Meet IESE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Torsten Alexander

IESE Business School

Relentless optimist with strong self-discipline and innate concern for others.”

Hometown: London, United Kingdom

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am an identical twin (younger by 13 minutes!)

Undergraduate School and Major: Oxford University – Classics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: AIG – Manager, Brexit Project

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Shortly after moving from London to Madrid, I played a significant role in developing and launching AIG Spain’s 3-year strategic plan. As a large company with such a long history, AIG was a particularly difficult place to get people to change the traditional, accepted ways of working. By focusing on a small office of 150 employees, we made a genuine and positive impact on the way people approached their work, starting by instilling a sense of pride in the brand. Defining and promoting AIG Spain’s long-term vision was a special highlight for me during the project as you could really feel the impression it made on people across the branch.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Openness, without doubt. Every classmate I have met so far has had a real sense of empathy and enthusiasm to get to know other people that I have rarely seen in so many people. Given my experience during the selection process, it doesn’t surprise me that this quality has shone through in every classmate I’ve met so far – IESE puts an unusually large emphasis on people’s characteristics and ability to build relationships very quickly.

Aside from your classmates, 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? The key factor that led me to choose IESE was the way the faculty treated me throughout the application process. Unlike other business schools I applied to, with IESE I felt like every interaction I had was with a person who genuinely cared about what was best for me, rather than an institution solely looking out for its own interests. The size of the class and the emphasis on personal characteristics at IESE made it stand out as one that really values people above all else. And that to me is something quite rare, but very important, in such a well-established institution.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I have always been a big football fan – both as a player and as a supporter, so I am most looking forward to joining the IESE Football Club. What excites me most is the opportunity to play in a team that will likely be made up of many different nationalities. Let’s see how the various styles of play complement each other!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? During my career so far, my role has usually been a mix of ‘internal consulting’ and medium-term projects, but what has motivated and interested me the most are the strategy-related parts. After speaking to friends and family and doing some basic research, I realized that strategy consulting would be an ideal sector for me to pursue. Given that I am still relatively early in my career with no definite career path mapped out, and that most top strategy consulting firms require an MBA for associate level roles, now is the perfect time for me to take some time away from work to pursue an MBA.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Every person I have met who has completed an MBA at a top business school has impressed me with their level of motivation and drive to succeed. Additionally, I have never met someone with an MBA who said they regretted it. I didn’t need to calculate any hypothetical ‘return on investment’ to see if an MBA was worth it. Just speaking to former MBAs was enough to convince me that it would absolutely be worth the investment.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I knew I wanted to be at a business school that attracts highly motivated and competitive people, as that would help drive me to perform better. I also want to work internationally upon graduating, so choosing a school with a strong international mix was important in my decision process. But really the best way to determine my fit at various schools was by talking to as many people as possible from different schools and gauging their values and characteristics to see if they were broadly in line with my own.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I would struggle to pinpoint a single moment that defines who I am. However, growing up as an identical twin is probably the factor that has most shaped my character. Being an identical twin has its pros and cons. On the one hand, I feel blessed to have shared my childhood with someone so similar to me in so many ways. On the other, I’ve had to work hard to express myself as an individual, rather than one of ‘the Alexander twins.’ But the effort has driven me to make uniquely-defining life and career decisions. Additionally, being a twin meant that I grew up collaborating and competing equally. That competitiveness has driven me to achieve my best in whatever I do, whether it was scoring goals on the football field or striving to outscore my classmates in math quizzes. But being a twin has also ingrained in me practically from the moment I was born that people are more effective in teams than as individuals.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to join a strategy consulting firm, either in London or in Madrid, with a view to learning about as many new industries as possible.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to be leading a team of intellectually engaged problem-solvers in an industry that I feel truly passionate about. Beyond that, as long as my job has a reasonable degree of autonomy, complexity, and a positive correlation between effort and reward, I’ll be happy!

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