The story of a French guy and his lovely Belgian wife gone to Barcelona to get the IESE MBA.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

First impressions

After 3 days in Barcelona and my first two days of school, it's time for the first impressions!

In one word, AWESOME! We're starting with 1 month of intensive business spanish courses.
So we do nothing but spanish, 7 hours a day, 5.5 days a week. That's great because I haven't spoken spanish for 4 years and I've lost a lot. I was very lucky on the level test and so I've ended up in the best class. That's a big challenge because the other guys are much better than me. I guess I will learn quicker this way, I just try not to be a pain for the others.
It's fantastic to meet people from so many different countries. Last night we had a party and it was really cool to see that all the other students were very outgoing, open minded and have so much to teach you, both from a professional and personal perspective. For the moment, it's only the pre-courses and not all the class is present (only those who are not bilingual in spanish, which means probably around 70% of the class), but I can already say that there are a lot of great people and that we're not going to get bored during the next 2 years. Emilie is having fun and I'm really glad she is so easy going. She is also having spanish courses but she is with exchange students from other MBAs such as Kellogg, Tuck and so on.

I will try to post some pictures from our flat soon.
I've been a bit long since my last post. I'll try to keep you updated sooner next time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

My first "Adios" in Barcelona...

...will have been for Marlboro!
Indeed, I took advantage of all those changes happening at the same time (leaving Belgium and Sony, selling our house, moving to Spain, becoming a student again...) to quit smoking. And guess what? It's much easier than I thought, and easier than my previous attempts.
I hope it will remain as easy. It would save me around 100 euros per month, 1 hour per day and a few years of living...

I hate farewells

We're gone. After one week of celebration, with dinners every night and nice events with our friends, we had to say goodbye. I also had to leave my colleagues at Sony on Friday. Goodbyes are not cool. Goodbyes suck. When you say goodbye to someone, you never really know if you will see him or her ever again. That thought has always scared me. So I try not to think about it too much.
In 2 years time in Belgium, I've made myself some pretty good friends. I never thought it would be so easy to build friendships in Brussels.
And I never thought it would be so hard to leave that city.
But 2 things are cheering me up. First, most of my friends will still be there in 2 years. Second, if I enjoyed life in Brussels, I should have no problem in Barcelona...

Anyway, this is not the first time I'm leaving a place for a long time and I'm becoming used to these feelings. It will last a few weeks and will fade away. I will still miss my friends but I will have my new life here. And in the end, going out of your comfort zone is what contributes to make you grow every day.

Friday, August 18, 2006

One week to go...

In 8 days, I will be on the road to Barcelona, ready for my new student life.
Emilie has found us an appartment in Barcelona and the good news is that there is a guest room! Good news for you, my friends, if you want to visit us once we're there.
Apparently the flat is in a good area (Eixample), not too far from the famous "Pla├ža de Cataluniya" and from IESE by scooter.
Yeah, you read well, I'm gonna drop my brand new BMW company car for a little scooter ;-)
Thinking about it, it sounds scarry: droping my job at Sony Europe, all my perks including that fabulous car just to go back to school and take a huge loan on my shoulders.
Ah ah! No pain, no gain!
Ironically, I see that as a symbol. It would be way to easy to sit back and enjoy my current quiet life in Belgium. We have a house, lots of very nice friends, a good job, a nice car, plenty of spare time. I do like this life. But I have other projects in mind. After 7 years in consulting and IT project management, I want to change career and go to the business side.

A few months ago, I started up my own company with a friend in parallel with Sony. We created a new concept of wedding lists service where the objective was to remove all the constraints that the traditionnal services impose to the couples. Now that we have raised enough funds and that we have tested the concept with some friends, we are lauching it at the Belgium scale (still reasonable). I am convinced that the concept is good and offers a real advantage to the couples and their guests.
If you know people who are getting married (not necessarily in Belgium), tell them to have a look at Fleur de Lyst first before they choose something they will regret :-)

All this to say that Fleur de Lyst has given me the entrepreneurship virus. My MBA will help me a lot in my future ventures and only for that, I can't wait to start at IESE!

Before that, we still have a lot to do to prepare the move. The house is still to be sold, nothing is ready. I would have preferred to have at least a few days between Sony and IESE, but hey, that's the way it is and it doesn't matter that much. It's just the downside of a great opportunity.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Back to school!

After 7 years, I am heading back to school and guess what? I'm thrilled!
I am considering an MBA for a few years now, and I am really glad that I chose Barcelona to get it.
This choice has by the way intrigued some of my friends. Why IESE instead of US powerhouses or INSEAD? Sounds silly. Well, at the contrary, it makes very much sense.
I wanted a 2 years MBA in order to change career and be sure of my choice. That criteria ruled out several schools including INSEAD.
Also, I would prefer to stay in Europe and therefore, I thought a European network would be more beneficial to me than an American one. Two-years MBA in Europe, that meant LBS and IESE for me. I don't want to work in investment banking in the future, so LBS for me was not a better option than IESE.
Other criteria were the fact that Emilie, my wife, could work in Barcelona whereas she couldn't in the US, and that we are both completely in love with Spain (that's were we met). Finally, IESE gives you another language (Spanish). And Barcelona is not the worst city in the world to spend 2 years studying...
That's why in the end, I applied to IESE only, and luckily got admitted.
I guess my choice seems more obvious to you now.

Before really kicking off this blog, all apologies to my friends and family for writing in English, but it is easier for you to understand English than for my non-French speaking friends to understand French. Thank you in advance for your effort!
And by the way, let me also apologise to all the English natives who will probably jump on their seats while reading my mistakes and poor style ;-)

Now that the introduction is made and the stage is set, forget about what you're doing and follow me to Barcelona...
Welcome to my little world