Founded in 1958, IESE Business School is the graduate school of management of the University of Navarra. In 1964, IESE established Europe's first two-year MBA program, with the support of Harvard Business School. In 1980, IESE began offering the world's premier bi-lingual MBA program. In 1981, IESE launched the Executive MBA program, inaugurating its second campus in Madrid ten years later. In 1994, IESE pioneered the concept of joint-venture international executive education with leading institutions such as Harvard and Stanford. In 2001, IESE launched its Global Executive MBA featuring modular residential sessions in Barcelona, Palo Alto and Shanghai, and state-of-the-art distance learning technology.
You took up your current post in 2001, please tell us a little about your first 18 months, and plans for the future.
It's been an interesting first year in office, and not without its challenges. We are feeling the impact of the global economic downturn: the job market is tight for MBA graduates, and companies are looking carefully at their budgets for executive education. However, we are looking to the future, and concentrating on expanding our facilities in both Madrid and Barcelona. Furthermore, we are expanding internationally. IESE is planning a number of new programs and research initiatives in the US, Latin America and China that will reinforce our positioning in these countries. Our International Faculty Development Program celebrated its ninth anniversary this year, with participants from nine countries. Every year we receive around 250 applications from Eastern Europe for our MBA program, of which some 20 are accepted.
What values do you aim to transmit to IESE students?
I believe an integral part of our success as a business school is based on our concept of professional excellence and ethical approach to management. Both dimensions have enabled us to attract and retain the best faculty. We aspire to help people, not just to make companies run better. Leadership is not just about knowledge and technology. Imagination, creativity, and the enthusiasm to achieve one's goals are also vital. We promote leadership based on the encouragement of employees, exemplary personal behaviour, and the ability to create a climate of trust. Similarly, IESE believes that companies have a responsibility not only to the shareholders, but to their employees, and to society in general. We have to encourage managers to move away from short-term thinking, and to develop a vision of the larger picture. We believe that a people-centered approach to business is the way forward.
What makes IESE special among business schools?
At IESE we believe that people are at the heart of managerial decision-making. Management education is more than gaining new concepts or receiving a first class business qualification with a global focus. Our emphasis is on helping improve the decision-making abilities. We want to foster personal as well as professional growth; valuing the individual.
For over 40 years, professionals have been choosing IESE. Our success is based on providing hands-on, action-oriented learning that is tailored to the personal needs of all program participants. We also stress the importance of multi-culturalism and the ability to work in more than one language. This international focus is reflected in our diverse student body and teaching staff, as well as our ability to both attract clients and impart programs around the world.
Research is the third important element of our philosophy. A business school must be able to generate new ideas if it is to remain at the cutting-edge of business thinking. Faculty members are encouraged to devote a significant part of their time to practical research. IESE currently has ten research centers, looking into areas as diverse as family-owned businesses, e-business, financial research, and of course, globalization.
Does IESE maintain links with graduates once they have completed the course?
The input of graduates — based on their experience — is invaluable, as a visit to our yearly Global Alumni Reunions will show. We now have a number of projects underway which will strengthen that network. We have already begun broadcasting Continuous Education programs over the Internet. We also offer programs in 23 different cities around the world.
For us, the process of education never stops, and IESE has always sought to maintain links with its students. We are very proud of our global alumni, who now number more than 23,500 in some 90 countries worldwide. These former students form a unique network that has contributed enormously to IESE's development over the years. We like to think of IESE as a family, and one to which a graduate will belong to for life.