Meet IE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2019

IE Business School campus in Madrid. IE photo


Not surprisingly, the IE Business School, a program devoted to innovation, is not content to rest on its laurels. According to Tino Elgner, senior associate director of admission for full-time programs at IE, it is near impossible to focus on just one development over the past year. Among the biggest developments, Elgner cites enlightED, an event that connected innovators from Southern Europe and Latin America with potential investors and mentors. In June, the school also held its IE Global Alumni Weekend 2018. This event culminated with the EPIC Awards (Extraordinary People Inspiring the IE Community), with the business impact award going to the alumni CEO of the Prudential Uganda insurance company. The school even kicked off a new event, IE Humanities Week. Drawing 650 people, the event celebrated the humanities – a core part of the IE MBA experience – as a path towards personal and professional development.

The program also made impressive strides on the academic side too, Elgner says. “Around 90 of our IMBA students had the chance to learn from Oracle about blockchain technology as part of our TechLab, by means of what we call tech bites focused on fields like artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things, quantum computing and robotics among others., We were pleased to announce that two of our professors, Margarita Mayo and Kriti Jain, have been included in the 2017 Thinkers50 Radar, which annually features the top 30 emerging thinkers with the potential to make lasting contributions to management theory and practice.”

Tino Engler of IE Business School

In the coming years, IE will also be pouring heavy resources into technological immersion as well. “We will be investing further €50 million over the next five years to strengthen this commitment and train students in areas such as artificial intelligence applied to businesses, blockchain, coding, fintech and cryptocurrencies like #IEToken, based on new teaching methods,” Elgner adds. “[That also includes] immersion in new work scenarios using virtual and augmented reality. The IE Learning Innovation team has, for example, prototyped an interactive and collaborative platform, a space designed with VR technology, where students and professors could meet and work together.”


At the same time, the program will continue expanding and refurbishing its campuses in Madrid and Segovia. “This year for example, we already expanded our technology campus with the incorporation of a property located at Velázquez Street, an 11-story building with a floor space of 7,800 square meters,” Elgner notes. “It is equipped with cutting edge technological resources, classrooms, multidisciplinary work areas and a plant dedicated to the development of bootcamps, in addition to technological immersion programs.”

That’s just the first phase of this ambitious construction project, he adds. “We will keep focusing on creating more “common spaces” around the campus, where natural interaction among students, faculty and staff can happen. We are talking about music corners, cozy areas for co-working and relaxing, spaces where you can create and innovate. This biggest change will come in 2020 when the current campus will double in size with Campus IE, a 160-meter high disruptive architectural project with 50,000 square meters of floor space in the north of Madrid, is inaugurated to host IE University’s degree programs.”

While the program’s entrepreneurial spirit, innovation orientation, and tech focus grab the headlines, Elgner believes the most under-the-radar part of the IE International MBA experience is undoubtedly its clubs and extracurriculars that organically promotes community and builds networks.


“The life “beyond” the classroom is as important as the life “in” the classroom,” Elgner asserts. “Hence, participating in student clubs and the activities they organize is an impactful aspect of our IMBA that might not be as obvious to one as it is to another. Participating in extracurricular activities on campus provides students with opportunities to get to know and network with the IE Community as a whole, including 6,000+ students of the 5 IE Schools (both graduate and undergraduate), 1,500+ faculty members, 60,000+ alumni, 100+ startups, 30 international IE offices, in addition to 200+ external companies, brands and experts. In other words, it creates a network which, as a whole, does not only strive on long lasting relationships but also creates career opportunities.”

This robust student life was a major draw for the Class of 2019. Koba Okubo, for one, joined the Entrepreneurial Club, which brought the CEO of SpaceX to campus during the first week of class. Béatrice Méthé is supplementing her business classes by learning Spanish – the third most-spoken language in the world. Overall, the school sponsors over 100 student clubs, which range from big data to sailing. Among those, Niels Huybrechts found one that was close to his heart.

“Madrid is an absolutely amazing city, but finding a good beer has proven a difficult endeavor,” he points out. “So color me surprised when I found out that IE Business School has a craft beer (brewing) club! With their help I’m hoping to enrich my knowledge and taste of Spanish beer culture.”


IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. File photo

The clubs aren’t the school’s main attraction, however. It is the curriculum, with the Class of 2019 touting its offerings in tech, entrepreneurship, social impact, and soft skill development. What’s more, the program’s diversity makes it a living laboratory for managing international teams and conducting business across various cultural boundaries.

“From the curriculum to the labs and to the overall spirit, there is a true effort to keep the program updated, to adapt quickly to changes, to challenge traditional concepts and offer the graduates the best tools to deal with today’s ever-changing business world,” says Na’ama Shamir Kenan.

The programming itself is what makes IE Business School such an outlier. The six-month core curriculum opens with a major statement: Entrepreneurial Mindset and Entrepreneurial Venturing are the first two courses on the docket – a clear indication that strategic decision-making, resourcefulness, flexibility, risk-taking, and innovation will also be fundamental to all coursework. What’s more, the core closes with a mix of futuristic aspiration and gritty reality, as the programming addresses areas like digital disruption and regulatory compliance.


Following the core, students complete a Lab Period. Lasting two months, this is the hands-on, project-driven portion of the curriculum. Here, students choose a specific lab based on their interest, such as corporate, startup, technology and social impact – with students able to opt for a traditional internship as well. Afterwards, students spend the remaining four months – which encompass nearly half of the programming – choosing from over 120 electives. In other words, they are able to follow their passions and customize their learning in the process.

In other words, the programming mirrors the fluid nature of students and their ambitions. “It was important for me not to end up in an environment where there is pressure to conform to a certain “cookie cutter” ideal profile,” says Krystyna Liakh, “where everyone was already set on one career path and headed for a certain sector.”

Outside the standard curriculum, IE is also known for its fitness programming. Forget calisthenics and jogging. At IE, fitness involves intensive reflection, coaching, and workshops in areas like career development strategy and professional behaviors. Like any regimen, IE fitness involves consistent, daily repetition, with programming designed to push students to set goals and adopt habits that raise their performance.

IE Business School


For entrepreneurs, IE maintains Area 31, an incubator that houses up to 100 startups. Aside from providing co-working space, shared resources, and mentoring, Area 31 also acts a community, where entrepreneurs can share ideas and collaborate. In addition, it hosts a weekly Venture Network. Here, students make their pitches to their peers, taking in feedback to make their presentations more substantive, sharp, and succinct. That preparation comes in handy for International Venture Days, where students deliver pitches to alumni investors in locales as different as Shanghai, Berlin, Sao Paulo, London, and Miami.

Juan Pablo Arizaleta, for one, considers such eclectic programming to be a way to “kickstart” his creativity. However, Niels Huybrechts takes a more philosophical view, where the execution is more a reflection of “authenticity” if not a window into the school’s “soul.”

“[It is] a business school who has its values figured out, carries humanity at the heart of it, and actually behaves according to their leaflet,” he explains. “Whenever I exchanged emails with IE’s faculty staff, talked to current students during campus visits, or casually stalked its alumni on LinkedIn, I was reminded of their innovative mindset and their focus and respect for diversity. They matched very closely with the values I hold in my own life, and after a while it just clicked. I had to be there.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.

Name Hometown Alma Mater Employer
Juan Pablo Arizaleta Mexico City, Mexico Universidad Anahuac HSBC Asset Management
Chandler Chapman Zionsville, IN Taylor University Appirio
Niv Fonea Tel Aviv, Israel Tel Aviv University Nestle
Jeremias Garcia Seoane Buenos Aires, Argentina Universidad Católica Argentina Techint Group
Niels Huybrechts Brussels, Belgium KU Leuven (Belgium) PricewaterhouseCoopers
Seval Isik Istanbul, Turkey Koc University Döhler
Na’ama Shamir Kenan Jerusalem, Israel Hebrew University ScaleAbout
Krystyna Liakh Kiev, Ukraine University of Nottingham UBS Wealth Management
Béatrice Méthé Montréal, Québec Université de Montréal McMillan
Koma Okubo Yokohama, Japan Yokohama City University Yokohama City University

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