Maryam Samee

Maryam Samee, Pakistan & United Kingdom
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities

Growing up I was always told that I should be a lawyer because I was passionate and loved to debate. However, after studying law at university and practising as a Paralegal at a law firm in Borneo for a year, I realised the profession was not for me and that I wanted to do something creative. Digital marketing looked dynamic and exciting to me and so I decided to work for an agency. Here I had the opportunity to work on some exciting projects for major FMCG clients like Nestle and Miller Genuine Draft. 

I eventually moved into the hospitality sector, working with the likes of the Gordon Ramsay Group and D&D London- two of London’s major hospitality groups launching their websites and e-commerce platforms. As an avid foodie, this was the perfect combination of my skill set- combining my love for food with my digital marketing background. Most recently, I moved in house to work for one of the world’s most innovative hospitality groups with six Michelin stars in its portfolio.

Following this, I decided that I wanted to expand my knowledge and learn about all areas of business beyond digital. I wanted to learn about finance, operations, and all these other facets and so I decided to do an MBA. For me it was extremely important to find the right school- one that was diverse not just in the nationality of students, but also their backgrounds and thought- and so I decided on ESADE after being lucky enough to get accepted following a very thoughtful and enjoyable selection process where I really got to experience the ESADE spirit.

During my MBA I have been very active in club life- taking on roles as Vice President of the Marketing Club and Vice President of Allies in the LGBTQ+ Club. Although this was not the MBA experience any of us had envisioned due to COVID, I had the opportunity to get involved in ways I had never imagined. During this time, I founded the ESADE Black Lives Matter Coalition, which has now been developed into ESADE’s Blacks in Business & Allies Club by the new class. I also led a series of virtual cookalongs for my class where we all took part in teaching each other how to cook dishes from our respective countries. 

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

Having grown up across six different countries- my entire life experience has been a melting pot of cultures, thoughts, and mindsets. I was born in Pakistan and then moved back and forth between there, the Middle East and the UK. Growing up in multiple cultures has also allowed me to see issues from different perspectives. Personally, I am most concerned with the theme of feminism, and what equality and equal opportunity mean to women in different parts of the world. Although at face value everyone believes in the equality of women, what that actually looks like and how we get there is often something people clash on. Through my professional work experience, I have also observed firsthand many of the struggles women face in the workplace. For example, I have seen how senior women in male-dominated upper management roles sometimes struggle as authority figures with their assertiveness being misconstrued as aggression. I find that women need to work harder to strike a balance between confidence and approachability than their male peers do.

Brooke Latham

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.

Ivan Kow

Ivan Kow, Malaysia
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities

  • MBA Case Competition Finalist – Patagonia and PepsiCo
  • HKSAR Government Scholarship, ESADE MBA Student’s Fund Scholarship
  • Founder of the International Students Association at CUHK
  • Developed viral applications used by over 50 million users worldwide and a content website that was at one point, the most viewed site in Iceland
  • Launched 2 different businesses from the ground up to becoming a multi-country venture, reaching over 100k accounts in 23 countries in total

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

Fundamentally, what strikes me as invisible but essential is interconnectivity. On the atomic level, we have atomic (or sub-atomic) configurations and interactions that make up all the visible world around us. In our current information driven world, the advent of the internet has enabled the open exchange of information at scale and the explosion of knowledge and applications that we see now.

On the surface, I may be seen dabbling in a diverse range of interests. I’ve taught and performed swing dancing, picked up and performed improv, hosted and promoted networking events. On any given day, I may be reading a book, out for a run, learning a language or shooting some hoops. While I enjoy each of these activities on its own, what truly excites me is finding cross domain applications. Perhaps dancing rhythm can be a useful model for dribbling exercises. Perhaps promoting events is akin to hyping up a product for launch day. Perhaps functional strength training can develop the right muscle activation for a certain dance move. Perhaps improv exercises can be adapted for interview training. Ultimately, I find that the world around us becomes infinitely more exciting when you look at it through the lens of what’s invisible but essential – interconnectivity.

This applies to ESADE too. Like any top ranked MBA programme, diversity of experience and background is an expectation of the student body. What makes the experience at ESADE special is the relationships you build with others in your cohort. From ex-professional tennis players to UN alumni previously working in the Middle East to Washington DC interest group advocates, you will meet a truly wide ranging conglomerate of individuals. And the secret sauce is our unique culture of warmth, cooperation and excellence together. At ESADE you can find hosts for different cultural celebrations, students sharing notes and conducting tutorials (you’ll find mine on and friends for life. I hope you – the reader engage in the ongoing journey to discover what is invisible and essential around you. Cheers.

