Experiencing U.S. Business First-Hand

EMBA participant describes transformational program

21/11/2012 Barcelona

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From Oct. 2 to 5, participants in IESE's Executive MBA program travelled to New York to take part in a special module, "Finance, Media & Entertainment, Geopolitics." Through an intense week of sessions, company visits and networking, the module gives students in-depth knowledge about specific sectors and emerging markets, as well as the chance to experience U.S. business culture.

Among the participants in the class is Joan Xiol, who - at a mere 29 years of age - has had the time and energy to earn a bachelor's degree in telecommunications, study in three different business schools, work in three different companies, found and sell his own technology start-up, take up the Executive MBA at IESE and get married. All of this is thanks in part, he said, to being a bad engineer.

The truth is that I have always considered myself a poor engineer, from a technological viewpoint of the profession," he says. "After finishing my degree in Paris, I worked for one year in R&D at Alcatel, but I must admit I didn't like it. I opted instead to refocus my career on management and business, linking this always with technology and engineering since they interested me very much."

In 2005, while still in Paris and having a beer with a friend, he had the idea of developing an RFID device applicable to multiple business processes in diverse sectors. This brainchild soon became a business plan and later int he startup Aifos Solutions, which applied it to blood bank management. This sudden entry into the business world revealed the need to complete his education in a rigorous, yet agile way.

"When I came back to Barcelona, we started setting up the company but I realized that I needed something more in order to lead and manage what I was creating. Thanks to various competitions I was able to follow courses at La Salle, MIT and IE, which were very useful for launching my career as an entrepreneur," he said.

"The experience at Aifos was very enriching, but finally we had a good offer and we decided to sell. So after that adventure I thought that I needed to comlete my education with a program that was definitive, global, complete, profound and rigorous. It had to be in Barcelona and I needed to combine it with my personal and work life in the family business Mussvital. After several recommendations from family members and friends, and after a visit, I was certain that the IESE Executive MBA was the best option."

With the first year of the program behind him and greater ability to balance his many activities, Xiol says that the second year is allowing him to savor the sessions, case and business experience of IESE professors, help from classmates and special modules suchas that New York Campus visit.

"The truth is that the module was intense and enriching. It was structured around three main areas - finance, globalization and entertainment. I remember that the sessions on finance had particular impact on me, because I was surprised to be so interested in a topic that had never grabbed my attention; the sessions on entertainment because it is a spectacular sector that I have always been attracted to," he said. "It was also very interesting to see in person the headquarters and day to day activities of Citibank, Disney and Christie's. When you see it up close, you realize that in the United States business is focused in another way. They are very direct, very aggressive and see things very clearly. This is part of their culture and it works, which is why they are the most powerful country in the world."

"On the other hand, I also valued the opportunity we had to establish contact with American professionals. On a personal level, it is very positive to go out and experience a different professional culture. I bleieve it is one of the fundamental aspects of the program. In fact, in March we travel to CEIBS in Shanghai and we are all looking forward to the trip."

After so much activity in recent years, Xiol jokes that after the Executive MBA he will never study again, or "at least not for a few years."

"I think that I have acquired a very broad education that will allow me to advance and develop over the next few years. Certainly I will try to create new businesses because that interests me and because after studying at IESE, the opportunities I will have will be even better. The best part of this program is that you can apply what you are studying to your day to day life. You also generate a vast network of contacts that you can draw upon immediately and I'm sure this will also bring many opportunities in the future."