When Did Business Education Become Global?

Written on August 22, 2016 by Santiago Iñiguez in Arts & Cultures & Societies

santiagoBy Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño, Dean of IE Business School and President of IE University.

Back in 1976, Steven Spurrier, the former vintner turned world French-wine champion, organized an international wine tasting competition in Paris. The categories he selected were Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds, and Chardonnay for the whites. The competing wineries were from the United States and France. The judges were French, and the tasting would be done blind so that the tasters would not know which varieties they were sampling. Everything about the event pointed to the French wines taking the day. But to the surprise of all concerned, the US wines came top in both categories. What’s more, among the top ten wines of both colors, six were from California, and just four from France. George Taber, in his book The Judgement of Paris [1], argues that this event marked the beginning of the globalization of the wine sector: for the first time, New World wines had beaten those of the Old World, and what’s more, based on the decision of French judges.

Unlike wine, which originated in Europe, business education was born in the United States around the beginning of the 20th century. A similar analogy to that of The Judgement of Paris in the business education world took place in 2010 when theFinancial Times (FT) awarded first place in its ranking of MBA programs—business education’s red wine category—to the London Business School, unseating Wharton, which had alternated the honor with Harvard Business School since time immemorial.

Furthermore, four of the top ten programs were not from the United States. At the same time, in the Executive MBA category—the equivalent to white wines–the FT ranked the program offered by the Kellogg-Hong Kong UST Business School, a Sino-Americancoupage, first; while among the top ten, six were not from the United States, or were joint programs organized between US and overseas business schools.

Business education may have its origins in the United States, but the FT’s rankings over the past fifteen years suggest that it has now gone global. The Americans’ loss of hegemony has been highlighted by Della Bradshaw, the Business Education editor of the FT: “When the FT began ranking MBA programs in 1999, 20 of the top 25 schools were from the US, with the remaining five from Europe; however, in 2010 there are just 11 US schools in the top 25, a further 11 are in Europe and three business schools are in Asia”, said Bradshaw in the FT in 2010. Read more…


Is there a relationship between music and finance?

Written on August 8, 2016 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Arts & Cultures & Societies

viet haBy Viet Ha Tran (MIM 2009)

Over the years, in my role as an admissions officer who has worked with many thousands of CVs and interviewed thousands of candidates for the Finance Master programs at IE Business School, I´ve noticed a very interesting fact: a considerable number of them are musicians, especially pianists. This highly triggered my curiosity, hence I have asked many finance candidates during the admissions interviews (those who play musical instruments, obviously) about this. I also did a research on the relationship between music & finance, and below are my findings. 

So is there a relationship between music and finance? Why are there a considerable number of finance professionals who are also professional musicians (I am talking about those who perform at a professional level, such as those who participate in the National Orchestra or city-level and national-level competitions). After having asked this question to many finance candidates, I managed to sum up the different opinions and withdrew some interesting conclusions that I will share at the end of this article. 

Eric Kohlmann Kupper (26, Brazil/German), 2014/2015 Master in Finance alumnus, who is currently Founding Partner and CEO at Trinnacle Capital Management (New York), says that “Playing an instrument well is the result of years of practice and dedication. It is nothing that comes easy but rather has to be acquired in very small steps sometimes so incremental that it is hard to see any real progress and many are giving up along the way. Seeing the result of this in a performance for example is therefore witnessing an expression of hard work and taste.

Eric added: “As a little anecdote to this, Einstein was a superb violinist. His crown achievement, the special theory of relativity, was clearly the result of hard work (his wife Elsa used to bring him food to his study room, which he didn’t leave for days at times) but he was also seeking an elegant theory and this is likely to have led him as much to his ground-breaking results as the first. Both traits made him likewise a good musician and a good scientist and the same can be said of many finance professionals.”

Eric was a real example of this relentless effort and drive for perfection. Before doing the Master in Finance at IE Business School, he started his academic career at Eton College in the UK and went on to study physics at ETH Zurich and TU Munich (TUM Munich) where he successfully completed his bachelor thesis on the electrochemical properties of titanium oxy carbide nanotubes in 2011.  Eric helped to launch a São-Paulo-based VC firm, Bolt Ventures, which operated as an incubator to develop and fund promising Brazilian startups. He was strongly involved in the fundraising process and investor relations, while also being actively involved in the growth management of startups from São Paulo.

From Zurich, under the newly launched and family-held Kohlmann & Co AG, Eric invested in successful startups that have received follow-on investments from renowned international investors. After the Master in Finance at IE, together with an IE classmate and another friend, he set up a New-York-based hedge fund based on novel strategies, developed during his time at IE.