Malcolm Werchota

Malcolm Werchota, Austria
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Academic Roles, Achievements and Activities

President, ESADE MBA Organization & Human Capital Club
-Building teams for success
-Harmonising Leadership Style
-Customer focused decision making
-Ambitious, Polite and Flexible
-Managerial competency
-Developing others
-Conflict Management
-Inspirational Leadership

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

To move to Barcelona for the ESASE MBA, with, or without the family – that is the question.

While applying for the ESADE university, I had not yet thought about the way forward with my family. We have a little family with two small children, Sophia and Camila, who both love Vienna. My little daughter Camila loves her Kindergarten situated next to the Danube. My other one, Sophia, is quite small, yet already connects with the children at the playground next to the flat. Both enjoy our afternoons spent cycling along the Danube, running around in the wine yards on the outskirts of Vienna and obviously their small Wiener Schnitzels.

Once I was accepted, it hit me. What should I do? Shall I move my entire family from Vienna to Barcelona? Shall we relocate all the furniture and belongings out of the flat, in which we just moved into one year ago? Shall we disroot the family from their known environment?

Pondering about this, I remembered the impact that my little family already has had on me. While both Camila and Sophia are only one and three, they have already, indeed, significantly transformed me.

Becoming a father has, indeed, significantly impacted me. It seems that as a father, one inherently develops skills and traits that make one a very different person. Raising a family with two toddlers has taught me to be more patient and understanding, yet also to be able to manage simultaneous challenges and crises more calmly. Life is now less about “me”, it’s about “we”. These traits have naturally flown into my professional setting, and my team has benefited from them. Lately, I have realized that I find it easier to comfort colleagues when they have difficulties.

Having two babies who cannot speak, one’s attention to non-verbal communication is also heightened. The awareness has also helped me identify signs of struggle and distress of a team member, which I was able to address in a private setting to help him with. Becoming a father has finally helped me become a better role model, not only for the sake of my children but also for my colleagues and the environment around me.

Thinking about the points mentioned above made me realize that I should take them with to Barcelona. Not only for them to enjoy a new culture, new type of food – especially seafood, which is not readily available in Austria – but also, generally, the fantastic cultural setting that Barcelona has to offer.

Looking back on the last three months, have proved us right. Our daughters are thrilled here. Camila started learning Catalan in her new Kindergarten. Sophia has found a few playgrounds within a few minutes’ walks from our new flat. And both are continuing to educate their Papa, by teaching him new values and skills – lately, negotiation techniques.😊

Viswanath Anand

Viswanath Anand, India
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Academic Roles, Achievements and Activities

IDBI half marathon finish – Proud moment for me as I finished in spite of twisting my ankle in the 2nd kilometer. A lot of resilience and the fact that it was my maiden run with my father made me see this through till the end.

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

I spent most of my childhood in a foreign country, having moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE, when I was just 2 years old. Life there was blissful, and of course very comfortable. This was only possible because of the bold decision my parents took to leave the comfort of their motherland. Today, as I pen this down sitting in my ancestral village in Kerala, I realize how easy I have it, all thanks to my parents.

We would travel every year to India and would make it a point to visit this very ancestral village. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this as a kid. Having spent so much time in a city full of skyscrapers and cutting edge technology, this was a sudden and almost boring change. My grandparents struggled to make the world a better and more importantly an easier place for my parents, and my parents have done the same for me.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to a wide array of diversity and culture, having traveled to 12 countries. While they were “vacations” as a kid, as I grew up, every visit was a learning curve, even if it was just a glimpse of what lies out there. Just over the past 7 years, since I have left home, I have lived in 3 different cities, each with a different allure and culture. I realized that with every passing year, I have become more adaptable and open to change. All of this has been possible only because of how I embraced change, and how I learnt how vital it is to stay grounded and true to my roots.

It is almost surreal that as I write this, I am going to embark on a similar journey around the same time my parents did when they took the decision to move to Abu Dhabi. Surreal or not, seeing the decisions my parents have taken have only emboldened me, preparing me to be more adaptable and helping me embrace change with open arms. As I prepare to begin this new, exciting journey with ESADE, I realize that you are only as strong as your roots.

