Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Ross Gething, IESE Business School

Ross Gething

IESE Business School at the University of Navarra

“Extroverted Quant who is equal parts curious, witty, and adventurous.”

Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa

Fun Fact About Yourself: Skateboarding, forward flips, MMA, and weightlifting.  I’m a multisport competitive athlete. I grew up playing mostly tennis and field hockey, but I´ve always craved variety and so picked jujitsu and golf sometime along the way.  Over time, as I´ve changed geographies and tastes, I´ve grown the list to 10+ sports.

My current athletic activities match me being a busy MBA student. I focus on sports that are readily accessible and practical – which in Barcelona are padel, skateboarding and weightlifting.

Undergraduate School and Major:
Undergraduate and Postgraduate: University of Cape Town
Undergraduate Majors: Economics, Finance and Statistics
Post graduate specializations:  Finance and Quantitative Risk Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:
Employer: First National Bank
Title: Senior Analytics Manager – Broader Africa risk analytics team

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The case method is to management problems what the peer review method is to academic writing. It’s a daunting process that constantly forces you to question your perspective and assumptions. But, assuming sufficient work experience and a global context, it is the best process to ensure rapid personal and professional growth.

For any given day in first year, we review the three cases for the day three different times – each in a different environmental setting.

Each case thrusts me into the position of a manager who faced a particular dilemma at a point in time. My first job is to read the situation and work through the problem individually. At this point, the “obvious” concerns immediately stand out to me, and I form my opinions. Then I discuss the case with my immediate team of nine and discover new aspects of the problem and potential solutions. Finally, we tackle the problem in class, facilitated by a professor and driven by my 68 classmates. Each time, I realize that the “obvious” features I identified alone only covered 10-30% of the entire problem and solution set. This occurs three times a day, 5 days a week.

It’s a humbling but exhilarating process that allows you to truly connect with and build off the knowledge from those that surround you.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? My favorite part about Barcelona is the sheer variety of activities that one can do in, or within driving distances of, the city. The weather (250+ sunny days), nearby beach, cosmopolitan dining, wine country and nightlife are all packed into a relatively affordable city that has an efficient and interconnected public transport system.

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? I want to have a truly global career – the length of the program and IESE’s strong ties to a multitude of global MBA programs was important to me. The length would give me enough time to reflect on my career. The availability of an exchange program and affiliated programs (whose student body is regularly on campus) enables a truly global leadership experience.

Additionally, the embedding of an internship, as part of the program, will give me the opportunity to “test drive” an entirely new area of expertise and industry.

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 difficulty lies in finding the balance between the academic volume and everything else that is happening concurrently. On any given day, you are making the tradeoff between solving three daily cases (1-3 hours each), interview preparation, socials, and sports. You can’t do everything – you need to choose your sacrifice. The academics have lived up to expectations, but it is manageable if you know your priorities and you work well with your team.

First, determine your priorities. In combination with introspection, peer engagement, and reviewing MBA data – the answer will present itself to you within the first few months on campus. Secondly, build a close bond with your team as soon as possible. The pace of work speeds up early in the semester, and you will want to be able to trust and rely on your team to help you when things inevitably get overwhelming.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? Wine Club. Having grown up in Cape Town less than 10km from the vineyards, I have tasted a wide variety of wines, but I never explored the nuances of different wines. The second years running the wine club have helped me learn and appreciate these nuances.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Built and managed anti-money laundering models for Africa’s largest bank (by market capitalization), across eight African countries and 2m+ customers. Machine learning models and in-country typology-rule based enhancements translated to a 5-10 times increase in enhanced due diligence for financial crime identification efficacy.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Mastering the Friday afternoon powernap.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the IESE MBA program? Reach out to Alumni as early as possible in the process. While attending school events, writing essays and getting that perfect GMAT score are important, these actions don’t provide you with any immediate and actionable feedback around how well you would “fit” within the school’s community. This is an extremely important factor that isn’t well measured by conventional MBA data. And it is a feature that quickly presents itself when you start engaging with alumni.

Engaging with alumni provides immediate feedback and an intuitive feel for whether you could see yourself growing within the school’s community.


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