Before I selected my schools, I did some self-reflection on what I want from a business school. I had written about it in a post called Selecting Business schools. At that time, one thing was clear to me - I did not want to go to a US Business school. Now don't get me wrong; MBA was invented by the Americans, and US has great b-schools. But after studying, living and working in the US for a considerably long time, I wanted to experience something different - something that would add a significant weight to my overall profile; something that would make me my profile more international.
There were two options in front of me - Asia and Europe, and honestly at the beginning of the admissions process I was really eager to study in Asia. But at a later stage, I realized the importance of diversity and how a diverse network can radically impact one's profile. European schools are the champs when it comes to diversity. For example, IMD in Switzerland has a class of about 100 students of which about 95% of the students are international and they come from about 50 different countries. Now isn't that awesome! But this did not keep me from applying to Asian schools. I applied to a bunch of them. I got rejected from a few
The other reason why I was not drawn to Asian schools, as much I was towards IESE, was the feedback that i got from students and alumni. I felt that the atmosphere there is more competitive and less collaborative. Now this is not at all uncommon in Asia and my asian friends would agree here with me. MBA is Asia is relatively new but is definitely growing at a rapid pace. I think in a few years Asian schools would become as international (student diversity) and as collaborative as the European and American (diversity - nah!) b-schools. But for now that did not work for me.
I also applied to a business school in China - Tsinghua University and which btw is considered the MIT of China. I did a tremendous amount of research and homework on this, as you can imagine, studying in a country like China can be quite intimidating for a non-chinese. The school was suggested by one of my mentors. I even started learning mandarin for that. But again, I learnt from students and alumni that I definitely had to struggle and work enormously if i wanted to establish a career in China! So even after being interviewed by the school, i dropped the idea. (On a side note: Mandarin is a brilliant language and i recommend everyone to try to learn it. There are very few languages with as much cultural tie-up as Mandarin).
Now to the million dollar question - Why did I choose to apply to IESE?
Here are my top 5 reasons:
1. Diversity - IESE is an international program with a diverse student body. Students come from around 55 different countries and from various fields - from fashion designing to biomedical engineering.
2. Reputation - Isn't that obvious? well ofcourse but I am not the person who just goes by rankings. High rankings are good but they are even better if it fits your need!
3. Location - The first country I took off my list of places where I could do my MBA was Canada. Why? Because its cold. I am not a fan of chilly winters and even living in NJ for the past 5 years have not made me appreciate it. So for a person who loves warm places and loves beaches - Barcelona is a dream.
4. Student community - Of the b-school student community that i've interacted with there was no school with such an active and helpful student community as that of IESE. They were always ready to talk and ready to help.
5. Case Study Method - IESE is a case study based school which means that at least 80% of the classes are case-based. I love case studies and i would prefer it any day over a boring lecture! But in order to be 100% sure I attended a sample case study presentation organized by the school and needless to say I was sold!
One additional reason: The Assessment day - The AD was an event that has become a part of IESE's admissions process since 2008. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and was rather impressed by the measures that the school took to make sure they have a great incoming class. The day screamed of team work and collaboration. This was the day that i decided that if i get admitted I'm going to IESE.
So that was my b-school selection story. I would also love to hear yours, if you have already selected your schools or would love to hear your reasoning if you are in the process of selecting b-schools. So go ahead and post your views or stories in the comment section.
Cheers and have a great rest of the week!