Life in Term 2

Term 2 is not easier or harder than Term 1, but quite different from how you experience time pressure and work load. Whereas Term 1 was mostly demanding because everything was new, basic things had still to be arranged, and you had to build your routine to handle all the work, Term 2 had other challenges awaiting.

For me it was mostly juggling two things at the same time: career aspects and academic coursework. Although the first round consulting and banking interviews had already been done just before the first day of Term 2 classes, the process continued to drag weeks into the term. I had to fly out to Munich for BCG and McKinsey interviews twice and would have had to travel for Microsoft and Bayer Business Consulting the next week, if I hadn’t accepted the McK offer before that. People missed a lot of classes due to interviewing and traveling those weeks.

It’s hard for two reasons:

  1. Because you miss classes, it’s harder to stay on top of the subject. Every class has substantial learning points or new concepts, and if you miss out on those you have to dedicate time to get back on track – which is hard, because:
  2. You need to keep your focus on the interviews. Basically every free minute that you can spare in between doing the minimum required work to handle academics goes toward interview preparation. For that meant lots of practice on the fit part and then once in a while a real case interview with peers.

The mix of quant heavy and qualitative subjects was similar to Term 1. We had Marketing II, Operations Management, Operational Finance, Business Ethics, Self-Management, and Managerial Accounting.

This time the emphasis on teamwork was much higher than before. The term was packed with large team projects that kept us on campus until midnight a few times. We developed two full marketing plans, worked in-depth on three operations cases, analyzed two companies’ cost allocation systems for managerial accounting, and wrote a paper on a recent ethical issue for Business Ethics.

If your team didn’t work well in Term 1 you could still get away with that – not anymore in Term 2. Being able to successfully split tasks among team members is key to get through the high amount of work.

But then Term 2 also has two of the greatest IESE social events: SKIESE (300 people ski trip to Andorra) and Multi-Culti (a party to remember! People still come to Barcelona for this event – years after their graduation).

And of course, everyday life is packed with dinners, sports and parties.

Operations Day – using LEGO to operate your own factory


Campus Terrace
Late hour work on team assignments
Operations Management class
End of term group shot with professor
Marketing team assignment
Spring Games


How I got an offer from McKinsey

Consulting season is finally over and I’m walking out with an offer in my hand! I will intern for 10 weeks in summer at McKinsey Germany.

This offer was absolutely not easy to get and I had to put in tons of work to achieve it. Basically, I did nothing else than 100% consulting preparation from right after the final exams mid December until the first round interviews on campus mid January. And at that point I had already visited numerous company presentations, consulting workshops and had done around 10 mock interviews.


To give you an idea what awaits you if you plan to shoot for the consulting industry, here a summary of what I did to prepare myself:

General preparation

I read Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng (my base – very helpful), Case in Point by Marc P. Cosentino (good for additional insights) and Crack the Case (good to gain yet another view) by David Ohrvall. Then I also listened to the Look Over My Shoulder series by Victor Cheng, which I found VERY helpful to understand how a natural progression through the interview should sound.

IESE and the Consulting Club provided us with four full day workshops from an ex-McKinsey trainer, and organized various spot workshops by individual consulting companies. This gave a good outline and guided us along the way. It was definitely helpful to get that gentle push in the beginning to start working.

Mock interviews

I did 45 mock interviews in total. At first with direct peers and later more and more with 2nd years who volunteered to support in the process. I also did a mock with IESE’s consulting career officer, one with a professional coach from Management Consulted, two with experienced professional interviewers via Evisors (paid by IESE) and finally one with a current McKinsey employee who offered to help me. These professional interviews are particularly important because they offer you a more realistic view that isn’t biased by the school preparation system.

Each mock interview took 45 to 60 minutes and involved the whole process from understanding, structuring, solving, and recommending.

Fit interviews

When the real interviews came closer, I shifted my focus more towards the fit part. To get my personal stories straight I sat down for hours, just reflecting upon past experiences and assessing how they would fit to the various questions out there.

Once I had the most important stories developed, I tested them on real people to a) get used to tell them b) make them more concise and c) receive feedback on content and delivery. All in all I did around 10 full fit interviews and a few short questions before the case mock interviews.

