Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Jan-Niklas Seiler, IESE Business School

Jan-Niklas Seiler

IESE Business School at the University of Navarra

“A golden retriever exploring the world and making friends.”

Hometown: Hohenschäftlarn, Bavaria

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have skied multiple World Cup runs on one ski.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Edinburgh – Master of Engineering Chemical Engineering with Business Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Ardagh (glass manufacturer) – Operations Manager

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? Now that we have had most of our classes using the case method, I can honestly say that every time we have a lecture style class, I miss the case method. The two biggest benefits in my mind are the fact that we get to learn from each other and thus leverage the diversity of the class. Also, as the case method is far more involved, we get to co-create our learning experience.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? As cliché as it sounds, the weather. Don’t get me wrong: the month of August was a tough slog for my German temperature gauge, but from September onwards the weather has been conducive to such a different style of living than I have experienced in my previous locations. The fact that I can play padel at 8 p.m. in December in shorts and a T-shirt has been a revelation. Oh, and padel – that has also been a great discovery, I can’t wait to get better at it.

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? In my research, I was consistently told that IESE’s program was comparatively very academically rigorous. Coming from an engineering and operations background, the reason I chose to do an MBA was to broaden my understanding of business as a whole. I felt that the best way for me to achieve this goal was to be in an environment which would force me to immerse myself most completely.

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? IESE has definitely lived up to its reputation in that regard. The three cases per day involve a lot of legwork, but as a class we are split into teams of 8-9 people and my team has been phenomenal. We work so well together and by supporting each other it’s been more than manageable. That’s also where my piece of advice stems from: make sure you spend the first term getting to know your team. If you spend time getting to know each other – their goals and their ways of working – you’ll perform better, both individually and as a group, and you’ll enjoy your time more.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? My favorite course so far has been Decision Analysis – especially as we delved deeper into the behavioral science behind how we make decisions, how these decisions can be manipulated, and how we can control certain aspects of our decision-making. This course also showed me a different approach to university. The professors here are far more accessible than my undergraduate professors, making it possible to really dive into our areas of interest and grow as future professionals and leaders.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am proudest of my role as the Junior Operations Manager in the Glass Bottle Factory. I was 26 and had just finished the International Management Trainee Program when I took on this role. The average age in the three departments that reported to me was 45, and the average glass-making experience of my direct reports was 20 years. Thus, I had a lot of work to do to convince them that I was the right person for the job and could help them to achieve their goals and improve processes. Based on the feedback that I received across all levels of the organization when I left, I think I was successful.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far:  The first class we had was a Communications course. Throughout this course, we were taught about the different speech types (logos, pathos and ethos) and gave these speeches in our teams and sections. At the end of the course, I was chosen to give my pathos speech in front of the entire class of 350 people. The chance to practice public speaking of this scale, in front of such a forgiving audience, was invaluable and a great experience.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? As mentioned above, we started the first term with a Communications course. The main part of this course involved giving speeches within our teams. I was blown away by how vulnerable my teammates were and how much trust they placed in the team with the stories they told. As a result of this, we came together extremely quickly, and I believe this was the foundation of what is now growing into firm friendships.


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