IE Business School Online Masters
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
April 27, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students: The Sorting Hat!

Q7. Do you think that the GMBA option is working well for you as compared to IE’s other online programs like International Executive MBA? OR do the other programs offer something different or additional which is missing from the GMBA?

Answering this question in earnest could get me in trouble with my co-bloggers and cohorts from other programs. But let me take the chance. I say,  it all depends on what you are looking for. I reviewed both the formats and my profile could have fitted either program. In a way, I was like Harry Potter, under the sorting hat, wondering whether Slytherin or Gryffindor was the right house for me. Both programs have the same set of courses delivered in a slightly different mix of online vs presential events. But in the end, the GMBA was the only one I would consider at IE.  The IXEMBA was missing one key factor which I was looking for. It did not have weekly live sessions, this for me was the deal breaker.

The IXEMBA did have longer and more numerous presential events, but to me, it was not the same as weekly reinforcement. I wanted weekly live interaction with professors and classmates, not just as a way to keep in touch, but also to stay in syn’c and to “see” each other more regularly. An added benefit is, you learn via experience, on how to make effective online presentations. This is an increasingly sought after talent in today’s world of WebEx and Telepresence. You could argue that you can do the same via offline interactions, it is just that the GMBA suits my personality better.

Yes, by going in for the GMBA, I forfeited the opportunity to network with more experienced classmates in high profile, even C-level  positions. But I would be amongst the youngest in the IXEMBA, whereas in the GMBA, I would be smack down the middle of the age ranges. This was also another factor that influenced me toward the GMBA, as I could learn from people younger and older to me. As you can already see, it is no trivial decision and it involves a lot of personal circumstances. So, make your choice wisely and personalized to your situation.<p>

Q8. How does the GMBA stack up against its flagship International MBA program?

IMBA has younger applicants with lower experience, still more experience than equivalent US peers. They complete the program in 13 months, whereas we take 15. They spend a bit more time in their courses.  Students live in Madrid for the duration of the program, so they have live everyday access to their peers and can setup instant discussions for projects and case reports.

They form clubs, have access to IE facilities like its library, although we do have access to the virtual library and virtual IE communities as well. It is a comparison of Full time vs Part Time or Online, which is not a fair comparison. Obviously if you could do it, I would recommend you do a full time MBA over part time for the experience, the immersion and more complete and meaningful networking with peers. But if you are considering a part time program, IE’s GMBA and IEXMBA are both formidable options with the most rigorous curriculum and the most diversity you can find in a part time program.

Q9. What is your assessment of the Residential period(s)?

We have had one so far and it was nothing short of sensational! It was awesome meeting folks from 30 countries, getting to know each other, the program, the professors, IE, Madrid and much more. We had several short courses in Networking, Teamwork, Negotiation etc in addition to the first sessions of our first courses. We had a very busy week, but it was brilliant! Having this at the outset of the program was great! Relationships run deeper once you have put the “face to the name”. It is still the fondest period of my MBA. Just a Perfect Start!

Q10. You live close to the best MBA programs then why did you opt for IE?

I guess the reference is to University of California, Berkeley and Santa Clara University. Both are very reputed universities with long standing and well known programs. When I looked at the Candidate profile of UCBerkeley Haas school of business,  it did not have the diversity in terms of nationality or industry as my current class in IE. Most people attending the part time program in Haas seem to me as if they are from Silicon Valley or Northern California sponsored by their Tech company employers. So, there you go, it was regional and tech heavy. The amount I learn at IE had the potential to exceeds the amount I would learn at Haas part time, leave alone the time I need to take to attend class in Berkeley, find parking, etc.

Besides, two important and practical reasons: Duration of the Program and Costs, both were much lower with IE (1/3rd). So I saw a clearly better value going in for a Top 10 school with a reputed program. I do realize of course, that I am taking a risk with the lower Brand Equity and alumni reach of IE in the US. But hey, I am a believer and hopefully a trail blazer, being amongst the first GMBAs in the area!!

