Brooke Latham, United States
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021
Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities
- President for Net Impact Club
- Mentor of Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship
- IESE Impact Investing Case Competition
- ESADE Social Impact MBA Scholarship
- In my free time I love to practice yoga, run and cook
What is invisible but essential about YOU? or ESADE? or Barcelona?
The MBA moves at 100mph, at the start of the program we were told there were 3 S’s- Sleep, Study, and Socialize and at any given time you can only choose two, which was extremely accurate of the first six months. But I would challenge that there is a fourth S, SELF. To be able to keep going on, you need to take care of yourself and learn what recharges you and how to create a healthy balance. For me the self-aspect is my meditation practice.
October 2019, I was sitting in my first week of the MBA, and a leadership professor mentioned the role of emotional intelligence (EI) and how mindfulness can be a useful tool to cultivate your EI. He proceeded to ask the class if anyone had a mindfulness practice and would be willing to share the next day. I raised my hand and volunteered. While living in Guatemala, I had deepened my yoga and meditation practice, and I had spent a significant amount of time learning about different types of meditations and energy healing, but I never thought this would mix with the MBA. Nervous and unsure how a classroom full of MBAs would respond to meditation, the next day, I guided 60 of my new classmates in a meditation and pranayama breathing exercise, which was very welcomed by the class.
Quickly the meditation sessions caught on to the rest of the cohort. We started bi-weekly meditations, which lead to regular meditation before exams. Before each exam, 15 to 20 students would gather in the MBA gardens or outside the exam room to pause, breathe, and to center ourselves to overcome exam pressure or anxiety. For me, creating the right mindset was more important than last-minute studying of finance equations. It was a testimony of mindfulness that even in the most stressful experiences we have the control to choose our reactions and the breath is a powerful tool to center ourselves.
Guiding a morning meditation and Bhramari pranayama exercise, a specific type of breath exercise that can help reduce stress and anxiety by regulating and reducing blood pressure.
After continued interest in the group meditations, a classmate, Lauren Holmes, and I decided to create an MBA mindfulness retreat with the kind support of ESADE’s spirituality department, especially Teo Mellen Vinagre. The last weekend in February, 15 MBAs joined Lauren and I at a retreat house in Manresa, Spain (about an hour out of Barcelona). The concept of the retreat was to provide students a moment to emotionally and mentally recharge while exploring notions of mindful leadership. We designed a complete schedule of meditations, a sound bath from a Barcelona yoga teacher, Chi Kung, dinner in silence, and mindful leadership exercises while having time to explore the beautiful natural scenery of Manresa. The objective of the retreat was provide students an outlet and opportunity to focus on the 4th S, Self.
First Esade MBA mindfulness retreat, Manresa, Spain at Jesuit Retreat House, March 2020
A few days after the retreat, campus closed, and Spain went into complete lockdown for COVID-19. Given the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, I decided to start nightly zoom meditations for whoever of our class wanted to join. 3 to 4 times a week at 8 pm after the applauding the health workers would end, we would start a group meditation or pranayama breathing exercise. The zoom meditation group continued throughout the entirety of lockdown, and it provided a routine, an outlet to release stress and anxiety of the global uncertainty and more importantly a way to stay connected as an MBA class from our living rooms. During this time, I could not have been more grateful for the Esade community and even more so, the meditation group. A year ago, I thought I embark on the journey of business school, improve my business acumen, build a professional network and continue to pursue my career in impact investing. While all of this is true and has been the focus of my MBA, it has also been a year of self-development. For instance, I did not expect that additionally I would discover a skill and passion for guiding meditations. I believe that mindfulness is an integral part of business and leadership. It help manage stress and create self-awareness which can help manage your reactions, and I have seen it in practice this past year with myself and my classmates. Now more than ever with a focus on the mental health implications of Covid-19 we need to take care of the 4th S (Self) with extra diligence and mindfulness can be a powerful and accessible avenue to do so.