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.


“In november 2016, we entered the franz. competition started by Camp Beckenbauer as team PowerPlay 8.  franz. is the first international student competition in sports, where students around the world have the opportunity to bring fresh ideas to shape the future of sports. The competition began in this fall and over over 250 students and 71 student teams had to create an innovative idea around this year’s topic “How to capture the Chinese consumer for your favorite sport?”

From Day-1 when we starting meeting and working on this project, we imeditaly set up some rules: let’s have fun, put our sport passion into this project and most importantly, be ready to give up on some drinks to finish working on our presentation and maximize our chances of winning (#GoHardOrGoHome). We were also very keen from the first stage to develop a disruptive and creative idea in order to stand out when the jury would review our presentation.

After some fun and intense brainstorming sessions, our team PowerPlay 8 decided to pitch with an innovative idea: a technological solution to grow Ice Hockey in China. Yes Ice Hockey sounded like a huge challenge for us, especially as Football and Basketball have already penetrated the Chinese sport markets. Beijing will be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022 and the government is investing tremendously to be competitive in Ice Hockey. Our idea centers around integrating a performance tracking chip into the Ice Hockey stick and connecting it with the PowerPlay 8 app. The application doubles as a way to track individual performance on the ice, play virtual ice hockey games against other users, and offers Ice Hockey specific coaching tips centered around team play. We had some courses in the beginning of the year on Technology & Innovation Management and had discussed about new connected objects. We also did a lot of research and connected with sports experts from the IE Sport Management Club to develop the value proposition of our technology.

The competition encompassed two rounds, consisting of creating and explaining our innovative idea through first a powerpoint presentation and secondly a video. After being selected for the 1st and 2nd rounds in January, we were then invited to compete in the Finals at the Global Summit final in Berlin against two other student teams (from London Business School and Hong-Kong School of Business). The event was very exciting and represented a fantastic opportunity to present our idea in front of some of the leading experts in sports, including the famous Franz Beckenbauer! The presentation consisted of first showing our video and then giving a brief presentation on our idea. Due to our hard work, creativity, and will to succeed we were selected as the winning team at the Global Summit! We received a large check, a certificate, and recognition for our innovative idea to shape the world of sports!!

We encourage future students to keep an eye out for the franz. competition next year to Break the Ice as we did in Berlin!
All the best from PowerPlay 8!!”

Stephanie Posada, Shakee Messina, and Matt Fazekas & Meryl Zucco
IE MiM – September 2016 intake


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.


Communication Day

Written on June 15, 2017 by Campus Life in Professional

June 7th, 2017, Madrid – The IE Communication Club had the pleasure of hosting the annual Communication Day in the Paper Pavilion under the theme “Experience the power of Communication”.

The Communication Day is a unique opportunity to share ideas, learn from experts, build an exceptional network and enjoy the possibilities that the field of communication has to offer.

This year a variety of leading professionals from different industries were invited to share their insights and expertise. Our first speaker was, Carmen Juan-Aracil, the former Marketing Director of Porsche Iberica. She talked about the importance of creating a successful customer experience at Porsche. The second speaker was Cristina Vicedo, General Manager at FutureBrand Spain as well as Professor at IE. She talked about crafting brand strategies and identities whilst sharing in-depth examples from her professional life. Inés Arnal, Marketing Manager of Heineken was third and shared her insights about working for a global FMCG. She shed a light on the current challenge Heineken is facing with the launch of its line extension “Heineken 0.0” and how they are tackling this challenge from a communication perspective. After this presentation, Isabel Eva Bohrer, one of the directors and founders of ROOSTERGNN, described how to create content for the web and shared her insights on how to differentiate yourself in the saturated field of digital communication and journalism.

The last event on the agenda was an interactive panel moderated by Laura Illia with IE alumni graduates from different HST programs. They shared their life and work experiences after graduating from IE. The participants of the panel were Marta González Pérez, Rosario Garcia Company, Monica Vicente, Keunwoo Kim and Sandra Zobel de Ayala. After graduation, they found jobs in the following companies: L’Oréal, Schweppes Suntory, Fjord, Llorente y Cuenca and Ogilvy.

The IE Communication Day ended with a networking cocktail on the lawn of the paper pavilion,  where visitors enjoyed cheeses sponsored by Martin Afinador and beers provided by Heineken while talking to the amazing speakers of the day and discussing their learnings from the afternoon.

The Communication Day was organised in cooperation with Campus Life and IE Talent & Careers. Overall, the IE Communication Day of 2017 has been very successful with a total of 90 visitors, 4 keynote speakers, 2 IE professors, 5-panel members. In total, 9 companies were present.

We want to thank everyone who made this year´s Communication Day an unforgettable experience!


Disney and the Magic of Wearables

Written on June 9, 2017 by Campus Life in Professional, Social

MBA Perspectives is an exclusive AMA series examining customer experience design.