Dennis Lin (32, Taiwan/Canada), 2014 IE Master in Advanced Finance graduate, who is Director of China Desk at Santander UK Corporate & Commercial (London), holds a Bachelor in Music in Classical Piano Performance from The University of British Columbia in Canada. Dennis shared his opinion about the impact of being a pianist on his professional life as a banker:

Musicians are persevering. Unlike most business professions where skills are learned and reproduced solely with the human brain and with minimal muscle reflex, music is an intricate combination of mechanical muscle memory and intellectual calculation. As one can imagine, neuroplasticity has a much shorter learning curve compared to that of muscle memory. In other words, our brain learns faster than our muscles. Therefore, playing an instrument can be one of the most difficult activities; to perfect a piece of music, it may take months, if not years. Musicians tend to have traits of perseverance, patience, diligence, and a strong work ethic.

Musicians are salesmen. Music is a field where the entry barrier is low – next to none; anyone can produce music either with an instrument or with his or her own vocal chords. Music is also an extremely fragmented market because there are no boundaries for human creation. These two aspects of music make it one of the most competitive fields because of the sheer number of competitors and undefined rules.

After five years in the business world, Dennis has observed that his career development has been fast-tracked due to his results-oriented nature, his reputation as a diligent businessman based on his strong work ethic, and the most important traits of salesmanship. To be able to convincingly represent a product and service, a business developer and financier is like a concert pianist who must execute with finesse and confidence and orchestrate all aspects with charisma and showmanship.

So what is behind the myth? Below are some traits that I think both musicians and bankers/financiers have in common.

– Patience: working for very long hours is no surprise for both musicians and bankers. It´s common for alumni who are at Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan to be working for 17 hours a day.
– Concentration: no great result is ever acquired without a high level of dedication and maximum concentration. On stage there´s no space for making even the smallest errors during the performance and the same goes for performing job duties as a trader, a banker or financier: making mistakes with numbers is not an option.
– Algorithmic rhythm: many candidates explained to me that they find they read musical notes and numbers in the same way.
– Passion: sitting for very long hours practicing the same thing, whether for a piano performance or working on numbers requires a great deal of passion for what you do.
– Ambition to excel and to be the best: being a musician or a banker means that you strive to be the best, and master what you do down to every single tiny detail.

From a more technical perspective, we can draw the following conclusions:
– Music theorists sometimes use mathematics to understand music.
– Ancient Greek scientists investigated the expression of musical scales in terms of numerical ratios, particularly the ratios of small integers.
– Music targets one specific area of the brain to stimulate the use of spatial-temporal reasoning, which is useful in mathematical thinking. Children who received preschool piano lessons performed 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than other preschoolers.
– Developing an ability in music enhances math skills, giving children an advantage in science, engineering, and other math-related subjects.

So next time when you meet an extremely talented finance guy, mathematician, physicist, chemist, or an engineer, ask him if he is a musician, the answer, very probably, will be “Yes”.


Public opinion?

Written on July 26, 2016 by Susana Torres Prieto in Arts & Cultures & Societies

1127By Susana Torres Prieto, Professor of Humanities at IE University and IE Business School.

It has been a few years now that historians write about micro-histories, or intra-history, or whatever label we want to give to it. It is basically a theory of history that goes beyond those grandiose epic narratives that constituted the backbone of nineteenth-century Geschichte to give voice to the vast immensity of anonymous characters that could, and do actually, change history, according to Leo Tolstoy. Count Tolstoy thought that neither War nor Peace were made by great men, but by different individuals, unknown to many, that with their little unadvertised actions did actually changed the course of history.

This shift of interest in history studies was not only promoted by historians that, given their political affiliations, as in the case of the much missed Eric Hobsbawm, were also pursuing a political agenda in looking at “the people”, but in a much more shocking event: the fact that sources did not match facts. Sources, particularly written ones, limited and biased as they can always be –after all, as one of my Cambridge professors used to say “We don’t write history from what was there, but from what was left”– did not match the development of events as they were attested, and did not really explain them. To give just but one example, the process of Christianisation of the Roman Empire did not really happen as St. Agustine thought or described, as Peter Brown aptly showed a few decades ago. One of the reasons for this is not only that St. Agustine wanted the events to have happened in a certain way, but he also had an agenda in mind when writing. Everybody does.

The problem as well is that St. Agustine belonged to an elite (social, cultural even economical) which made him probably unaware (let’s rule out, in principle, the will to mislead) of how people really felt or what they really thought.