Wish me luck and I wish you luck!

Until next time, it is
(Goodbye in Malayalam, an ancient South Indian Language)

Ram Parasuraman
April 21, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students : The IE Value Proposition?

As admission season is heating up, more questions… and more common themes between the line of questioning… so I will have to accelerate the rate of these posts to avoid more repetition for all of us GMBA students who are busy preparing our presentations for the upcoming forums and videoconferences.

The two courses we are in right now are very intensive and are requiring more group thinking than ever before… so I’ll try to keep this going without affecting my professional commitments, IE group commitments and of course for whatever is left, family and daddy commitments 😉

Q4. What do think of the value of a European MBA as compared to the top US programs in US?

A4. They are different and one could argue that Euro MBAs are not as in depth as US programs. But I think this is misguided. The truth is that European MBAs have all the depth packed into a shorter time frame and for good reason. Euro MBA programs admit senior students, ones that have accumulated much more experience than peer schools in the US. Thus, the learning curve is shorter thanks to the experience, diversity and the synthesis within a packed schedule. Like Speed-Read, I hope this intensive speed learning also stays longer.

Q5. Do you think that the GMBA will also help you for your future career progress?

If I did not think it would help my progress, I probably would not be undertaking this massive financial, social and professional commitment of doing the MBA. An MBA is an MBA, it equips you will a toolbox full of tools that fine tune and shape various facets of your personality. Some courses change the way you look at corporate strategy while others will help you improve economic perspective for starting or running a business and yet others may hone your networking or negotiation skills. All MBAs do this, but it is you that take these tools and use them to your career. How you do it determines to a large extent where you go.

Q6. Is the rating by FT, Economist, WSJ, Forbes and Businessweek justified? Do you think that the ratings are for their International MBA and Economist is the only one rating the GMBA?

I did not specifically look for a GMBA ranking as much as I did for an MBA ranking of the school. At the end of the day, it is only the method of delivery that is different. The degree certificate you get and the knowledge you gain should not be materially different. Online MBA format is still new and rankings have not taken this into serious consideration. So far, I only have good things to say about IE. I have not attended another MBA program, so it is tough for me to evaluate the rankings. But in conversations I have had with peer MBA students from some of the best MBA programs in the US, without risking self-aggrandizement, I can only say that my learning has been well on par with theirs in comparable courses.

Well, that’s it from me for today.. gotta head back to our presentation about an exciting topic on Social Networks. Catch you at the other end of the presentation. Until then, do keep your questions coming, either via email or better still, via the comments here.


Namaskar — Goodbye in the Indian National Language, Hindi

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…

Borislav Kiprin
December 21, 2009
Master in Digital Marketing – Studying Online

Well, folks, I know that it has been a while since the last blog post. Truth be told, the last few weeks were extremely busy at the Master in Digital Marketing 2010 with wrapping up individual and group projects, finishing the Digital Communication & Awareness course, posting for the forums and last but not least working on yet another section for the business plan for Entrepreneurship.

It is not easy. I am working on this Masters with an average pace of 12 hours/day everyday. And it is frustrating… I can only imagine how my colleagues that have day jobs feel and moreover how they manage to be prepared for the forums and participate. I must say that everyone is stretching it to the limit and manages to come up with great content and ideas. But to understand that, you probably need to know how the online studying is structure.

  • Each and every week, we have 2 or 3 courses
  • We shall prepare for, come up with either an individual or a group assignment report
  • Than we go into discussing it from Monday to Friday posting answers to professors questions, expressing views or simply giving insights based on personal experiences.
  • Usually, every class session is wrapped up by the prof and served as a summary of key points for the topic discussed.

It might all seem too much for many of you, but to tell you the truth it is not much different than working in a  highly paced working environment. However, great discipline, focus and prioritization is required for succeeding in following it all. At first this might seems impossible, but soon after the start things get to the point that one realizes that it is possible. After all, your colleagues are just as much as you aware that this is a team. they show readiness to help, motivate and support when you find it difficult. And I should know.. I have been blessed with great team players in my group.

