Time flies… Two months into the IE Brown journey

Written on May 7, 2013 by Halley Bennett in News

Dear readers:

Here’s a  letter from Isabelle Swiderski, IE Brown EMBA Class of 2014, who has already sprinted through two months of her MBA experience- and is still going strong!



It all happened rather fast.

Seven years after starting my own consultancy and thirteen years after graduating from a Masters in Design, here I was, listening to one of my employees describe the programmes her friends were recommending she apply to. Studies in global innovation, design thinking & business; topics I had been eyeing with interest for years. So I took a look online—as you do—out of curiosity.

It became obvious that the “Business Practices for Designers” course I had considered recently as a possible fill-in-the-gaps-whilst-you-run-a-business—a great choice, no doubt, and at Yale, no less—was just not for me. A two-week intensive felt like putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.

The business of design is still an oxymoron.

I am a creative type: branding. Incurable, they say.

I’m kidding of course. It isn’t that bad, really, this misunderstanding between creatives, “tree-huggers” and those that get things done by respecting the market, whatever its (ir)rational behaviour.  Then again, maybe it is.

Maybe it’s about who wins: the right side or the left side of the brain. Does design thinking have the edge or does business practice? Does mastering one negate the ability to leverage the other? How do we move forward without a single approach having to lead? Does rooting for the greater good hinder the competitive spirit?

Enter IE Brown with its Beyond Business mantra. I took the plunge.

Thanks to Vani, Ulrike, Halley, Pat and Katie, I found myself immersed in an eclectic mix of exceptional students, staff and professors hailing from countless backgrounds, sectors, time zones, languages, religions and political views. So began an intense introduction to a different EMBA punctuated with varied stories (thank you, Igor), experiences, and outfits (miss you, Noor).

In two weeks of team-building on the venerable grounds of Brown University, we engaged in exercises, in-class exchanges, homework and—let’s face it—a smidgen of leisure (but honestly very little if you’re running a business or are as insanely over-achieving as this bunch) discovering the hospitality of Providence and coming to terms with the fact we had 25 new friends. Can you imagine? Like that. 25 in two weeks. Prof. Marco from Financial Accounting might agree this is a respectable ratio.

I love apartés. There’s always more than meets the eye, don’t you think?

We are benefiting from the experience and support of amazing mentors in fields some of us have never grappled with before. We are studying and questioning together; we are broadening our outlooks through the contributions of others. As we carry on, we’ll succeed, struggle and perhaps even falter at times. We’ll juggle family and work and yearn for long-lost social lives.

If the truism is true then nothing in life is free; the price you pay just comes in different currencies. So we’ll pay physically, emotionally and financially for the privilege to progress. But I’ve no doubt it will be clear then, as it is now, that the value of what we are reaping can’t be measured with currency after all.

Thank you all for the gift.


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