IE Business School Q+A
Elizabeth Whiteside wants to work in the culinary industry. Her hero is Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group
Where are you from?
I have lived in the United States my entire life. I spent my childhood in Connecticut, went to high school and college in New Orleans, Louisiana and most recently lived and worked in New York City for the past eight and a half years.
What attracted you to IE Business School?
Initially I was attracted to IE because of the school’s location in Madrid, Spain and the one-year program length. After visiting, I was strongly impressed by the school’s innovative spirit and its focus on entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility.
Why did you select a Spanish b-school and not an American one? What are the advantages of your choice?
The main factors in my decision, in order of importance were, diversity, opportunity to live abroad and length of program.
As part of my undergraduate program, I spent two years studying business in my university’s business school. While I enjoyed that experience, I later came to the realization that I was not exposed to enough diversity during that time.
The European business programs that I considered were able to offer diversity to a greater extent than most American programs.
Up until this point in my life, I did not have the opportunity to live abroad either for school or work. I have always enjoyed traveling to new countries and knew that some day I wanted the experience of living in a country that was not my own.
The combination of studying with students from all over the globe and living in a foreign country encourage me to consider and gain new perspectives that I never would have obtained in an American program.
Have you noticed more American students opting to study abroad instead of staying in the US?
Any insight is purely anecdotal, but I think it is slowly becoming more of a trend. I was surprised to see roughly fifteen American students in our intake of approximately two hundred students. During my application process, I encountered people who were skeptical of why I would be choosing a European program instead of an American one.
I believe this stems from the fact that in the US many European programs are still not well known and that global outlook is not a cornerstone of many educational programs. As an IE student and future alumnae, I hope to increase the school’s brand in the US, as well as that of European MBA programs in general.
How has the downturn helped you change the way you think about business?
Periods of adversity, whether in professional or personal life, present the opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate priorities. When financial opportunities are limited, other motivations come under scrutiny. The downtown helped me realize the importance of passion in the business realm.
What Spanish phrases have you picked up since you started in April?
“¡Vale” and “no pasa nada” are key to day-to-day life here in Madrid. Another personal goal of mine over the next year is to achieve a level of proficiency in Spanish, but finding time to study the language is quite difficult during an intense MBA program.
You're a keen cook. If you were to prepare a meal for a business leader you admire, who would it be and what would you cook?
I would love the opportunity to break bread with Danny Meyer (CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group). After graduation, I hope to work in the culinary industry and I’m inspired by his journey as an entrepreneur all driven by his passion for good food and “enlightened hospitality.”
While I would be very intimidated to cook for him, I would make red beans and rice (a traditional New Orleans dish). This is one of my best dishes and I believe that Mr. Meyer would appreciate the value in knowing your own strengths- both in the kitchen, as well as in business.
Will you stay in Europe or return home when you graduate?
My fiancé is also enrolled in the IE MBA program and we would like to stay and work in Europe post graduation. However, it is more important to us that we each find the right opportunity regardless of where that may be geographically.
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