Sarthak Sethi

Sarthak Sethi, India
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Professional Roles, Achievements and Activities

I am most proud of my successful work against extreme odds at Zomato, Dubai.

To elaborate further, when Zomato wanted to expand operations into UAE, the firm looked towards entrepreneurial individuals. Given my outstanding track record in sales and business development along with my ownership and leadership spirit, I was the only and the youngest one among 45 peers to be selected for the opportunity.

In my capacity as sales manager, I initially worked with the firm’s senior executives to expand the venture’s operations in Sharjah followed by Ajman emirates (cities). In a multicultural and diverse environment, I quickly adapted to enroll 80 high net worth clients within the first 3 months of operations. Overcoming significant cultural, language, and business barriers, I led a team of 10 individuals through multiple crisis situations and created an inspiring work environment for entrepreneurial leadership. Apart from sales, I even managed the operations, marketing and partnerships in these new areas.

Acknowledging my success, I was even given the responsibility to start international markets – Lebanon and Qatar.

I won several awards and appreciation and was even invited to HQ office to discuss growth plans along with other heads and founder of the company.

My success in the three-years stint at Zomato established the venture’s presence and growth in GCC region. Reflecting on the impact of my work makes me really proud.

What is invisible but essential about YOU?

“What have you done in life to make someone else’s life better?” My father asked when I wanted to buy a new pair of shoes? That very moment, that very question changed my perspective of life.

Coming from a desert state of India where basic needs were minimal, at a very early age I was exposed to the fact that personal wealth is not measured in terms of money or cars or house but rather to the fact that how able are you in making lives of less fortunate ones better.

With that family values instilled, I donated a fair share of my first income towards sponsoring the education of a child in a small village school. The satisfaction, joy, pride, and euphoria I felt thinking that one day that very child will grow up to be a responsible individual of the society. He/she will be able to provide a roof, food, and education for his/her children. It made me realize that I am not just helping one individual rather I am creating a positive impact on generations to come.

I never looked back since then. As my salary cheque grew, so did my contribution. I got more involved in social welfare and started motivating others to do so.

I’m not sure where will I go in life. I have my professional and personal goals, yet I am searching for my calling. However, I know with every growth I see in life I will never stop to payback the society and make this world a better place.

Carla Almaguer

Carla Almaguer, Mexico
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Academic Roles, Achievements and Activities

I would say that obtaining the results that I did on my first job after getting my bachelor degree is one of my proudest achievements. When I graduated from college, I started working in a manufacturing company in Mexico and my first job was as a production supervisor. Since the first day, I was in charge of 40 women at the production plant, but had no prior supervisor experience. It was not easy to obtain the trust of all of these women, since I had to ask them for higher productivity and results when most of them were twice my age, worked many hours at repetitive operations, and had children and necessities that would sometimes interfere with their work.

Given these factors, the first three months of working with them was very tough. It was very difficult to gain their respect, as well as good performance. As the production attainment and order fulfillment started to decrease, I started getting pressure from management to improve my results.

Finally, by connecting with the operators on a personal level, I proved to them my interest in their daily and personal situation and obtained their trust. For the ones that were still having a low performance on purpose, I learned that I needed to be firmer, though this was personally difficult for me. I learned the importance of being empathetic and modest, that I can overcome big challenges by trying different alternatives without giving up, and being patient, especially when stepping out of my comfort zone.

What is invisible but essential about YOU?

What is invisible but essential about me is my commitment and resolve to grow up to follow my father´s footsteps. Since I was very young, I have always looked up to my father and saw how hard he worked for his family and for his company. Thanks to him and to his success in directing operations, I lived the transition of moving to a first world country, and travelling to many other countries after having lived that experience. He is my role model given how passionate he is about his work, how he became a trustworthy HR director, and worked hard to achieve the best outcome for the company and its employees.

Given this positive influence from him, I started recreating his steps and growing in a similar direction. I got a scholarship for a good high school and for a degree at the same university where he studied. And eventually, I initiated my career as an engineer. I can say today that I am proud of the achievements that I have achieved so far in my career while pursuing positive and sustainable results for the companies that I have worked for, such as Daimler and Schneider Electric. The MBA at ESADE is an important step for me now, as I desire to keep growing and learning, and hopefully, to, one day, be as successful and honorable as I consider my father to be.

