Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. And it isn’t just a gig to pay the bills, either.
For many, starting a venture takes on an artistic – even spiritual – dimension. It is the culmination of a life’s journey, the labored lessons and deferred dreams that spark passion and steel commitment. It begins with a vision, a world where opportunities are seized and possibilities realized. Beyond that, entrepreneurship demands the courage to cast aside comfort and hedging, to go all in with the knowledge that the sacrifices are all-consuming and the future is hazy at best.
THE DIVERSE AND UNCONVENTIONAL ARE THE SOUL OF IE
Entrepreneurship may be a way of life, but it’s also a way of being. It is a mindset – a compulsion, even – to pose questions and collect ideas from every corner, breaking rules and upending conventions along the way. An entrepreneur’s means may be to create and disrupt, but ultimately their goal is to serve and transform.
You’ll find plenty of these difference makers at IE Business School, a one-year MBA program based in Madrid. In fact, a quarter of their graduates launch startups right after graduation, 50 a year on average. What’s more, the school was launched in the 1970s by entrepreneurs, who believed raw business fundamentals should be tempered by design thinking, experiential learning, liberal arts dissection, and entrepreneurial bravado. It was a radical notion for the time, one now embraced by the establishment. True to its nature, IE continues to push the boundaries, seeding technological innovation alongside its entrepreneurial roots.
“If you have ever had an entrepreneurial spark in life, IE will ensure that the spark turns into a roaring flame and that you follow your passion, transforming yourself from an employee to an employer,” says Sonia Sahnia, a 2018 graduate and a member of Poets & Quants’ Best & Brightest MBAs. “I had heard that the IE IMBA is for those who think outside the box and challenge conventional ways. It’s true – IE has students that are out of the ordinary, who aspire to create value in the world and are not blinded mere by monetary goals. Diversity and unconventional thinking truly is the soul of the institution.”
FROM LEGAL TO BANKING TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
IE Business School is unquestionably diverse, with the international student population consistently clocking in at 90% or above. However, the program truly prides itself on producing a diversity of backgrounds and thought in their classrooms. This philosophy is encompassed in its tagline: “An MBA out of the ordinary.” Think of IE as a forward-thinking creative hub that relishes doing things a little different. Aside from molding change-makers who apply entrepreneurial thinking and technological savvy to everyday issues, IE also fosters a global community: one where a collision of differences stir creative juices and spur graduates to open themselves up to new approaches.
“I am looking forward to occupying leadership roles in business development projects,” says Jeremias Garcia Seoane, a 2019 MBA student and Argentinian industrial engineer who hopes to lead his own consulting firm. “Therefore, IE is undoubtedly the perfect school for my IMBA experience: learning in a collaborative environment, immersed in an international culture with an entrepreneurship mindset, engaging with a broad network of incredible people and taking amazing classes that will help me think out of the box.”
You won’t find the Class of 2019 just thinking outside the box. In true IE fashion, you’ll find them testing out new materials and designs to make that box even more sturdy and useful. Take Canada’s Béatrice Méthé, who comes to Madrid after serving as a corporate attorney for McMillan. Her trial-by-fire came in 2011, when she left law to work as an M&A analyst for a leading investment bank in London. Just one issue: Méthé had no background in finance.
“Thankfully, I ended up learning the ropes of finance and proving myself,” she explains. “I got the chance to work on major corporate transaction shaping the European technology landscape as well as the opportunity to meet leaders and high-level decision makers, even as a junior analyst. I decided to return to the law industry after my time in investment banking. The skills I gained in London, especially combined with my legal experience, have helped me develop a rounded and commercial approach to legal and business issues.”
LEARNING TO SELL BY GOING DOOR-TO-DOOR
Now, Méthé plans to make a similar leap into the realm of startups and social impact and believes IE is the perfect school to help the transition. “I have definitely had my fair share of exposure to technical subject matters. IE’s focus on softer skills, innovation and critical thinking was a key factor for me as I felt it would successfully shape my profile on my quest to becoming a successful entrepreneur.”
IE doesn’t just cater to entrepreneurs, however. It also attracts intrapreneurs, executives looking to unleash their creativity to proactively launch new strategies, innovations, and even ventures within established organizations. That label would certainly apply to Niels Huybrechts, a “psychologist with a passion for multicultural leadership.” As a senior consultant at PwC, he spearheaded a year-long “transformational” initiative designed to transform the “group dynamics, culture, power and politics, and decision-making processes” across a major multinational firm.
