What my IE Business School MBA means to me
Monday 11 June 2012
I was born in Hong Kong, moved to Canada at an early age, graduated in Civil Engineering, worked a few years in Canada. I then decided to make a career change and moved to Shanghai to work in a boutique private equity fund, where I focused on business development and restructuring. And finally, I now find myself pursuing an MBA degree at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain.
Many have asked, why Spain and why IE? Why not the US, UK, or China? After all, doing an MBA in Spain might be slightly different from what most people have in mind when they are thinking about furthering their education. But, before we get into that, the first thing someone should ask themselves is: why do you want to do an MBA, and is this the right time? The answer is personal and thus different for everyone. An MBA is generally one of the most expensive single investments someone can make, so my suggestion for anyone interested is that you think about it seriously and let it sit in your mind for awhile before applying.
An MBA is about self-achievement
If you have seriously considered why you are pursuing an MBA, you have a better chance of getting the most out of the experience. What do you want to achieve? And, again, this is different for everyone. Personally, I have always been interested in and get a feeling of self growth from experiencing and understanding different cultures. I don’t just mean travelling through, but spending time in a country, eating the local food, learning the language, drinking the water. Integrate yourself as much as possible into their society. There are many good schools around the world, but I was particularly looking for something fresh - a new language, a different in mentality and way of life, something that would tickle my mind.
Location is important
So why Spain? Why would anyone put themselves in a market suffering from a recession? Isn’t it important to consider the maximum job availability in the market? It depends. Spain is in an economic downturn, that's not a question, but it is also a country with goods that can be leveraged – just not on a domestic platform.
There is very little exposure to Spanish goods outside of the country and South America. Being here in Spain, I have begun to locate local businesses interested in expanding into North American and Asia (regions which happen to align with my experience.) This would be a solution to help businesses in Spain and that’s where I am in competitive advantage. My past exposure to both cultures and my languages skills are an asset for these companies.
If I were pursing an MBA degree in another country – say the United States, where there are, of course, plenty of great MBA programs to choose from – I would not find myself in a unique circumstance. And to that point, multi-national companies are always in search of talent with diverse exposure, with flexibility and the ability to adapt. Not to mention that studying in Spain gives me the chance to learn another language – yet another competitive advantage. Location is what you make of it.
Interests that further happiness
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. It’s important to do things that make you happy and self fulfilled. For me, the academic side of an MBA is just one of the many factors. IE is known for its diversity of culture – something that is very important to me. For example, in my intake, there are more than 80 nationalities within the 450 classmates.
Earlier this year, together with IE China Club, I hosted a Chinese New Year event, with an approximate 400 attendees. I gain great satisfaction from helping others develop a basic understanding of and an interest in a different culture rather than just what is exaggerated in movies and television series. The other interest I have is social responsibility, which I will talk about it in greater detail in future posts.
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