Reflections on the IE Brown EMBA

Written on October 21, 2013 by Halley Bennett in Video

Meet Mickael Pinto, the Director of New Business at Universal Music Group and IE Brown EMBA Alumnus from the Class of 2013.

Just prior to graduating, Mickael shared his thoughts on the program experience from balancing personal life, professional life and the MBA to forging relationships that last a lifetime. Hear how the Blended Format was the perfect way for him to participate in the program while succeeding on an international playing field as a media guru.


Professional coaching – what’s in it for me?

Written on October 8, 2013 by Caroline Quintanar in News


Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don’t much care where –”

Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

The famous quote from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” is frequently used in business strategy, but it applies equally well when it comes to you as an individual and achieving your personal goals. Rightfully, what you do today matters for what it is you want to do tomorrow and who you want to be in the future.

To help participants work through that question of where they want to get to, individual coaching is an integral part of the IE Brown EMBA. Each participant is offered a couple of individual coaching sessions with a certified coach.

Being part of the Class of 2012 I remember very well that doing this Executive MBA is extremely time and energy demanding and it often comes in conflict with work obligations and personal life. Adding professional coaching may seem like an impossible addition to your already well-packed schedule that you cannot afford to add. I would like to encourage you to think again!

WIIFM? (What’s In It For Me?)

  • What’s your true potential? Some of you may have identified your life or career goals, while others haven’t. Well, what are those goals exactly? Goal setting, potentially the theory that has influenced management theory the most1, states that if you know very well where you are heading and why; and if your goal is ambitious enough you’re more likely to reach the furthest. If you have not found that clarity and meaning in your goals yet, you might want to invest some time in doing so, otherwise “it does not matter which way you go”.
  • Innovation to get desired results. And if you do have your crisp and clear goal all figured out, are you also as clear about how you are going to achieve it? What will it take you and what will you need to acquire to get there? In fact, coaching just starts out with the obvious answers; what coaching really does is urging you to be creative! And sometimes coaching will push you to be more innovative. Great coaching should stimulate as many mental “paradigm shifts” as possible, allowing you to find a unique path and solutions that nobody else sees.
  • Take action today and accelerate your career. Coaching is all about getting results. During the course of the program, you get plenty of material, meet a lot of inspiring people and there is no shortage of interesting discussions. Hopefully this triggers you to do more, to be more. Though it may also feel a little overwhelming. This is where your professional coach adds value. Together you will work on channeling this input into a meaningful action. Your coach will guide, challenge and capacitate you in this process and act as a supporting board in the implementation of your next steps.

So get ready to enjoy the journey! You will know that it is working if it feels meaningful for you. Having someone else asking the questions instead of you taking that role as your own “self-coach” can be a true bliss. Of course, in the end you are the one doing the real work to realize your own objective! As a coach, I believe that all people have the resources within them to achieve their objectives or can acquire them. However there is something that makes some people especially successful and others not. Ask your coach about it!

Regina Riegerbauer, IE Brown EMBA Class of 2012, Coach


“If you’d like to hear more from Regina and her fellow alumni about the things that inspire them and the kind of goals they hope to develop following the IE Brown EMBA experience, watch the “What Inspires You?” video here.” 

1 Professor Edwin A. Locke, Ph.D. pioneered the Goal Setting theory in 1968, http://www.edwinlocke.com


The best of both worlds

Written on September 17, 2013 by Halley Bennett in News

We’d like to introduce you to Jean Ng, a member of the current IE Brown EMBA class and a “speed queen” from Singapore.  Jean manages Formula 1 Racing and Sports for the Singapore Tourism board and is about to hit the half-way mark in her EMBA experience.

During her most recent face-to-face module in Madrid, Jean took some time to answer questions about her fellow classmates, the best parts of this unique program and the IE Brown blended advantage.  Check out her video to see how she’s getting “the best of both worlds” by spending time in the classroom as well as online with her classmates, despite being located around the globe.




Beyond Business: Value-based leadership

Written on August 8, 2013 by Vani Nadarajah in News

Nearly four months into the IE Brown Executive MBA, current student Alexis reflects on her student experience a few weeks after her second residential period, which took place in Madrid. She highlights the value of perspective that her classmates bring to the program, as well as the beyond business philosophy of the program. Read on for an exclusive peek into life as a student of the IE Brown EMBA.


Arriving in Madrid in advance of our second face-to-face period (F2F) brought the final exam for the Leading People in Organisations course.  I sat it late at night, still adjusting to both jet lag from the 24 hour flight and the timing of the Madrid dinner hour.  The set case study examined, among other things, the concepts of leadership we had explored during the course and I did my best to get it all down in my paper.