“The program was not only important because of its strategic impact, but it held a personal significance as I developed it together with the client in an autonomous way, from its inception to its execution,” Huybrechts says. “During this year, sweat, tears, and laughs abounded…All in all, it felt like my little baby and seeing it all come together was one of my most rewarding professional experiences.”
Looking for a 2019 class member who has paid his dues? Look no further than Chandler Chapman. To pay for college in America, she sold books door-to-door. “Nothing builds character and work-ethic like 80-hour weeks on the book field,” she jokes. She certainly learn how to sell from the experience, a skill she used to land her last employer’s biggest account…which grew to 15% of the firm’s overall users in just three months.
THE MONK WHO BECAME AN MBA
Not to be outdone, Turkey’s Seval Isik hired a team and launched a business unit at her last job, one that quickly generated $2 million dollars in revenue. Na’ama Shamir Kenan, who loves to dance – ballet, tap, and hip hop included – rose to being the brand manager for one of Israel’s biggest food companies. In just three years, Juan Pablo Arizaleta snagged two promotions at an asset management firm in Mexico – and become a mentor to the people around him in the process.
Outside work, the class brings a certain zest for life to the proceedings. The Ukraine’s Krystyna Liakh considers off-piste skiing to be her passion. “[I] have been down some of the steepest slopes in Europe,” she writes. Koma Okubo majored in marine biology in college and considers scuba driving to be his hobby. You can bet that Niv Fonea, a category sales manager at Nestle, will quickly acclimate himself to IE, home to over 130 nationalities across the entire school.
“I was a monk for two months in a Kong Fu temple in china, training 10 hours a day, no common language and away from 2010 civilization,” he shares.
“NEVER A DULL DAY”
Think that’s a great story. Just wait until you get a load of this one from Seval Isik.
“I was once interrogated by the police department of Georgia for the possibility of terrorist attack because I was tired of carrying my luggage and just wanted to get rid of it for couple of hours,” she explains. “[I] came up with a brilliant idea to hide it in the most central hotel’s lobby although I wasn’t staying there and the luggage was thought as a bomb package because video recs showed that the suspicious girl (myself in that case) just left a pink luggage and went away without telling anybody from the staff.”
Halfway through the program, what does the Class of 2019 think of the IE MBA so far? Juan Pablo Arizaleta lauds his classmates’ intelligence and motivation. “The energy in the classroom is like nothing I’ve seen before,” he writes. While Béatrice Méthé was struck by the differences in the class – 30 different nationalities for one – she was equally impressed by what brings the class together.
“We all share an intellectual curiosity and emotional intelligence which translates into a great mix of camaraderie, healthy competition and support towards a common goal.”
For Niels Huybrechts, there is “never a dull day” when he is hanging out with his Section 1 classmates. “The group contains an astonishing amount of diversity in terms of professional backgrounds and personal styles,” he observes. “My classmates are an amazing bunch of people that combine insights across numerous industries, razor-sharp wit and a whole bunch of heart. Just when you think you have both the group and its individuals figured out, they do or say something amazing to surprise you. Whether it’s coming up with a completely radical way to solve a business case, cracking (in)appropriate jokes, or showing authentic vulnerability and humanity. I’ve experienced some truly magical moments since I’ve gotten to know them.”
AVERAGE GMATS RISE 7 POINTS
The Class of 2019 profile is remarkably similar to past classes…with two exceptions. For one, the acceptance rate at the school rose six points to 38%, meaning it was easier to get into the program than years past. Despite this, the class’ average GMAT jumped seven points to 677 (though the median GMAT held steady at 680).
Otherwise, the 395 member class closely mirrored its predecessors. The percentage of international students remained fixed at 91%, with students hailing from 65 different nations. The percentage of women in the class also climbed a point to 31%.
Academically, 31% of the class holds undergraduate degrees in business. The second-largest segment featured engineering majors at 21%, followed by economics (13%), sciences (12%). social sciences and humanities (9%), law (3%), and information technology (3%). In terms of professional backgrounds, the largest segment of the class – 22% – worked in the nebulous industry, energy and construction category. Financial services make up another 16% of the class, with consulting and consumer goods chipping in another 13% each. Government, NGOs and education (9%), technology and telecom (9%), pharmaceuticals and health (4%), law, auditing, and tax (4%) and media entertainment (3%) rounding out the rest of the class.
- To read 10 in-depth profiles of Class of 2019 members, go to the next page.