MBA Class of 2015: "Be Drivers of Positive Change"

IESE congratulates graduates on 50th anniversary of MBA


MBA 2015 Graduation

IESE congratulates its 50th cohort of MBA graduates / Photo: Ismael Martínez

"IESE and its graduates share a passion for turning management and leadership into drivers of positive change in society. You are now part of this mission."

Dean Jordi Canals gave an address to congratulate MBAs at their graduation ceremony on May 15 in Barcelona. The new graduates form the Class of 2015 – a landmark cohort for the IESE MBA, which was launched 50 years ago in 1964; the first two year MBA in Europe.

Acknowledging that they face a "complex and uncertain world," Canals urged the graduates to draw inspiration from the example of the Berlin Wall.

"As former Polish president Lech Walesa said here at IESE a few months ago: If the Berlin Wall can come down, men and women of character and goodwill can help bring down any major obstacle that blocks people’s development in business or society. The Berlin Wall offers us a relevant lesson: Business leaders need to foster values and aspirations that go much deeper than just achieving personal goals."

Welcoming the new graduates into IESE’s 43,000-strong alumni community, Canals added: "Never forget that IESE is your home. A place you can always come back to, and where you will always be welcomed with affection."

A Support System Beyond Friendship

This was a sentiment shared by MBA Class President, Talar Sarkissian, who paid homage to her fellow graduates: "No longer just classmates, nor just friends, we became our own support systems and teammates, as we collectively embarked on this journey of self discovery and development."

Sarkissian’s address touched on the extent of the hard work undertaken across the program’s two years; as well as a feeling of profound accomplishment shared by the cohort.

"Not only did we have to study completely new subjects – from capital markets to operations strategy - but we had to prepare three cases a day; have team meetings; submit assignments; take Spanish classes; apply for jobs; prepare for interviews; participate in case competitions; exercise; attend club activities; be social; eat; speak to our loved ones; have fun and somehow find some time to … sleep!"

A life-altering experience, said Sarkissian, that is now set to bear more fruit. She cited the 90 percent of IESE graduates who find full-time employment within three months of graduating – and the fact that 72 percent of her cohort had already accepted a job offer.

"We’ve been given the business tools and a sense of humility to drive continuous learning, perseverance through difficult times and to empathize with others – all the skills necessary to be the authentic and trustworthy leaders we want to be. Now is our time to take action, put our skills into practice and leave our mark," she concluded.

One of the World’s Best – and Most Demanding – MBA Programs

Director of the MBA program, Franz Heukamp, was emphatic in his congratulations – not least because the cohort had successfully completed "one of the world’s best and most demanding MBA programs."

He called on the class of 2015 to "shine through responsible, humble and effective leadership; a leadership that so many graduates of this program have shown throughout the past 50 years."

"Go out and make the communities of people, organizations and countries you will work in a truly better place, starting with yourself," he said.

Setting Goals for Leadership

The ceremony was brought to a close by Distinguished President of the University of Navarra, Professor Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero.

He recalled the advice given to him as a student by one of his own professors. It is important, he said, to set the right goals. "My professor told me that ‘mediocre’ people settle for easy goals. Leaders keep looking for the big goals in life."

Sánchez-Tabernero closed the ceremony by urging the graduates to thank their families for the support given over the two years at IESE.

"And may the fruit of your work be a great service to humanity," he said.