Luis Alberto Davila Barberena

Luis Alberto Davila Barberena, Mexico
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Academic Roles, Achievements and Activities 

I was the class treasurer for two years that allowed me to help gather funds needed to build the state of renewable energy symposium at my university. I am proud of having studied my degree, which has allowed me to create valuable impact to all the organizations that I worked with.

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

There always comes a time when every action we take dictates our future momentum. In this moment of my life, all I am looking for is to be able to connect with as many people as possible and reboot my individual persona. We spend many years working and getting stressed-out on things that keep us busy but make us lose sight of our long-term goals, objectives and most importantly, the meaning of our existence. It is important to take a break from everyday life to have the golden opportunity to catch-up with ourselves and reinvent our essence.

As a Mexican coming to an international city, where every conceivable idea will be shared, is just as important as taking an MBA. This is why Barcelona is one of the best options to take a break from life and become a cosmopolitan student who does not only learn from books, but also from the wisdom, stories and imagination of others.

Barcelona offers a breeding ground for creativity that is unparalleled in any other parts of the world. Its air filled with imagination-driven innovation is the invisible but essential component that enables us to grow as distinct individuals. The cultural diversity is the hidden hand that keeps Barcelona colorfully active and constantly in motion. As a city of 2 million residents and over 20 million tourists and students, it provides a breathing space and brewing ground for doing everything nice and having a new start.

Indeed, Barcelona is a place where hyperactive people will only be limited by their imagination. This Catalonian capital is full of life that offers great food, vibrant ambiance, spaces for walk and venues for all kinds of sports activities. Although I decided to live in the center of Barcelona, my commute to ESADE is easy and allows me to get my much needed morning energy.

As part of the ESADE community, I will cherish this golden opportunity to push and grow my individual persona. I know that coming to ESADE was the best decision I have ever made. Meeting, collaborating and building relationships with the broad selection of individuals is the true representation of the spirit of an ESADEAN. The people of ESADE are continuously looking to improve their own personas with the hopes of uplifting others and everything around them. To me this is aligned with the values that I look for in individuals who will go out to make an impact.

I am looking forward to surf this life changing-experience that will help me make good future decisions and propel me to my desired direction in life. I have come to Barcelona to be student, but by the time I come out of my degree, I will be an ESADEAN. The personal growth and community that I will personally build will definitely outclass any experience I had in my life. I am grateful that I took this opportunity to meet Barcelona, ESADE and my future self.

Aman Kedia

Aman Kedia, India
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

Academic Roles, Achievements and Activities

Bachelor in Business Administration – Financial Management Associate Chartered Accountant – Indian Institute of Chartered Accountants

Started E-Commerce division of business to independently formulate company launch strategy for online marketplace and generated $100k sales revenue in first 12 months.
Led a team of more than 30, promoted equal opportunity for all by training and employing down syndrome effected people at work.
Developed a product portfolio of 70+ unique SKUs, developed branding and advertising strategy to achieve 20% QoQ growth over a year.
Co-ordinated with >100 international developers to test cross-blockchain software.

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

Having been diagnosed with vertigo in early childhood, I had to overcome many challenges and avoid activities which were normal for others. Having to stop activities midway due to sudden sensation of dizziness and loss of balance, I could never take part in any adventurous activities and gradually developed a fear of heights. Even after being cured of vertigo, I never had the courage to do anything that involved extreme heights or speed.

However, in early 2017, I came across a technology cum digital currency – Bitcoin on the internet that changed me as a person. Fascinated by its concept, I bought a small quantity of Bitcoin. Being risk averse, it was a huge plunge for me to put my money on something so volatile and open source. With the meteoric rise and fall in the cryptocurrency valuation, my investments in Bitcoin have battered me for the better part of 2018. The investments might change and re-change my portfolio, but it left an indelible mark on my mind. It made me let go of my comfort zone. It wasn’t so much about winning big or losing small, as much as a change in my mindset which made me more acceptable to new age techniques, ideas and experiences. I realized that as long as we don’t break the status quo, we cant really disrupt the platform. For all the cliches, I got the courage to break myself from the self-imposed constraints. It also gave me the courage to land up in Costa Brava and sky dive from a height of 13000 ft.

That moment for me was a life-changer and also my sweet taste of success. All along success for me was about creating a big company, making it big in life, attaining a certain position, but these two moments also brought about a change in those definitions. I still want to earn a lot, ring the opening bell of my stock at NIFTY, but success now is also something more personal. It is about a continuous growth-personal, emotional, physical and financial. It is about living our life in an evolutionary sense and not as a reactionary process.