IE Business School Online Masters
Sufiyan Javeed Sait
July 8, 2011
Now onto Financial Management and Organizational Behavior

Ram Parasuraman
May 7, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students: Essay, you say?
Hi everyone! Welcome to the final post in my Q&A series. Of course, the questions never end, but I guess I should put a stop somewhere. I believe that this series consists of the most common questions that were asked by most of you. Over the last few emails, I found complete coverage, this tells me that we have reached “critical mass” in terms of questions. Of course, if you try a bit, you can find a question that is not covered here, but hopefully that is a very specific question.
Q.24 Which would you recommend, the IE Admissions Test or the GMAT?
A.24 In the sport of Cricket, they would call this a “Googly”. A totally unexpected question, but a good one nonetheless. Again, I am not going to dodge this question and emphasize that this is just my opinion, may not match those of IE, other fellow authors or my colleagues worldwide. So here goes.. The GMAT is an international standard for MBA admissions. Some argue that it is unrealistic, does not test the most relevant aspects required from an MBA entrant, etc. But I am a fan! I think preparing for the GMAT was in itself a great experience. I would say that the GMAT was a lot more relevant to my MBA than the GRE was to my MS. Getting a good 650 or 700+ score in the GMAT would require good written English skills and a good aptitude for quantitative analysis. I would say this is your signature, not the bottom line. With a good GMAT score, you show the AdComs that you’ve got talent.
In talking to several people, I have found that the IE written test may be harder for some and easier for others to get through compared to the GMAT. It tests for some specialized skills that it considers as appropriate metrics for incoming candidates. The GMAT gives you access to any business school, but of course, the IE test gives you access to IE. If IE is your only choice, then maybe the latter is more for you, you might save money on the IE test relative to the GMAT if you take rescheduling fees, retakes, etc. I like standardized tests just as a way to benchmark myself to the rest of the world and considering its validity for 5 years should you not be able to execute your plans.
But of course, I would like to repeat that the GMAT or the IE test is but one aspect of your application. There are essays, your academic and professional preparation, the diversity you bring in, etc.
Q.25 Who would you recommend getting the Letter of Recommendation from? Should my boss be involved?
A.25 Again, excellent question. Looks like it takes 7 parts to get into the actual guts of the application process 😉 Jokes aside, you need 2 letters of recommendation (LoR) for the IE GMBA. First rule of thumb, make sure they are real people and that “they” are writing it, not you. Next, you do not need to let your boss know if you are not going to seek company assistance for your tuition fees. It is much more important that the people that write your LoR are those that know you very well and have worked closely with you. As you can see, IE’s letters are a bit more structured and closed ended than many open ended letters that other MBA programs ask for. So, it is crucial that you get properly represented via these letters.
I am not in the AdCom, so I can only guess what they’d look for, but if I were they, I would want to make sure that these letter reflect what you write in your essays. For example, if the recommender says that you love working on your own to find solutions whereas you boast about your teamwork skills in your essays, that is inconsistent. Who do they believe? The other thing I would look for, just as I would in the essays, is to get maximum coverage. So, if you choose 2 people that know you in a different capacity, for example, if you are a manager, getting one from your peer or direct report and another from your customer, would give 2 very different perspectives about you. This would supplement your essays very well and help AdCom understand you quite well.
I hope I am guessing right, if not, if someone from the Admissions Department is reading this, please feel free to correct via the comments and I will retract this answer and apologize for guessing wrong.
Q.26 How did you approach the essays? There are so many in IE’s Application Form!
A.26 Good question! Yes indeed, IE has more questions than other comparable MBA programs. But I think it gives you an excellent opportunity to introspect and find out what you really want from this MBA. It is okay to be entirely honest and present yourself for who you are. MBA programs ask for essays to gauge your experience, your judgment and the style with which you make your argument. This is critical since this shows the AdCom who you are, how you would contribute to the experience of your classmates during the courses. Plus, I think since the GMBA involves a lot of writing, for presentations, for forum posts, during the chat in the videoconferences, etc. it is only apt that your written skills are put to the test.
So, get down and dirty, write about your most notable experiences, just as you would write it yourself. I think the more you write in your natural style, the better your chances. It is easy for anyone to see through a professed writing style and it is not fair to you or your peers for you to write any differently than you normally would. So, be yourself, and write about the most relevant aspects. One tip I can offer is, try not to repeat yourself during essays. It is to your advantage to expose different facets and experiences in your life in each essay. That way, you give a 360 degree view of who you are. The essays are the eyes and ears into you, so make sure you are heard and seen! Differentiate yourself by talking about experiences that made you what you are. Talk about fun things as well. Humor could be your “niche”! So go for it!
This concludes the Q&A series! I wish you Good Luck in your application and hope to see you as an IE MBA student in the near future! If this Q&A helped you, I would appreciate it if you could drop a line indicating that it did its job or failed in the process. Please guide me with your feedback.
You can Read prior Q&A posts here:
Prior Episodes of this series:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Goodbye Folks! Stay tuned for further notes on the everyday experience in the GMBA from me and from all of us!

