HBS-IESE: 60 Years of Humanistic Business Leadership

What do innovation and tradition bring for the next generation of responsible business leaders?

HBS-IESE: 60 Years of Humanistic Business Leadership

Over 48,000 business leaders are currently making impact around the world in the tradition that IESE Business School (Spain) has built in the past six decades. Committed to the profound values of a humanistic approach to business, IESE guides and connects executives to make a difference in organisations that shape up the future.

Today, IESE combines innovation and tradition to help the next cohort of „business leaders to influence companies and society positively.”

The Harvard-IESE heritage

Harvard Business School (US) formed an alliance with IESE Business School in Barcelona back in 1963. Bringing the innovative case method to the IESE classrooms was just the beginning. Currently, the IESE learning environment builds on over 50 years of academic collaboration, faculty exchange and sharing the same mission: to develop leaders with integrity prepared to make an impact on society and business.

A new select group of faculty joined IESE in 2018 “bringing global expertise in economics, managing people, marketing, entrepreneurship and production” to add to the thought leaders writing their own cases, designing their own innovative and vanguard academic theories. As C-suite consultors across sectors, IESE faculty ensure that the cases students are presented in class are real-life business problems – with real-life results.

The IESE Case Method, based on the Harvard Case Method places students in the driving seat along with their peers to co-create solutions to real-life business problems. There is no right answer, only different approaches and methods based on the individual experience. The professors guide the class discussions on the case, interjecting with alternative points of view, enriching learning.

Globally immersed for responsible leadership

IESE students gain a truly global vision of not just the company – but business too, thus preparing to navigate their companies through the VUCA times of today and tomorrow. This requires the ability to take all factors into account in order to make business decisions with the responsibility about the company, but also about society.

Executives experience diverse perspectives and environments during their studies at IESE. The Harvard-IESE Committee has helped IESE grow internationally over the decades. Today you can get a feel of its campuses and offices across continents: in Barcelona, Madrid, Munich, Sao Paulo, New York, Tokyo and Shanghai. There, students and professors alike benefit from the diverse backgrounds, business hubs, cultures and ways of approaching real-life business problems.  

On the other hand, the peer diversity in the class also widens students’ horizon to new ways of looking at business. The student body comprises 130 nationalities. That’s 130 different approaches to resolving business problems and 130 nationalities in your business and personal network.

This also rings true with the diversity of the faculty. Moreover, IESE faculty often spend time teaching at partner schools around the world, including Harvard. Thus, they bring an international perspective second to none.

Human connection through technology

Emphasising the case-study method, centered around the discussion of business problems, IESE looks into new ways to enable human interaction during the current times of fast digitalisation. In 2018 the virtual classroom was launched as just “one more element within the IESE learning ecosystem called Mosaic, which combines distinct methodologies, formats and contexts to optimise learning.” They ensure high-quality interactions while avoiding the mental disengagement common in other virtual learning formats.

We’re participating in a conversation, and that conversation is flowing, that conversation is natural, that conversation involves many different people, and these are all the characteristics of an interaction that we would expect only from a face-to-face experience,” says professor Evgeny Káganer.

Networking across the globe – and sectors

On and off campus, students are constantly in contact with the real business world. Networking opportunities crop up on almost a daily basis as top executives from some of the world’s largest organizations are guest speakers at IESE. Recently, Steven Rattner, chairman and CEO of Willett Advisors LLC, discussed “Lessons in Leadership” on the New York campus, while campuses in Spain will soon host industry meetings in insurance and food and beverage, revealing latest challenges and opportunities.

Off campus, students have a range of treks to choose from, giving them a bird’s eye view of Silicon Valley, retail, healthcare, finance, energy, startups, fintech and banking to name but a few. Quite often it is the close relationship IESE professors have in each of the business areas that allow students to get an insider’s perspective of the business. The connections made at these events often lead to exceptional career opportunities later down the line.


Vanguard teaching methods and approaches to learning, technology and innovation are key to ensuring a life-changing educational experience. The long-standing reputation for excellence that spans decades is here to stay and welcome the next generations of responsible business leaders.

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