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Real Humans of the IESE MBA Class of 2019

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Our Real Humans of the MBA Class of 2019 series takes us this week to lovely Barcelona, Spain, where students at IESE Business School have just taken part in “Multi-Culti,” one of the most highly anticipated social events of the year. It’s a half-day shindig that lets the school show off its true international spirit through regional dance, dress, and food from the dozens and dozens of countries and regions its students call home. From all the accounts we heard, it lived up to the hype.

The school is also basking in its recent third-place rank among business schools in Europe in the Financial Times 2018 Global MBA Ranking, released in January, up from fifth the year before. And just earlier this week, IESE placed second in Europe in the FT’s just-released Top MBAs for Women ranking, and 14th globally.

The IESE MBA Class of 2019 is made up of 360 students representing 57 different nationalities. Together with 352 second-year students, this represents the largest number of full-time MBA students on the school’s Barcelona campus in its 50-year history. Indeed, interest in the school is on the rise—thanks in part to strong performance in rankings like the FT’s and the increased presence of IESE around the world. (In addition to Barcelona, the school now also counts campuses in Madrid, New York, Munich, and Sao Paolo—and it’s investing $24 million in a new Madrid campus that will double the current space and allow for expanded research, programming, and entrepreneurship.) For the first time this academic year, both first- and second-year classes have five sections of students. The incorporation of a fifth section comes in response to a 28 percent increase in applications since 2010.

Truly international, IESE does count more students from Spain than any other country, but at just 16 percent of the class, they are far from a majority. U.S. students make up another 11 percent, followed by 6 percent each from Brazil and India, and 5 percent from China. Interest among German students in the program is up 40 percent, so that they now account for 4 percent of the class.

Women now make up 32 percent of the class, up four percentage points over last year. The average GMAT for the Class of 2019 was 690, on par with the previous class. In terms of prior industry, 19 percent came from banking and another 16 percent came from consulting, but students from non-traditional industries such as social media, e-commerce, and IT now make up almost a quarter (24 percent) of the current class. The average age of IESE students is 28.5.

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The group of IESE students we were lucky enough to connect with hail from West Palm Beach, Florida; Tokyo, Madrid, Dubai, and Garðabær, Iceland—and yet that doesn’t even begin to truly reflect the remarkable diversity of the class. In the mix are an Army veteran with crazy leadership experience, a computer science undergrad with several years’ experience in digital marketing and retail, a former banker with experience in treasury and capital markets, a tech industry veteran whose background in law allowed her to assist both Google and Facebook with legal operations and intellectual property, and a language education undergrad from Japan who brings five years’ of sales experience working for a global high-tech company. And don’t even get us started on the many different career paths they intend to explore as a result of the IESE MBA.

What this varied group shares in common is its decision to attend IESE for business school—and some of the reasons they rattled off that made that decision an easy one. The school’s case method teaching model was a key selling point for most students we spoke with. So, too, was the truly diverse learning opportunities they expected to receive. Because not only do students count more than 50 different countries of origin, the vast majority also have worked and/or lived outside of their home country, adding even further to the diversity of experience and perspective they can bring to the classroom.

Barcelona’s also not a bad place to spend a couple of years. It’s a beautiful city filled with art, culture, and amazing food, and attending a business school in a Spanish-speaking country where classes are taught in English ensures that students emerge from the MBA program with fluency in at least two languages. (IESE became the first bilingual MBA program in the world in 1980.)

We’ve given you a taste—now read on to learn from the students themselves about what they’ve found at IESE in their first year of business school.

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