As we closed the F2F session the week later, the world’s news outlets were reporting on a multiplicity of political leaders and leadership.  We were confronted with the sad but inevitable news of Nelson Mandela’s illness and reflected on his lasting influence in South Africa; the seeming paralysis of President Dilma Rousseff to respond quickly to mass riots in Brazil demanding more public services and less public corruption; the steadfast immobility of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad contrasted to the fallibility of the democratically elected President Morsi in Egypt.  In my own country, the farcical game of musical Prime Ministerial chairs between alternating leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard was trite in comparison to the issues of leadership around the globe.

It is now a few weeks later and the grades are in for the Leading People in Organisations course.  It reminds me to reflect again on leadership in the current times.  In the course, we debated transformational versus transactional leadership, studied Margaret Thatcher’s sources of power, critiqued Kotter and assessed our own LMX scores.

Reflecting on this theory, and on the reporting of political leaders in the press, I come to think that being mindful of our own values is at the heart of understanding the type of leader we each are and want to be.

I have been motivated by the virtual interactions on the forum of my cohort in these past few months.  Just some of many examples: Isabelle questioning the environmental impact of over-production to drive demand in Operations & Supply Chain Management; Sabiene raising the negative externalities of increased airline traffic fuelled by low-cost carriers in Strategy; Brennan bringing attention to the morality of data collection and analytics in Marketing Management. Being a values-based leader is easier in principle than practice.   Just like the gorilla with the basketball, when attention is consumed by the technical detail, it is difficult to see the multiple alternative perspectives.

My learning experience has been enriched my classmates who, in addition to solid technical analysis, also step back to consider ethics-based positions.  They expand my thinking and prompt me to examine my own principles.  As we move through the second term and towards Madrid again next June, I urge my cohortians and Professors to continue this exploration and to develop it further.  It is what makes this EMBA Beyond Business.



A message from a graduate

Written on July 17, 2013 by Vani Nadarajah in News

A graduate from our very first Cohort, Alaba Dayo-Payne recently traveled back to Madrid to represent her class at the graduation of the Class of 2013. She returned to Madrid just one after her own graduation. Here are some of her thoughts, one year on…

Welcome Back


As an alumna from the 1st Cohort of the IE Brown EMBA, it had not only been a year since I had graduated, but also a year since I had been back to Madrid.  There was a sense of excitement about seeing IE’s Segovia campus again, this time to fully appreciate its beauty through the eyes of a visitor and not as a participant.  As anyone can testify, the Segovia campus is a beautiful place and a very classy venue for a graduation.

I was the unofficial representative of the Class of 2012 and unlike some of my classmates I had never met any of the 2013 graduates, so it was heart-warming to witness their joy and excitement, together with that of their families, at they came to realize that their EMBA experience was all over.

I was awash with memories of my own graduation, of my classmates (who I miss dreadfully) and  of faculty throughout the ceremony, hearing familiar phrases such as Socrates, “You know nothing”.  In addition to seeing and catching up with various faculty members, what also made it special was catching up with the program team’s Vani, Ulrike, and Halley – who each were part of my journey from application to graduation and who were great means of support through the highs and lows, and who no doubt saw me at my best and my worst.


To the class of 2013:

I use the term ‘Welcome Back’ because this is the phrase on completion of the MBA that was stated by my family and friends – ‘welcome back’ from a time:

  • when your commitment was to others and your weekends were not your own, snatching bits of time-out before dashing off to prepare your coursework or have meetings with your team mates.
  • where they sought to lessen your burden by trying not to place any or additional pressures on you

It was a joy to meet some of you, bear witness to the end of one phase of your life and the commencement of the next phase.  In addition to your classmates, there are others who have gone before you and who have been waiting until the completion of your studies to be able to get to know you better.  It will probably take time to adjust to your new routine but enjoy it and enjoy everyone around you who supported you when it mattered.

To the class of 2014:

Your journey has just begun.  Some of you may have already met others from previous Cohorts, however, we trust that you will embrace the opportunity and experience you have undertaken and realise that there are now 50 IE Brown EMBA alumni for you to connect with, who will gladly support you when you need us.  Always remember – leverage your strengths as a team.

In conclusion, I would like to share a message I reflected upon towards the end of my program:

Dear MBA,

The end is fast approaching and although it feels imminent, there is still a lot to be done.  I would like to thank you for pushing me beyond my limits.  You have shown me that I can exist on very few hours of sleep andwork concurrently with a desktop, laptop and iPAD without batting an eye.  I am capable of combining a full-time job with up to 40 hours of study a week and I am more efficient with every bit of spare time (what I term “small spaces”) that I have. 

