Hanaka Koffron

Hanaka Koffron
Full-Time MBA Class of 2023


Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities

– 3 years of management consulting in Japan
– Recipient of Women in Business Scholarship
– Student Fellow for APAC region

– Wine, rock climbing, and Zumba enthusiast
– Special interest in napping and snacking

– MBA Batch of 2023
– Waseda University, B.A. Liberal Arts/Concentration in Global Governance, 2018

What is invisible but essential about YOU? or ESADE? or Barcelona?

One of my least favorite but most thought-provoking experiences as a working adult was when I was enlisted to join the project management team for a country-wide, government-run covid relief initiative in Japan. I hope to share my realizations while trying my best not to make this sound like a job application (lol).

I was born and raised in Washington, USA.  In 2014, I moved to Tokyo, Japan to study liberal arts. I was curious to explore my Japanese identity by building a life there. I stayed in Japan for 3 years after graduating where I blindly took a stab at management consulting in an “international” (pretty hardcore Japanese) company. 

I was working on a COVID relief initiative. It was a special project designed to help the Ministry of Economy & Trade provide SMEs with financial support as the pandemic and quarantine took a toll on their livelihood. The process involved an application for financial support, reviewing the application, and finally the provision of money.

My first role in the project management office was to track and report at the headquarters any potential issues across all other teams. I hated this job because I felt like I had so little control—why did I have to risk my life during the pandemic and go into the office to help those who were probably all at home staying safe? As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, I had no idea what I was doing because I don’t know how you predict all possible issues for such a large-scale program. Through much of the confusion, however, I realized what’s important is not having the answers but being able to ask the right questions—to not be afraid to ask for help because it’s ok not to be able to do things alone and it is better than not being able to do anything at all. So, at least I picked up a valuable life lesson. 

A few months later, I was spontaneously re-assigned to a different role, where I was overseeing (not singlehandedly, of course) the operations of the applications’ evaluation process. This involved about 50 processing centers throughout all of Japan, each with a couple of hundred part-timers looking for a temporary job, all working to manually review each company’s application and documentation. At this point, my pride was a little hurt. Already having had imposter’s syndrome as a business consultant with a liberal arts degree, I thought I had been moved due to my lack of contribution, and I was left feeling disappointed and extra demotivated. Surely I was capable of doing more than answering these operators’ questions like a customer support agent. 

This experience ended up sparking an important shift in my mindset on being a member of society. As I interacted with the operators, I realized that a). I don’t know anything about their background and skills, and that b.) we are all working on this ad hoc project with equal (no) experience or qualifications. While titles had given me a false sense of hierarchy, I had a moment of realization that we are all just equal members of a community with different roles, working together to keep the country and its citizens healthy through an extremely difficult time. It also reshaped my personal meaning of building a career, from “how do you want to make money?”, to “how do you want to help the people around you?”

Eventually, I moved back to the PMO where I worked on the most interesting part of the project—fraud investigation. While the various schemes we uncovered from companies trying to extort the relief package were sometimes too comical to believe, it reminded me that even in an almost ideal community, people will no matter what try to take advantage of the system. I also picked up some of my most valuable social survival skills, like maneuvering communication in a team of highly closed-off, hierarchical, and socially awkward people (my presence didn’t help). As my involvement in the job came to a close, I found that my experience wasn’t so much dependent upon the environment as much as it was on what I decided to make of it, and that with a positive attitude, I have the power to change my own and others’ experiences.

Ask anyone around me and they will say I definitely have more to complain about Japan and its problems, but the truth is through living and working there, I was able to appreciate the beauty of collectivism, a value with which I wasn’t familiar from my time in the US and found to be equally as vital in maintaining a healthy community.

Throughout my journey here in Barcelona and beyond, I hope to continue being able to appreciate and absorb the different “norms” of countries outside of my own.

Camila Heard

Camila Heard
Full-Time MBA Class of 2023


Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities

-ESADE Full Time MBA 2023
-ESADE North American International Experience Scholarship
-University of Miami (Bachelors)

What is invisible but essential about YOU? or ESADE? or Barcelona?

