IE Business School
Francisco Chabran (@Chabran), IE NYC Center Director, IE Business School
What is the one area of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
The Professional Fitness portion of the program. This module contains two elements, Career Fitness and Behavioral Fitness. The Career Fitness portion helps students identify and work toward their career goals in a workshop setting once a week during the core curriculum. I believe that this section of the program is essential in equipping students with the necessary tools to help them build a career strategy and succeed in an increasingly complex and competitive job market. The Career Fitness program focuses on 4 milestones: Career Intelligence, Careers Tool Kit, Customizable labs and Active Recruitment. The Behavioral Fitness section is an integrated leadership training program designed to help develop a foundation of the critical behaviors necessary to support long-term professional success. At IE we know that no one becomes physically fit by going to the gym for a few days, and no professional should expect to be behaviorally fit by spending a few hours learning about skills like listening, teamwork, or decision making. It takes focus and practice day after day, moment by moment.
What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at you MBA program this coming year?
The Tech Lab. Based on popular demand by our students and recent hiring trends we have created a fourth Lab option that focuses on tech jobs of the future. The way that our MBA is structured, the first 20 weeks are the core period, which all students are required to take, after that students are able to start customizing their MBA’s via the lab’s before the final electives period of the program. The Tech Lab covers these critical aspects:
- Hack the Gap: How new technologies work ( and what’s behind them)
- Scrap the Cycle: Real life examples of these new technologies
- Cut the Edge: Advanced development and implementation of technology products
- Connect the Dots: Analysis and interpretation of the data and patterns that predict future technology trends
For the final project students will propose a technological solution to solve problems that arise in distinct industries. They will compete in teams to discover, develop and apply their proposed technological solution, defending their findings in front of a panel of judges.
Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.)
Given that IE has 30 offices around the world, the first touch point for any application is a student’s local International Development office. As our local teams are in quite constant contact with our candidates during the process of completing their application, they usually have lots of back and forth regarding the process of the completing the application before they even submit. Once an application is submitted, it is reviewed by the local teams to make sure it is completed correctly. Then the application is passed to our admissions team in Madrid who will review it and the supporting documents to ensure that everything meets the basic requirements. If this is the case, then the application is passed to interview stage, at which point an interview will be completed by the local office if possible if not it will be done by the Admissions team in Madrid via Skype. Once the interview is complete, a report of that conversation along with the application will be passed along to the Admissions Committee in Madrid for a final decision.
How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? One key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write them?
What we are looking for in essays is students who find unique ways to answer the questions we provide to them, while also weaving in the narrative of their personal and professional trajectory. One of the main mistakes that we see is that students repeat facts about their accomplishments which are already included in their applications (GPA, GMAT score etc.). We already have all of that information and are providing students an additional avenue to share more about themselves and shine in a different way, so we get disappointed when they do not take advantage of that opportunity. My advice for people is that they draw up a list of bullet points that describe their personal and professional trajectory, that in a cohesive and interesting way explain the journey that has lead them to the point that they are applying for IE and what they hope to accomplish with an MBA from our school and find ways to articulately insert these points into their essays.
Do you have any application tips (for essays & recommendations) for MBA applicants?
Make it relevant, interesting and engaging. Many MBA applications can look very similar and there are many cookie cutter solutions for MBA applications. Those of us who read these applications for a living, have seen many of these pitfalls and similarities and what catches our eye is the ones that are different. Of course there are the basic requirements that all of us require in a application, but beyond that, what can you do to stand out and really speak to who you are as a person and how you will contribute to our school’s community, is what is important to us.
What are the most important aspects of the MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA and current job position?
The explanation of why you want to do an MBA. There are lot’s of very good and very bad reasons to want to do an MBA. We have found that the difference in great students who are successful tends to be their approach and rationale for completing an MBA. We like to see candidates who have really done their research and thought long and hard about why they are interested in completing an MBA and why they want to do it at IE. Being able to have an informed and detailed conversation about this rationale is something that is very valuable and helps us greatly in the selection process. We know this is probably one of the most important personal and professional decisions that you are going to make in your life, we want to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, for everyone involved.
How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?
By presenting several other very strong elements of their application, such as recommendations, essays and solid professional experience. In addition don’t be afraid to own it and talk to your interviewer and in your application about what your score is and why you believe you got that score. We all know and understand the GMAT and the benefits and shortcomings of the test. We are always more than happy to have an open and candid conversation about GMAT scores, it won’t be the first time or the last time, so please, don’t be shy.
What resources are available at your MBA program to assist with internship and full-time job opportunities (or to advance their Career Path)?
The way the careers process at IE works is very distinct given our international reach. We have students coming to IE from all over the world and going back to work in places all around the world which presents a unique challenge and opportunity in supporting them. The way we do this is that once on campus in Madrid, students are assigned a careers representative who will help them through the process of identifying internships and full time positions and the process of applying for these positions. In addition these careers representatives help students engage in all on-campus activities, such as job fairs and recruiting sessions conducted by companies. In tandem, our 30 international offices are tasked with identifying interesting careers opportunities for our alumni and reaching out to relevant companies in order to establish relationships with them and then share these job prospects with our Career Management Center in Madrid.