The IE Global MBA from Sunny California

Ram Parasuraman
May 1, 2010
Q&A with Prospective GMBA Students: Director’s Cut?
Admissions season heating up.. the climate around us heating up.. time to get this Q&A series heated up as well!

Prior Parts of this series:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Now, on to Part 5…

Q13. I understand that IE utilizes the Adobe Connect platform to collaborate online, what other tools does IE uses to bring the students together?
A13. Yes, IE uses Adobe connect and the online discussion forums. It also offers an Adobe Virtual networking room where any of us can jump in and have a virtual meeting. This class is a great one and we are pushing the boundaries on IE’s offerings. Good thing is that they are a young university and are pretty open minded. You can also sign up for a virtual information session, where you can get a first hand experience of the system.
Q14. I am looking to get a good mix of practical management and leadership skills from the program, can the program deliver?
A14. Yes, for sure. Instruction and coursework are very practical, easily applicable. You can reference the list of courses here. As you will see, the first modules will focus on building blocks and then we transition on practical application of a combination of the skills you pick up along the way. The Entrepreneurship project will put it all together.

Q.15. Even though I will not be using the degree to make career changes or use it for immediate career progression, but will the degree help me in my long term career goals, for example, opening doors for upper management positions in the next 5 years?
A.15 Like I said in response to an earlier question, it is mostly up to you, i.e. your personality, your skills, your experience and your network on how far you take any MBA. Of course, there are no guarantees for anything, since our external environment is changing as we speak. We cannot control the economy, industry trends, etc. But the key is to develop and use a good skillset and to develop a great global network. IE equips you for both of this, yes it is not as popular in USA as yet to leverage your network, but you do enjoy the opportunity to be an early mover into this potent network. As long as you are confident that you can make it based on your skillset and the license that a global MBA degree gives you, there should not be an issue.
Q16. If you are the CEO of a company asked to hire a Director for your new company and you get two resumes from different candidates with similar industry experience with one having an MBA from UC Berkeley and the other a GMBA from IE whom would you consider for the position knowing what you know about GMBA and obviously not being biased towards it?

A.16 Good question. These days I am playing pretend CEO a lot, thanks to our professor’s questions along a similar line ;)Just like they say when we apply for an MBA, that a GMAT score alone does not make or break a deal, similarly where the person did an MBA from alone should never dictate an informed decision. I would for sure evaluate the length and relevance of experience to my company profile. If you were to say all else is the same, then I would hire the Berkeley person if this position were based on a US company and required an Operations, Technology or Real Estate based expertise, on the other hand if it required International Management and Collaboration across several countries in a Finance, Marketing or Entrepreneurial capacity, I would go for the IE guy.

Q17. Have you attended any of the integration days and are they worth attending?

A17. Unfortunately for me, I have been unable to attend the integration days so far. But many of my classmates have attended and I will let them comment on this in the comments section. These sessions offer a very good opportunity to observe your learnings put into practice in the context of different countries and companies worldwide. It is a great feature of our Global MBA and you get to meet alums working in the countries you visit. It is a good professional networking and a culturally enriching exercise.Okay.. got to run for a Group Discussion, but until next time… नमस्कार

Ram Parasuraman
April 29, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students: Spanish Delight?

Before I get into this edition of Q&A, let me get some Links posted:

— It was brought to my notice  that there was a thread on LinkedIn where several of our honorary GMBA alums including Mariel and Paul have posted their insights to some common questions, some of which I have answered here on this site as well. It gives you a few more viewpoints.

— Some of you asked, why I am starting with some weird numbers, like Q8 or Q9… it is because this is an ongoing series. Please review prior blog posts in this series: PartI, PartII, PartIII. On to Part IV now..


Q11. Is it a good move to do an MBA in a Spanish school, considering the financial crisis and recession ongoing in Spain now?

