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Real Humans of the IESE MBA Class of 2023

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Quyen Tran, IESE MBA Class of 2023

Age: 27
Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA, USA) – Major: Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Data analytics (USA – 1 year), data analytics then marketing within the technology sector (Vietnam – 4 years)

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Spending 2 years in data analytics then switching gears to marketing, I realized the tremendous value in looking at business problems from different perspectives. Following my transition from analytics to the strategy and execution side of the business, my work on various cross-functional projects further reinforced my belief that business leaders need both analytical and people management skills. For that reason, an MBA with a general management perspective is the perfect fit for me. I want to develop a more holistic view of business while learning to be a better leader who can make a positive impact on the community. 

Why did you choose IESE? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was looking for an MBA program that would not only allow me to pursue excellence but would also give me diversity in perspectives, and IESE offered me just that. I remember having such an engaging discussion with my potential classmates during Open Day and getting exposed to ideas and thoughts I had not considered before. My positive impressions were only strengthened on Assessment Day in which I learned much about my potential classmates and they seemed equally eager to learn about me. The Case Study method certainly helped with creating an environment where we could learn from each other, yet I think the people at IESE make all the difference! Learning and growing among this group of smart, motivated, value- and community-driven people is a dream come true for me. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
Professionally, I have been fortunate enough to develop some cross-functional knowledge of data analytics, marketing, and product management. I feel even more fortunate to have spent 4 years working at the largest e-commerce company in Southeast Asia and am excited to share with my classmates what I have learned about the tech disruptions and impact in emerging markets such as Southeast Asia. 

Personally, I have always been passionate about empowering people. I will be the biggest supporter of my classmates, cheering them on, encouraging them to push through the challenges, and helping them with my knowledge and experience.  

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
If I didn’t choose to pursue an MBA, my alternative career would be in psychology. I absolutely love to understand people, i.e., why we do what we do, what shapes our personality, and how we can find happiness and fulfillment in our lives. 

Post-MBA career interests:
It’s either consulting or back to technology. If consulting, I would love to work on digital transformation projects or helping to build and scale digital businesses. I want to leverage my experience in the tech industry to help businesses transform themselves and take advantage of the tech solutions available. If technology, I would love to be involved in ventures focusing on education technology or e-commerce; those are the two areas that will empower many under-developed communities. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Reflection. I spent a lot of time reflecting on my past experiences, my values, and my career plans. I asked myself what I want out of my MBA experience, what I can bring to the table, and what sacrifices (financial, social, etc.) I would be willing to make. Reflecting helps me understand myself much better and gives so much clarity to my application. I was able to develop a theme around my application and tell a coherent, convincing story to the admissions committee. Coming to the MBA, I am also clear on what I need to do and prioritize to make the best of this experience. 

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have loved to visit the schools before applying or after getting admitted, but COVID-19 made it almost impossible to do so. Talking to current students and alumni was helpful, yet I feel there are certain things that could only be experienced or felt in person rather than be summarized into words or communicated via marketing materials.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think I’d skip any part of the application process. I enjoy learning, even for the GMAT. The recommendation letters gave me an opportunity to reconnect with a mentor, while the application essays allowed me to really articulate my strengths, experiences, and career aspirations. Talking to alumni, students, and the admissions committee is of course such a joy. Doing applications while working full time was not easy, but I loved my job. It was absolutely worth it.  

What is your initial impression of the IESE students/culture/community?
Everyone at IESE is so approachable and supportive! This impression was formed when I first started reaching out to my admissions director and was further reinforced the more I talked to current students and alumni. No matter how long ago they had graduated from IESE, alumni were so willing to share their experiences and help when they could.

Meeting my classmates and going through the first few weeks of the program together, my impression has not changed at all. I could imagine myself fostering strong bonds with this group of people and becoming friends for life.

What is one thing you have learned about IESE that has surprised you?
IESE takes pride in the diversity and internationality of its MBA program, and I already know that before applying. In fact, IESE’s global reach is a key factor influencing my decision to apply. However, even I am surprised at how international we are. This year we have classmates of over 60 different nationalities, and so many of us have had international experiences, i.e., we have studied, lived, or worked outside of our home country at some point. I am looking forward to immersing myself in such an amazing community. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?COVID-19 has certainly affected my application process both in positive and negative ways. It was almost impossible for me to visit campus before applying or after getting admitted, and I couldn’t meet my potential classmates in person for Assessment Day. The travel restrictions meant that I had to rely a lot more on alumni and student connections (Zoom calls and virtual sessions) to get a feel for the school. On the other hand, I was also glad that I didn’t have to take much time off work for the traveling and application/interview process because my work was quite demanding at the time. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Balancing many different aspects of the MBA program: academics, recruiting for summer internships, getting to know my classmates, and taking care of myself.  

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Learning has always given me so much joy, so I’m very much looking forward to learning about different industries, learning Spanish while living in Barcelona, and learning about my classmates!

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2023, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: IESE

About the Author


Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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