Imagine the following scenario: Rosa, an excited eight-year-old from Costa Rica, and her family have arrived in Orlando to celebrate her birthday at the WaltDisney World Resort. Upon entering one of Disney World’s restaurants, they are greeted by wait staff, who address her family by name. Delighted by this welcome, they sit at a table where their food promptly arrives.

All this transpires without the wait staff asking the family where they would like to sit or what food they’d like to order. Rosa’s dad remarks that their rides were somehow conveniently timed. 

To craft this “magic,” Rosa and her family have been wearing a MagicBand on their wrist. This wearable comes equipped with a radio frequency identification chip that broadcasts the wearer’s identity while at the Disney resorts. For example, at the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest restaurant, the waitress at the entrance of the restaurant may receive Rosa’s name on a screen when Rosa is steps away. She may alert the kitchen staff, who will prepare the food that Rosa’s parents ordered months ago (Kuang 2015).

Similar receivers in the restaurant’s tables and ceiling triangulate a customer’s location. Without having to ask customers, the wait staff know their order and where they’re sitting. On every step of this customer’s journey, MagicBand facilitated transactions for its wearer.

According to a study by Dan Ledger and Daniel McCaffrey, user experience is identified as a baseline criterion for ultimate adoption and utilization of wearables. The wearable user experience must seamlessly transcend the hardware and the app to the point of invisible and seamless experience. This closed cycle of real-time data collection and analysis, of every step of the customer’s journey portrays an ideal case study for marketers who study consumer rituals.

The question that future marketers should ask themselves is, how can we weave wearable technology into the customer’s lifestyle to craft a more advanced customer experience? The following are some key considerations for companies looking to integrate wearable technology when designing customer experiences.

1. In the world of wearables, the customer experience is invisible and seamless.

While wearables are becoming smaller in size (Smith 2015), and companies like HexoSkin produce biometric fabrics woven into shirts, the driving force of adoption should go beyond the literal visibility of technologies.

Marketers should recognize that wearable adoption can transcend an invisible experience when the technology, intertwined with fabric and body, act seamlessly to deliver utilization and transaction to customers. Customer expectations regarding waiting times are formed through accumulated experience(Zohar et al. 2002). Marketers can learn from wearable convergence with environmental touch points to integrate frictionless transactions into customers’ lifestyles that would reduce waiting times at each stage, from opening doors to paying for food.

2. Personalization is key to a seamless customer experience.

Customer-centric businesses can enhance customer engagement by delivering a transparent and personalized experience. James Gilmore and Joseph Pine’s “four faces of mass customization” states that “transparent customizers provide individual customers with unique goods or services without letting them know explicitly that those products and services have been customized for them.” For example, customers are not privy to the knowledge of how Disney World’s staff locates their dining table or speaks in their native language. Wearables allow businesses to deliver a transparent customization.

Furthermore, wearables can create a customized cultural experience by lowering language barriers. For instance, Waverly Labs has created earpieces that seamlessly translate dialogue in different languages between two people.

3. Invisible customer experience requires data analytics, but what about privacy concerns?

The future of customer experience design is about giving customers what they want, before they even know they want it. Wearables can collect massive amounts of data that can be used to analyze consumer behavior from fitness to spending patterns, which can, in turn, be used to provide customized promotions. Achieving this task, of course, comes paired with privacy concerns over data collection. A great way to overcome this negative aspect is through experimentation within a controlled ecosystem.

Take for instance the Nimb Smart Ring, which acts as an accessible SOS beacon, broadcasting one’s location to both loved ones and emergency response services in case of an emergency. When the benefits provided outweigh the consumer’s security concerns, a trade-off is facilitated.

4. The future of wearables will be about dialogue.

Whether the customer taps a touch point or a waitress receives a broadcasted signal, today’s wearables limit customer experience to a one-way interaction from the wearer to the receivers and data servers. The customer experience can be elevated by significantly leveraging two-way communication where technology transforms the customer from a passive element to a dynamic player.

Rosa is now growing up in a world where wearable technology will shape every facet of her lifestyle. Not only will she enjoy an enhanced experience, but also she will be able to personalize the environment around her. Perhaps one day, she can create magic in the real world, but until that day comes, she can always fly to Orlando to get a glimpse of the future.


By: Abhishek Chand, Arjun Krishna, Shraddha Pradhan and Shervin Shahidi

MBA Perspectives



Gilmore, James H. and Joseph B. Pine II (1997), “The Four Faces of Mass Customization,” Harvard Business Review.

Kuang, Cliff (2015), “Disney’s $1 Billion Bet on a Magical Wristband,” WIRED.

Ledger, Dan (2016), “Inside Wearables Part 3: The Rocky Path Towards Personalized, Insightful Wearables,” Endeavour Partners.

Ledger, Dan and Daniel McGaffrey (2014), “Inside Wearables: How the Science of Human Behavior Change Offers the Secret to Long-Term Engagement,” Endeavour Partners.   

Smith, Andrea (2015), “Rise of the (nearly) Invisible Wearable,” Popular Science, 287 (1), 17.

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