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IESE MBA - I'm Here to Help - Eddy Zakes '17 (USA)


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).

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Hi Eddy -

Thank you for taking the time to be available for questions! I am extremely interested in IESE’s program but I currently work in the entertainment industry and my post-MBA plan is to be a leader at a globally-focused
entertainment/hospitality company.

I have seen that there is a class offered that is dedicated to management in the service sector, as well as an active sports business club and a Real Estate, Hospitality, & Tourism Club, although that seems to be mostly focused on the Real Estate portion. Are you aware of any other entertainment industry connections the school may have (e.g. other clubs, relationships with recruiting companies, project focuses)?

Thank you again,


Sorry for the delay, Taylor! I’m actually in the class you mentioned right now and I’m finding it helpful for sure. Regarding the Real Estate, Hospitality, and Tourism Club, I’m not a member so unfortunately I can’t say what percentage of attention each “sector” gets within the club.

One plus I’d offer for IESE relative to the hospitality/entertainment sector is its location in Barcelona, one of the tourism capitals of the world (the third-most visited city in Europe), World Travel Awards’ 2015 winner for Europe’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination, and the leading cruise ship port in Europe. You’ve got all of the support for the industry at your fingertips, all of the networking opportunities, etc. Notable alumni of IESE include Alex Cruz (Chairman and CEO at British Airways), Jose Vila (Managing Director at The Walt Disney Company Spain & Portugal), and board members of several prominent Spanish football clubs (including FC Barcelona), etc.

IESE hosts the World Tourism Summit, and this year will host its 21st Food & Beverage Industry Meeting, its annual Media and Entertainment summit, etc.

All in all, I think IESE has a lot going for it in this space, and I hope this helps a bit as you consider which school might be best for you.



Eddy -

This is amazingly helpful! It sounds like IESE has a lot going for it in this industry.

Good luck with your courses! Thank you,


I´m curious if based on your Chinese studies (not sure your proficiency level) you were ever interested in seeking work in Asia? Or why you might have chosen Europe instead? Thanks @Eddy_Zakes !


Thanks for your question, Margaret!

My primary undergraduate studies were in International Business, and we were required to pursue a foreign language in conjunction with the program. I studied Chinese for two years, and that really just gave me a beginner’s level of proficiency. I wasn’t specifically chasing a career in Asia, but felt that having even a basic understanding of the language gave me a huge competitive advantage (especially at that time in the U.S.). That was all many years ago now, as I entered the MBA with 10+ years of experience having completed my undergraduate degree from 2001-2005.

I honestly didn’t really consider Asian MBA programs. I chose Europe, however, for much the same reason that I chose Chinese. I felt like it would differentiate me from the thousands of MBA graduates that are produced each year within my home country of the United States. I wanted access to a new network of professionals, to primarily study using the case method, and to have the brand benefit of a top-10 program. IESE checked all of these boxes, as it has an extremely internationally diverse student body, is well-known as the #2 publisher of business cases behind Harvard, and was #7 in the FT when I arrived and #10 today.


Was a pleasure to get Eddy on the pod!

#144 The Pros and Cons of Doing an MBA Outside the US + Assessing a School’s Entrepreneurship Offering with Eddy Zakes, IESE MBA ’17