Math preparation

Math mistakes or general un-ease with numbers can break your case interview, so I practiced my mental math skills heavily. First I read on various tips and tricks to do math without a calculator more effectively and quicker, then I practiced simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division techniques, and later I focused on percentages, break-evens, return-on-investment, and NPV (Net Present Value) calculations.

To make it more effective, I hired a Skype math coach to drill these concepts and challenge me with calculations. I spent 10 hours with him just discussing ways of how to approach various types of math problems and getting more comfortable in solving them.

The most important benefit of all this practice was confidence – knowing that I can solve all kinds of math problems made me calm and comfortable in doing it under pressure in the interview.


These websites were helpful on my journey: – sponsored by IESE; for structuring, mental math techniques and mostly for math drills – to gain a different perspective by doing mock interviews with people outside of the school; articles, and math prep tool – articles and workshops (I had full access because I paid for one coaching session)

I strongly believe that the work you put in, directly translates into a better performance in the interview. However, it is extremely important to stay yourself and not to fall into the trap of losing your natural touch by over-engineering your responses. The firms look for real persons who know how to behave in real-life situations.


Interviewing took place in two stages:

First round interviews on campus

The first interviews took place on campus and consisted of 2 interviews with fit and case part. I interviewed with an Irish interviewer from the London Office and a German from the Düsseldorf office. Both were extremely friendly and really made the experience enjoyable. I heard back the next day via telephone and received the message that I passed to the second round.

Second round interview at McKinsey in Munich

For the second round, McKinsey flew me from Barcelona to Munich on a Thursday, put me in a hotel for the night, and invited me to the office on Friday morning. I did 3 more interviews and was ready to continue with more after lunch. Surprisingly, when the partner sat down with me for interview number 4, he just said that they were happy with my confident and focused interviews, and that he would like to extend an offer for the internship. In that moment I was incredibly happy and relieved, knowing that all the hard work had paid off.

I accepted the offer just a few days later and am now looking forward to see what the consulting life is really all about.

Career Forum, Midterm Exams and Applications

Another month has passed, and writing this, I feel like “this ALL happened in just one month?!”. Time runs fast when you’re busy. And believe me, we are VERY busy. I had high hopes of regularly doing sports here, but that was strongly limited in the past weeks. It is partly because I am applying to consulting firms which gives the extra workload, but other people are not less buried in work. Once the consulting phase is over (after the interviews in January), it will probably get better (or not, we’ll see). Actually I’m already getting better at managing my time and I find ways to carve out those extra two hours to get to the gym sometimes.

Career Forum

We had most of the top consulting firms and banks on campus, giving company presentations and answering all your questions at the career forum. From the industry side we had Microsoft, Amazon, H&M, Nike and a lot of other not so well known companies here. It was quite exhausting. Networking and attending so many company presentations was at the same time highly interesting and demanding.

Midterm Exams

High pressure and no time. Regular classes don’t stop and you have to get all your studying done in the evenings, while preparing tomorrow’s cases at the same time. We had exams in Financial Accounting, Capital Markets and Decision Analysis, each 3 hours.


Consulting and Banking applications were due on Nov 16. While other people went to Tech, Pharma, Sports Business and Finance Treks, I stayed in Barcelona with the consulting club, visiting company workshops, practicing case interviews and preparing cover letter and application documents. This doesn’t sound so much now, but it did take a lot of time actually.

Now final exams are just around the corner and we just handed in our final Analysis of Business Problems report today. Every free minute in between goes to consulting case interview preparation. Here, see some pictures to get an idea of what else is going on.

Sunrise campus terrace
My section
10k fun run against breast cancer
Rugby team in Madrid
Sunshine in November
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Süddeutsche Zeitung Economic Forum in Berlin

First week of my IESE MBA

I’m here! In Barcelona! It has started.

I arrived last week’s Sunday evening, just in time for the start of the Business Spanish Program (a 2 week intensive course for all the non-native Spanish speakers).

So what has been going on?


I met a ton of incredibly interesting people at the first day event, where we received our welcome and health care documents. Everyone is indeed very international and has lived or worked in other countries than his own. There are really a lot of impressive backgrounds on campus here. The atmosphere was very open – you basically walked up to everyone you saw, introduced yourself, chatted a bit about each others background and then tried to remember all those name.