A11.  Interesting question actually. But I guess the answer depends on what you are planning to do after your MBA. If you are planning to embark on a full time MBA, living in Madrid and had plans to look for employment in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, then it might be a worthwhile question to pose and to do some analysis on backup options, whether you would be able to go back to your home country and get a better job with your MBA.

However, if you are planning to do a Global MBA or International Executive MBA from your home country, then I would say, it is actually a good time to be doing an MBA with a top school in Spain. Why? There are a number of good reasons:

  • Spain is learning each day from its experience, its “path dependency” as we like to call it in our strategy class. So, these learnings are brought to the classroom, both by our professors as well as our Spanish classmates. Jorge and Laura in our class are very concerned and brought some great insights into class discussions. We debated how things can improve, how such crises can be avoided and critiqued whether the steps that government is taking are enough, etc. At any other time and day, these valuable lessons would be lost on us, as we gloated in the glory of progress.
  • Considering that we are just emerging from a global recession, the quality of students in your class, and consequently, the competition for admission are both likely to be high. But the end result, if you get in, is that you are going to learn from the best of breed in your class!
  • Unlike in US schools, which are cutting down spending, boosting fees, etc.  IE Business School continues to invest through the downturn, expanding facilities, opening up new integration opportunities and improving its online collaboration tools.
  • Interest rates worldwide are quite low now, so you are probably in a good shape to borrow for tuition 😉
  • You are helping out Spanish economy by spending your tuition on a Spanish school. That’s gotta count towards your “asset” side in your goodwill (T) account!

Q12. I’ve read plenty of negative comments about IE in Business Week Exchange forums, e.g. it does not deserve the ranking, its quality of students is poor, it admits everyone? Didn’t these bother you?

A12. Well how can I respond to such a question? Take a great human like Angelina Jolie or Bill Gates or a great company such as Google or Apple, if you Google them for opinion, do you expect to find only glowing and good things being said about them? I guess not. Whenever someone or an institution is very famous, it is bound to be the target of some criticism and a lot of praise. So take it with a pinch of salt and decide for yourself on what to believe and what to debate or even ignore.

The very publication you mention, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, has awarded IE a top-10 ranking. Wall St Journal, The Economist and Financial Times have consistently awarded IE high honors. You can see it here in this blog, from so many authors from so many different nations and backgrounds talk high about IE in one voice. We are not drugged or hypnotized into saying these things.  But don’t take our word for it. Attend an IE event, talk to its personnel, visit the Campus or even try to find some videos on Youtube featuring Dean Santiago and then make an informed decision. I wish you luck and if you need a honest student opinion, you can always ask any of us.

Until next time, I’m signing off

पुन्हा भेटू

(Until we meet again, in Marathi, a 1300 yr old Indian language)

Ertan Uzundemir
April 7, 2010
The IXMBA experience


…287 after having joined the blog, I finally managed to hide away from professors and fellows to share my insights with you. I guess that tells something. But lets start from the very beginning…

As I wanted to change my to date career path I was thinking of taking a concise next step through education. I fought my way through MBA books, journals, ratings, accreditations, and incredibly insulting offers until I finally decided that the MBA at a major European school was what I wanted.

Why IE?

The reasons why I chose IE are easily explained. I wanted a top academy with a flexible program offered at a reasonable price. IE offers various Triple Crown accredited (AACSB, EQUIS, AMBA) programs in a flexible online format with however important face-to-face periods and was competitive in tuitions and side expenses. The only things I needed: apply, pass the interviews and lift off. Said and done!

Is it really that hard?

I don’t remember precisely, but I think the program director’s opening line was something like the following: “Welcome to hell and thanks for trusting us in making you suffer”. And one thing I can confirm is, these people are very innovative and well trained for this discipline! Joking aside, the program is very intense. It turns one’s life upside down and requires all it can get from the student (and its environment). Days turn into nights and nights again into days and I find myself surrounded by books, notes, case studies and 25 open browser screens yet not having finished my weekly contributions. The only thing that keeps me going is counting down the days that remain until graduation (116 by the way).

If you are intending to have an easy life while doing an MBA, I would not recommend any of the top-notch academies. If you want to participate in a challenging and life-changing experience, want to pressure-feed yourself with condensed and state of the art business know-how, want to be amongst the top-class alumni, IE is the place to go. The program is structured in a way which allows you to fit work, private life and IE into 24 hours. Who the hell needs sleep?

What is the IXMBA (International Executive MBA Online)  like?

