1.What was the main reason you decided to study at IE?
IE is a top-ranked university for a reason – it has the academic caliber of a traditional business school, but the commercial relevance and market responsiveness of a business. Take the electives process for example – students decide in real time what the class offerings are relative to their instincts about what market demand dictates. This means that you get a top-tier education that reflects what companies want, and not what a professor who left the market decades ago was working at some point.
I believe in the 80:20 rule (in its many iterations) – in the case of my career change, I wanted to focus 80% of my energy on the 20% of business related skillset that would deliver the most results. IE was best placed to offer that.
2. What was the greatest challenge you faced during your studies?
There is undoubtedly a steeper learning curve for those who enter without a finance background, but the trade-off is that your commercial skillset in terms of project finance, problem solving, managing teams, and so on will be much stronger once you enter the market given your non-traditional background.
At the end of the day, you go to school to learn the skillsets you lack, not the ones you already have, so you need to be prepared to no longer be the best at everything. In life you need to get comfortable with that as well – if you’re the best at something, you have no one around you to learn from, so it’s time to move on.
3. What has been the primary lesson you learned during your program?
Being a well-rounded person is invaluable. Long hours and high intellectual intensity can breed a very monolithic culture, but markets aren’t made by following the crowd.
I follow a 3-2-1 rule: Hang out with 3 people a week who don’t work in the industry, have at least 2 non-generic hobbies (there’s nothing wrong with hiking and skiing, but if you want to be unique, you need to create that person – it doesn’t happen on its own), and have at least 1 big, long-term goal that is unrelated to your work.
My three people are usually my mother and my two bold, empowering, fearless best friends (who work in recruiting and medicine); my two hobbies are tango and solo travel; my one long-term goal is to empower women in the US to run for political office.
4. How has this program impacted your life?
I checked the boxes I intended to – building a strong technical skillset, getting a job (and now building my career) in an industry and for a company I believe in, and building on my preexisting network of people I respect and am inspired by.
I work in renewable energy so thanks to IE I’ve been able to find a job that is intellectually demanding but nevertheless collaborative and good for the world. Macquarie as a company is as progressive and modern as the market can offer inasmuch as it marries market-leading commercial results with an assertively positive approach to doing business in a way that contributes constructively to the community. It’s a company I’m proud to say I work for, and I wouldn’t be here without IE.
5. What was the best memory you have from the program?
I have two: First, I was one of the first in the cohort to receive an internship offer and later one of the first to receive a full-time offer. For me this was a small validation that the career-change risks I was taking were paying off, and that gave me the motivation to approach my work with confidence and energy.
Second, shortly after I accepted my offer at Macquarie, Mawuse Doe from the MIAF accepted an offer in MacCap as well. To have another smart, fast-paced, gritty, and inspiring IE woman around me every day for mutual support and learning is an example of how the program positively influences your life even after you’ve graduated.