Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Cynthia Kreng, IESE Business School

Cynthia Kreng

IESE Business School at the University of Navarra

“Bold adventurer experiencing the world one ice cream scoop at a time.”

Hometown: Tainan, Taiwan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I played a lot of pool (billiards) growing up.

Undergraduate School and Major: Computer Engineering, University of Michigan (undergrad)

Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan (graduate school)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Program Manager at Microsoft

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? With the case method, it feels like we work in three distinct companies every day while trying to find solutions for their respective problems. It’s also very enlightening hearing all the perspectives from my classmates who come from different cultural and industrial backgrounds. The number of cases (and problems) that we go through along with the fruitful discussions we have with our classmates equip us with an open mind and enable us to find patterns that we can borrow from past examples.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Barcelona is such a walkable city with an awesome public transportation system. Of course, it has delicious ice cream with flavors ranging from the common chocolate and pistachio to the more uncommon chestnut and pumpkin. Barcelona has so many cultural and culinary experiences available at any given time. There is almost always a sense of relaxation and tranquility in the city that makes for a good counterbalance to the jam-packed MBA life.

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? Entrepreneurship has always been a dream of mine and is also one of the most important aspects that drew me to IESE. The large alumni base makes it an attractive institution in which to explore and experiment with what it takes to start a new company or business. Events like the Search Fund Conference also draw professionals in the field from all over the world to Barcelona, providing yet another opportunity for me to learn from the best.

The IESE MBA is known for heavy reading and rigorous academics. Has the program lived up to its reputation? What advice would you give to first-years to help them thrive in the early months of the program? The rigorous academics live up to its name, given some of the late nights I must spend after coming back from the social events. I think everyone eventually finds the rhythm that works best. The advice I would give to first years, and also myself starting my second term, is to be intentional on how you choose to spend time. Don’t feel pressured to spend time on certain subjects or activities just because other people are doing so.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? I really enjoyed the scavenger hunt I did with my team at the beginning of the semester, where we went around Barcelona to answer questions or complete specific tasks. It was not long after we met each other (we are all organized in teams of nine where almost everyone is guaranteed to come from a different country or background), and it was also not long after I shared with my team that I was very competitive. I made my team complete all the tasks that were available even though we were explicitly told we’re not required to do so. We ended up having a good time and enjoyed drinks and meals afterward.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment thus far is launching two Landing Zone Accelerators, a package of artifacts that embedded best practices to accelerate the adoption of Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud. It was a project that went on for more than a year with volunteers, all more experienced than I was, contributing across the world and having a great time at the same time. I’m proud that we were able to deliver the first version of the product and that it was a fun process for everyone involved, which was a goal I set out from the beginning.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I was never the type of person who would run for any sort of student government. However, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and ran for student council representative for my section last year. Thanks to my classmates, another woman and I got elected for our section to become the only section where both student council representatives are female.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the IESE MBA program? “Find your why” – or the reason you want to make such drastic changes in your current life and highlight how the IESE MBA program can help you achieve those goals. Definitely also highlight how you think you can contribute to the program helping other people that are hoping to grow the skillsets you currently.


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