If practice makes perfect, then Barcelona’s ESADE should be pretty good at teaching MBAs, because they have been doing it since 1964. And if diversity is important to you, it is hard to improve on the stunning stat that 94% of students in the last MBA cohort came from 50 countries outside Spain.
The school prides itself as being at the forefront of “modern MBAs,” by which they mean that they aim to prepare creative leaders who can flourish in a disruptive environment. They say their MBA is based on “Four C’s”: Collaborative leadership, Critical thinking, Creativity, and Communication skills. It is also flexible, offering 12-, 15-, and 18-month options, with the longer options involving exchanges and internships.
It is possible to see this MBA through a conventional lens as a core program and around 40 electives ranging from the predictable (Hedge Funds) to the unusual (In Search of Principles for a Life Philosophy). There are the usual study tours, treks, and exchanges — although, with 13 partner schools in Asia and 11 in the United States, the range is impressive. ESADE also offers Business Labs for family businesses, innovation, entrepreneurship, and marketing, and boasts a Career Acceleration Program in investment and private banking, consulting, and technological disruption.
But the school prefers to talk about the full-time MBA as a transformative experience. They say the first term is about building awareness, promoting introspection and self-knowledge. The second term is about learning to create and innovate, and the third is about transformation, putting into practice what you have learned.
With 186 students from 48 countries in the last cohort, it’s not surprising that this is an eye-opening course. And it goes beyond the usual MBA suspects, too. Unusually, 50% of the last cohort were from the industrial sector, with just 21% from consulting and 12% from financial services. On graduation, 32% of the more recent class went into tech, and around 20% each into finance, consulting, and industry and manufacturing.
If you think all the talk of transformation and creativity means that ESADE is churning out a bunch of dreamers who aren’t focused on the bottom line, the numbers tell a different story. According to the 2018 Financial Times rankings, this full-time MBA was the best for salary increase in Europe.
Luis Vives, Associate Dean of Full-Time MBA
“We pride ourselves on having a diverse cohort on the MBA because we believe the leader of the future must be able to work with others, to foster collaboration and the creation of ecosystems. Collaborative leadership is at the core of what we do. We have a very diverse cohort and we want to build on that diversity. We do not want to homogenize the class, we want them to embrace their differences, backgrounds, and origins by recombining them and creating something new. Our students have interesting stories and we want them to go on creating even more interesting stories.”
Mark Kollias, MBA Candidate, Class of 2019
“I looked at U.S. schools, but the top European ones have very high-quality programs now. Also, when it comes to looking at return on investment, you have to weigh up the cost of living, which is far lower in a city like Barcelona than in a big U.S. city. The cohort is so diverse it is incredible, and I don’t think you would find a culture like this in an American school. There is a healthy competitive drive, but it is also very collaborative. When you are working closely with people from other cultures, you learn a lot about their approach to business, but also your own style and how to flex it. I have also learned a lot about time management. I’m taking the course in 12 months, and on an intense course like this you learn to make every minute count.”