Archive for the ‘IE Stories’ Category


Joël McConnell
Director for Europe and Central Asia
IE International Development Department
From: Vancouver, Canada

Originally from Vancouver, I grew up in English speaking part of the country but in a French-speaking home – something that would later prove very helpful when I moved to Spain and had to learn Spanish, my third language. When it came time to go to university I chose to move to Montréal, a city where I could study my Bachelor of Commerce in English, but live in a city where I could also speak my other language. At university I was very involved in student life, having held many student government positions and being part of the case competition initiative we had in place, where senior-year bachelor students were sent out in groups, all over the globe, to compete in competitions against other top schools.  When it came time to move into the working world, I joined a corporate rotational program in the financial services sector, and I shared the next 3 years or so between the US and Canada, before joining the MBA program at IE Business School – which looking back now, was probably one of the smarter professional decisions I’ve made to date.  What I didn’t know was that my move to Madrid would be a permanent one!

Since arriving in Madrid, I’ve not only completed several master and executive courses at IE, but I’ve also completed senior leadership programs at Judge Business School (University of Cambridge) and Saïd Business School (University of Oxford), but more recently at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business as well.  And it’s not only been about studying! I also lead market development and marketing initiatives at a successful industrial process automation company, held senior leadership positions at the IEEE –  a global engineering standards organization, completed an internship in Senegal in microfinance via the joint venture of the CRS and Caritas, and perhaps most importantly, built a successful career at IE via three roles: Director of Financial Aid, and then both Director for Asia Pacific and Director for Europe, within our International Development Department.  An added and important benefit of the roles I’ve held since moving to Madrid is that all of them have allowed me to travel extensively, all over the globe. Today, I’ve travelled to 58 countries worldwide, and perhaps as importantly, given my work at IE, I’m in constant contact with top professionals from all over the world – something that makes my work particularly enriching.

As part of the leadership team of the International Development Department at IE, I’m contributing incrementally to the building of the IE brand globally, thereby strengthening the relationships the institution has with our alumni, corporate and institutional partners, and making IE the first-choice school for degrees that are characterized by a strong focus on technology and innovation, regardless of the field of study, and by an well rounded experience that is infused with unmatched diversity and a real focus on entrepreneurship. We’re leading new projects that bring us closer to top global organizations, partner schools, and companies, and engaging with top regional events such as the Nordic Business Forum in Finland, FT events across the region, European Business Forum in Denmark, OECD Summits in France, and the Drucker Forum in Austria, among many others. Our next big opportunity will be to reinvent and position ourselves around the IE Exponential Learning portfolio of programs, which includes not only an updated executive education courses, but more innovative programs such as our High Impact Online Programs (HiOPs) and Bootcamp offering – short, technology focused programs that were initially pioneered by organizations like General Assembly, but that increasingly leading business schools are offering as a complement to their degree-based programs.  And we’ve got lots in store for the coming year, so stay tuned and join us at one of the more than 1000 activities we organize across Europe and Central Asia every year, events that are lead by the 7 offices and 25 members of my team.  IE is a top-ranked school, but we lead through actions that demonstrate real innovation and true focus on providing better learning and professional development experiences to our students, and after graduation, to our alumni.

Bio: Joel has worked in Field Operations at Novartis and Fleet Management at Enterprise, and completed the Headquarters Rotational Program at Edward Jones Investments before joining the MBA at IE.  From a study perspective he completed the Global MBA, Executive Master in Finance, and the Luxury Management EDP at IE before completing a Certificate in Strategic Performance Management at Cambridge, the Postgraduate Diploma in Global Business at Oxford, and most recently, he completed the Global Senior Management Program at Chicago-Booth. Some of the more exciting and far-flung places he has particularly enjoyed travelling to include Mongolia, New Zealand, Georgia, and Colombia.


Ferén Barrios: Passion and Commitment

Written on June 15, 2017 by Campus Life in IE Stories


Ferén Barrios
IE Store assistant
From: Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

I was born 27 years ago in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and I came to Madrid 4 years ago with the idea of starting my own business, which I actually did: my wife and I used to run a bookstore and bookbinder’s in Malasaña. But things have changed for the better over these years, and now I am pursuing my doctoral degree in Philosophy while I work at IE Store.

There are many great things that captivated me when I found this job—or did it find me?  I was amazed by IE’s emphasis on the humanities, which is so necessary for today’s global society; also, I felt IE’s strong commitment to leading the unfolding of an exciting, promising future as a duty of my own to a world that never before was so close to overcoming scarcity and misery through a wise use of technology; not to mention the incredible professionals I work with, and the diversity outreach I experience and enjoy every day.