I got to spend time in Providence (yep – I finally got to see the museum on the final day of my last residential in Providence) and Madrid.  We got to have an absolutely beautiful graduation – the culmination of all our hard sweat – not just my classmates and I, but the faculty as well.

You have introduced me to a bunch of awesome people – both students and faculty and I will never forget this experience.

 Thank you.



Let’s get blended

Written on June 20, 2013 by Halley Bennett in News

IMG_5513The next class of IE Brown EMBAs is landing in Madrid this Sunday for their second residential week of the 15-month program and their first visit to IE Business School!  The 25 participants will be flying in from around the world to reunite for the first time since they kicked off in Providence back in March.

Since then they’ve been building an incredibly close knit online community and have developed strong relationships with their classmates, faculty and team members.  Who better to tell you about the experience than Carlos, a Valencia native and an advocate for the blended learning methodology.  Read on to find out how his world suddenly got a whole lot… flatter.


“Hey, look at that… it’s flat!

–          What do you mean it’s flat…?

–          No, really. It should be round…I know … but it’s suddenly gone flat….”

She tries to understand it.  She really and sincerely tries to… She’s definitely the nicest and possibly one of the smartest persons around, but still my wife can’t fully appreciate that the entire world has suddenly flattened in front of me. I am connected the entire day to a learning community of 25 individuals that are spread all over the world. Ideas, hypothesis, simple guesses; all of them are flowing 24/7 in this forum.  IE calls it the blended methodology … I call it the ultimate shared/common learning methodology. Right now, I am convinced that this blended program allows more participation and better exchange than a regular face-to-face MBA.


In fact, I’m realizing that it’s not just about the learning. Our personalities, opinions, worries, experiences, they all keep coming through in every post. Suddenly, this translates to strengthening the bonds we formed when we met in Providence three long months ago.

What I mean is that I’m worried if it‘s lunch time for me in Spain and I still haven’t read Pelle’s first post of the day from Philadelphia; he’s probably going for another hard day at the office. There are also those afternoons, following strong participation in the morning, when I find myself thinking that Isabelle is just waking up in Vancouver to a nice number of unread and meaningful posts…

And, finally, the best possible moment of the week … I’m struggling to survive to my Thursday and there she is again: Alexis just woke up in Sydney and is closing her post with a “Friday time” mention … yes, suddenly it’s also like a bit of a Friday for me!

We have built a strong learning community.  Ideas and knowledge just keep blossoming inside it. This blended system, that sounded strange and unfamiliar to me, it works. It is intense, it is immersive, it is flexible and it supports free exchange and common building of ideas and knowledge. Three months ago, I was wondering if it would be effective.  Right now, I can say it’s won me over.

It’s also building strong bonds among classmates who are separated by …hey wait, we are all over the world! Is there any time zone where there isn’t an IE Brown EMBA 2014 student? It looks like the sun never sets for us on this new ‘flat’ world, Cohort 3! 


Prepare for career disruption! Meet Matt, IE Brown EMBA ’13

Written on June 13, 2013 by Vani Nadarajah in News

Meet recent IE Brown EMBA grad Matt and hear his take on career disruption and fresh thinking! 

“If you’re looking for a program that will allow you to be engaged in two world-class institutions like IE and Brown and be associated with both the legacy and future that those institutions really represent, then the IE Brown Executive MBA is the program for you.”



IE Brown EMBA: Class of 2013 Graduation

Written on June 10, 2013 by Vani Nadarajah in News

Kudos for this post, to our guest bloggers from Brown University: Caroline Steinfield ’14 and Lauren Clarke ’14

Friday June 7th, Segovia, 10:30am.

BROWN IE GRADUATION 2013 017A total of 27 soon-to-be alumni and their families disembark from the buses that shuttled them from the capital. The air is crisp, and the campus, set in the property of the reformed  Convent Santa Cruz la Real exudes a sense of gravitas . “Did you know that this was where the Spanish inquisition started?”– interesting pieces of trivia are tossed around as the families gather in the shelter of these old stones.

At the start of the graduation ceremony, deans, rectors and program directors walk up the chapel’s aisle in their academic robes and hats. Such outfits are not usual in European graduations,we are told, and this newfound custom can be attributed to the partnership with Brown University, which conserves strong academic traditions. The song of a violin echoes through the walls of the monastery as the names of the students are called one by one.


