Bibiana is Admissions Director of International Degree Programmes at EADA. She tells us how technology is changing the way executive education is taught and what education means to her.
How did you become Admissions Director at EADA?
I started working at EADA 15 years ago. I’m actually an alumna of the school; I studied the International Master in Marketing.
When I graduated from my master’s, I decided I wanted some experience abroad, so I left Spain for the U.K. 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 just starting a process of internationalisation. It only had one programme in English –the International MBA– but was looking to grow internationally. They were looking for someone to travel and promote the school around the world.
After a few years, I took charge of the International Marketing and Admissions Department. Since then, EADA has really grown internationally, in terms of the 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 of nine people abroad, all from a different country.
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 are a lot of kilometres between the international team and the headquarters, but I work on developing a close relationship and we meet up once a year at the 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 the 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 coming from these markets, and the next year, you have none. Every year, something happens in a key market that is difficult to foresee like Brexit or the political uncertainty in the U.S.
Barcelona itself can be a blessing and a curse. Although the city is a big draw, Spain is regarded mainly as a holiday destination in some countries. As a Spanish institution, it can be challenging for us to enter new markets, because traditionally English-speaking students travelled to the U.K. or the U.S. to complete their graduate education.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part is seeing a student graduate. Our mission is to facilitate growth and transformation in individuals, so to see someone progress through one of our programmes and then to see them with their families at the closing ceremony is really great.
What are the main qualities you look for in a candidate?
We want to make sure a candidate is going to contribute meaningfully and excel in our programme. We evaluate candidates using a holistic approach and look for a range of qualities: motivation, interpersonal and professional objectives, a positive attitude, a willingness to learn and share knowledge…We do look at a candidate’s GPA and GMAT, but these scores are not the sole determining factor in admission.
If a candidate has work experience, that can be a valuable contribution, but experience is not compulsory. We also look for a collaborative attitude and a problem-solving mind-set. Our students are going to face situations that require creative approaches, critical thinking skills and pragmatic solutions.
Last but not least, we look for candidates who are enthusiastic and passionate, which are qualities that our students are challenged to demonstrate on a daily basis. We want to make sure that EADA graduates are ready to work hard in something they love.
What makes EADA’s approach to teaching unique?
Our motto is “learning by doing”, and our unique methodology is based on small classes, critical thinking and rigour in the classroom, and the development of leadership skills.
We have very small classes of approximately 28 students, whereas other institutions may have 70-80 in a single class. We have a cohort of 350-400 students in our international programmes, but the are split into 15 different classes.
We are currently in the process of refurbishing our Barcelona City Centre Campus, and if we wanted, we could of course knock down walls to allow for bigger classes. But we think that the best way to make an impact on participants is by keeping classes small and allowing for personalised, small group interaction.
In the classroom, critical thinking and rigour are very important in our methodology. 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.
In our Residential Training Campus, we have an infrastructure that we have developed to bring students out of their comfort zone and challenge them to face diverse situations. In fact, we are the only business school in Europe with a specially designed campus for leadership skills development. Everything that students do in this campus translates into the business world, and forms the base of developing personal and professional competencies.
What are your predictions for the future of business education?
There is no doubt that business education is changing in many ways, mainly due to technological advances and changes in the way we communicate. I think that full time programmes will continue to be important, as they enable students to share a life-changing experience and expand their personal and professional horizons in a way that online education cannot.
Executive education is moving towards a blended format that allows executives to further their education in their country or internationally, but without putting at risk the professional status and stability of a full time position.
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 will encounter in life. It’s about acquiring the knowledge integral to life and the skills you need to be able to give back to society.