The IE Business School MBA: What You Need To Know
A lot of business schools talk about being entrepreneurial, but entrepreneurship is in Madrid-based IE’s DNA. The school was set up in 1973 by three entrepreneurs, rather than academics, and it retains a creative spirit that other schools can only aspire to — as well as the flagship International MBA (IMBA), a highly regarded executive MBA, an online Global MBA (the world’s first), and an Asian-focused program run with Singapore Management University.
IE has enjoyed a stellar rise in the business school rankings in the last 15 years. In 2002 its full-time course was ranked just 35th in the world by the Financial Times, but IE’s ability to read the changes in the business education market meant that by 2010 it was a fixture in the top 10, and in 2017 it was ranked third in Europe. Its Global MBA is regularly ranked best in the world. Eyebrows were raised, however, when the FT excluded the school from its 2018 rankings because some of the data it supplied was incorrect. IE has acted quickly to protect its reputation by firing those responsible.
True to IE’s commitment to doing things differently, the 12-month IMBA is organized in an unusual way. It starts with a six-month Core Period that includes the usual business fundamentals, such as accounting and managerial decision-making. But it gives equal weight to two other areas: Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset — IE was the first business school to make an entrepreneurial course a requirement — and Thinking Beyond Business, which includes courses on Innovation in a Digital World, Critical Management Thinking, and Business, Government, and Society.
This is followed by a two-month Lab Period. Depending on how they see their futures, students can choose between Business Lab (for those wanting to work in a corporation), Start-Up Lab (for entrepreneurs), or Social Impact Lab. Alternatively, those focused on a career change can do a four- to seven-week internship.
The final, four-month Elective Period is where students choose from a long menu of electives and/or take on consulting projects, exchanges, or treks. There is also Venture Lab, which helps take a business idea to investment-readiness. All of this runs parallel with courses in Career and Behavioral Fitness, which promise to develop students’ soft skills to make them more competitive.
IE is committed to having a diverse cohort; each year 90% or more of its students are international, with 70-75 nationalities among the 440 students. Typically, a quarter comes from Europe, the same amount hails from Latin America, and North America and Asia account for another 15% each. Half of the cohort comes from non-finance or banking backgrounds, with 20% from industry, energy, and construction, and a further 15% each from consulting and consumer goods. Up to 40% of IE’s students get some sort of financial help with their fees.
Martin Boehm, Dean
At IE Business School, we look for and promote an entrepreneurial mindset. The school was founded by entrepreneurs and we tend to naturally attract that sort of candidate. We also embrace diversity — not only in terms of passports or nationalities but in mindset, perspective, and experiences. The benefit of this is quite evident. The IE student body is made up of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and professions, and they learn a great deal from each other — just as they learn from their professors — both in and out of the classroom. Our goal at IE is more than to help people develop professionally, because to be an extraordinary leader — to make a difference in the world — it is not simply about technical skills but about being a good human being with a global mindset. We prepare our students to become the leaders of tomorrow, ready to face a future that includes such challenges as digital transformation.
Nicholas Zeppel, MBA 2018
I was looking for an international school in Europe, and one that involves lots of diversity. I am from South Africa, so I am used to working with a lot of cultures, and I know that it adds a lot to a learning environment. IE ticked that box: there is a vast range of students from different cultures. The other thing that attracted me was the entrepreneurial side. I am looking to move out of the corporate world and into entrepreneurship, and in common with a lot of students here I am currently working in the Start-Up Lab, where you take an idea and turn it into a viable business in six weeks. I am very much enjoying it — there is a real buzz around the place. The professors teaching entrepreneurship are excellent — they teach their own experience and their passion shines through — and there are lots of opportunities to talk to alumni who are generous with advice about their own experiences.