Something that’s invisible but essential about me is that I have lived through three different types of natural disasters. It might be cliché, but it´s true – this has taught me resilience and gratitude, as you never know what tomorrow will hold. And that when things are tough, just keep on moving, don’t stop.

The most significant experience was in 2004, when I was in Phuket on holiday during the tsunami that impacted a significant portion of Southeast Asia. It was December 26th 2004 when I woke up to trembling at about 7:00 AM. Still half asleep, I didn’t think much of it since l had been living in Tokyo at the time, where earthquakes were common.

My family and I tried to book an excursion to a nearby island but weren’t able to since the operator wasn’t leading that tour that day. Instead, we went on a snorkel tour. We later learned that that island had been completely wiped out by the tsunami.

At about 9:00 AM, we head to the beach to get on the boat. Once we’re there, my dad points out how far out the tide seemed to be compared to the day before. We didn’t think much of it, but that coupled with the trembling I had felt earlier in the morning, were the key indicators of an incoming tsunami.

We move on with the day and get on the boat and go out into the deeper ocean. After about an hour or so of travel, the captain announces the water isn’t safe for us to snorkel in. After some confusion in communicating between the captain and us he gets a radio call from shore announcing that a tsunami had hit, and we couldn’t return yet.

I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation until slowly the boat was surrounded by household items – beds, refrigerators, chairs, even TVs. If we looked closely to shore, we could see how the shore would appear and then disappear, a sign of aftershocks. Local fishermen on longboats drove around us selling lychees. We saw a german couple being ferried back to shore looking injured, dazed, and confused.

After what was probably 7 hours on the boat, we were finally able to return to shore. My brother and I got on a Thai long boat which was packed to the brim with items fishermen had collected from the sea. With the family together onshore, we had just enough time to gather our valuables before running through a destroyed hotel, passing overturned cars and fallen trees, to a car that would take us to a Buddhist temple up the hill.

We spent the night with a few hundred other hotel guests, waiting for instructions on how to evacuate back to Bangkok. The weirdest part was that in this daze that was the day after the tsunami, we walked into town and there were restaurants functioning. I even got my hair braided. We went to the internet café and after contacting family to let them know we were OK; my brother checked the NBA finals scores. Even in chaos, life went on.

After many more hours of waiting and uncertainty, my family was lucky enough to fly out of Phuket. Through this experience I learned that when you go through something difficult, stick close to the ones you love. Be grateful always, and we really are quite small in this world.


Anurag, India
Full-Time MBA Class of 2023


Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities


  • 6+ years of experience in IT consulting, including 1 year in Germany, working for TCS (Tata Consultancy Services).
  • Awarded ‘Super Volunteer’ by Tata Trusts for more than 100 hours of community service in a year, providing primary education in slums, and mentoring socially challenged STEM students into getting full-time job offers from top IT firms in India. 
  • Co-founded and headed the content team of TCS Global sports magazine, an internal magazine circulated in 46 countries, highlighting the sporting achievements of TCS employees, and creating an open forum for sports enthusiasts within the company. 
  • Published an international literary anthology with Amazon, collaborating with writers and poets from more than 15 countries. All profits from the book were donated to AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt (AHF). Click here to check out our anthology. 
  • Recited my poems in Paris, in front of 250 international poets at the prestigious Paris Lit Up spoken word event.
  • Awarded ‘Ambassador of Word’ by  Museo de la Palabra, Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation in Madrid for showcasing compassion and empathy in a short story.
  • Featured three times as ‘editor’s pick’ by India’s largest website for women, ‘Women’s Web’. Click here to read my articles on the platform:
  • Featured on the Vice Chancellor’s appreciation list after winning a national level case competition at NITIE (Now IIM Mumbai), against 650 undergraduates from 100 top Indian universities.
  • VP of events at ESADE Net Impact Club, Chapter Leader at Net Impact Worldwide
  • VP of collaborations at ESADE Design & Innovation Club
  • Interviewed partition survivors from India and Pakistan as an Oral Historian for 1947 Partition Archive in collaboration with Stanford University.
  • Led the ‘Tree of dreams’ initiative by Caixa foundation, fulfilling the Christmas wishes of 24 refugee kids in Barcelona with the help of the ESADE community.
  • Student ambassador for ESADE on the Uni Buddy platform, helping potential candidates in their application process.
  • Under the Lenovo Smart-ed initiative, mentored secondary school students from impacted families in different parts of India, after their schools shut down due to Covid 19 Pandemic.
  • Acted as one of the program coordinators for Goethe Institute’s inter-embassy event, Poets Translating Poets, which featured 51 accomplished poets from 15 different countries in Europe and South Asia. 
  • Adopted a village as a part of the National Service Scheme (NSS) in India and worked for two years to improve its sanitary and hygiene conditions.