The solemnity of this graduation is accompanied by a deep sense of intimacy, and a streak of unconventionality. Both of these aspects come across very clearly from the speeches given by students and professors. Inside jokes abound, and speakers often name individual students of the program to illustrate their points. It is impossible not to share the feeling of accomplishment of these graduates and their families as they recount the hardships of the program and express their gratitude for all of those that helped through.

BROWN IE GRADUATION 2013 021There is also a certain bravado to the traditional academic message and a real emphasis to real business challenges as the keynote speaker Arpad von Lazar gives advice to the class, hitting key points of how to strive in the world they are about to enter.  His last point is for the students to gain a sense of humor and optimism about anything they do, and about the different people and cultures they are bound to interact with. If they do not, he jokes, they will have the “cardiovascular nightmare of constantly being surprised.”  His core message is : “Stay attentive. Pay attention. Talk less, listen more.” And he ends he ends his speech on an unmistakably entrepreneurial note, as he mentions a quote from Steve Jobs, “stay hungry, and stay a little bit foolish.”

Sitting through this ceremony, we can feel the emotion, the personal relationships, and all of the effort put in this program by the students, the professors, and the institution.  Within the walls of the Convent Santa Cruz la Real tradition and innovation, academia and business, intimacy and achievement blend seamlessly. Most of all, there is a sense of family throughout — and not just because of all of the family members there to support the graduates – but because it is evident that this class, and its organizers, have become a family.


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.



The right decision

Written on April 18, 2013 by Halley Bennett in News

IE Brown EMBA Class of 2014

IE Brown EMBA Class of 2014

By Igor – Moscow, Russia 

Current participant in the IE Brown Executive MBA

I like the quote from Ichak Adizes, which goes something like this (translated from Russian):

It is a good decision when later on you recognize that you made the right decision.

I didn’t choose between several MBA programs. I just liked the IE Brown concept of combining a traditional MBA with creative stuff. Not only would I get a traditional MBA, but more. I watched a number of videos about the IE Brown EMBA program and interviews with past students and became emotionally attached to the program. Of course, prior to starting, I was still somewhat concerned that my high expectations and investment may not be realized ……

Prior to the Class of 2014 meeting for the first time in Providence, the IE and Brown staff introduced us to the Online Campus. In the “virtual cafe” I started to learn about my new classmates. My first reaction was:  

Oh, boy! Such interesting people, I would like to be part of this team… wait a minute, I AM already! Can’t wait to meet everybody in Providence!

I flew to New York from Moscow and changed out of my Russian winter “space-suit” to regular spring clothes. I was surprised by the weather in New York. Even in March, it was so warm that I had to take off my sweater and raincoat. But by the time my train approached Providence I started seeing snow…. ‘Why our classes aren’t in Miami?’ I wondered.

Our first IE Brown face to face ‘working weekend’ started with the official opening ceremony, a Brown University campus walking tour and the Welcome Dinner. Although we were ‘students’ again, we hadn’t forgotten that we were also executives – so there were lots of ties and suits. Contrary to diplomatic protocol, over dinner we started to break the ice.

The following day we launched into team building exercises. This was so successful that even now, when far away from my classmates in Russia, I read their online posts and recall their voices and intonations. The text is not faceless anymore. The face-to-face sessions in Providence connected us ‘people to people’. Our class became friends who care about each other. I was really impressed at how much effort was made by IE and Brown program administration to make our class a TEAM, not an easy task when individually we were clearly all natural leaders!

Each day of the two week face-to-face period was intense. Beer or dinner with my new friends sacrificed my ability to do the readings or the homework for the next day. So, we used all opportunities, whether in the morning or afternoon tea breaks or lunchtime to simply catch-up. Strategy, economics, financial accounting, case method and entrepreneurial management courses were mixed with innovation and creativity classes, communication, decision making and ethnography. Unbelievably, even after all of that, we survived the days to wake up with enthusiasm the following day to “act and reflect” on what we had learnt!

Some people say time cannot be compressed or extended… Obviously those people have never studied the IE Brown Executive MBA. Every week was worth a month. Reflecting now as I sit here at home in Moscow, thousands of kilometers from Providence and most of my classmates, I often describe things as ‘yesterday’ when they in fact happened during the day. The IE Brown Executive MBA continues to give me so many new, interesting things and insights in a single day that it feels as though I am condensing weeks into days…

Based on the quote above by Adizes, I absolutely feel that I have made the ‘right decision’ to undertake the IE Brown EMBA. So therefore, it’s all good!

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