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Real Humans of IESE’s MBA Class of 2022

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Stephanie Chioh, IESE MBA Class of 2022

Age: 29
Hometown: Singapore
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Cardiff Metropolitan University; Business & Management Studies
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Risk Advisory Manager in Deloitte Singapore
7 years and 7 months

Why business school? Why now?
Seven years into my career, I have been focusing on working with clients to put policies and processes in place to mitigate risks. As much as I enjoyed doing so, I often found myself asking, “Why are they facing these threats? How should they be positioned in the eyes of their customers, competitors, and stakeholders? How are they performing now in terms of profitability, market growth, etc.? How are other companies doing and what were the experiences of others from these companies?” Then I thought, an MBA would be a good place to learn from top-quality professors and a diverse and outstanding batch of students. I want to learn and continue improving myself to become a work with my future clients to solve business problems.

Why IESE? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I attended an MBA fair in 2018 and met a representative from the admissions team of IESE and I enjoyed our conversation. Unlike the other interactions I had with the other schools, my interaction with this IESE representative was the most memorable one. I knew if I was going to take an MBA, it would have to be out of my country. A world-class MBA in Barcelona! Why not?

The use of the case study method was also another reason why I chose IESE. To learn by reading and discussing real-life cases with team members before going to class when the professor will facilitate and guide the discussion by asking questions and encouraging participation from the entire class got me really interested.

Get an MBA and the opportunity to learn Spanish (the top 5 most spoken languages in the world today) at IESE? Si, por favor!

I visited Barcelona during my holidays in January 2020 and coincidentally, I was invited for a video interview a few weeks before I flew off. I decided to have my interview done face to face in Barcelona and I was fortunate to be able to participate in the Assessment Day just before my flight back to Singapore the same evening! The experience there was eye-opening and exciting. I met a diverse group of IESE applicants and got a chance to work with a small team on a Kickstarter case to be presented in my assigned section.

Till today, I can still remember being anxious and excited. That trip was unforgettable, and it was the moment when I knew, it was IESE or no MBA. August 2022, I landed in Barcelona – no regrets, new place, and new me!

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
In the seven years of my career, I have worked with different teams and worked with colleagues and clients from diverse backgrounds and from various countries and industries. I hope to be value-added support to my team and share my experiences, understanding, and appreciation of different cultures with the Class of 2022.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I used to binge-watch, blame the auto-play function that launches right into the next episode! I once started a 30-episode drama at 4 pm and completed the whole season at 6 am the next day.

Post-MBA career interests?
Management consulting. The life of a consultant continues to excite and energize me. I see myself working with clients to understand the business and financial implications of their decisions and overall strategy. Gradually, I would like to extend the realm of my consulting activity to other industries such as retail, hospitality, technology, green industry, construction, and healthcare among others, becoming a well-rounded “Global Consultant” in the process.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
To keep in touch with Admissions. Even though I was not at that time, knowing that they are there and open to speak with you was always a mood booster.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
Start my MBA preparations earlier. Juggling applications and weekly travels in and out of Singapore for work was just not practical

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
GMAT. Preparing for it was painful. The last time I touched mathematics and multiple-choice questions were more than 10 years ago! With only a few months to prepare, in addition to my job, it was just nerve-wracking. Nevertheless, the support and encouragement I received from my family, friends, and the IESE admissions team kept me going with my application.

What is your initial impression of IESE’s students/ culture/community?
IESE is a community. Everybody – the faculty, students, and alumni are very friendly and welcoming. The faculty has been very supportive – being there to support our journey from home countries to Barcelona, transitioning us from online classes to physical classes (while maintaining appropriate social distancing), and supporting us in our academics and career preparation. The diversity in the student body is amazing and the culture is very inclusive. There are more than 50 nationalities with a vast spectrum of career backgrounds and you always learn something new from someone from another country or another industry. So many people to talk to, so much to learn and explore!

One thing you have learned about IESE that has surprised you?
The business case method used in class was an eye-opening experience for me. I studied in Singapore my whole life and I attended classes in a passive manner. I would be seen paying attention in class, taking notes, and jotting questions in my notebook before asking questions at the end of the class. What I learned from this class experience was active listening and participation. I enjoyed listening to the different views and ideas raised in class and would also try to participate more actively. What I got out of these lessons, besides financial accounting – when accuracy in numbers is everything, was that there is no one fixed method or structure to approach a situation or problem.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Juggling studies, career preparation, and networking! Everything is important, but we need to be realistic about our choices.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Being uncomfortable, taking on new challenges, and learning along the way.

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.