Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Dian de wet, IESE Business School

Dian de wet       

IESE Business School

“Comfortable outside of my comfort zone, driven, curious and passionate, both professionally and personally.”

Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa

Fun Fact About Yourself: My party trick is that I can name all 197 countries in the world and 52 states in the US after three tequilas

Undergraduate School and Major: Stellenbosch University and Gordon’s Institute of Business Science (GIBS)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Meondo Financial, Founder

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? I think the case method is excellent for two reasons: First, it is because it is practical. It provides you with examples of problems faced by previous managers, which you then analyze and assess based on the same info that the protagonist had. You then have to make your own recommendations and see what the implications of those decisions are. It means you can learn from the mistakes of others as well as giving you the opportunity to fine-tune your decision-making, business problem analysis, and creative problem-solving skills. As Malcom Gladwell said, you need 10,000 hours to become an expert. But the case study method helps you get to those 10,000 hours quicker.

Second, I like how cases are interpreted. Ten people can read the same case and come up with ten different interpretations.  When you are in a class that is made up of students from different countries, cultures, professional backgrounds and experiences, you get insights that you would never normally think about. You make recommendations based on your own experiences, so hearing insights from someone that has a completely different background from yourself really broadens your thinking. It forces you to start looking at problems from all angles. The case method really facilitates these types of discussions much more than any way of studying.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Where to start! The people in Barcelona are friendly, warm and inviting. The city is full of things to do (which is not always great for an MBA student) and is so rich in culture, food, and architecture. The weather is amazing (coming from South Africa, I wasn’t ready for the cold, wet and snowy winters in most western Europe and the UK.)

It is also extremely family-friendly. My wife and two-year-old twins have been able to go to all the amazing local parks and attractions and enjoy their time in the new city as well. People are also friendly to the kids and not judgmental when they cry on the bus.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the IESE Business School MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? IESE’s admission team was amazing. I reached out to the school and I was immediately contacted back. A call was set up and I started building a relationship with the admissions officer, it really felt that they were trying to help me get into the school. I believe in trusting my gut, and my gut was telling me based on my experience with the admissions staff, that this school will be a perfect fit. I reached out to other programs and got generic responses, whereas an IESE admission staff member reached out and was very reassuring.

I was also very impressed with the partners club that IESE has, as it is important that my wife also enjoy the experience of the MBA and can connect with others. The support my wife received from the club from the very start was great, providing her with a book full of information and events ranging from cooking classes, to language exchanges, to enjoying a cocktail with new friends.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? IESE has a great reputation for developing innovative students, with 30% of students starting their own business within 5 years of graduating. They have a strong entrepreneurship and startup club, which was a big pull. I am also organizing the startup school this year, where students in IESE that have business ideas get mentored and coached through the MVP, monetization, setup and financing stages. IESE also has a very active alumni investment network, and the students can then pitch their polished ideas to the VC and business angels within the school.

I am also part of the IESE rugby club, playing with the most amazing guys and girls.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I started my last company in 2016 with nothing, and built it into a company that had a revenue of 1.3 Million USD in 2019. I went through a merger with a very large multinational company and, before my MBA started, exited very successfully.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: It has only been four months so it is difficult to really accomplish a lot, but I have made amazing friends from all over the world. I’ve already been invited to two weddings and celebrated the birth of a classmate´s first child. The first term was tough with a lot of work and pressure being put on all of us, and it has been amazing to see how everyone helps each other whenever they can.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the IESE MBA program? Start by reaching out to the admissions team, who are extremely helpful and honest about what you need to do to stand a very good chance of getting in. Be honest about what you want out of the experience and what your expectations are, as they will be able to let you know whether that is realistic and achievable.

Reach out to alums and current students. Everyone I contacted was very responsive and eager to talk. People really enjoyed their time at IESE and are keen to chat about it, and this will give you a better idea of what to expect.

Don’t stress so much about the GMAT that it messes up the rest of your application. The GMAT is important, but it is only a part of the application. Make sure that you show the school that you have an interesting point of view and that you will be able enhance the in-class experience for your fellow classmates. Make sure to add some personality to your application, it might help you stand out from all the applications that IESE receives.

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