The average week encompasses three parallel courses and of course requires their prior preparations, usually readings from books or scripts, some case studies plus the related assignments. From Tuesday to Friday vivid discussions for the weekly classes (1-3) which are guided by the professors require one’s participation and add value in multiple ways. Here is where theory turns into practice, where experiences are being shared, points clarified, most ideal ways to tackle business problems are battled or one’s scope broadened by the many plausible arguments on how to cope with real work situations. For the week after? Guess what, it is as you were Bill Murray in Groundhog day. Speed and intensity remain and the entire process repeats itself, over and over again.

Case studies provide an excellent way to practically learn how small to big companies have turned their business over years with an amazingly broad range of topics covered mostly in Harvard Business School case studies.

What do I appreciate the most of the program?

There are many aspects which are ground-breaking. The program is like a walk in the sun, where IE is your shadow. You simply cannot get rid of it. It is like climbing the mountains and being overjoyed to reach the summit at the week’s end, while having a glimpse on the even higher peak’s ascent.

One is ad-hoc able to apply the learnings on the job, while the scope and intensity of the program change habitual ways of approaching and tackling day-to-day’s problems. Analytical and conceptual skills are drilled and on the course of the program, the puzzle is becoming complemented and provides a more thorough and clear picture of how the world outside really turns. The IXMBA can help – and I will keep you posted on that – to boost your career, but beside that it does much more: it makes you comprehend how the building blocks of our professional envionment relate and interfere, how problems can be tackled and mastered and how you can gear yourself consciously towards higher returns from your job environment, namely satisfaction, recognition or career. Last but not at all least are the fellow students, who not only enrich your learning experience, but share these moments of torture, pain and enthusiastic delight with you.

What are the presential periods like?

The initial presential period in Madrid was a real awakening. Just having collected the books and study material, we were demanded to prepare for the following day: only 200 pages to read while my watch was telling me I yet had 6 hours to go before the class started! I don’t remember much from Madrid but being extremely tired and krackered when I arrived back home. However, the first presential period managed well what it had to do: you immediately familiarize with the programs intensity, get to know your fellows and swear your group into the pact for the succeeding 6 months.

Shanghai  in January was an amazing experience. The exams, the excursions and of course the parties well paid tribute for the previous months of austerity. There was nothing greater to meet again with the fellow students and nothing more sad to need to leave back home after such a great time.

Would I do it again?

Straight off: yes! The reason is simple. The program allows to take a wild ride while being seated in a employment. IE does only ask for your discipline, time and effort while showing and guiding you on the path through the course. The professors are very cooperative and luminary academic staff. At the bottom line: it is one year of intense battle with yourself, which pays off with more than a diploma. You learn, you make friends and you carry your head high when having survived this experience.

Anybody who is interested in more details is welcome to approach me (

Borislav Kiprin
February 13, 2010
Reflections on the last weeks of Masters in Digital Marketing

Time passes. And so I find myself 5 weeks shy form graduation. So do the my classmates. We tangle between reality and insanity on daily basis now. And to tell you the truth, it is not easy. We found ourselves so wired juggling between job assignments, our Master’s ones and trying to have a sort of a personal life. The latter one however, proves to be the hardest task. Nonetheless, we are all faithful that this manic rhythm will bring us to the next level – a better understanding of how to develop marketing strategies in the digital environment or managing an e-business platform.

Anyways, let’s give a little perspective concerning the second online period, by offering you a situational analysis of everyone’s weekly agenda:

  • The Master – well, this really is a doubled weekly assignment. One one hand we have the 2-3 subjects we need to discuss every week. This basically means reading, posting, researching and considering. To this you might want to add the preparation for next week’s subjects – again 2-3. So, to sum up  you got 4-6 subjects to work on weekly.
  • The Job – well, you gotta make a living, right? So, no matter if you work for a company or you are a freelancer as some of the team are, you still have your daily duties. And let’s face it, you are doing that for the better part of the day.
  • The Startup – As a person about to graduate from IE’s Master in Digital Marketing you are expected to team up with colleagues and work on a business plan that will prove that you deserve that MBA degree. And this requires research, marketing strategy, financial calculations, operational plan and assumptions and last but not least a devotion. I mean you gotta do it right. After all, IE makes sure that, if you do your job right you might get funding and a ticket to the game of the big guys.
  • The Personal Life – hmmm… Some of us can hardly remember what that feels like. We all have put our hobbies aside for a year. Others created a daily agenda including only important family duties and feel like kids in Disneyland when they get a holiday for Christmas or Easter.

