In today’s disruptive environment, in which new technologies like blockchain come to dominate public conversation and new business models adapt to undercut established players, thinking like an entrepreneur could not only allow you to adapt to change, but be an agent of it—whether the company you’re working for is large or small.
This is the attitude at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. The school have a dedicated entrepreneurship track for their MBAs, which includes an intensive incubation period in the school's very own startup lab.
As we found out in our interview with the lab’s co-ordinator, Sugata Jain, it’s not just those with dreams of starting their own businesses that can benefit. On the contrary, many IE MBAs use their entrepreneurial skills to enter big corporates.
This worked for 2013 IE MBA grad Denny Morawiak, former McKinsey consultant and director of merchandising for the EU at multinational furniture retailer Wayfair.
BusinessBecause caught up with Denny to find out why he opted for the IE MBA, and how the entrepreneurial environment has impacted his career.
Why did you decide to do an MBA at IE Business School?
I looked at various schools in Europe and the US, but in the end, the decision [to attend] IE was driven by 3 factors.
[Firstly,] the focus of the program on entrepreneurship. I wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial path and IE offered great opportunities to do so.
[Secondly,] the high quality of life in Madrid: I came with my wife, who obtained a masters in management at IE while I did the MBA, and we wanted to live in a vibrant city and not on a campus far out of town.
[Finally, the] opportunity to learn Spanish. As IE also offers a Spanish track for the MBA, I was excited about the opportunity to meet many people from Spanish-speaking countries and also to take a few elective classes from the Spanish track!
What was your highlight of the course at IE Business School?
Being able to launch a startup while studying at IE was the highlight for me. IE provided various ways of supporting that process, starting with a module on Design Thinking right in week one, all the way to Venture Day at the end of the program where you would pitch your company to investors.
How do you think the entrepreneurial spirit at IE has helped you in your career at McKinsey?
After returning to McKinsey, I shifted my focus on working for clients with a digital business model. Thus, I supported many players in the e-commerce, online classifieds, and digital media industries.
Recently I made the move to Wayfair, a leading e-commerce player in the home and living category, where I joined the EU leadership team.
How would you describe the atmosphere at IE that makes it different to other business schools?
Many business schools claim [to have] diversity but this mostly means that students from multiple countries are attending the program.
IE brings diversity on a totally different scale with regards to background (undergraduate education), professional achievements (position and industry pre-MBA), and also career aspirations and objectives.
In many top 10 schools, graduates would either go into consulting, finance, or tech. The aspirations of IE alumni are much broader and sometimes more impactful!
What's the biggest thing you gained from your time at IE Business School?
[Experience in] cross-cultural collaboration—[I now have] a friend in virtually any place around the globe.