In the second part of the interview with Pascal Michels, we ask how IESE approaches Leadership development and the reasons why 1/3rd of IESE graduates pursue Entrepreneurship within 10 years of graduation.
How does the program develop leadership skills in MBA students?
“Leadership,” “Leader” are terms that get thrown around these days without much thought about what they actually mean. At IESE we teach Leadership as a subject in the first term, but I think it is very telling about how we look at leadership to see that this class is followed in the second term by “managing oneself” and “business ethics.”
All disciplines are woven into the cases we discuss, but it is particularly interesting to see these three connected.
Leading others starts with being able to manage oneself.
Leading people means managing emotions, and if you are not apt at reading and managing your own emotions, you will struggle to be a good leader. The positive impact we expect our graduates to have in their communities over their careers will be built on a strong basis of self-awareness and the reflex to see the human angle in the decisions they take. But becoming a leader takes time, and this is also where our two-year structure is a powerful enabler.
Students undergo an intense transformation during the first year through interaction with high caliber individuals very different from them. The pace at which students increase their self-awareness is breath-taking. The second year then offers a risk-free lab environment to experiment with leadership. Often this takes place through leadership roles in student clubs or entrepreneurial ventures that students develop, but it can also be in the form of deepening their academic knowledge of the subject.
Perhaps the class I learned most from at IESE was PERSO, essentially a psychology class which opened my eyes on who I really am as a person and to what extent other people can have wildly different ways of perceiving reality. This strong awareness is what today helps me leading others, hopefully in a positive way but you would have to ask my team.
IESE clearly encourages Entrepreneurship. How is the curriculum structured to help such students?
What I would perhaps highlight is the number of electives available for budding entrepreneurs. To name a few: from NAVEI, which teaches how to write an effective Business Plan to GROW and DEVELOP, two electives covering managing the early stages of a business, and there is content covering operational aspects. But then there are electives focusing on the financing side of it: ENFI (Entrepreneurial Finance) and VCPE (Venture Capital and Private Equity).
What I would also highlight is the strength of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at IESE. We spoke about the SEE a bit earlier, but of course, the SEE is itself the reflection of a healthy community of entrepreneurs, investors and entrepreneurship focused academics gravitating around IESE.
We also have our very own investment fund, FINAVES, focused entirely on ventures launched by second-year students or alumni. Finally, I would point out that a number of our second-year students are involved in entrepreneurial ventures or work with start-ups in their free time.
We are also one of the world’s leading schools in Entrepreneurship through Acquisition (Search Funds). But ultimately, like most things at IESE, it is about the people. Our educational model forces students to confront diversity, to engage with it full on and more often than not enjoy it.
One of the most important things to get right when you start a business is to find a co-founder (or more) different enough from you to complement each other but close enough to you to stick together when the going gets rough. I cannot think of a better environment than our MBA to find these people.
On a personal note, I think of myself as perhaps the exact opposite of an entrepreneur, but a couple of classmates from the MBA (class of 2010, the best ever!) think differently and bring up the option of starting something together quite regularly when we speak. It’s probably more a question of when than if.
Around a third of our graduates get involved in an entrepreneurial venture of some kind within 10 years of graduation. That, I think is a really cool number and if anything it is probably outdated and higher now.
We just celebrated our 40under40 award ceremony (link HERE) celebrating the success stories that our entrepreneurial mindset has generated over the years.
FINAVES - Start Up Fund
Entrepreneurship at IESE
About Pascal Michels
Pascal Michels heads the MBA Admissions at IESE Business School. Before taking on the role as the Gatekeeper for the 350+ Full-time MBA class, Pascal was with the career services team managing the relationships with key stakeholders in the Financial Services sector and coached Full-time MBA students pursuing a career in the industry.
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