Business Spanish Program (BSP)

After taking part in a 15-minute evaluation Spanish group discussion, I was placed in level 3 of 12. It’s a comfortable level for my previous merely basic Spanish knowledge base. So far I had a lot of fun learning Spanish the last couple days. My group is great and has people from Taiwan, Korea, U.S.A, Serbia, Greece, Netherlands and Germany in it. Many of those have then lived in different continents for a long time. We’re 10 persons in the classroom and are very openly discussing and speaking in Spanish. So far it’s very effective and has considerably lifted my Spanish speaking confidence. I have no problem speaking and practicing the language in taxis, restaurants or bars. I’m also pretty dedicated on getting this language up to a professional level now.


It’s done. I secured an apartment. With the help of my two soon-to-be roommates, who organized all the visits, I looked at a few apartments after the Spanish classes. We paid the reservation fee for a 130 sqm, 3 room apartment in the center of Eixample, exactly the area where we wanted to live. The only drawback: It’s only available in a month and each one of us has to find a place to stay until then. I’m still in the process of figuring out the best option. It definitely feels good to know where you’re going to live and that you don’t have to spend time on checking the apartments online and visiting them in reality anymore.

Social Events

There have been a couple of social events so far: Several lunches and dinners and a big Saturday night get together among most of the IESE first-year students who are already in town. It was good fun. I also played Beachvolleyball with a few guys and have football coming up tomorrow. The day is pretty much covered with the BSP, which goes until 18:15 every day, and doesn’t leave too much room for larger social activities. But I’m sure there is much to come.

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This is my Spanish group on the roof of the IESE North Campus.
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I went running up the Tibidabo, and this is the view you’ll get for that.


Flight booked and things to do

Okay, I just booked my flight to Barcelona! I’ll arrive just the evening before the intensive Spanish classes begin. Quite last-minute, but what to do; I am busy all along and can’t arrive earlier. I also still don’t have a place to stay, but this will hopefully change, before I land in BCN. I have a group of people with whom we are trying to find an apartment together. Anyway, if everything fails, I’ll take an AirBnB or sub-rent a room for a short period and start looking for housing, when I’m there. Of course, it would be better to have that item off the list as soon as possible, not to interfere with academics.

So what’s still open?

  • I have to finish the last assignment of the IESE Accounting Course
  • I have to complete the entire Career Course and also the Consulting Assignment
  • I need a new business profile photo
  • I need to finalize/update my CV and LinkedIn profile
  • I need to go shopping, to be properly dressed for all the upcoming career events
  • I have to start reading through my case interview preparation book and start to solve some cases. I am not sure if I can still accomplish to do that before Barcelona though, – the other tasks have priority.

And then, there are hundreds of other things, that are not directly IESE related, but have to be done before leaving the country.

I’ll leave local things like opening a bank account, getting a Spanish cell phone number, buying a moto, getting the NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), and whatver there is to come, for the time when I’m actually there.

Financial Accounting Pre-Course

It’s getting real. The first real assignment, directly from IESE is there – the Financial Accounting Pre-Course on Coursera.

IESE sent an email to all Class of 2018 students, requesting them to complete the course before the program starts, in order to get basic, crucial knowledge to be able to follow the Financial Accounting course, that will be taught in summer.

The course is public and can be viewed by anyone. It’s the first part of IESE’s Foundations of Management package on Coursera, which consists of 5 pieces. The material is free and only if you want to obtain the Course Certificate, and complete the quizzes, you’ll have to pay the 69 € per piece.

Have a look at the course here, and get a small perspective into how teaching at IESE could look like.




IESE Financial Accounting Pre-Course by Marc Badia

I have just passed week 2 of 4, and will probably work through week 3 and 4 very soon. Each week’s assignment has a due date and the full course must be completed by August 11, 2016.

So far I really enjoy the learning experience, the course is easy to follow and very well prepared.

 Here is the course description:
Welcome to Accounting: Making Sound Decisions! My name is Marc Badia, Assistant Professor of Accounting and Control at IESE Business School. It’s great to have you here, joining thousands of other learners who want to know what accounting is all about.

No matter what line of work you are in, it is essential to have a fundamental grasp of the key concepts in this field. After all, accounting is the language of business. And that is precisely what I am here to do: to give you enough insight so that, by the end of the course, you understand basic concepts and feel comfortable reading, interpreting and discussing financial statements for decision making. I will start the course assuming you have no prior knowledge of accounting at all.

