IE-Brown: B-School, Humanities Chaser

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In 1984, an unexpected pregnancy was far more likely to derail a woman’s plans for an MBA, or even her career, than it would today. Terri-Lynn Thayer knows this all too well. Thayer graduated from Brown University before putting her husband through law school, only to find, as she prepared to enter business school with a full assistantship, that she and her husband were expecting. “Things weren’t always as forward-thinking as they are now,” Thayer says, “and I remember I told that institution that I was pregnant and that I wouldn’t be able to finish that year, and that was sort of a nonstarter on the assistantship.”

Terri-Lynn Thayer

Terri-Lynn Thayer

Her plans for an MBA sidelined, Thayer eventually went to work for her alma mater, a job she held for more than 20 years. Roll the clock forward to about 2011, when Brown and Spain’s IE Business School launched a 15-month executive MBA program, and Thayer found herself finally positioned to get that MBA. She applied and was accepted to the program’s second cohort, which began classes in spring 2012.

The new program did more than address Thayer’s unfulfilled dream of an MBA. It also beckoned with the lure of travel and the promise of fresh perspectives.

“I heard about it and it immediately appealed to me not only because I always wanted to get an MBA, but I loved the international aspect of it,” says Thayer, who at 55 was the oldest member of her cohort when it graduated in 2013. “There were 29 of us from 20 countries when we started.”

CAUTION TO THE WIND

Of those 29, Thayer says, eight were women. Most had similar stories of putting their ambitions on hold for family. “For almost all of us, it was a story of children or family having interrupted our plans in some way,” she says. “I put my husband through law school, I put my son through law school, I put my daughter through her master’s in accounting. I looked around and I said, ‘God, I’ve devoted my life to higher education and I’m the least educated in this house.’”

It was her turn. And the life changes just kept coming. With about six months to go in the program, Thayer found herself mulling a job offer that meant switching professions.

“It really was just incredibly serendipitous,” she says. “In these programs like IE they have a fair amount of time allocated to exploring what you want to do when you grow up, so to speak. I just remember saying, ‘I’m very happy where I am,’ but one of the people said to me, ‘What would be your dream job?’ and almost under the pressure of being pushed for an answer I said, ‘I always thought I might want to be a Gartner analyst some day.’ And I don’t even honestly know where that came from. It was honestly something I had never even verbalized before.”

The universe responded. The very next day Thayer got a call from an analyst at Gartner Inc., an information technology research and advisory company with clients in 90 countries. “I honestly gasped on the other end. I felt like I had been struck by a bolt of lightning. I had absolutely no intention of leaving Brown at that time, but … I sort of threw caution to the wind and said, ‘Let’s do this,’” says Thayer, now research vice president in higher education for the industry analyst. “And I can say going to IE and then doing this was the best decision of my life.”

INTERDISCIPLINARY SYNTHESIS: THE BLENDED EXPERIENCE

Like Terri-Lynn Thayer, who chose IE-Brown because she didn’t want to “go to a place where I felt like I would have known a lot of what they were teaching,” Joel Maxwell was well-established in his job and not solely looking to bolster his business knowledge. The mix of Brown humanities and IE business — what the program refers to as “the blended experience” — appealed to him. So did its international flavor.

Joel Maxwell (second from left)

Joel Maxwell (second from left)

“I wasn’t pursuing an MBA to learn just new content but rather was interested in the program, and the reason why I pursued it is because it kind of simplified things in kind of an interdisciplinary sort of way,” says Maxwell, 35, who works for McMaster-Carr, an e-commerce company based in Atlanta. “The IE-Brown program brings in folks who have 15-plus years of experience in different industries, different regions of the world, and you get really diverse, interesting perspectives. … You’re talking about the intersection between business and art, business and different fields, social sciences, etc.”

  • A Question

    Do graduates of IE-Brown receive their actual MBA diploma from IE? Or do they receive a single but jointly issued diploma from both schools?
    T

    • Patricia

      IE Brown graduates receive a joint degree, a single diploma awarded by both Brown Univesity and IE Business School.
      Best,
      Patricia Carnicero
      Executive Director IE Brown Executive MBA

      • JohnAByrne

        Thanks Patricia for that quick answer to our readers.

      • A Question

        Patricia. Thank you for the prompt reply! I have always been a bit hesitant about Joint Degree/Diplomas in as much as they can be confusing to recruiters or people of interest. Likely to a fault, I have favored the simplicity of a single degree/diploma – or for Partnership Programs, I have favored Dual Degree/Diploma programs, where students earn 1 diploma for each school graduated from. How has your experience been with regard to this subject – or is it really just a non-issue to you?
        Thanks and Cheers1

        • Anthony Maietta

          Most of us who have graduated from the most recent cohort list two MBA’s on our different profiles (LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc); one from IE and one from Brown University. This is done to show up on alumni searches for either institution as we are full alumni of both. However, you do get ONE diploma in Brown University’s format with both institutions shown. This is a “certified electronic” copy of my joint-degree diploma (note the physical paper copy given on graduation day does not have the background pattern or mark in the upper left).

          • A Question

            Very helpful! Congrats and Cheers!

        • Patricia

          I think you got a good answer from one of our Alumni 🙂

          • A Question

            I did indeed – many thanks! Cheers!