Believe it or not, there is even more: the most important and attractive feature of IE, something that you learn only by spending time with all these wonderful people, is that we care about our world. We believe passionately that what we do, big or small, counts and matters.

While globalization brings titanic struggles for domination of the Earth and its resources, it also carries new opportunities to create a wealthy, fair world for the coming generations. This is arguably the most profitable business of all! Higher education institutions who train our future leaders and entrepreneurs have the noble responsibility to fill their hearts with passion and commitment, and their minds with solid scientific knowledge, all of which will be invested in a planet that requires to be managed and cherished as a whole.

This is the reason why I am so proud of IE Store’s endeavor to promote eco-friendly consumption: merchandising and institutions should not be good only for themselves, but also for the world they exist in and depend on, and for the people around them. Moreover, I am proud that this is actually IE’s policy as a company, and it is a privilege to be a part of a community that is always changing for the better. So please, dear colleagues and students, do not stop fighting for your dreams, because they are the dreams of the world, and do not stop believing that we can go beyond: actually that is how we get there!

Bio: Ferén Barrios is a 27-year-old philosopher, currently writing a Ph.D dissertation on metaphysics and advanced technologies from a Nietzschean point of view. He has been a bookseller and bookbinder in his own startup, La Agonía Libros, and has worked in education and publications since he was 18. In September 2016 he was appointed assistant at IE Store, where he expects to learn more about businesses and startups while supporting IE’s global focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness.


Vanina Andrea Farber, PhD
Adjunct Profesor of Economic Enviroment and Country Analysis at IE Business School
From: Argentina

I was born in Argentina during the last military regime and started high school with the arrival of democracy. The square in front of the Pink House (the presidential residence in Buenos Aires) was full of people cheering for the new government as I started the first day of high school and I felt the sense of responsibility of building a better world right there.

I have studied political science in Argentina and later Economics for my MA and PhD in the US. My friends from the university considered me a “traitor” because I learned econometrics and my economist colleagues believed I was a “softy” because I cared for politics and institutions. Armed with these tools I started working on development issues and had the luck to find amazing people at the Institute for Development and Cooperation at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain. Yes, one these amazing people is today my husband. We continued our life in Geneva were I had the opportunity to work for different UN agencies estimating child labor in the world and housing reconstruction needs in Kosovo. I became an expert in counting things that are hard to quantify. I was enjoying my work but something was missing. Since I was a kid I always loved teaching, I imposed all kind of classes to my little sister and during my graduate studies I was lucky to be a teaching assistant with a lot of independence. In Geneva I decided to teach part time at a local American University. I felt that if I really wanted to have a positive impact on others, my true place was an educational institution.

In Geneva I became the proud mother of twin girls and we decided as a family to move back to Madrid. I joined the Economic Environment department at IE, an inspiring group of amazing people and professionals with a common goal of innovative and diverse higher education. The diversity in IE programs is really a privilege when you teach economic Environment and Country Analysis and the students challenge and inspire me until today, more than a decade later. I can count many of them now as friends and I am eager to travel the world and meet them. IE brought to me another passion in my life: blended education. I strongly believe in the power of online education to equip students to break free from the limitations of brick and mortar classrooms and improve their skills to research, innovate, be flexible and creative.

Then again, for family reasons, I moved to Lima and continued involved with IE thanks to the flexibility of the blended programs.

In Peru I worked at Universidad del Pacifico were the quest for impact drove me to work on corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. I felt excited to work with entrepreneurs eager to solve social and environmental problems through profitable business solutions. I truly believe that business can and should drive transformative societal change to achieve a more equitable future. I still teach economic environment because I believe it is the key to understanding the challenges and options available to entrepreneurs at the country level, but my research is on social entrepreneurship and I work as a speaker and mentor on sustainable entrepreneurship issues. I particularly enjoy working with female entrepreneurs and understanding the particular challenges women face and overcome. Now I am back in Geneva where I continue to develop this line of work.

As Madeleine Allbright said “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” It took me while to find my way and space to have a positive impact and I appreciate IE for giving me a platform to do what I love.

Bio: Vanina is an Adjunct Profesor for IE Business School, Spain since 2005 were she teaching Economic Enviroment and Country Analysis. She is also a Professor and Chair of Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Social Inclusion at Universidad del Pacifico, Peru. Vanina has also been the Dean of the Graduate School of Business from 2014-2016. She currently lives in Geneva Switzerland.  She holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and M.A. in Economics from the University of Memphis, USA and a “Licenciatura” in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires. Vanina has worked as a researcher and consultant for different international organizations in Switzerland (UNCTAD, ILO, UNDP and UNOPS), Spain (IUDC UCM, Observatorio de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa de Madrid, Centro de Estudios Económicos Tomillo and the European Commision) as well as in Peru (UNDP, AECID and Ministry of Labor). She specializes in sustainable business models, CSR, and gender studies.