That’s all for the Year 2009. I wish you all Happy Holidays and all the best in 2010!

Borislav Kiprin
November 20, 2009
Masters in Digital Marketing – Face-to-Face Periods

As promised in my last blog post, this week I will be focusing on the way the program works and especially the offline face-to-face periods.

IE’s Masters in Digital is based on online forums 11.5 months out of the whole 13 ones. For that 1.5 months or 5 weeks, we have to be present in:
•    Madrid – two weeks kick-off period
•    London – one week presential period in the most digital city in the world that will conclude the end of first semester and the start of the second one
•    Madrid – two weeks wrap-up with exams, business plan presentation and naturally getting that piece of paper that would matter less then than it mattered when you decided to join the program. And it is mainly to the fact that you will treasure the experience through the past 13 months much more than your diploma.

Make no mistake, face-to-face periods are tough. You are expected to be on top of things from the very start. Most of us did not expect to be in for such a treat and we started our days at 7 am and finished them in 3 am the next day for most of those 14 days. And although it sounds too much and very demanding, I can not think of a single colleague of mine that complained or felt demotivated. At the end of the day we all had tremendous fun battling the assignments and getting to know each other.

Now when I have went through the first and the second periods I am more inclined to think that one can always find the time. Most of us have jobs, personal life involving dear ones or even families and this is all very demanding. But for the face-to-face period this all is put on pause in most cases and the focus is not only on the studying but also in socializing and adding up to that glue that sticks up together.

It won’t be fair to say that those periods are only about studying. They never truly are, you know. There is also tons of fun while sipping from your morning coffee or lunching/dining with your new found brothers and sisters, and not to leave behind those Friday and Saturday nights in metropolitan cities like the Spanish and UK capitals. Offline is also just as important as Digital is… 😉

The nature of Instituto de Empresa is to foster entrepreneurship. It is a core value and you get to see it from day one. Some of you will be finding their future business partners or start-up buddies exactly at this place and the time spent together will add tremendously to your judgment and potential spotting.

Well, folks, this is all for this week. Remember that if you have any questions, this is the place to take advantage and get some answers…

Next week, I’ll be focusing on online experience… Till then, have a good one living digitally!

Borislav Kiprin
November 13, 2009
Finding the Masters in Digital Marketing

As a first post, I think it is only normal to explain how I got here at Instituto de Empresa studying Masters in Digital Marketing.

If you are reading this blog, you are obviously interested in doing a Masters in Management or an MBA and second to that you might be also thinking of doing online, as yours truly does. So, in the following lines I will be laying down my approach to picking up this degree and enrolling for it.

•    Researching is a major point of a such endeavor. You are about to spend enormous amount of hard earned cash or actually get a loan from you bank. In both cases this is motivating you big time. What I did can be summed up in the following bullet points:
•    I figured out that a general MBA won’t cut it for me, because of the number of graduate available and the fact that I already did my Bachelor in Business Administration
•    I started researching online for a Marketing degree that focuses mostly on Digital, but also includes traditional approach.
•    I talked to friends that have done their MBAs in Top 25 schools. Asked many questions and got some valuable answers.
•    Got on,, BusinessWeek and Economist and checked all the rankings. I personally think that this is not a major think, but you will be surprised how many hiring manager pay attention to that, if of course you don’t know that by now.
•    Once, I got to know IE and their program, I didn’t even want to apply to the previously envisioned universities. I went strait to talking to the guys and submitted my application.
•    To my surprise I got an answer, plus proposal to enroll within two weeks. All done in a very professional and enthusiastic way (and I am not talking about my approach here)

Everything happened so fast that I was only able to believe it when I got to Madrid for my first face-to-face. Before it all seemed like an illusion.

Well, this is for this week. Next post I will be sharing my initial impressions of the program and hopefully answer some of the questions you, as a reader, might have.

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