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Why MBA: IESE Business School — Barcelona

Former environmental engineer finds career transition a success with MBA at leading European school.

Tue Jun 30 2015

When Oscar Casanova McClure reached the end of his MBA, he had two offers for summer internships and five offers for full-time jobs. He puts this down partly to IESE Business School’s career connections. The Barcelona based school organizes career forums, for example, and utilizes a thriving alumni network.

A former project manager at Veolia Water, a French water treatment company, Oscar enrolled in the MBA in 2013. An industrial engineering graduate, he has worked across the industry including in Hungary and Poland as an environmental engineer and support manager.

He most recently spent two months working as a technology consultant at Infosys, India’s second largest software exporter, in Hyderabad.

The transition to business has been a challenge. But Oscar believes an MBA with an engineering background is a powerful combination. Employers seem to think so too: he is about to join Emerson Electric, the US multinational tech corporation, as a strategic marketing analyst.

Why did you decide to begin an MBA?

In 2012 I was working for Veolia Water, a French water treatment company, on big construction projects. I really liked my job, but I realized that if I stayed in that line of business, my job would be very repetitive. I felt that I would soon hit a glass ceiling.

Also, working in project management means you are working on a project with a scope, schedule, and budget that have been defined by someone else. To me that meant that there was little space for my personal contribution.

How would you describe your experience so far at IESE Business School?

Choosing IESE is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It is a top-ranked school, it follows the case-method, and its career services department offers you access to the widest range of companies, big and small, in a myriad of industries and geographies.

The school organizes three career forums ever year, as well as individual company presentations, and access to the alumni network. I have received two offers for summer internships and five offers for full-time jobs.

IESE's MBA has been very challenging, but an amazing ride too. Through it, I've spent one term studying in China, and two months in India doing my corporate summer internship. I've also been an active member of sports tournaments and cultural events, including the Indian Diwali celebration.

What are the key benefits of being based in Barcelona?

Barcelona is a truly fantastic city. I don't know anyone in IESE who hasn't loved living there. The weather, the food, the beach, the chilled vibe, and the party scene are all fantastic.

The cost of living in Barcelona is also pretty low. So compared to business schools located in London, Switzerland, France, or New York, the schools in Barcelona have a very strong advantage.

What lessons can you take from your career as an engineer to business/management?

In my first few months of professional experience I realized that almost everything I had learned in engineering school was actually irrelevant. Most of the technical aspects of the job were new to me, and a big part of project management is about soft skills, time management and negotiation — the kind of stuff you don't learn in engineering school.

I found my first year in business school very tough. Absolutely everything was new to me, which combined with a super heavy workload, job search, and workshops, made the whole experience extremely challenging. Half way through the first year I was asking myself whether doing an MBA had been the right decision for me.

But I realize now that doing the MBA was the best decision I could have made, and I know that my engineering background together with my business education is a very powerful mix.

What has been the highlight of your internship at Infosys in India?

It was a very exciting personal experience: I was able to travel throughout India, which is a crazy and incredible country.

However, the professional side of the internship was very disappointing: the objective of my project was totally unclear; I was assigned a mentor that had very little time for me; I had very little access to necessary information; and all in all, my project was totally irrelevant to the company.

At the time I feared that not having a "powerful" internship experience would damage my prospects for full-time jobs. But I was completely wrong. Employers that are recruiting for full-time jobs don't really care about your corporate internship. Not a single company asked me about my project or my professional experience with Infosys.

What are your future career plans?

I'm joining Emerson Electric, an American multinational technology company, as part of their European Rotational Program. My first assignment will be in France, as a strategic marketing analyst, and I'm sure it will be challenging, as I've never worked in marketing!

The rotational aspect of the program is an important plus, as it allows you to experience different functions in different business units and geographies.

In the long run I want to continue to work in industries where I can leverage both my engineering and business education.

What advice do you have for people who are applying to business school?

An MBA is a huge commitment of time and money. You must find the school that best fits your needs and your possibilities. Business school applications are also very competitive. It is important that you do your research.