Cynthia Mburu: “No day is ever the same in IE”

Written on June 1, 2017 by Campus Life in IE Stories

Cynthia Mburu
International MBA January 2017 student
Coordinator of IE Women in Business Club
From: Nairobi, Kenya

As the popular political saying goes, “If you are not on the table, you are on the menu”. This could not be more true in the business world. With the rise of automation and innovative disruptions, professionals are now forced to step up by adding tangible value in the organisation or else face the cut. During my search for an MBA school, I felt that IE Business School was well ahead of its time in understanding what the market expects of professionals now and in the future. It is for this reason that I decided to apply for the International MBA at IE.

No day is ever the same in IE when you have over 40 nationalities in one class. In my last five months as a student, I have forged new friendships, learnt about new cultures, cultivated trust in teamwork, understood more about myself and most importantly, I have learnt that making mistakes is the best way to grow. I believe that mistakes help us to unlearn the old ways of doing things to pave way for new and the vibrant techniques. With the effort of thought-provoking professors, IE has taught me to ask: why, where, how and what can be done differently. I have learnt that challenging the status quo is not cool, it is imperative.

Growing up in a family of four girls in Kenya, I have always felt the presence and influence of women in the social space. In my previous role as a Senior Risk Advisory Consultant, I understood the importance of mentors in the professional sphere. My workplace mentors constantly challenged me to take on more responsibilities to spur my growth. In IE, the ‘Women in Business’ Club has provided a platform for mentorship and active participation for women. As a leader in the club, I have been inspired by various speakers (both men and women) to constantly be ready to embrace change and ambiguity in a fast-paced world. Indeed, women have attained great achievements in the workplace. However, more must be done. By showcasing ‘Bold and Daring Women’ who excel as ‘Captains of the Industry’, my IE Blue print is to encourage more women to step up to new challenges by showing up and sitting at the decision table. To those that dare, the world is their Oyster!

Bio: Cynthia Mburu is a full-time International MBA candidate at IE Business school. She is a leader of the IE Women In Business club. She holds a B. Commerce degree from University of Nairobi with an ACCA certification. Prior to joining IE, Cynthia was senior fraud risk and financial crime consultant at Deloitte East Africa. She has five years consulting experience in both public and private sector in sub- Saharan Africa. She is an art enthusiast, lover of nature with a passion for mentorship.


Ricardo Mesquita
Director of Immersive Learning at IE
International MBA Class of 2007
From: Porto, Portugal

By recently joining the IE team, my purpose is to drive change through education, entrepreneurship and business innovation. I believe entrepreneurs, startups, educators, investors and organizations need an open, inspiring and cool space to gather, learn new skills, experiment and foster connections that they otherwise would not have found.

In the process, I love to set things up. I see myself as a lifelong learner that works passionately with multi-disciplinary teams, engaged in doing a great job through the power of initiative and collaborative effort, while finding solutions to complex problems that require a data driven approach, analytical skills, marketing expertise, commercial acumen and humor. Humor is serious business.

Today, I am deeply involved in the design and launch of the immersive learning initiative at IE using Bootcamps to meet the demands of a fast changing world of work.

The IE Bootcamps want to empower professionals and entrepreneurs with the digital skills to accelerate their future careers. This is the ultimate learning by doing experience. We will combine expert mentorship with a capstone project-based curriculum to help participants efficiently learn the skills they need to boost their careers and achieve their professional ambitions.

This immersive learning experience, developed within the lifelong learning vision of IE Exponential Learning, will first be launched in conjunction with HST, as the Data Science Bootcamp starting this fall.

Bootcamps have a significant amount of “open field” ahead, so we need to integrate the team that drives students to success and then build processes around what works to establish best practices, always keeping in mind that each student will make a serious commitment & investment by joining this challenge. We tend to say to those interested “if you put in the effort, we will bring in the rest”.

All this happens at IE. I keep in mind that the ie ecosystem is global and diverse, creating a collaborative work environment where hundreds of companies, entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups, educators and students come together to accelerate their businesses and careers. It´s great to be back in Madrid and become a part of this diversity of thought, as we walk this amazing learning journey together.

Bio: Former CEO of, Ricardo is a co-founder of Beta-i and ambassador of the accelerator, mentor at Startup Chile (2014/2015), and co-author of the book The Soul of Business​, a roadmap for entrepreneurs looking to set up shop in Portugal. Surfer aficionado and scuba diver, he’s passionate about the wilderness, cooking, building stuff, architecture, photography, music and vespa scooters. More about Ricardo:

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