What Is The Matter With IPADE? Nothing, Really

Claudia Amezcua, right, IPADE’s MBA admissions director, and Rosa Garcidueñas, MBA admissions associate director, stand outside the walls of the 17th-century hacienda that houses the main campus of IPADE in Mexico City. Marc Ethier photo

Like many schools, IPADE has struggled to attract more women to its MBA program. The Class of 2018 contained the highest percentage of women ever recorded at the school, 32%, but that number dropped to 25% in the class that will graduate this June.

Most business schools have had their struggles in appealing to women, but Latin American schools have certain cultural disadvantages they must overcome, Claudia Amezcua says.

“Last year it has been the highest ever,” she says, “and we are very happy. We didn’t do anything about it. We didn’t try to have more women. It just happened naturally. But I think also for the culture in Mexico, it’s also a cultural thing. Women don’t really study — or not a lot of women study — for business.”

That won’t always be the case, says Rosa Garcidueñas, MBA admissions associate director.

“You know, it’s changing rapidly,” she tells P&Q. “Women are taking part in important decisions more and more often, and you see we do have a research center focused on women in high positions, in top management. There’s top studies being done to understand how the role of women in top management is changing and gaining importance. So we hope to have that number higher and higher every year. We’ve seen more women interested in growing their perspectives in business and we believe that it’s going to be growing in the classroom as well.”

TURNING AROUND IPADE’S RANKINGS FORTUNES 

Marc Ethier photo

Garcidueñas has other theories for why IPADE dropped off The Financial Times ranking. And they have to do with dollars and pesos.

“They rank us converting into dollars,” she says. “So there was a big devaluation, and of course that didn’t help us a lot. There’s no way to be able to compete with schools that have a very big salary increase when students finish the program. But they do it already in dollar or pounds, so it’s very difficult to compete that way.”

There’s another reason, Amezcua says, that has to do with age. “We increased the profile of our students to 28 years old instead of 25, so 28 year olds earn more money than the 25 year olds. So you know, FT also ranks salary increase: How much were you earning before and how much after? And that jump that we had very high, decreased a little bit.”

Moreover, Garcidueñas adds, FT ranks research in specialized journals and “IPADE is very practical.” While the school has research centers and its professors publish like any other faculty, the school also relies heavily on ex-CEOs and other industry figures giving classes — those who “are not research people but who are great teachers. IPADE is very practical because we’re teaching business in the ‘everyday.’ We’re not very academic. And so that doesn’t help in The Financial Times, either.”

But a turnaround is in the offing, both women say. It started with last year’s AACSB accrediting process. “We presented a new plan that we have for the faculty to be dedicated mostly to research,” Amezcua says. “So probably those numbers are going to go up very soon because there are professors that are now having a main focus on research. Also the number of Ph.D.s: We have a plan to have more Ph.D.s, to increase our Ph.D. numbers.”

GOOD BUSINESS PEOPLE, AND GOOD PEOPLE AS WELL

Studying at IPADE, Amezcua says, is more than a business school experience. It’s a life-transforming experience.

“We really believe that it’s a transformation process,” she says. “It’s not only a program, because we are not wanting to impact only in the academic and the professional lives of these guys — we also want to impact in their personal lives. You will find that it’s very much focused on social responsibility, on ethics and this kind of stuff. We don’t want to make only very good business people, we want them to be good people as well.”

DON’T MISS NIGERIA ON THE RISE: AFRICA’S ENGINE DRAWS B-SCHOOLS’ GAZE and THE BIG PICTURE: CHINA, SHANGHAI & CEIBS