Jose Manuel González Vara

Imagine the next big thing
– Amr Al-Dabbagh

Jose Manuel González Vara
Supporting talented students


Jose is a Global Chief Financial Officer with hands on experience in leading complex structures in Madrid, Istanbul, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, and Jeddah. With 20 years retail background working for big corporations and family-owned businesses, his major areas of expertise are corporate finance and M&A transactions. After so many years abroad, he is finally back in Madrid working on several projects and spending quality time with the family.

Supporting talented students

Define your experience in the IMBA in one word.

What were some of the main challenges that you encountered on your way? How did your master program and IE help you through these challenges?
Life is a chain of challenges, and the further you aim, the bigger they become. There is no guide for success, but if you want to make a difference, you need to be creative, have passion and enthusiasm, in order to face all the headwinds that will find you on the way. There is no one size fits all recipe, real-life problems have more complex structure, and one has to figure out how to deal with them. You need creativity instead of applying the same old approaches to the problems. And this lesson is the main takeaway from the master degree.

How did your experience at IE prepare you for your professional career? In what ways do you think the program changed your life professionally and personally?
Almost all the classes employed the case method to introduce a concept, instead of methodical textbook lectures. And this method is a perfect simulation for a real-life experience. I’m a Global Chief Financial Officer, I have experience in Europe, Asia, Middle East, and LatAm, both for large corporations as well as family-owned companies. And always there is one thing in common: all the daily problems are solved by a good team work scheme, with sharing ideas and concerns, creative thinking. In a leading position one is expected to use initiative in a timely and correctly manner.  

What was networking like in the program?
20 years after my graduation, we still keep contact with our classmates. This is another incredible asset of this institution. And the professionals from IE that are behind this are part of the success.

What was your favorite memory from your time at IE?
I could say printing the requested deliverables at 5am at the Business Centre right next to IE, for the class at 9am… The happiness on the way back home could be a nice memory… Then the day after is other issue…

What advice would you give to students who are about to begin the program?
I would recommend them to attend all the classes with the homework done. Unless you prepare the cases properly, read the materials, think over the possible outcomes, revise, and consider the figures and documents on the appendix, then one class for you will be lost. And it is a pity, considering the strong academic and professional background of the teachers leading us through the case… In my daily business, I still refer to some key ideas and messages from those executives.

Why did you choose to study this program at IE?
Because of the well-known recognition and quality of the institution.

Tell us about the IE alumni community and the impact they have had in your life and/or career. Why do you think it’s important to engage with the IE alumni community?
We, all the alumni should be proud of being a member of this community. Wherever you are, you will always have an alumni club near you. Again, in my case, I participated in events in Shanghai, in Riyadh, and is the way to keep on learning about IE, about the foundation, the new plans, programs. In today’s digital world, search engines and social media connect the alumni and being part of this community is inspiring by all means.

As one of the contributors towards the Illuminated Bricks campaign, how does it feel?
A good friend was telling in one of his books “Giving is the purpose of life. I believe it gives meaning to our existence here in Earth. We give our compassion and respect to others. We give resources, time, and money as we are able. Giving is love.” (Amr Al-Dabbagh, Omnipreneurship, Free Press, 2016).

What made you decided to give this gift?
I was invited to a dinner in Riyadh where the IE foundation was introduced. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the professionals behind. They make it possible for me to see the excitement and hope for a better future of the scholars benefiting from the program. The idea of contributing to some young person’s access to the program, which would make a difference in his life encouraged me to join. I felt very good about it, and I am happy to be given this opportunity.

What can we do within our IE Community to create an impact and support education?
IE professionals are already doing an amazing job, I think we are going to the right direction. We could maybe involve even more of our alumni to introduce the program to their employers and raise more funds to reach more people in need. Those funds will help to spread knowledge further and further. Quality education is not always cheap; this is why we need a strong foundation supported with more and more donors in order to create a greater impact. Again, this is exactly what IE foundation is doing, only that we could enhance more from the alumni.

What would you tell someone who was thinking about contributing?
I would definitely transmit my own experience. The more you give, the more you earn. I feel more complete, as a person.