When a group of first-year Dual Degree in Business Administration & International Relations students asked two visitors to IE Tower to provide feedback on their Marketing Fundamentals presentation, they were astonished at the outcome. These two guests turned out to be none other than the global CEO of Deutsche Bank, and the vice president for Global Alumni and IE Talent & Careers at IE University. We asked both the distinguished visitors and the students to give their accounts of this memorable occasion.

While Erik Schlie, vice president for Global Alumni and IE Talent & Careers, was giving a tour of IE Tower to Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing, he noticed a group of students practicing a presentation, seemingly to a television screen, with no faculty member present. “We looked through the window rather curiously,” Erik recalls. “Someone is waving to us,” said Christian. “I think they want us to come in.” Erik opened the door and asked them what they were doing. When the students explained they were pitching, and asked the visitors if they would like to listen, Erik invited them to give a two-minute version of their pitch.

Christian was deeply impressed by this group of first-year Dual Degree in Business Administration & International Relations students, remarking, “I would hire them on the spot.” It was, says Erik, the most authentic way for an outside visitor to have a glimpse of life behind the scenes at IE University

The spontaneously invited visitors very much appreciated the group’s invitation to their pitch and the outstanding display of IE University’s spirit and can-do attitude. They are certain that after this exposure, the group will rock the final presentation in class. Erik’s message to the group: “Best of luck, and remember this moment on your graduation day!” Read on to hear what the students had to say about their guest visitors, their presentation and their experience in the dual degree program. 

Tell us about yourselves: who are you, where are you from, and what are you studying?

We’re a group of first-year students, all studying the Dual Degree in Business Administration & International Relations. Four of us—Sofia Gutiérrez Acosta, Daniela Fernandez Folgado, Nuria Hernando Díaz and Ricardo Jímenez Montosa—are from Spain, two of us—Valentin Moittié and Julien Levy—from France, and two—Jadah Clem and Mimi Szymanski—from the United States. 

Can you give us some details about your presentation?

It was a main project and a very important part of the Marketing Fundamentals course. The presentation consisted of delivering a complete marketing strategy plan for a company of our choosing—we chose Nespresso. In the presentation, we analyzed the company’s value proposition, mission statement, data on target customer demographics and other high-level elements. 

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

What we liked most about our experience was that we had fun! We all coordinated our outfits in a cream color to represent Nespresso. One of us even dressed up as George Clooney, a popular face of the company. We also brought in a cream-colored Nespresso machine so that everybody could enjoy a cup of coffee! We had numerous meetings and rehearsals to strengthen our presentation skills and became better equipped to handle the content of this project. Although we weren’t all friends at the start, we are now a little Nespresso family, and we are proud of the progress we’ve made. 

Why did you decide to approach the CEO of Deutsche Bank and invite him to listen to your presentation?

While we were practicing, we noticed two people watching our presentation, and decided to invite them in—with no knowledge of who they were. We thought this would be a fantastic chance to practice, since we had our final presentation three hours later. 

As soon as they entered and Erik Schlie stated, “I’d like to introduce you to Christian Sewing, the CEO of Deutsche Bank Global,” we all remained still, but kept our composure. The CEO asked us to deliver a two-minute pitch. Since we could never have foreseen that the CEO of Deutsche Bank Global would come into the classroom, we were unprepared. Nevertheless, we quickly produced a pitch that condensed the content of our presentation into two minutes. 

What were your main takeaways from this experience?

We believe that this serves as an example for first-year students to get involved in the business world and to show them the initial stages of the incredible journey we are embarking on. Being a first-year student doesn’t have to limit you. We can sometimes be oblivious to opportunities, so step outside your comfort zone! Work hard and seize those opportunities: every little step counts. If you desire something, you will achieve it.

We often think that if there are too many people in a group, something will go wrong. However, as a group of eight individuals, we found that if everyone pitches in, anything is possible. Finally, confidence is key: after presenting in front of someone as significant as Mr. Sewing, we were considerably calmer and confident heading into the final presentation.

How does this experience relate to the reason you chose to study at IE University?

The first word that comes to mind when we think of IE University is openness. Our experience illustrates the core values and concepts embedded in our curriculum as bachelor’s students. An international mindset, critical thinking, spontaneity, presentation skills, individuality—but also the ability to cooperate—are some of the qualities which were displayed during our presentation, and why we chose IE University. Not only does IE University provide a first-class higher education, but it also offers a vast variety of networking opportunities, such as the one we had. It is definitely an unmatchable international university.