Executive Simulation (EXSIM) | IESE Busines School

EXSIM Executive Simulation

Bringing the Board of Directors to the classroom

IESE’s Executive Simulation (EXSIM) program gives students a taste of what it’s like to defend a project before a corporate board. Without leaving the classroom, they engage with real members of boards, banks and trade unions. In the process, they learn the importance of preparation as well as thinking on their feet.

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EXSIM in the MBA

EXSIM is a week-long course aimed at students who are in one of IESE’s MBA programs. Its main objective is to create close-to-reality managerial situations that allow students to acquire new knowledge through a learning-by-doing approach. Due to the students’ youth, these managerial situations are not yet within their professional activity and, thus, they learn by experiencing anticipated working conditions.

Students are organized into teams / companies that compete against each other by entering decisions of different types (commercial, manufacturing, logistics, financial, human relations) into a web-based business game. The team has inherited the management of a company that has been in operation for two years; all teams start under the same conditions of results and market share and, based on the decisions they make, the situation varies depending on their performance.

During the week, each team has three meetings with its Board of Directors, to which they report results and forecasts, and with whom they discuss strategies, investments, dividend policies, and everything related with the management of the company. Directors of the Board represent the owners and they also play roles (minority venture capital rep, majority family owner, independent). For this reason, during the meetings, different opinions on how to manage the company may arise which, again, is an example of real-life experiential learning for the students.

Would you like to get involved?

We’re looking for alumni and others wishing to take part in executive simulations, taking on the role of a board member or bank representative. You’ll find full details of how the program works below, and you can click on the Registration button to sign up.


By participating in EXSIM, you’ll maintain and deepen your ongoing relationship with IESE. Beyond that, you’ll share your experience and knowledge with new generations, while getting to know new talent.


For Board members, ideally we’d like people who have been part of or have reported to a board, although functional managers with extensive experience can also play that role.

For Bank negotiations, professionals who have worked in risk departments of financial institutions or in commercial banking.

Since the EXSIM course is organized in the IESE campuses of Barcelona, Madrid and Munich and the participation is meant to be in person, it is better if candidates live in the area of influence of these cities. Nevertheless, as online contribution is also envisaged — sometimes per force, as the pandemic has shown — remote connection will also be considered.

You would participate in an EXSIM course once a year. For that week of the year, Board members must have Tuesday morning, and Wednesday and Friday afternoons available. Bank negotiators must be available on Thursday morning. See a sample agenda here.

Here are more details on how the week is organized:

Every meeting day EXSIM Boards are assigned to two teams to hold two one-hour board meetings (plus one additional hour before to analyze the team’s performance information). Thus, members of EXSIM Boards are expected to spend one morning and two afternoons (usually in person but sometimes online) in IESE during the simulation week (Tuesday from 8:00 – 8:30 to 13:00; Wednesday and Friday from 15:00 to 18:30 approximately). EXSIM board members are usually asked to participate only once a year.

In addition to these meetings, on Thursday morning the teams also meet with actual representatives from banks and unions. With the former, they negotiate their existing and future debt, payments schedules, interests, short- and long-term loans and others. The people playing the role of bank representatives usually either come from actual banks’ risk departments or from companies’ financial departments where they are used to dealing with banks in their daily work.

With the unions, two types of negotiations are generally organized: the first with a representative of each company to try to reach a framework agreement at industry level (applies to all companies). In the second, a trade union representative negotiates in several rounds an individual company agreement with each team, trying to improve the conditions of the base industry settlement depending on the specific results and negotiation approach of each company.

Thursday’s agenda usually starts at 8:00 – 8:30 (this is country dependent) when the morning plan and the overall results of the teams are reviewed. For Unions, from 9:00 to 10:30 the collective negotiations are carried out before doing the individual ones until 13:00 – 14:00. In the case of Banks, several negotiations rounds take place from 9:00 to 13:00 – 14:00.

After lunch, from 14:00 to 15:00 unions and banks’ representatives gather at the classroom where, each collective for half an hour, they give students feedback on how the negotiations went, what is important for each of them, and answer questions. Therefore, the participation of trade unions and banks’ representatives lasts approximately from 8:00-8:30 to 15:00-16:00.


The EXSIM team periodically organizes online explanatory sessions (45 minutes) about what the simulation entails, its organization, and what is expected from the people playing the different external roles. By clicking the Registration button above you will be informed about when the next explanatory session will be scheduled so that you can join to obtain more information and solve any questions.

After that, you can decide if you want to join the group of more than 250 people who are part of the EXSIM family already.

There will be a number of EXSIM courses run during the 2022-23 academic year. The first begins at the end of August and the last ends in early February, so you can select the week that fits your schedule.

Click here for the full schedule for the 2022-23 academic year.

Send us an email at exsimulation@iese.edu and we’ll be in touch.

EXSIM Schedule for 2022-23 Academic Year

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