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Real Humans of IESE’s MBA Class of 2022

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Alex Biehl, IESE MBA Class of 2022

Age: 27
Hometown: Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; B.S. in Business Administration
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2 years in Investment Banking (SunTrust Robinson Humphrey) and 3 years at a private credit fund (Comvest)

Why business school? Why now? 
I chose to get an MBA because I wanted to make two primary changes in my professional career: make a bigger impact internationally and pivot into a more operationally focused role. I’ve always been passionate about international (specifically, Latin America) culture, politics, and economic differences, but that passion was limited to my personal travels as my professional work experience was focused on mostly US-based clients. I knew that if I wanted to make a global impact, I needed to learn how to do business in an international community.

Why IESE? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? 
This decision was a joint effort between me and my wife. We knew we wanted to live outside of the US for a period of time to appreciate a culture separate from what we grew up in. Specifically, I chose IESE because it provides additional technical skills to my toolkit and diversifies my perspective so I can provide effective operational feedback for multi-cultural businesses. IESE’s focus on general management with a case study-centric curriculum provides a unique opportunity to actively learn from students from all over the world and a distinct framework to approach complex problems. Further, the intensive Spanish language component equips me to communicate across most of the Western Hemisphere.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022? 
IESE’s diverse global class is a standout quality. In the midst of a global pandemic, getting all the MBA students to Barcelona, Spain proved to be more than challenging. From constantly shifting international border regulations to government shutdowns to impossibly long document turnover, the IESE Class of 2022 has been through everything (and then some!) to make the Barcelona dream come true. This resilience and grit define our class, and we won’t allow any challenge (big or small) to stand in our way of accomplishing something larger than ourselves.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
While bartending during undergrad, if I didn’t know how to make a drink, I would tell the customer (usually a fellow college student) to order something else! My manager wasn’t too happy with me for using this tactic.

Post-MBA career interests? 
My post-MBA goal is to drive change for middle-market companies headquartered in Latin America; ideally, I would accomplish this through a role in private equity or venture capital.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? 

During the application process, I spent a tremendous amount of time speaking with faculty, alumni, and current students. Outside of the obvious benefits of expanding my network, it also helped me better understand the value-add and fit of schools in which I wanted to apply. As a result, I ended up applying to only two programs, and I was fortunate enough to be accepted at both! I encourage you to reach out to anyone who has experience with the schools in which you are interested. It will pay off big time as you start applying to programs and realize applications should take a lot of time and effort. Don’t waste your time applying to programs that don’t fit your needs!

–One thing you would change or do differently? 
I would have spent more time thinking about what I truly wanted or needed out of this process. While I had a pretty clear vision for what I was looking for, I had never sat down and spent time writing down my introspective thoughts in a formulaic manner. I’ve done that soul-searching over the last several months, but it’s more difficult to prioritize now in the midst of soaking in the MBA experience

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? 
I think the only right answer for this question is: studying for the GMAT! While it’s a pain, it’s absolutely a necessity so don’t put it off and say you’ll study in your free time. Do yourself a favor, sign up for the GMAT 6 – 8 weeks from now, commit to studying, and get it done! Otherwise, you’ll regret wasting so much time stressing over it.

What is your initial impression of IESE’s students/culture/community?
IESE’s mission statement revolves around making a positive impact on the world. This mentality permeates every facet of the program: classes, clubs, students, and faculty. Being surrounded by not only extremely smart and driven people but also people who have an incredibly strong moral compass, is inspiring, to say the least.

One thing you have learned about IESE that has surprised you? 
Partners are invited to practically everything (they’re even allowed to take one class per semester!). I knew moving abroad would be difficult for my partner since she wouldn’t be in the scheduled academic program like myself. As it has turned out, she’s quickly made her own network of MBA students and their partners. IESE strives to provide this environment so that families feel comfortable making this big life decision together.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? 
Getting to know all my classmates. Through all of the COVID restrictions, serendipitous meet-ups are a thing of the past. So far, students have been extremely proactive in organizing get-togethers (in a COVID-appropriate manner!), so that we’re sure to connect with as many other students as possible.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? 
Learning in an academic setting AFTER having professional work experience. Coming into the MBA with professional experience, it’s much easier to contextualize academic teachings and extract real value from case study discussions!

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.