The Journey of Talent from IE Students to Alumni Leaders
Three business leaders share first-hand IE scholar experience.
Three internationally acclaimed business leaders talked honestly about how receiving a scholarship to do an MBA at IE Business School transformed their careers in the first session of the virtual event series Talent Taking Care of Talent: The Journey of Talent from IE Students to Alumni Leaders.
“The day I received the positive letter about the scholarship, I immediately quite my job to do an MBA,” said Bernhard Niesner, Co-founder of Busuu language platform—that now boasts 120 million users and courses in 12 different languages.
At the time, he was eager to leave consulting and start his own business.“Let’s be honest. If you have a strong entrepreneurial drive, there’s only one school in the world you should attend and that’s IE Business School,” said Niesner, who graduated from the International MBA in 2007.
Executive VP of the IE Foundation Gonzalo Garland, who moderated the event, said supporting talent was one of the pillars of the foundation’s work. “When we see excellent students and excellent potential, we want them to come to IE and we give them the support,” Garland explained, referring to the numerous scholarships awarded each year.
Evolving Consulting CEO Reine Mbang Essobmadje, who completed the Global Executive MBA in 2013, had already founded her company, but it wasn’t thriving and she felt she needed to improve her skills. She couldn’t really afford an MBA program. When she heard about the scholarship, she applied.“I went because of the scholarship. It wasn’t planned. It was an opportunity and it proved a transformative experience,” said Essobmadje.
Finn AI Co-founder and COO Natalie Cartwright, an International MBA 2014 alumna, said she had been working in UN organizations and entered the 13-month program planning to go back into international development. However, after her first entrepreneurship class, she felt things change.
“My story is unique and entirely un-unique because I think all kinds of different people end up in IE,” she said.
All three of the participants in the event, hosted by IE Foundation and IE Alumni praised the head-start IE Business School gave them with their business models.
They each gave a shout out to the important role Venture Lab played in their evolution.
Cartwright and Niesner both found their business partners in Venture Lab. Essobmadje said participating in Venture Lab was a key part of her entrepreneurship training.
Essobmadje also said the courses she took within IE in Singapore on corporate governance proved helpful for dealing with issues she has to address working in Africa.
“Learning how manage certain issues gave me a new vision for my company,” said the woman who is very active both in the Cameroonian Business Council and the Business Council of France.
The three alumni gave tips for standing out in the current job market like connecting on LinkedIn, sending a cover letter that refers specifically to what the company has posted on LinkedIn—and then a follow-up email after an interview.
One thing they all agreed on was what a rich resource the IE community is.
“The IE Paris network is very impressive. If you put anything — about business, social, apartment rental, specific technology or looking for business partners—in the IE Paris Alumni group, you will receive an answer,” she said—adding that has been her experience with other local alumni groups.
Niesner said the IE network continues to play a large role in his life.
“There’s a strong sense of belonging in the IE community. We all had this transformative year at this school that had such a strong impact on us and therefore we want to make sure we stay connected.”
Bernhard Niesner, Co-founder of Busuu