  • Full-Time MBA Class of 2023, ESADE Business School, Barcelona, Spain
  • MBA Exchange at Stephen Ross School of Business 2023, University of Michigan, USA
  • Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering Class of 2014, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, India

What is invisible but essential about YOU? or ESADE? or Barcelona?

After spending 4 years at my undergrad university, when I was doing my final packing, I remember tearing off more than 100 pages from the back of my notebooks because they were filled with poems and short stories. The poems were not necessarily my best work, but in this moment, I  realized that writing was something that had become important to me subconsciously.

Next year when I moved to Pune for my job, I started to take my writing more seriously. I was working 12-14 hours some days, with  2-3 hours of travel time, so in order to make time for my writing, I stopped going out with my colleagues for lunch breaks. I would quickly finish my food in 10 minutes and dedicate the remaining 30-40 minutes, hiding in some corner of the campus, typing furiously on my phone. I wrote every day and have written everyday since. 

One realizes that something has become essential when they are not doing it for any outcome or a reason. With me, writing became that. I would be in the middle of a traffic jam, standing in a packed public bus on a humid day, or in bed at 3 am, and  I would suddenly feel the need to take out my phone and write.

It was in 2017, when I first heard about the concept of open mics. I remember taking a bus for more than 2 hours, right after my work ended, on 6th January, to somehow make it in time for the event. I was so late that I was  number 40, after 39 other poets, many of whom were regulars and already had a fan following. By the time my turn came, people were visibly bored and tired. I still remember being the last guy on stage, in a fancy rooftop pub, wearing my formals, even forgetting to remove my office ID, and people in front of me just started to leave or look like they wanted  to throw things at me. I always had stage fright, and this experience didn’t help. However, I continued going to different literary events and open mics, and things got better. This video is from December 2017, almost one year after my first open mic, and even if you can’t understand the language, you can see the crowd’s reaction and see the progress I have made since being number 40 on that Friday night in January 2017.

Immediately after this performance, I moved to Germany for my work, and it truly opened me up to a new world. I met lovely people, writers from more than 40 countries in one place, and we would jam together every Sunday for 3 hours or so. I went to Berlin and Amsterdam to attend writing workshops, and took a 9-hour long bus to Paris to participate in the Paris Lit Up event, where, through some magic, I was the opening act as well as the closing act in front of more than 250 poets from around the world. In the same year, I received the ‘Ambassador of Word’ award from Museo de la Palabra, Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation in Madrid for one of my short stories. I also attended the Frankfurt Book Fair,  where I got to meet and talk to Paul Beaty, the 2016 Booker Award Winner.  In January 2019, right before I  moved back to India, the anthology I had been working on with my friends in Frankfurt came to fruition and was published by Amazon. We dedicated it to the city of Frankfurt, and  decided to make the AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt (AHF) its lifetime beneficiary.

As I continue the next chapter of my life here at the ESADE MBA, I  try to spend my Sundays whenever possible with the writing community in Barcelona. I genuinely believe that in order to write better, I must continuously strive to become a better human being, who can one day be the voice of those who are disadvantaged . It also means the realization of one’s mortality, and that there is always someone better than you, and that there are more things you don’t know than the things you know. I believe that this realization remains at the core of my being.