With experience in management consulting and venture capital and a GMAT score of 780 under her belt, Romanian-born Yvonne Pop is learning to be an effective manager on the IESE MBA in Spain.
The two-year full-time MBA at IESE Business School was ranked first in the world by The Economist this year. Yvonne, 27, is typical of the high-flying, globe-trotting professionals you meet on the programme: she graduated from US Ivy League college Dartmouth with a Bachelors in Economics and Government in 2008.
After graduating from Dartmouth, Yvonne lived and worked in the US for four years in San Francisco, first as an analyst for consulting firm Oliver Wyman and then with E6 Group Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in companies developing products and applications for synthetic diamonds and other "super materials".
At Oliver Wyman Yvonne worked mainly with internet and software companies, befitting the San Francisco location. The breadth of her projects allowed her to learn a lot but she felt she was still lacking in technical business knowledge.
E6 Group Ventures was part of Element Six, a company that specialises in manufacturing synthetic diamond, cubic boron nitride and other "super hard" materials for industrial use. It is jointly owned by Belgian materials firm Umicore and De Beers. Yvonne was in charge of a portfolio of companies, working closely with their leadership teams on planning strategies and pitching for funds.
Doing an MBA had always been on the cards for Yvonne. She said, “The plan had always been to do an MBA but I wanted to wait until I was sure exactly what I wanted out of it. I slowly began to realize that there were skills I needed in order to be an effective manager.”
IESE was the only business school that Yvonne applied to and she has now been a student for about three months. Having grown up in Romania and then spent nearly a third of her life in the United States, Yvonne was ready to explore a career in Europe. She wanted to be closer to family and to study in a very international environment, something IESE offered more than US business schools.
“There are about 50 of us in just my section of the MBA class from 30 countries" she said. "Each time we have a case study everyone can give you first hand information on how an issue would be handled differently in their country. It's been three months but it still strikes me how great this is!”
Yvonne filled us in on a typical day: “I start at 8am and meet with the other six members of my team to discuss our cases for the day. If someone is falling short on one of the technical subjects, one of us usually helps them out.” The last case they looked at involved marketing strategy for coffee giant Starbucks, and how the firm positions its brand.
Yvonne believes that working closely with her teammates is teaching her valuable leadership lessons. She said, “I never had the chance to work with a team closely enough to find out each person’s talents and to be a good leader.
"Working in a team is a great way to practice how to work effectively towards a goal with the right structure in place, and without stepping on anyone’s toes.”
Yvonne is also getting involved in a number of extra-curricular activities available to IESE MBAs. She’s a member of the Entrepreneurship Club and the Technology, Media and Telecoms Club. Last week, she participated in pitch competition where she got the chance to try selling a business idea that she's currently developing with a partner, to a team of investors!
She also tells us that as lively as Barcelona is, it hasn’t stopped her from occasionally escaping the city for hikes in the Spanish countryside.
Over the next two years, Yvonne is most looking forward to the chance to work on a business idea for her entrepreneurial venture. She won't tell us much more than that it's an internet business.
We wish her the best of luck and have asked her to keep BusinessBecause members updated!
Read more about the reasons people head to business school in the Why MBA section