in California since beginning freshman year at USC, I considered business school to be an opportunity to return to Europe as a means of expanding my professional network there. I had the opportunity to meet a former IESE MBA and current MBA Admissions representative during a presentation at the MBA fair in downtown Los Angeles, and decided IESE would be one of two European schools I would apply to. However, after having interviewed and attended a “sample” class, I bought into the case method and was excited by the international diversity of the student body and made my decision.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Start preparing now for the things that you want to accomplish once you get here. Life moves fast, and the MBA moves faster—there are so many opportunities that everyone must make tough choices on which academic, professional, and extracurricular activities they want to pursue. You don’t have to have everything figured out by the time you get to campus, but the earlier you start thinking and preparing for the experience the better chance you give yourself of getting everything you want out of your two years.

What is the biggest myth about your school? It was often suggested to me prior to the MBA that you should select a business school situated in the area you intend to do business. When I chose to attend a school in Spain, some people cocked an eyebrow at me as someone with a clear interest in going into finance and without Spanish fluency. Although I think this idea is wrong-headed for selecting an MBA in general, this is especially so for European MBAs and IESE in particular.

The overwhelming majority of students in the MBA are international (>80%), and my classmates post-graduate career ambitions span the map from Ecuador to South Korea, and everything in between. Furthermore, the case methodology at our school creates a plethora of opportunities for professors to draw out and highlight business practice differences across regions for an added breadth in the learning experience.  Geographic flexibility is increasingly important in the increasingly globalized business world. If you want to develop proficiency as an international businessperson, IESE is a tremendous place to start.

What was your biggest regret in business school? One of the challenges for me was that by making a choice early on to prioritize academics and making a career switch as my primary goals for the first year, I wound up foregoing a lot of social and extracurricular involvement as a result. Although it is tough to say that I regret this – since in my situation I believe it was a critical choice for success – I have definitely been making a concerted effort in the second year to get to know my classmates personally as well as academically and to get more involved with the extracurricular club activities.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have a lot of respect for those classmates who have come to the MBA with young families. It can take a lot of courage to decide to step away from your career to work on yourself by attending an MBA, and I imagine that this must be even harder when you have a family to support. As a specific example, one of the members of my team, Yanyan Yue, came to Spain for the MBA while her husband and young daughter remained home in China. Yanyan was one of the most academically gifted members of our team and our team was absolutely made stronger by her contributions. Still, I know from our conversations that this was a big personal sacrifice for her.

The quality of an MBA is made by the people in it, and I am very grateful to the students who have improved my experience by sacrificing some of their time to partake in and contribute to our program.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents, and my father in particular. I have always had a strong interest in science and mathematics, which is what led me to pursue an engineering degree early on. My parents were very supportive of this decision. However, like many students, I did have some trouble deliberating on my choice of major (for me, the choice was between (business, economics, or engineering). It was my father, a lifetime accounting and corporate finance professional, who suggested the option of developing hard technical skills via an engineering career early on before rounding out my skills as a business professional in an MBA later on. This idea appealed to me, and I set it as a goal from early on in my collegiate career that I would eventually attend an MBA with the aim of entering into investment banking.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wondering why I hadn’t accomplished such a longstanding goal of mine… but also still trying to move my career into finance, likely via application of my engineering skills in a fintech company.”

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Start a business or non-profit with a specific focus on educational advancement.
  • Run a marathon.

What is your favorite movie about business? Maybe There Will Be Blood. I like how the film explores the boundary between madness and genius, but there is a much more important lesson in the movie — You had better do your homework and know who are doing business with. Eli and his family squander the resources on their property because they don’t understand their value. Worse yet, they engage in business with a man who they do not know, which ultimately results in fatal consequences. Although the consequences of such negligence for most people today would not be so dire, the lessons still hold true.

What would your theme song be?I’ll Be Your Man” – The Black Keys

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere with a beach

Hobbies? Playing basketball, guitar, and attempting to play golf. I also enjoy travelling to historically significant buildings and landmarks (and occasionally making tongue-in-cheek references to ancient alien conspiracy theories).

What made Andrew such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“If I have to select the best characteristic of Andrew, I would probably choose his intellectual quality. In class, he is a very responsible student who offers excellent contributions and ideas in class, which in turn inspire me to enhance my classes every day. He is an invaluable addition to the class of 2018, through his capacity for leadership and team working.”

Antonio Dávila

Professor of Entrepreneurship and Accounting and Control