2017 MBAs To Watch: Sara López Castro, ESADE

Sara López Castro

ESADE Business School

“Active, extroverted, curious, passionate and genuine.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Pontedeume, Spain

Fun fact about yourself: When living abroad, I ended up in countries with some of the most difficult languages to learn: Finnish and Hungarian.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Industrial Engineering, Polytechnic University of Madrid

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I worked as a Supply Planning Manager at the Philips Outsourced Operations Supply Center in Hungary.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? McKinsey Operations, Madrid Office

Where will you be working after graduation? Liberty Mutual Insurance

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

As President of the MBA Student Association, I was the main representative of the student body vis-à-vis companies, the faculty and the program management. I had an eight-person board and was responsible for coordinating the activities of 21 clubs.

As Admissions Fellow for Iberia and Latin America, I acted as an ambassador for the school, sharing with prospective students my experience at ESADE, providing details about the program, and answering any questions they might have about life in Spain or Barcelona.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of founding the Club Fair and improving the transition process in the clubs.

When I arrived at ESADE, the standard practice was for each club to organize its own presentation to the new batch of students and manage its own transition process. As President of the MBA Student Association, one of my responsibilities was to coordinate and oversee the 20+ student clubs that currently exist at ESADE. So I took the initiative to establish a common transition process for all clubs. A core team of club representatives and MBASA members was created, and together we re-designed the club transition process. One of the highlights was the Club Fair, an event where all the clubs gave presentations to new students during the first week. That event was followed by a coordinated transition process, where each club led its own election processes, but following a common calendar.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At the end of my first year at Philips Hungary, they sent me to support the UK Supply Center, which had three launches at risk. I was an outsider and the youngest on the team, yet I was expected to help solve their problems by contributing new ideas and having an impact quickly.

By the end of a challenging first week, I was making decisions and had earned the respect of the team in the UK. I talked to the various stakeholders, managed their expectations and then followed up constantly and remained true to my promises. As a result, I gained their trust and we overcame the crisis successfully. That experience showed me what I am capable of and gave me extra confidence for the future.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Gloria Batllori, a lecturer of finance. She makes the subject understandable for people from all kinds of backgrounds. The class is geared toward showing how to use finance from a managerial perspective. All the examples and cases discussed in class provide valuable insights. Her teaching method, which combines cases, theory and exercises, is very good.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? I loved both core courses in marketing. I had no previous experience in this field, and every class brought really interesting insights. The teachers were very good and the lessons were easily applicable. Even if you don’t want to pursue a career in marketing, I think it’s very important to have basic marketing knowledge, both as a future manager and as a consumer.

Why did you choose this business school? I strongly believe in the power of collaboration and the benefits of diverse environments, and ESADE is an institution that not only provides very high quality education but also gives the student a unique experience. The diversity of the student body makes the classes super interesting, with people from many different backgrounds and nationalities taking part in the discussion. On top of that, the collaborative spirit is present at all times. Your classmates are always there to help if you don’t have knowledge or expertise in a certain field. It feels like a family.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The exposure you get. You learn about different industries, different functions, big corporations and start-ups, and you get to interact with highly successful professionals. Plus, you’re surrounded by 49 nationalities, so you also learn about the cuisine of different regions, their history, their traditions it’s simply awesome.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How you grow as a person. It’s not just the really good concepts you learn and the knowledge you acquire. By interacting with faculty and classmates, you realize the full spectrum of possibilities out there, and you feel you have the tools to do whatever you want. Going to ESADE really empowered me.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Do your homework, research the school, and talk to current students or alumni. If you identify with ESADE’s values, you will have the best experience of your life. Be yourself in the application process. Prepare your stories and do your reflection, but simply be who you are. I’m sure you have lots of amazing stories to share and much to contribute to the program.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the things ESADE is known for is its entrepreneurial environment. Once I joined the program, I found that to be very true and also extremely valuable in many ways I hadn’t considered before. Entrepreneurship is embedded in ESADE in many ways. In addition to traditional MBA recruiters, our faculty is in close contact with various start-ups. We have the chance to interact with them, learn about their challenges, and hear their inspiring stories. We have a very active MBA Entrepreneurship Club and ESADE also provides spaces and tools so that you can experiment and get the network you need: EWorks founders’ meetings, EGarage events, collaborations with the Master in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, etc.

What was your biggest regret in business school? During an MBA, your biggest asset is time. There are thousands of things to do and you simply do not have time to do them all. I am currently starting my own venture and I keep coming back to all the basics we learned the first year, thinking how useful it would have been to have started my project on day 0 (or even -60) of the MBA in order to leverage the faculty’s amazing industry knowledge. Life has its own pace and I have no regrets about the choices I made in the MBA, but 2017 Sara would tell 2015 Sara: “Start your company now!”

 Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Johannes Burgard. He is an amazing person, genuinely cares about people and has a positive attitude about life. On top of that, he is very smart and extremely hard-working, he fosters group collaboration and a good team environment, and he tries to move everyone forward. I worked with him in the MBA Student Association and we were also academic teammates during the first year. On both occasions I enjoyed myself and learned a lot.

 I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized my engineering knowledge would lead to an early cap on my professional development.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… a different person. The MBA changed me so much that I currently can’t imagine my life without the MBA. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? If I were dean for a day, I would visit all the sections and talk to the students, sharing my experiences and reassuring them that they are in the right place.

 What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate goal is to do something that has an impact on the world, that motivates me and the people who work with me. I would like to have my own business in Galicia, in order to contribute to the growth of the region. I could also see myself in a management position at a corporation that I identified with. You never know where you’ll end up in life, so I may even do both.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents and my partner. The MBA is very demanding and it can get stressful at times, so having their support made a clear difference for me. They were always there for me, celebrating my successes when they happened and reminding me of my strengths and value in moments of doubt and insecurity.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as someone you want to work with, a good person who cares about people and contributes to the team.

Favorite book: Daughter of Fortune and Portrait in Sepia, by Isabel Allende

Favorite movie or television show: The Mentalist

Favorite musical performer: Joaquín Sabina

Favorite vacation spot: Since I was 18, I have lived far from home, so I love to spend the holidays with family and friends back home, enjoying the great food and awesome beaches of Galicia.

Hobbies? I love to travel, dance and read. The order depends on the day.

What made Sara López such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Sara’s enthusiasm and initiative make her a natural-born leader. During her tenure as President of the ESADE MBA Student Association, she raised the bar for future generations. Her key achievements include the implementation of a well-defined transition process and the creation of the MBA Student Association Club Fair.

She infects others with her unique passion and her rightful spirit. She is hard-working, responsible and the best friend her classmates could ever find.

We see great things in the future for Sara. She would make a great CEO or even an amazing world leader. Her dedication to excellence reflects ESADE’s values to the core, and we couldn’t be prouder. Her professional career will be one to follow closely.”

Rocío Selvood

ESADE MBA Program Manager

Neus Marcet

ESADE MBA Program Director



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