Bibiana is Admissions Director of International Degree Programmes at EADA, a business school headquartered in Barcelona. She tells us how technology is changing the way executive education is taught and what education means to her.
How did you come to your role at EADA?
I started working at EADA 15 years ago. I'm an alumna from the school: I studied a Master's in marketing.
When I graduated from my Master’s, I decided I wanted some experience abroad. I left Spain for the UK and worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb, a pharmaceutical company. I was there for a year until EADA offered me a position in the admissions department.
At the time, EADA was starting its internationalisation. It only had one programme in English, the international MBA. But they wanted to grow internationally and were looking for someone able to travel and promote the school.
After a few years, I took charge of the international marketing and admissions department. Since then, EADA has really grown internationally, in terms of portfolio, diversity and strategy. I started by myself but now I have a team of seven people here in Barcelona, which includes five different nationalities. I also have a team abroad with nine people – and nine different nationalities.
What does a typical day look like? Is there such a thing?
I don't really have a typical day. My main responsibility is to communicate with the two teams I manage. I have to make sure both teams are well-informed, engaged and committed. There's a lot of kilometres between the international team and the headquarters, but I work on a close and daily relationship with them and we meet up once a year at our international representative meeting in Barcelona.
What are the main challenges you face in your role?
One of the main challenges is political and social uncertainty. External factors that you can't control but have a big impact on your school’s international strategy.
We work in markets such as Venezuela and Argentina, which, from one year to another, are heavily impacted by political and economic factors. For example, one year you may have 20 students people coming from these markets: then the next year, you have no one. Every year, something happens in a key market which is difficult to foresee. For example, Brexit and the political uncertainty in the US.
Another challenge is the constant increase in numbers which stakeholders want to see. Every year, we have new objectives and we have to reach more numbers.
Spain is widely regarded as a holiday destination but perhaps not a place to study executive or postgraduate education. As a Spanish institution, it can be challenging for us to enter new markets, because it's perhaps more of an established route to go to the UK or US to study a Master's in English, rather than Barcelona.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
The most rewarding part is seeing a student graduate. Our mission is to facilitate growth and transformations in individuals. So to see someone progress through one of our programmes and grow professionally and personally, and then see them with their families at the closing ceremony, is super rewarding.
What are the main qualities you look for in applicants?
We want to make sure a candidate is going to contribute meaningfully and excel on our programme. We evaluate candidates using a holistic approach and look for a range of aspects: motivation, interpersonal and professional objectives, reference letters, attitudes, willingness to learn and share knowledge. We do look at a candidate’s GPA or GMAT, but that’s not a determining factor.
If they have work experience, that can be a valuable consideration. But it's not a compulsory thing. We also look for a collaborative nature and a problem-solving mindset. They're going to face situations which require creative approaches, critical thinking and pragmatic solutions.
The last factors are enthusiasm and passion, which are qualities they'll be challenged to demonstrate on a daily basis. We want to make sure that any candidate who leaves EADA with a Master's is ready to work hard.
What’s distinctive about EADA’s approach to teaching?
Our motto is learning by doing. We have very small classes – 28 students, whereas other institutions may have up to 70. We have a total cohort of 350-400 students but they're split into 15 different classes. We're now refurbishing our building and could, if we wanted to, knock down walls to allow for bigger classes. But we think the way we can make the most impact on individuals is through a one-to-one education and keeping the small classes.
Critical thinking and rigour are very important. We want students to have the strategic perspective and critical thinking skills to be able to make a significant contribution to a company’s efficacy and social impact.
We’re the only business school in Europe with a private dedicated campus for leadership skills and development. In that dedicated campus, we have an infrastructure that we've built ourselves to work on another methodology out of classes. We face different situations and take students out of their comfort zone. We translate that in the class into a business situation. They see which skills they have and which ones they need to work on.
What are your predictions for the future of business education?
There is no doubt that the future of business education is changing in many ways, mainly due to the new technologies and the way we communicate. Full-time programmes will still be important as they provide a life-changing experience and expand your horizons professionally and personally.
Executive education is increasingly moving towards a blended format that allows executives to further their education, either in their country of origin or internationally, without breaking its professional status and stability.
What does education mean to you?
Education provides you with better common sense and allows you to think about things in different ways. It makes you more socially prepared for the different demands you'll encounter in life. It’s about acquiring knowledge integral to life and the skills you need to be able to give back to society.
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