2022 MBA To Watch: Douglas Bernardo Silva, ESADE Business School

Douglas Bernardo Silva

ESADE Business School

“Born in Brazil, I have lived in five countries and love learning new cultures.”

Hometown: São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Fun fact about yourself: During the Thanksgiving before the pandemic, I learned how to bake and my pies are now a hit. My classmates say I should drop everything and open a bakery.

Undergraduate school and degree: Faculdades Rio Branco, B.A. in International Affairs

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Boston Consulting Group – BCG, Practice Area Recruiting Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? BCG Brighthouse in Berlin and Jumia in Barcelona

Where will you be working after graduation? Yet to be announced, stay tuned.

Community work and leadership roles in business school:

Nominated for Careers Ally Award

Unity in Diversity Scholar

MBA Fellow

Member of the Academic Board

Co-founder of the Blacks in Business Club

VP of Careers for the Consulting Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of having joined forces with other classmates to create Europe’s 2nd Blacks in Business Club.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Having moved across the ocean to a city I had never been to – London – to set up a new business area from scratch across South America, Europe, and Africa, in a company that was new to me –BCG.

Why did you choose this business school? Esade is known for its entrepreneurial vein, which is currently important whether you plan to start something of your own or work in a scale up. This was my main driver, but sunny Barcelona also played a role.

Who was your favourite MBA professor? It is a tie between Constance Lutolf-Carroll, Kate Barasz, and Sujata Madan. All three held highly interactive lectures (in trying times), challenged us intellectually, and enticed both novices and experts in the subjects they were teaching. In addition, at times, students may feel like they are asked for more than they are given. I never felt like that in their classes. They were highly demanding but also very generous and inspiring when teaching us.

What was your favourite MBA event or tradition at your business school? COVID made us reinvent some of those traditions, and one of the traditions we had to reinvent was ‘Be My Guest’. This was a rotating dinner, in which some households would volunteer to host while others would be assigned where to attend. This allowed us to build connections in a time of many restrictions and reflected Esade’s collaborative spirit.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have taken the SQL course. I am looking to pivot into a career as a product manager, and I think this would have been an interesting skill to have under my belt.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That it is in Barcelona. Although Esade has campuses in Barcelona, the business school is in a beautiful small town called Sant Cugat. Although the Sant Cugat campus is extremely pleasant and surrounded by beautiful scenery, a daily commute is necessary if you want to live in vibrant Barcelona.

What surprised you the most about business school? How people’s skills can complement each other when they are working on a team.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I spoke to multiple people from my previous company, BCG, who had studied at Esade. This allowed me to get a better understanding of the school and its values.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Joy Elekuwua: A strong African female, Joy comes from rural Nigeria and worked her way up the ladder in professional services without many privileges. She has a truly generous heart and found a way to come to business school in Europe despite her income and savings being in a much less valued currency than the one used for tuition payment. This was the first time she had lived outside her country, but she pushed boundaries and limits to deliver the very best of herself and secured an internship at Amazon. As a believer that empowered women build healthier societies, I really admire Joy.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Multiple mentors throughout my career. My manager in my very first internship after my undergraduate degree, Patrick Hollard, was very inspiring and challenged me not to settle, but to always pursue greater things. In executive search, I worked with a partner who really inspired me to pursue my MBA, Henrique Carneiro. Finally, at BCG, Ashley Dartnell, was the best mentor I could have asked for.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? One day I would love to manage a P&L in a large company. My top goal is to build a preparatory charter school to honour the memory of my grandmother who was never able to attend school.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? If it were not for the pandemic, I would have probably postponed my MBA plan. In addition, it allowed me to see that it is up to me to shape events. External factors will always have a role to play, however I am the protagonist of my own life.

What made Douglas such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

‘A true citizen of the world’ is how many of his classmates describe Douglas who has lived in five countries and speaks four languages. His diverse upbringing and ability to mingle with multiple cultures has been his trademark while at Esade.

Originally from Brazil, he was the second generation of his family to reach literacy. His grandmother started working early and was never able to attend school. His mom, who worked full time, was the sole provider for his family after his father passed away when Douglas was only six years old. Growing up in such an environment shaped his belief that empowering women with equal opportunities is an engine for a stronger and healthier society.

Inspired by the dedication and impetus of these two strong women, he was the first of his family to graduate from college, which although challenging financially, provided him with intellectual stimulation, tangible skills, and a like-minded community.

Understanding early on the positive impact businesses can have on society, he was invited to join as a delegate in the G8 Seminar on New Partnerships for Development organised by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program – where he drafted with other delegates UNDP’s post 2015 agenda.

Douglas started his career in people operations in Brazil. He worked for global executive search firm Spencer Stuart, recruiting C-Level executives for Fortune 500 companies with a focus on consumer goods. He was involved in the cultural and strategic transformations of several companies. Later, he moved to London to build from scratch BCG’s talent acquisition function for Europe, South America, and Africa.

While in Barcelona, Doug seized every opportunity to the fullest. An active member of Esade’s community, he co-founded the Blacks in Business Club and was invited to sit on the MBA Academic Board. Leveraging his previous experience to help his classmates, he was nominated for the 2022 Careers Ally Award.

Seeking to bring a people-centric vision to corporate strategy and transformation during his MBA programme, Douglas interned for BCG’s purpose consultancy Brighthouse in Berlin. There he helped a major airline with its strategic repositioning in a post-covid world. He also interned at Jumia, Africa’s greatest online marketplace, working directly with the CEO on the expansion of the company’s cross border business.”

Laura Bonavia
Programme Director, Full Time MBA
Esade Business & Law School



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