Have a look around the course website so you can see what’s ahead. The syllabus will explain what topics we’ll cover and the assignments I expect you to complete. Click Discussions to see forums where you can discuss the course material with fellow students taking the class. Be sure to introduce yourself to everyone in the Meet and Greet forum.

If you have questions about course content, please post them in the forums to get help from others in the course community. For technical problems with the Coursera platform, visit the Learner Help Center (

Good luck as you get started. I hope you enjoy the videos and assignments. Above all, I hope you finish the course with newly-acquired proficiency in accounting to help you go further in your career.

See you soon!

[Shared post] Dear Incoming Class of 2018…. (IESE MBA Blog)

I want to share an interesting post from the official IESE MBA blog with you. Achint Kaur, an MBA Class of 2016 student, writes about his 2-year experience and gives helpful advice for future students. I found it a good read, as it summarizes, what I have already been expecting from the MBA.

It really looks like life will be tough during the first year – but I’m ready! I’m thrilled to experience all of this myself.

Dear Incoming Class of 2018….

I am writing this letter to you just as I have finished packing the past 19 months of my life into two suitcases. And it suddenly dawns upon me: game over. The endless lamenting about cases and jobs, cortados on the patio, beers by the turtle pond, tapas by the beach, BoWs and team meetings are all over. It made me reflect upon my journey at IESE and I would like to share my musings with you.

Leaving the familiar and throwing yourself into a new environment requires courage. By deciding to come to IESE, you have already exhibited that you have that aplenty. I am not going to lie to you: the mental strength will come in handy. The first year is academically and socially strenuous. There are three cases to do almost everyday. You start at 8:15 am, if you are the chosen ones. You might have Spanish lessons in the afternoon, which I strongly recommend. There will be team meetings, assignments, projects and exams. Add to that the hunt for a perfect internship: networking, interview prep, multiple iterations of the same cover letter, perfecting your resume and putting your best foot forward at company events. Then add to it, social obligations.

After all, all your admissions essays were about ‘creating a global network’ for yourselves, weren’t they?  Give your loved ones a picture of yourself on a magnet to put on their fridges and tell them to forget about you for that one year! In the second year, things taper off a bit and you have more time to focus on landing your dream jobs.

Academics aside, IESE gave me the chance to form lifelong friendships. And this isn’t marketing propaganda. With friends at many top business schools in the world, I can personally certify that the spirit of collaboration and community that exists at IESE is unmatched. Any business school can teach you about 4Ps of marketing or McKinsey’s 7S framework. But at IESE, I also learnt about many different cultures, traveled the world, and developed the finer skills needed to become a truly global leader.

It is not a smooth ride. It isn’t supposed to be. The MBA is the time for you to challenge yourself, to throw yourself into the darkness of the unknown, to push the boundaries of what you think is possible, to stretch yourself to your limits, to face disappointments and after all of that, emerge stronger.

The past nineteen months have been a whirlwind and it is bittersweet to leave. IESE gave me a lot and for that, I will forever be grateful. As the youngest in the MBA, I came in with the least professional experience and thus, am leaving with the steepest learning curve. They say if you are the smartest one in the room, you are probably in the wrong room. I made sure I was in the right room at all times. I hope you will to.

For what its worth, my advice to you would be simple: keep an open mind. Whether it means discovering job opportunities, meeting people or simply trying exotic food. You never know where you find your calling.

Good luck and make this experience count!

With love from Barcelona,

Achint Kaur, IESE Class of 2016

***Achint graduated today!!!

IESE Welcome Video

The IESE MBA Admissions Office reached out to all admitted students, encouraging them to provide personal information and a photo for inclusion in the Class of 2018 videos. These videos will be presented at the Admitted Weekend (which I, unfortunately, cannot attend) and the orientation Week.

For the photos, we strongly encourage creativity. Feel free to show your personality and you are also invited to incorporate the IESE shirt that came with your welcome pack.

Here is the picture that I submitted:


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Andreas in IESE shirt in front of the MS Hamburg

I’m curious to see the result in Barcelona.


TOEFL scores arrived

The next hurdle is taken – the TOEFL is out of the way.

