Hometown: Zaragoza, Spain
Undergraduate University: Universidad de Zaragoza
Class Year: 2010
Major/Minor: Business Administration & Management/Law
Specialization: Business Analytics
It was a Friday afternoon, and Miguel Bardaji was sitting in his office in Brussels, Belgium, where he worked as a corporate attorney, when he received a call from the Spanish Fulbright Commission. They were offering the self-proclaimed life-long learner—Miguel had two undergraduate degrees, a master's degree, and is proficient in four languages—the opportunity to live and study abroad in the United States at a university called William & Mary.
"To be honest, I had never heard of William & Mary before this," he admits. "But the interview that I had with Amanda [Barth] through Skype was a big selling point. She conveyed that the full-time MBA program was a bit more customized to your needs than at other universities. I got the impression that you're not just a number there, that they care a little more about the students."
This conversation was the culmination of a multi-year process for Miguel. He had applied for a Fulbright Scholarship in Spain over three years prior. He made it to the final interviews but was ultimately not selected because of his desire to pursue an MBA versus a course of study in the arts or humanities, which are more commonly granted scholarships. But a recent partnership between the Spanish Fulbright Commission and William & Mary opened up the opportunity for Miguel to apply and be accepted into William & Mary's full-time MBA program.
"Part of why I wanted to come [to the United States] was to get a taste of different fields during the two years of the program so I could see what I might like doing best afterward," he explains. "I'd like to be more in strategy and in a planning position because I enjoy the big picture. I'm a curious person. I've studied in different fields, and I love integrating different perspectives."
Since making the move to Williamsburg, Miguel has enjoyed his exposure to American culture, as well as the diversity of the full-time cohort.
"After I completed my first master's degree, I worked in Brussels, Belgium. In my unit, we had people from sixteen different countries, but it was mostly Europeans. I've loved being able to interact with more North Americans, South Americans, and lots of students from Asia because I don't really know many people outside of Europe. It's something I've really enjoyed," he says.
Another highlight of William & Mary's full-time program has been Miguel's mentorship and one-on-one coaching through the Executive Partners program.
"It's a very distinctive part of the program," he says. "My Executive Partner is not shy in giving me honest feedback and criticism. But at the same time, he finds a way to convey it to me so that it hits home. It's also been very valuable to hear from different Executive Partners on their insights as the subject matter experts from different sectors like technology, retail, and healthcare."
Though Miguel didn't know how much about William & Mary before, he now advises motivated international students who are looking for a small program with mentorship opportunities on how to apply to the full-time MBA program.
"William & Mary will provide you with a good learning opportunity, but they are not going to hand you anything on a silver plate. I like the small size of the program because I can really focus on my studies, and I can grow my professional network through my classmates and Executive Partners," he says.