Originally from Vietnam, Charles (Hieu) Nguyen always dreamed of studying abroad. After finishing school, he decided to make this dream a reality and applied to a university in Japan. But the journey was not without obstacles: first, he needed to teach himself English and take an English language exam. Drawing on his determination and self-motivation, he passed and was accepted to Tokyo International University with two scholarships. 

Hieu began working various jobs while studying in Japan, which inspired a new dream—to start his own business. He felt that the environment in Tokyo wasn’t giving him what he needed to succeed, though.

I realized I wanted to learn more new things and push myself to be in a more challenging environment.

Charles (Hieu) Nguyen

This drive led Hieu to IE University, which appealed to him both for its excellent reputation and for the chance to learn Spanish, a globally relevant language. He took the difficult decision to leave his degree in Japan and redirect his studies with the Bachelor in Business Administration

We recently caught up with Hieu to hear about his journey back to being a first-year student and to Madrid. 

Why did you decide to study the Bachelor in Business Administration?

I spent two years studying digital business and innovation at Tokyo International University in Japan. During my time there, I was also working for a human resources and tech startup in Tokyo, which piqued my interest in entrepreneurship.

I realized I wanted a change and started looking at universities with a strong focus on entrepreneurship. IE University was exactly what I was looking for.

After receiving the Personal Excellence Scholarship from IE Foundation in 2021, I transferred to IE University and restarted my degree.

Are you enrolled in any extracurricular activities?

During my first year at IE University, I served as the event manager for the Entrepreneurship Club. And in my second year, I was promoted to Vice President.

Throughout my time in the Entrepreneurship Club, we organized many events with speakers from different industries to help students learn more about the sector.

I also launched the “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) sessions, which are still going on in the club. Moreover, we teamed up with Esade students to design Startup Turbo, a competition for student startups. This year it was a huge success, with over 100 students participating.

Are there any projects or coursework you’ve particularly enjoyed or found challenging during your studies?

In our Entrepreneurship and Innovation course, our first assignment required us to select and interview a real entrepreneur. At the time, I was interning as a business analyst at Zeta Surgical—a promising medical startup based in Boston and co-founded by Harvard and MIT alumni—and I was able to connect my team with our founder, Jose Amich. We had a meaningful discussion in which we learned about Jose’s inspiration for starting a company in the med-tech field and analyzed the industry landscape together. It was enlightening and provided valuable insights for my future career decisions. 

What are your plans after graduation?

As I near my final year, I’m gearing up to continue exploring the marketing and technology sector, particularly with startups. This summer, I’ll be joining a SaaS startup in Munich, Germany as a business development and marketing intern. With the company poised for rapid expansion and another fundraising round in 2025, I’m eagerly anticipating the exciting challenges and opportunities ahead. This experience promises to be not only a valuable step in my professional development but also a significant chapter in my personal growth.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

During my free time, you’ll often find me strolling through the city or staying active with sports like swimming and badminton. I also love organizing gatherings with my friends. We like to have dinners where we explore new cuisines and cultures together.

Do you have any advice for future Bachelor in Business Administration students? 

Be adventurous, try new things and make sure you arrive eager to learn! Exciting news: I’m going to do a video series asking current students for tips for high school graduates and incoming students. You can check it out on my website.

A future by design

For Hieu, joining IE University meant starting over, but it was the best decision he could have made for himself. He’s ready to continue on his own path and is excited to help future students fulfill their dreams, too.