Bernardo M. Villegas
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Focused Programs for Executive Education

           What a difference a decade can make! When I started my sabbatical as a Visiting Professor at the IESE Business School in Barcelona almost ten years ago, students from the Philippines were a rarity in this world-famous institution that was ranked Number One in Executive Education by the Financial Times in 2015, besting U.S. business schools like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford. This year, the graduating class on May 13, 2016 in Barcelona will have five Filipinos.  They are Aimie Co, Rafael Bermont Garcia, Joyce Patricia Javier, Ernesto Lorenzo Ladrido and Patrick Ho Maxwell.  Like the previous IESE MBA alumni before them, I expect these five to be appreciated by Philippine firms for their highly global mindsets and their ethical approach to business, two of the distinctive features of IESE graduates.  There are a good number of them among the Aboitiz group, the Lopez group (especially EDC) and ICTS (Ricky Razon’s right-hand man, Christian Gonzalez is a IESE alumnus.) 

      Over the last five to ten years, IESE has become a school of choice among college graduates of the leading universities like U.P., Ateneo, and La Salle.  Whereas for practically all of the second half of the last century, Filipino young professionals were fixated on U.S. business schools, hardly appreciating the attractions of European business schools like IESE, INSEAD, London Business School and IMD.  Despite the fact that among the first MBA students at IESE were Filipinos like real estate business man Cecilio Reyes and former Philippine Ambassador to Spain Joseph Delano Bernardo (they were in the first and second batches in 1964 and 1965), Asians who enrolled at IESE during the last three decades of the 20th Century were predominantly Japanese, Indians, Taiwanese and South Koreans.  U.S. business schools were the first choices of Filipinos seeking MBA degrees abroad. 

          Things have changed.  For the past ten years, Filipino enrollees at IESE would average about five to seven yearly.  There is greater awareness among the yuppies in their mid-twenties about the need to train themselves as global business leaders who possess wisdom and knowledge, solid business skills, a global mindset and a desire to contribute to social progress—the characteristics of a IESE graduate.  More than other business schools in other parts of the world, IESE is able to combine a general management perspective, an international focus and a  deep understanding of the global business arena, all structured within  an ethical framework.  Since 1958, IESE has been developing exceptional executives who also have the desire to make a positive and lasting impact on the world.

          IESE operates in an international setting, combining a global approach with the understanding of the unique characteristics of each country or region.  It has multiple campuses in Barcelona, Madrid, New York and Munich.  It conducts training and research activities in Sao Paulo and Shanghai.  In addition, it regularly conducts programs on its own or in partnership with other leading institutions in key geographical areas such as Hyderabad, Manila, Miami, Nairobi, Silicon Valley and Warsaw.  There are executive education programs of varying durations, the longest of which is the l8-month full-time MBA program.

          Considering the explosive growth of the Philippine economy in the coming decade or so, there will be a need for shorter courses that can address the need of senior managers to acquire skills for driving strategic change within their organization.  These managers may want to consider what are called Focused Programs which are delivered in short formats (2 to 6 days in duration) to accommodate the demanding schedules of results-oriented managers.  Participants become completely immersed in the program to expand their knowledge on the latest business management trends and share their insights and experiences with other high-level peers.  Led by IESE’s world-renowned faculty, Focused Programs are delivered in state-of-the art teaching facilities that ensure a dynamic and interactive academic forum.  Participants exchange experiences with other business leaders in a dynamic learning context that uses a combination of practical simulations, role-playing, video recordings with feedback, coaching sessions and the case method, depending on the requirements of each program. 

          Examples of Focused Programs in the field of Strategic Management are “Digital Mindset:  How to Innovate Your Business for the Future;”   “Getting Things Done;”  “Doing Business Globally:  Leading in a Matrix Organization;” “Managing Corporate Growth;”  “Alliances and Acquisitions”;  “Value Creation Through Effective Boards;” and “Creative Problem Solving:  Implementing Design Thinking.”    Those who are interested in short courses on Leadership and People Management may want to participate in the focused programs on “Developing Leadership Competencies;” “Building and Leading High-Performance Teams;” “Develop Your Communication Skills:  It’s How You Tell them;” “Becoming  Positive Leaders:  Accelerating Individual and Organizational Change;” and ”High Performance and Creative Negotiator.”  There are also short courses on specific industries:  “Advanced Digital Media Strategies;” and “International Real Estate.”  Those interested in these courses may log on to for details about specific dates and other information.  Even if the majority of senior managers of Philippine firms cannot afford to attend the longer degree-leading courses, they can still benefit from the wealth of experiences and research of world-class faculty members of IESE through the Focused Programs. For comments, my email address is