Simon Philip Rost – Current student of the International MBA program Class of 2010, writes about his experience during the Exchange Program in NYC at Stern.

The New York Times reporter and Pulitzer-Prizewinner Meyer Berger once said: “Each man reads his own meaning into New York”. After the first two months in NYC at Stern, it is time for my take on the commonalities and differences between the American and the European MBA experience:


1.) Now I know why Americans value the GMAT so much (for all of us who had the pleasure to go through this experience), it´s all about the numbers.

Here at Stern the professors put a strong weight on finance and mathematics, even in Marketing and Strategy classes. It seems normal to prove every business assumption with numbers (in detail). From my point of view when the professors go very deep into the details behind the calculation the value added is marginal – because we are using calculus that no one has used since High School (and you will not use it again, unless you are going to be a number cruncher in one of the major investment banks, Hedge Funds, PE- or VC firms).

2.) In NYC everything is BIG, so is everything in NYU STERN.

The campus of NYU is huge and scattered around Broadway and Washington Square, so are the buildings, sport facilities and classrooms of NYU Stern. If you sit in the study area in the third floor of the Kaufmann Management Center, you have a nice view of the entrance of Stern. It´s funny to see all the “hustle and bustle” going on in the entrance of the school and sometimes it looks like a giant ant farm because there are so many people around.

3.) Two year programs seem like holidays compared to the first half of the MBA at IE Business School.

The way we tackle cases here is more relaxed, as well as detail oriented. Some cases are treated in double sessions, which can be perceived as very long from a student’s point of view.

4.) Sternies are younger and not as diverse as IE students.

My general perception is that the students in the full-time program here at Stern are younger (28 years on average) compared to my classmates at IE (greetings from here by the way). Furthermore, I can say that Stern cannot boast the diversity of IE. Stern has an international ambience as well, but clearly with fewer nationalities represented on campus.

5.) The STERN Stars fulfill all the expectations.

Being in the class of A. Damodaran (Corporate Finance) or C.J. Murphy (Investment Banking) is like having front row tickets to a Broadway show (if you are able to be there 30 minutes before class – what I haven´t been able to achieve yet, so I normally have to take the backseats). Even the location, the Schimmel Auditorium (4-5 times the size of Aula Magna), seems more like a theatre than a classroom. With 400 students attending these sessions, you can imagine that there is neither a participation grade nor an attendance requirement. It gets better: if you don´t make it or you don´t feel like getting up, you can see the entire show on your laptop at home. The atmosphere in these classes, the quality of the professors and the support of the teaching assistants leave a lasting impression and are definitely an exceptional learning experience.

6.) Beer Blast vs Bar Of the Week (BOTW) – SoHo vs La Latina.

Like all MBA students, Sternies also like to party and, for a European like me, they have some really interesting concepts. Take “beer pong” for example, or the weekly “beer blast” on campus ($ 10 can go a very long way here). A key difference to Europe in these events is the networking mentality of the students – Sternies are less shy and quicker in approaching you.

Leisure wise I can say that SoHo seems to be more trendy and cosmopolitan than La Latina, Malasaña or other places in Madrid…but everyone knows that it´s difficult to out-party the Spaniards. Living in Spain easily spoils you (food, wine, sun and culture); NYC has a lot to offer but in order to enjoy it you have to already earn the high salary we are all aiming for!

Wrap up (as we are used to from class):

My time here in New York is very different from the first three terms in Madrid. I wouldn’t miss any of both experience, because I make friends with unique people from all over the world, I enjoy living in two matchless metropolis and I experience the difference between two different approaches of understanding business and society. I can highly recommend you to go out of your comfort zone and participate in an Exchange program at Stern (or other partner schools) while doing your International MBA at IE: I am enjoying it.

I am looking forward to seeing all of you in New York, Madrid or somewhere around the globe.

All the best

Simon Philip Rost

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