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We are now in our final term and when I look back on my time at Institute de Empresa, I find I have done an unbelievable amount of work since last November. I have taken some 30 core courses in fields like finance, strategy, economics, accounting, marketing and about 15 “soft skills” courses including negotiation, coaching and strategic communication.
Classes have taken all forms and shapes. The approach of David Allen, one of the top faculty members at IE, is particularly refreshing. The way he motivates students to participate really helps lift the case discussions and creates a real upward spiral of learning as each individual shares their experiences and thoughts on the case. This, coupled with the case presentations from the learning teams and the direction and insights from Prof Allen, creates a unique experience in each class that really sticks.
Another particularly memorable part of the academic experience at IE has been the Information Systems course taught by renowned Spanish professor and blogger, Enrique Dans, who managed to get me really interested in technology applications in marketing and advertising. Enrique’s case discussions were unusually practical in that he often invited the people behind the cases to class, which meant we had many entrepreneurs from technology start-ups address us, as well as representatives of big business organisations like Google.
During the eight months of our core programme at IE, we’ve had to work on a large number of projects, all of which culminated in presentations to the whole class. Rather than analysing the past successes or failures of different companies, we had to select group projects that would address current issues in the business world and provide solutions. One such project involved analysing the strategy behind the launch of Apple’s iPhone in Europe, made all the more exciting by the fact that whilst we were doing it the publicity buzz surrounding it hit new heights.
I very much enjoyed my summer vacation, catching up with my family. Some of my classmates also had a well-earned rest, although others spent August doing short term internships.
The International MBA at IE is short and intensive and since the only long vacation we have is five weeks in August, an internship is not viewed as an integral part of the programme. This seems reasonable – after all who can work almost 24/7 the whole year? The school does, however, help students who really want to pursue internships by offering a “blended” option for the last term.
Despite the heavy workload, I tried to spend the last few weeks of the core programme socialising with my classmates, many of whom have become great friends. One of the main reasons for my doing an MBA was to meet up with like-minded individuals: enthusiastic and creative people with initiative, outside-the-box thinkers and strategists. Although we probably won’t end up working for the same companies, I feel that they will be there for me on a lifelong basis and that I’ll be able to turn to them for any business-related advice in the future.
The entrepreneurial culture at IE prompted me to found a club that I and others could use for meeting like-minded people, both within and outside IE. Hence I formed the Funky Business Club, dedicated to talent and creativity in innovation and marketing-focused organisations. Essentially this club is for people who want to combine being professional with having fun in their careers. One of the events we organised was a conference on the future of branding with Wally Olins CBE, a global authority on branding, as a guest speaker. The event was a big success and I found it particularly rewarding to share my own passion for brand architecture and strategy with fellow students and get them interested in the subject.
As the final term begins I feel re-energised. I feel I’ve been able to achieve so much this year. And it is not over yet….