Name: Edward (Eddy) Zakes
Nationality: United States
Education: B.S., International Business (minors in Chinese and Teaching English as a Second Language)
Work Before MBA: Director of Advancement (VP-level) for Dayton Christian School System, a top-20 internationally ranked, non-denominational private school. I led the organization’s PR, marketing, communications, fundraising/development, alumni relations, and admissions functions.
Post-MBA Goals: I’m still working on this a little bit… I’m interested in opportunities at the intersection of marketing, business development, sales, and strategy, but I have a growing interest in venture capital and impact investing too. We’ll see what happens!
Why did you pick IESE? I was looking for a force multiplier. I already have a network, I already have potential, I already have skills. I wanted to find something that would multiply my network, my potential, my skills (and add more, of course) with the the highest “exponential-ality.” I felt like leaving my comfort zone in the U.S. (where there are many great MBA programs) would cause me to stretch more and add a component of globality to my CV. I was attracted to the dominance of the case method, the collegiality of the student body, and the international diversity of students.
Best part of program? I think the impact of having one of the most geographically diverse student bodies among major MBA programs cannot be overstated. My school’s student body represents about 60 different nationalities, and this really flavors discussions about life, business problems, goals, and more in a special way. I didn’t want to go to a school where everybody thought about things in the same way I did, and I’m finding that IESE is providing me with a lot of new ways to consider problems.
Plus, Barcelona isn’t a bad place to live!
Most surprising part of program? I’ve been surprised by the approachability of professors and other school decision makers (deans, program directors, etc.) Everybody is very generous with their time, doesn’t stand on pretense or position, and wants to make sure you have your questions and concerns resolved. Professors will stay for 40 minutes after class with a throng of students around them, you’ll have a faculty mentor, a Career Services mentor, etc. People really care about you here!
Room for improvement? IESE offers a very intense academic environment – the workload is very high. I think the school wants to make learning and personal growth the chief KPI, but sometimes this is in tension with students’ objectives of post-MBA job searches, networking, having a life outside the classroom, etc. There are a lot of discussions taking place right now about work-life balance. It is important to know that IESE is not a “goof-around” school.
Do you plan to work in Spain after graduation? Is this difficult for foreigners? I would say that after graduating I’m globally mobile. However, IESE’s brand is better known in Europe than anywhere else, so it is definitely easier to get a job in Europe (probably followed by Latin America). That being said, most global businesses are willing to assist non-European Union passport holders with the challenges of obtaining visas, but you will occasionally see businesses post openings to our Career Services that require prior work authorization too.
How do most classmates find internships & jobs? While the ultimate responsibility of finding an internship and post-MBA job is the student’s, a huge percentage of our students find internships and jobs through our Career Services team. Depending on how you count, we have 12-16 people working on behalf of our class to identify opportunities, counsel and coach us, etc. We have multiple Career Forums/Fairs and on an almost weekly basis have company presentations we can voluntarily attend. I think they do a very good job, and our percentage of students having a job at graduation and within 3 months of graduation is comparable with all of the top schools.
What should more applicants know about IESE? Living in Barcelona is amazing. It isn’t “why” you should come to IESE but it is certainly a big perk. The weather is fantastic, the culture is fascinating, the city is accessible, and the locals are welcoming.
Any last advice for applicants? It is critical to know why you want an MBA and why IESE is the right school to reach these objectives. While you will have the time of our life, build amazing friendships, learn a ton, and grow more than you thought possible, the sacrifice of “dropping out” of life for 19 months is big, the coursework is demanding, and you will face plenty of adversity. Being able to put the hardship in perspective is important. Be thoughtful.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me! I’m happy to answer any questions you might have (or refer you to someone who can answer the questions that I don’t know the answer to).