As the Dean of Graduate Programs at IE University, Manuel Fernández de Villalta plays an important role in the definition of new programs. He believes that all IE new programs must have a component of innovation and future orientation. “We are willing to take risks to enter fields that involve innovation”, he says.
Beatriz García de Prado, student of the Master in Visual Media Communication, has interviewed the expert.
Who is Manuel Fernández de Villalta?
Studies: Bachelor in Philosophy and Executive MBA from IE Business School.
In what cities have you lived? Just in Madrid.
What is your favorite city in the World? I don’t really like cities; I prefer villages in country side, with no cars and noise.
What was the last book you read? I read a lot on the internet, but no books.
A song: “Let it be”, by The Beatles.
A film: Total recall, of Paul Verhoeven.
A hobby: Internet surfing.
A wish for 2013: Be happy.
Beatriz – Why did you start with two new masters in the middle of the financial and economic crisis?
MF.- There is a new environment in higher education in Europe as a result of the Bologna Process. This process is creating a common market for higher education, as it exists already in the United States. We really believe that in the following ten to twenty years, it will drastically change the scenario of higher education institutions, specially the high-level institutions in Europe. We want to play a leading role in this. At the university level it means diversifying the kinds of degrees that we are offering beyond management degrees; for example, we are diversifying in other fields like communication, architecture and behavioral and social sciences.
This is the main reason why we are launching nearly three or four programs each year, because we believe that the way to obtain the critical mass to compete at a higher level in Europe is to have a portfolio of programs with ample offering.
Beatriz – What is the process for starting a new master?
MF.- First, we take into consideration what master we want to launch. This is not an easy decision, because it has to be the result of different variables: if there is a need in the market, if there are students who would want to enroll in program, and if there is a clear job market for those students. It does not make sense at all for us to produce graduates who are not going to find a good job after they complete their degree.
Also in our case, the programs have to fit within the IE general strategy, which means they need to have a component of innovation and future orientation. We really do not want to concentrate on traditional programs that were very successful twenty years ago but are probably not that relevant now, or do not have a clear future. We prefer to take a risk and go into new fields that involve innovation.
Beatriz– What do you expect from the students, professors and institutions for the new masters?
MF. Ours main objective is that the students learn as much as possible. Our business is getting top students, getting top professors and giving them better conditions in which to work. We can make the learning process happen.
Apart from these considerations, the process includes many other considerations: communications, rankings in associations, international recognition, and many others. Yet, in the end it is very simple: it is about getting great students and great professors and preparing our students for success in their careers.
Beatriz – What are the skills that IE students need for success in the job market?
MF.- Independent of the field-specific skills and knowledge they need (for example in communications, visual media, etc), there are several common professional skills critical for success, which are related to ways of working. It is not what job you are going to do, but how you are going to work effectively in that job.
Some of these are obvious, for example teamwork and self-motivation. Others, however, are less obvious and IE has a commitment to promoting the development of these skills for our students – these center primarily around developing an entrepreneurial spirit. It doesn’t mean that they are going to create their own business, but rather that they are going to try to innovate in whatever organization they work.
In addition to entrepreneurial spirit, we believe the most important professional skills are leadership skills. Leadership involves many skills, and among them the one most important for me is managing diversity — being able to work effectively with diverse people. I also think it is critical to learn how to motivate other people to achieve great things.