By David Harlley
The question of whether or not to pursue an MBA is something I pondered for years. I never had questions about my ability to transition from engineering to business, it was more the “why” of business school that eluded me. I am not motivated by profit margins or excited by stock prices, so it seemed a strange thing to immerse myself in a world where the gears turn incessantly towards the goal of financial reward.
I finally took the leap at the end of last year, and have been at IE for the last 3 months roughly. The first thing I found, is that I am not alone. In talking to other students, I have found that there are any number of reasons for pursuing an MBA, and personal wealth is rarely at the top of the list. For many students, it is the leadership and management skills they seek to gain. For others, it is a fuller view of the world, perhaps not offered in their previous engagements. For others still, and particularly in the case of IE, it is about entrepreneurship, not solely for the sake of profit but because they are genuinely passionate about ideas and innovation, solving societies problems. Almost in hindsight, I would list all of the above reasons as my reasons for doing an MBA, but stated more fully, it has become about the opportunity to deliver change.
My marketing professor, Fernando Cortinas, is one half marketing prof, one half historian. His lectures almost always connect marketing themes to themes of history. “Wars” for market share are compared to the colonial wars of past eras, and PR campaigns are likened to the propaganda campaigns that countries engage in to advance their aims.
It is increasingly clear to me that so much of history, so much of who we are, what we experience, where we come from was driven by the world of commerce. From colonialism to slavery to agricultural practices to globalization, healthcare, art, religion, architecture, politics. The list goes on…..It could be argued that next to religion, commerce, and the scarcity of resources have been the biggest shapers of human history.
A year ago when I thought about business, I thought about bankers in pristine suits, doing soulless work. That’s certainly one way to view it, that’s probably the way a lot of people within the field, and without, view it, a bunch of numbers busying themselves crunching numbers. Today I see the chance to create, to improve, to sharpen, to feed, to clothe, to heal, to invent, to protect, to shape the course of history. That is something that IE has given me in the short time I have been here. Through the interactions with profs, through the course content, through the kind of students that it attracts, the IE message is clear, its brand unmistakable. This business school teaches its students to view the opportunity to engage at the top end of the business world as a privilege, one not to be taken lightly, one not to be abused. I am proud, even lucky to be here, because I think I can say with little hesitation, that graduates of the IE IMBA will be on the right side of history.