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Choosing an MBA Location: Mainland Europe

A great guest post from our friends at, enjoy!

Business education, teaching methodology, language and culture varies massively across Europe. Of course it’s a hugely diverse continent, with several hundred b-schools across divided between it’s 50 countries and 23 ‘official EU languages’ spoken (although others are also used).

Europe plays host to a quarter (23) of the top 100 business schools in the world (according the the FT MBA rankings) and is still held up in high esteem as a prestigious MBA destination. Europe also has the MBA Tournament (MBAT), started in 1991 it’s the largest sporting event for b-schools with 1,500 participants from fourteen business schools across Europe (hosted by HEC Paris)!

Here are some profiles of MBA students who’ve chosen to stay or travel to different parts of Mainland Europe to study. All of the people featured are active members of BusinessBecause.


Lara Gilman, MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleu

An exciting job, business travel around the world, and a lot of responsibility: Lara Gilman seemed to have it all. But after four years in the same company, the 28-year-old from the US East Coast decided it was time for a new challenge, and enrolled for an MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau.

Gilman admits that getting an MBA from a US business school would have been the obvious choice, and she did apply to McDonough School of Business (Georgetown University) and to Haas at Berkeley. There is one area, however, in which American schools don’t match their European counterparts says Gilman: diversity. “At a US business school, 75 per cent of my classmates would have been American. At INSEAD they constitute only about 8 per cent.” She felt that working with people from different cultures, with diverse experiences and skill sets would be the perfect training for her dream career in a global transnational organization, says Gilman who obtained her first degree in French and urban studies.

Nina Fattahi, MBA from Grenoble Ecole de Management in Grenoble

Nina wanted to broaden her horizons and look for opportunities outside the US. Grenoble Ecole de Management was already familiar to her, and that’s where she turned for a heavy-weight MBA that would take her out of her comfort zone. She had spent a year abroad there during her first degree, a BSc in Finance and International Business from the University of Connecticut, so she knew what the School offered.

“Our class of 42 had 22 different nationalities. In a globalized world, this type of scenario is not uncommon and I wanted to be able to learn how to work with people from many different nations.” The Grenoble MBA also appealed to Nina in terms of its high international ranking and “attractive cost-to-value ratio”.


Monica Hornung Cattan, MBA from MIP Politecnico di Milano in Milan

Monica studied for her MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano, Italy, and says that “in six years I have lived in five countries and seven cities”. She told us about how her MBA took her to work at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Monica, 27, believes that MIP Politecnico di Milano is brilliant for the international exposure it offers and the Italian context it is so steeped in. “Italians have great creativity. In times of crisis creativity is glue. You need creativity to go through all the things that are happening in the world at the moment. And the MIP Politecnico di Milano MBA has the Italian particularities built into the programme therefore the course improves our capability to react.”


Michelle Lanspa, MBA at IE Business School in Madrid

IE Business School’s top ranking, strength in social enterprise and social issues and its location in a big European capital instantly attracted Michelle. She could continue working on her Spanish while receiving a world class education.

“Aside from cooking and tasting new foods, I am really passionate about renewable energy. It is growing a lot everyday and many of the main players are based in countries I am interested in and they interact in the most exciting ways. Working to protect our eco-system and the environment would be a unique way to implement my business skills.”


Luisa Maier, MBA at ESMT in Berlin

Being intensively involved in start-ups meant that Luisa got to experience all sides of business from operations to corporate relations to human resources to finance. However, she sensed that there was more to entrepreneurship so she she left the sun of South Africa to spend a year on the ESMT Berlin MBA.

“I want to gain more knowledge in business management and leadership and to build an amazing network of people from all over the world” she says.

“Our minds are full of business opportunities to unfold. I’m hoping that at least one or two of the ones I have buzzing in my head right now can be developed with my MBA colleagues and perhaps even brought to life after graduation”, says Luisa.


Nitin Misra, MBA at University of Saint Gallen HSG in Switzerland

With an impressive GMAT score of 720, the 33-year-old Indian national who has also done all the Six Flags roller coasters in the US, made soba noodles from scratch in a Japanese village, climbed Mount Fuji and lived in Newport Beach California picked St. Gallen to nurture his passion for business technology and design there.

Nitin wanted a school which had a one year programme in one of Europe’s thriving economies. Switzerland and Germany appealed to him therefore St. Gallen’s location was just perfect. He has also been able to attend courses to learn about design strategies and identifying consumer needs; and the product prototype testing and modification offered at St. Gallen’s Design school which has ties to the Stanford University Design School.

About the author: Sian Fleming Jones is a director at – professional network for business students – helping you make connections before, during and after your MBA. You will find many more stories like the ones mentioned in this article by searching the website as well as useful information on MBA rankingsMBA jobs, and fresh daily editorial such as the Why MBA  series.

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