Here’s my score:

  • Reading: 30
  • Listening: 28
  • Speaking: 27
  • Writing: 26

Total: 111

Below is a chart with the corresponding percentile ranks:

Total Scale Score Percentile Rank
120 100
116 99
112 97
108 93
104 88
100 81
96 74
92 67
88 59
84 51
80 44
76 37
72 31
68 25
64 20
60 16
56 13
52 10
48 8
44 6
40 4
36 3
32 2
28 1
24 1

So it looks like I’m in the 96th percentile of all TOEFL test takers. It’s a good score and, considering the moderate time I spent on preparation, I am content with it. The highest score requirement I could find among top business schools was 110 for the MBA program. Barely checked.

Apparently there is still room for improvement in my speaking and writing. The two points, that I lost in the listening section, are because of a short concentration failure and a sub-optimal note taking strategy – I’m sure I could score 30 in that section as well.

Now I’m good to go to apply for the MBA exchange program and have one thing less to worry about.


Wow. That was close. But let’s start at the beginning.

You must know, that IESE waived my TOEFL requirement. I got accepted without ever having to take an English language test such as the TOEFL or the IELTS. The fact that I worked for four years on cargo and passenger ships, where the working language is English only, was sufficient to make that claim. The general IESE rule is that you can get exempted from taking the TOEFL if you spent a minimum of 2 years in an English speaking country. For my special case, however, I had to conduct a short, informal telephone interview with a person of the admission team on January 1st, just after New Years Eve (yay). Anyway, it worked out, and one of my main concerns was gone. I was not worried about the test itself, but was under immense time pressure. I was about to board the MS “HAMBURG” end of January and just barely managed to get GMAT, application essays, and admission interview in Barcelona done in time. There was no way to take the TOEFL as well. Actually, I took a flight to Asia just five days after the interview took place.

Now I discovered an unsettling piece of information: If you want to take part in the MBA Exchange Program, the respective partner schools might request to see your TOEFL score – they certainly all have it as a requirement. I contacted IESE to get advice how to proceed, and learned, that the partner schools have trusted IESE’s criteria regarding the English proficiency until today. To meet all criteria and to be on the safe side though, they advised me to take the test if I wanted to do a summer exchange. I definitely want to go and so the decision was clear: I had to take the test after all.

I would have preferred to take the IELTS as it seems to be better suited towards my strengths. But I had only 2 weeks in Germany and not enough lead time to get an appointment, so I had to go with a last minute TOEFL booking.

All slots in Hamburg, where I live, were taken already, but I luckily got one of the last ones in Hannover, which is a 2 hour drive away. As the test was scheduled for 09:00 AM on a Saturday morning, I had to start my travel quite early.

I started at 06:00 AM and arrived well in time at the test center. The drive was a piece of cake and requires no further elaboration. Yet, what was to follow, could have turned the day into a disaster.

Together with me, there were around 40 other people in the waiting area of the test center. The atmosphere was calm and quite relaxed initially; people were chatting about their reasons to take the test and discussed career options. But when there was no sign of an attempt to register the crowd after 09:00 AM had passed, people started to question what was going on. We should learn soon: Two student girls appeared and told us, that they could not get the entire system running, had no way to contact their superior and did not even reach the TOEFL administration in the U.S. All they said was to wait for further progress and that they would give us an update every half hour, yet, they did not look optimistic. You can imagine that people started to worry – many others had traveled far to take this test and had appointments for the late afternoon.

After one hour of waiting, many discussions, and a few affirmations from the girls, that they had no clue how to get the system running, there was finally hope. They reached the U.S. administration and were able to get eight computers running. So eight persons could take the test, and as you can already guess, I was one of them! What an incredible luck! I was picked because they chose people alphabetically and my last name starts with a C.

But what about the others? They had to wait another hour until they were released with bad news: no test today for them, as the system remained inoperable! They all had to drive back home, many with important deadlines to catch. I feel with them, something like that can really ruin your plans. They will get a refund and the opportunity to take the test on another date, of course – but what about their travel costs and missed deadlines? I’m sure ETS (the TOEFL makers) have clauses that will set them free from any such claims, but I did not check.

It would certainly have caused me some trouble if I were not so fortunate to be granted to go through with the test. Even though I did not prepare an awful lot for the test, I did go through the general setting and the different assignment types. I practiced each section (besides the writing section) at least once and had a rough idea how to tackle the questions. With my return to the ship already fixed I would have had to take the test in the short period between the end of my contract on board and the beginning of the MBA instead. As I have a lot of things to do in that time frame, spending time again to prepare and take the TOEFL would really not have been helpful.

So nice that it turned out this way!