Owen Fernando studying at IE Business SchoolThis is a short interview with Owen Fernando from Indonesia who started his International MBA at IE in November 2008.

What was the motivation to start your MBA at IE Business School?
I am originally from Bandung, Indonesia, and have spent most of my life working in Jakarta and Bandung. For the past four years, I have put my efforts in starting and building up my own company, majoring in commercial printing service. This entrepreneurial experience has a big impact on my business attributes. However, the more I immerse myself in the business world, the more I feel the need to broaden my horizons as it is significantly becoming an urgent matter.
In the business world, while so many changes take place really fast, some do not, such as the need of skillful leaders who can guide organizations through difficult times and take advantage when everything seems against them. This point of view has motivated me to start an MBA program. I need to learn, comprehend, and incorporate the best management skills and I need to do it now. So I started my research on top tier MBA schools, tried to find out the student life and culture, collected information on what programs they offer, and established contacts with alumni.
Fortunately, I was in contact with Dirk Höpfl, who helped me out in handing me valuable information about IE Business School. I was deeply intrigued by IE’s reputation. It is one of the world’s best business schools, well-known for highly entrepreneurial environment (it was founded by young entrepreneurs), offers both intensive, 13-month, and innovative MBA program, and has the most diverse academic community. This school is exactly the school I want to be graduated from, and I am very proud that I became a part of IE’s academic environment.

As an entrepreneur, how much you can still learn from the Entrepreneurship activities at IE?
I am truly amazed with many entrepreneurship activities at IE, from the informal one, such as entrepreneurship club, to formal courses, such as entrepreneurial management and venture lab.
For me, these activities indeed provide deeper insight of entrepreneurial process. This week, for example, our team has just pitched our business feasibility study and been preparing to write up our business plan for the next step. We also wish to bring our idea to venture lab, put it together to the next level, and make it real.
I experience this whole process as a out-of-comfort-zone experience, everything seems so unsure but exceptionally exciting. Not only from professors, but also from fellow students I learn the most.

From an academic perspective, how is your learning experience?
IE offers a very innovative curriculum and provides in-depth knowledge for future competitive global managers. It is a life-changing learning experience. Each subject is scrupulously designed and built to enrich business knowledge, and conducted by professors who are not only competent in teaching, but also expert in real business practice.
Teaching methodologies are targeting both hard skills and soft skills development. IE’s academic environment has allowed me to cultivate these skills, and gain access to a broader global network.

How do you cope with the Spanish lifestyle and the new environment?
Spain is an interesting Iberian country, Spaniards are even more. Generally, people here are warm and laid-back. They have a nice ritual every time they meet, giving each other left and right cheek kisses. Spaniards enjoy socializing and could chat for hours and hours, mentioning from their dogs to recent economy crisis, so to speak.
One thing must be kept in mind to cope with Spanish time, day is long. You should have enough energy to keep awake from 8 am until 2 am. You do not want to skip 11 pm tapas with your friends, since it is a wonderful custom to socialize with others.
Time for meal is absolutely peculiar. Normally, they have breakfast at 7-8 am, then lunch at 2-4 pm followed by siesta, then dinner at 8-9 pm, followed by snack and drinks at 11 pm. ¡Es muy tarde!, I thought at first time, and it took me three months to adapt my meal schedule. Fortunately, I did not have problems with my stomach.
I love Madrid’s weather in general, it is quite friendly for people like me who come from tropical country. It was autumn when I arrived in Madrid, and I have been through winter. I was quite lucky to see snow in Madrid, since it has never been snowing for the last decade. The sky is blue almost everyday, with light rain sometimes. It is not hard for me to adapt with weather here.

Which recommendation would you give to potential applicants from Indonesia?

If I may give some recommendations to you if you are interested in pursuing degree in IE, start your application at least 3-4 months prior to submission deadline. Complete your application as thorough as possible.
I would strongly suggest you to establish communication with IE students, to inquire about program structures, activities, and student’s life. IE’s representatives and wide alumni networks support completely in disseminating information for potential candidates. Do not hesitate to contact us.
Studying at IE Business School is an extraordinary opportunity and great investment for your future. I encourage you to find out more information about scholarship and loan program. Be prepared to do hard work during the fast-paced program. Bring your qualities and contribute to learning experience for everybody.