Several hundred students from 71 countries met early on a chilly morning to take a bus to our opening ceremony in Segovia, outside of Madrid. I had the opportunity to sit next to two strangers (other IE International MBA students) and we shared where we’re from, our career and educational experience, our arrival date and where we live in Madrid. Most every student asks and answers these questions when meeting another IE student. Then the more panicked questions begin… When do classes start again? Where should I open a bank account? Do you have a cell phone yet? How much was it? Where do we pick up our student I.D.s? I heard grocery stores are closed on Sunday, is that true?
After approximately 40 minutes of driving, our bus approached the Aqueduct of Segovia. It is estimated to have been built in the 1st century AD. Our bus then rolled up the hill to a convent where we were welcomed with our nametags, flag pins and breakfast.
After a few days of orientation, we began an intense short-term period of learning and preparing for management and our first term. One day I was a designer and an architect. The next day I was a basketball player. Then the next day I was an actor. I was also inspired by John Clendenin‘s lecture on positive pathways to success, Adam Pervez‘s pursuit of happiness, and Edurne Pasaban‘s journey to be the first woman to ascend all of the 14 eight-thousanders on earth. Most of these talks left me speechless at the end.
We also had a few opportunities to continue networking with a series of cocktail hours, a scavenger hunt around Madrid, and much more. We are told by the students from previous intakes that we need to enjoy this time while we can because once our first term begins, we will no longer have a social life. I keep hearing the quote, “You can eat, study and party. In this MBA program, you’ll only have time for 2 out of these 3 things. Choose wisely.”
Our April 2013 intake has been divided into four sections. A1, A2, and A3 are in English. A4 is in Spanish. I am in A1. These will be the students that I have class with every day until our electives period (which is when I can take a few classes in Spanish, yay!). Within A1, we are separated into groups which will change each term. My group for term 1 is “Group D”. We come from the U.S., Lebanon, Peru, Japan Portugal, Colombia and India. We also come from a variety of industries: engineering, architecture, research, e-commerce, consulting, and consumer goods. We are 4 men and 2 women. 2 of us are married, 1 is a parent. We range in age from 26-33. And those are only a few and obvious ways to describe our diversity.
I have been on diverse teams in the past, but I think this group takes the cake. And that is the point. We are in this International MBA program to learn from each other. We are told by former students that we’ll get on each other’s nerves and then we’ll love each other by the time the term is over. We are told by professors that if we come to them with any group problems, they will tell us to “work it out”. So we have to be successful…or we all fail.
So far, we are off to a great start. We have set expectations and personal contracts, we have identified objectives, and we have identified those who will start to panic if they haven’t eaten in several hours (me and the pro rugby player – ha!). One thing to note is that I have had a lot of lessons on group dynamics and successful team work through my previous job experience, so I’m sure that will come in handy!
Rachel’s List (a list of things on the web that I found interesting this week – I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments section!):