Simon Bauwens has been stimulated by his business school’s growing focus on entrepreneurship. But as the coordinator of IE Business School’s Consulting club in Madrid, he is aiming for a career at a consultancy firm or in business strategy more broadly.
The club’s goal is to prepare students for a career in the business of consulting – long a popular graduate destination for MBAs. IE Consulting Club seeks to get members through the rigorous interview phases of firms like Accenture or McKinsey & Co by connecting students with alumni working in the sector.
Simon enrolled at IE last year. Before that he worked as head of youth development, and as assistant to the artistic director of Teatro Real, Spain’s national opera house. Prior to Teatro Real, he worked as a production manager in Belgium at C-Zuur, a cultural management agency.
The musical theatre enthusiast has a diverse background but hopes the IE MBA will broaden his horizon further.
Why did you decide to begin an MBA degree?
After working for five years in cultural management positions, I was ready for a new challenge. As I didn’t see many opportunities to grow in my position at the time, I wanted to look beyond the cultural sector, to learn more, broaden my horizon and have more career options.
When I started talking to friends and family about this, it quickly became clear that an MBA would help me to do these things.
What made your business school stand out from the rest?
Its genuine openness to the profiles of diverse professional backgrounds; the incredible diversity in terms of nationalities; and the stimulating approach to entrepreneurship.
How would you describe the culture at your business school?
I expected a highly competitive environment, but instead I found the atmosphere to be highly collaborative, open and friendly.
Contact with IE staff is great – they are always happy answer any questions we may have. The professors may have impressive CVs and teaching skills, but if you run into them in school, you can have an informal chat with them. It really feels like we’re all part of a community [that is] striving to make the most out of the program, and there’s a lot of team spirit in that sense.
Which aspect of the MBA has been the most valuable?
All the things I’ve learnt from my peers in class or during club activities. It’s really interesting to hear different people’s experiences in regard to topics discussed in class, and to learn about so many different jobs and sectors.
What advice would you give to people who are about to apply to business school?
Find out what’s important to you when thinking of your MBA program and pick your school accordingly. Although I can only really speak about my experience at one particular school, I think there are important differences between all business schools, and it comes down to finding a fit.
Apart from what the school offers on paper, visit the school to get a feel of the culture, look at what types of profile they target, and where their alumni go. The gut feeling is very important. I trusted mine when I chose IE, and after six months in the program, I’m still very happy I did.
What are your goals for IE Consulting Club?
IE Consulting Club prepares students for a career in consulting. Our goal is to get as many aspiring consultants as possible to pass the case interviews without problems, and to get into the companies they’re targeting.
Personally, my aim is to draw more on the experience of our IE alumni network and arrange more informal meetings between current students and alumni who have landed consulting jobs. These contacts are crucial in understanding what sets apart one consulting firm from another, so that students can make more informed choices.