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Real Humans of the IESE MBA Class of 2024

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Andie Salazar, IESE MBA Class of 2024

Age: 32
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Undergraduate Institution and Major: The University of Texas at Austin, Journalism
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 10 years, social media marketing in the e-commerce and hospitality industries

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I’ve been considering pursuing a master’s degree for a while. Last year, I reached a point in my career where I still enjoyed my role, but had determined that I didn’t want to manage social media long-term. Shifting my job function and developing leadership skills that would advance my career were two primary factors in my decision to attend business school. 

Why did you choose IESE? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
When determining which business schools to apply to, location was key. I only applied to European schools because I really wanted to gain international experience – both professionally and personally. The people were a major factor in narrowing it down to IESE. I love that IESE’s MBA cohorts are fairly large and very diverse. In my class, we have 353 students and 55 nationalities represented. This offers an incredible opportunity to learn from and grow alongside peers from a wide range of backgrounds. This is also an important aspect of IESE’s classroom dynamic, where the case method is the primary learning methodology. In class, the focus is on dialogue between students, so that diversity really shines through and enriches the experience. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
Coming from a marketing background (especially social media), I have a non-traditional professional profile for an MBA program. I have also had the opportunity to work for a range of companies of various sizes and in various industries, from e-commerce at Etsy to travel hospitality at Marriott to restaurants at Shake Shack. This diversity of experience enables me to bring a unique perspective to the class.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
Growing up, I loved visiting national parks around the US with my family. To date, I’ve been to 24! A few favorites include Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton and Bryce Canyon.

Post-MBA career interests:
Post-MBA, I hope to land a job in brand management, product management or DEI initiative management at an e-commerce or tech company. I plan to use the next two years to explore these career paths (and any others that interest me along the way!) to determine what I’m truly passionate about pursuing long-term.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
For me, the in-person experience has always been a key factor when deciding which schools to attend or companies to join. Attending online panels and speaking virtually with current students is definitely helpful. But if you’re able to, I highly recommend visiting the schools that you’re considering in person to determine which one is the right fit. Visiting IESE’s Barcelona campus, sitting in on a class and meeting students convinced me that this was the program for me.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have started the process earlier. I think I made the decision to apply to MBA programs later than most people did. In the span of just six months, I studied for the GMAT, took the test, applied to schools and interviewed for programs. It was really stressful completing the process on such a condensed timeline while working a full-time job. I wish that I had started sooner to alleviate some of the stress and pressure.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT was pretty rough! After being out of school for so long, getting back in the habit of studying was an adjustment and relearning the material covered in the test was time-consuming. I took a prep course as I kicked off my study process, which I found very helpful and would recommend. That course taught me the nuances of the GMAT and provided a great overview of the content while keeping me on track with studying. 

What is your initial impression of the IESE students/culture/community?
Coming in, I knew that everyone at IESE would be incredibly intelligent. Because of that, I was a little worried that some of my peers might be overly competitive and intimidating. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming, though! Our cohort is definitely made up of very smart and driven people who want to excel academically, but they’re also here to enjoy the experience – both inside and outside the classroom. It’s only been a few weeks since classes officially began and we’ve already made some amazing memories. 

What is one thing you have learned about IESE that has surprised you?
IESE is really intentional about every aspect of the MBA program. For example, our class of 353 students is split into five sections, and within those sections, we are assigned to smaller teams. Each section and team have been very carefully composed, keeping diversity of both professional and personal backgrounds in mind. They keep telling us to “trust the process,” and it definitely seems like they know what they’re doing!

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m a bit anxious about being able to juggle everything. The first year is notoriously challenging and IESE throws a lot at you. It can be difficult to find the right balance between academics, career preparation and having a social life. You want to do it all, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. I definitely think I’ll come out of this experience more adept at prioritization and time management. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Getting to know my classmates is hands-down what I’m most excited about this year. Everyone comes from very different backgrounds, so I’m really looking forward to learning from their unique experiences and cultures. I think the majority of us are here with similar personal ambitions to experience all of the amazing things that Barcelona has to offer and explore other parts of Europe as well.

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.