Bibake Uppal came to IE University when he decided to make a pivot in his career to focus on the ever-growing world of data—and he hasn’t looked back since.

4 min read

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bibake Uppal grew up in an academic and athletic environment. As the youngest of three, he followed in his siblings’ footsteps, playing sports and learning the value of his studies. He found that his athletic talents were best utilized in American football, which he went on to play in college with both an athletic and academic scholarship. 

His academic path began in software engineering, but Bibake also showed great interest in communication. In 2015, after four years at university, Bibake was drafted into the Canadian Football League—a childhood dream come true. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury and had to figure out what was next on his professional path. He took up forest firefighting for the short term, which was the perfect transition out of professional sports. After a summer, he moved into the world of public transit, which he defines as his “first real job.”

Leveraging his academic experience, Bibake shifted into an internal communications role, which later turned into corporate communications. Looking to broaden his profile beyond communications, he began looking into MBA programs. A friend had studied at IE University and raved about their experience and the environment, especially about the diversity.

Bibake applied for a dual degree and was ready to start his next adventure.

Combining the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data and the International MBA to kickstart an exciting new career

A step into two new worlds

Excited to move to Madrid and dive into his studies, Bibake decided to start his career from scratch and move away from communications into something new and exciting. He eventually settled on the Dual Degree International MBA + Master in Business Analytics & Big Data. The dual degree program would give him the tangible hard and soft skills he was looking for. 

Bibake had always had an interest in statistics and mathematics, so he felt confident walking into a data science program even though it wasn’t part of his background. During this portion of the dual degree, he learned more about the wide-ranging opportunities that were available after graduation, pushing him to work even harder.

The dual degree program was complimentary to Bibake’s prior experience: “It added another tool to my toolkit. I had the soft skills of marketing and communication, but I was lacking the technical skills. The International MBA helped me fit all of the pieces together and the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data gave me new skills in machine learning and big data, which are important in today’s fast-paced world.”

Combining the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data and the International MBA to kickstart an exciting new career

Bibake notes that the environment at IE University was something he’d never experienced before and was a positive addition to his studies.

Partway through his program, Bibake landed a role in consulting, strategy and M&A in a company based in Toronto. After the first semester of the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data section of the degree, his interest in the field was piqued. Although his consulting role wasn’t data science-related, he continuously tapped into the skill set he gained in the program. “It gave me this very strong foundation to understand things that are so important today.”

The perfect combination

Looking back on the program, Bibake now feels more confident approaching challenges in his day-to-day. “It gave me the framework to understand the business world in a way that gives me confidence in what I know, but also in what I don’t know.”

Another positive outcome for Bibake was the relationships he formed. After a period spent working in consulting, he switched careers to work for Kyoto Fusioneering, a connection he gained through someone from his cohort: “I joined the team thanks to a friendship I built with somebody from Japan who I wouldn’t have otherwise met. The diverse environment at IE University opened so many doors.”

In his current role, Bibake needs to understand a large amount of data. Thanks to the program, he is able to see things in a more abstract way than simply understanding the raw data—a skill he wouldn’t have been able to teach himself. He learned to do this by really diving into the data during the program: “You really get your hands dirty. From competitions to projects, I had a lot of fun building my toolkit.”

“Without the dual degree, I would have been a step behind in what’s important in my industry today.”

Combining the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data and the International MBA to kickstart an exciting new career

Another highlight for Bibake was his time in the IE Consulting Club, some of which was spent as the president: “I joined the club because I wanted to get into consulting and get exposure to the various topics. Becoming president was a natural step for me as there was a lot of opportunity behind it. My team and I were able to implement new ideas and we were very proactive in finding ways to offer resources.”

As for advice for future dual degree candidates, Bibake says to try things but not to get caught up in signing up for everything. As the program is very demanding, you have to space out what you do in order to really get value from it: “You have to learn to focus on the things you really enjoy and try not to say yes to everything. It’s hard to choose because there are so many different opportunities available, but you have to pick just a few. Less is truly more.”

Bibake adds that the dual degree is a chance to differentiate yourself. “It allows you to combine two different toolkits, meet a wide range of people and dive into a future of opportunity.”