For more than a few months now, almost a few years, Europe’s public opinion seems to be in constant shock about what Europeans do, from voting ultra-nationalist parties to deciding to abandon the EU. Europe had grown used to Americans taking weird decisions, en masse, but we always thought we were, how to put it, more rational? The problem with public opinion, of the type you read in newspapers, of experts speaking in tv debates, is that it is progressively less public and more opinion. The fact that opinion makers do not foresee, or refuse to believe, the results of elections and referendums, and some are always ready to jump to conspirator theories, is that, like St. Agustine, we preach to the already converted. If a historian from the future read the papers today and analysed how the world is going, he would have to turn what we call micro histories, he would have to analyse things like Facebook or trash tv –rather needlework or  journal cartoons– to really understand why people do, and vote, the things they do, and vote, in order to understand why things are happening the way they are. Turning a blind eye on people’s fears and frustrations is a comfortable way of keeping within our comfort zone, but it does little to steer the boat. Not many are actually ready to sit down with an ultranationalist voter, or a Brexit supporter and humbly, without prejudice, ask him or her, why do you really think this is actually the best option. Until we are ready to do so, populism will never cease to increase, and what we call today public opinion will be the realm of intellectual elites who find little space, or recognition, in the societies they live in. We would benefit more from thinking twice what is it that we are failing to understand than blaming indiscriminately the foolishness of others. Because the others, polls show, are actually becoming a majority, and, as Count Tolstoy used to say, it is they who will change history in the end, with our understanding and endorsement or not.


Turquía: ¿Oportunidad tras el abismo?

Written on July 18, 2016 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Arts & Cultures & Societies

haizamPor Haizam Amirah Fernández,  Profesor Asociado de Humanidades en IE Business School.

La noche del viernes 15 de julio de 2016, Turquía se asomó al abismo. Una intentona golpista ejecutada por facciones de las Fuerzas Armadas pareció poner contra las cuerdas el orden constitucional y al propio presidente Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Fueron unas horas cargadas de incertidumbre y especulaciones sobre el golpe, sus autores, las posibles implicaciones, el paradero de Erdogan y las reacciones internacionales. Durante ese tiempo, se plantearon todo tipo de escenarios inquietantes para un país que es una pieza clave en el convulso Oriente Medio y un vecino descontentadizo de la Unión Europea.

A la mañana siguiente, el golpe había sido abortado, el orden constitucional preservado y el presidente salía indemne de la mayor amenaza a la que se había enfrentado durante sus 13 años en el poder. Las Fuerzas Armadas no estaban cohesionadas a favor del golpe, varios cuerpos de seguridad le plantaron cara, muchos turcos salieron a la calle desafiando el toque de queda para oponerse al levantamiento de militares y, no menos importante, la práctica totalidad de los partidos de la oposición se declararon a favor de la vía democrática y apoyaron el gobierno legítimo salido de las urnas.

Frente a los escenarios más sombríos de la noche del viernes (triunfo del golpe, enfrentamiento civil violento, represión, inestabilidad y descomposición de instituciones del Estado), la mañana del sábado abría la puerta a un escenario muy diferente, aunque nada garantice que se vaya a cumplir: la despolarización del clima político y social en Turquía. Read more…


Otra vez la inmigración

Written on July 11, 2016 by Rafael Puyol in Arts & Cultures & Societies

INSTITUTO DE EMPRESA.  PROFESORESPor Rafael Puyol, Vicepresidente de Fundación IE

Durante el 2015 el país perdió algo más de 11.000 habitantes. Hubo más muertos que nacidos (2.753) y tuvimos más emigrantes que inmigrantes. Nuestra situación demográfica sigue deteriorándose de acuerdo a un modelo que pasó de fuerte crecimiento a la actual situación de involución demográfica. Cada vez somos menos y cada vez somos más viejos. Sería bueno que la situación se reinvirtiera y volviéramos a crecer mediante una mejora de las tasas de natalidad que superasen de nuevo a las de mortalidad. Pero mientras no nos tomemos este asunto en serio y el envejecimiento galopante siga elevando los muertos, la vía va a ir agotando paulatinamente sus posibilidades.

En este panorama, ciertamente nada halagüeño, las cifras de migración que acaba de publicar el INE parecen dar un respiro. Es verdad que el saldo migratorio continúa siendo negativo, pero los balances entre los que se van y los que vienen (o vuelven) empiezan a ser mejores.

Todo el mundo se ha echado manos a la cabeza al saber que en 2015 se marcharon casi 100.000 “españoles”. La cifra es alta y no quiero minusvalorarla, pero sí matizarla a través de dos tipos de consideraciones: la primera es que de ese volumen sólo eran españoles nacidos en España 64.000; el resto habían nacido en el extranjero, inmigrado al país, obtenido la nacionalidad española y vuelta al origen. La segunda, es que frente a los 100.000 que se fueron vinieron 52.000 por lo que el auténtico saldo migratorio es de la mitad, casi un 20% menos que el año anterior. Y si hablamos de extranjeros el panorama se recupera porque, por primera vez desde 2010, el balance vuelve a ser positivo. Salieron medio millón, pero vinieron casi trescientos mil.

No me extrañaría, por lo tanto, que con la llegada de nuevos extranjeros y la salida de menos españoles, el saldo migratorio general vuelva a ser positivo en poco tiempo y que por esta vía volvamos a recuperar el crecimiento de nuestra población. Pero incluso esta posibilidad no debería justificar que no se implanten de una vez políticas que permitan la recuperación del crecimiento interno.

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