Now, if you are turned totally off by the previous lines, you have to keep something in mind. It is not about getting into one of the best b-schools on earth. You need to be organized, smart and a very good team player. Not only for yourself, but for the whole class. Actually, this is the essence of learning under the conditions of using an online platform. IE’s online programs are nothing like the offline ones we all have experienced. On the contrary of sitting in a classroom, here you get the chance to really prepare for the sessions and further dig in the topic, simply because you are not limited with 1.5 hour class. And to add to that, when you have a dozen individuals doing the same, it kind of pushes you towards working harder. Lurking is simply not a option.

You ca definitely judge by this post that I am a bit stressed. But this does not change the fact I believe that me joining the Master in Digital Marketing was the best decision I made so far in my professional life. And I promise you that, if you decide to do the same, you won’t be feeling different. You will certainly discover traits and abilities in you that you never saw before and you might just be proud of…

Ram Parasuraman
January 4, 2010
In-Forumal Learning

Happy New Year 2010!

Let me take the pleasure of welcoming you all to this blog this new year! We at the Global MBA class of 2010 are back after enjoying a restful break. Yes, some of us were missing classes and forums, but for sure we’re going to be immersed full time into this throughout this year, so for me, it could wait until Jan 4th 😉 Some homeworks, assignments, presentations and even casitos are due this week and slowly but surely we are heading back to the books.

This was the first break since our program began and only first of two significant two breaks we enjoy during the program. It gave me a good chance to reflect on the time that has been, how I have managed my time, work-study-life balance (if there is one) and if there are ways  I can change or improve things this new year. Sure enough, lots of resolutions emerged and the top one from there was time management, especially on the asynchronous portion of the program, that is the discussion forums.

Now discussion forums at first glance don’t immediately make sense when you consider that emails, web forums and the like are quite informal, haphazard and irregular as such. But IE brings in some good deal of structure to this format and uses it quite well to enhance learning throughout the week in between online lectures. Forums are an integral part of the course and this makes it very different from other face to face MBA programs.

For one, you have assigned readings and need to be prepared well before the forum begins;  and second, you have continuous access to your professor and classmates as though they were your colleagues at work, who sit right across from you, but send email. Only here, they are almost always helpful 😉 Now which full time or Part time MBA guarantees that you get atleast 4-5 opportunities to speak in each class and the ability to converse with your professors each day in the week?

The forums are moderated continuously not just by the professors, who facilitate the learning, but also by students who read and respond to other posts. Each week in the forums, we discuss a specific concept, which keys off from a HBS or IE Case Study. The professor asks leading questions, which the class responds to, bringing in their global and industrial diversity. Unlike in a real class, where the time between the professor posing a question and the first answer coming up is a few seconds, here, you can take even an hour to think about the issue raised, t o process the information and to relate to your own experience, how you have dealt with an issue of this kind in the past. Then even as you are typing, a classmate posted his or her view on the subject and that makes you think differently and add a different angle. In class, I am sure 5 or 6 of us would raise our hand and one of us gets to speak what all of us wanted to say. Have you been there?

We are there too… there is the Hermoine from Harry Potter who always answers first and the Ron who never wants to answer and everyone in between. But the thing is, there is no Professor Flitwick who just rewards points and moves on after the question is answered and certainly no Professor Snape, who deducts points for answering out of turn or a Prof Trewalney who does not even listen to your answer 😉 Here, each professor we have had so far, takes the time to read each response, address us directly and indicate the key learnings for each question posed. There are no strict right or wrong answers like we see in most cases in life. Some professors even take the time to post multiple PDF files with contributions from us, from them and from useful sources and articles from around the web. I am a strong believer that all this strongly enhances discussions. For instance, when we are working on a Marketing case, it helps immensely to look at different examples of advertising or positioning products from Youtube.  How many times would a professor teaching live in a classroom like it if you tell her that you are browsing Youtube for good examples to share with class?

The fun part of the forum is that it is always on! Just as it is getting time for me to get to bed after reading the last few unread posts in the forum and then add my own, there’s my classmate in Europe that has just woken up to read the messages posted from the Western and Far Eastern hemispheres. Similarly, when she winds up for the night, folks in Japan and Singapore are having their morning Coffee while reading the forums. The forum addiction that many of my colleagues have spoken about in their posts is simply caused by the fun and amount of learning that is attained through this medium. I believe this is a very valuable mode of learning and if you are lucky to have  a class and teaching staff as good as I do, you’ll be always on your toes, pushed to do better, to think longer between posts and enrich the learning for one and all.  Most posts in our class are as good as reading an article in the newspaper or business journal. I would write more, but time to post my next entry into the Strategy forum, so I’ll see you later!

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