2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Kimia Koushesh, ESADE Business School

Kimia Koushesh

ESADE Business School

“Passionate Iranian woman ready to give my grain of sand to the world.”

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

Fun fact about yourself: When I was one year old, I fell from the grave of Great Dairush in Persepolis (Equivalent to 4 floor building)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Chemical Engineering, Universidad De Los Andes, Bogota- Colombia

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? The Dow Chemical Company – Customer Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Amazon, Sevilla, Spain

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon, Pathways Operation Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in MBASA (MBA Student Association)

Creator and organizer of a whole week of events dedicated to diversity and inclusion

Winner of the Class-Voted Engagement Award, which is given to the students who spend the most time, effort, and energy towards improving the experience of their fellow classmates. Put simply, this award honours the students who have done the most to make ESADE a better place.

Selected by my peers to represent the class for the graduation valedictorian speech.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

1) Academic: Honors in Racial (In) Justice class. At this point, it is no secret, that one of the things that motivate me the most is people. And this class helped to develop many ideas and tools to use in my entrepreneurship project ideas coming in the future. The honors in this class not only enforced my passion but showed me that I’m on the right track.

2) Extracurricular: Elephant Talks. Within my role at MBASA, I moderated 5 Elephant Talks, the concept of this talk was as the name says to talk about the elephant in the room. We discussed topics such as diversity in our cohort, gender equality, quotas, stereotypes, and mental health, among others. I had the opportunity of not only starting this but also moderating. I’ve learned a lot about people management and how to expose myself and create safe environments for others to do it as well. In each of these spaces, we built a unique type of bond between the participants and there were always at least 3-4 students who told me that their experience changed because they were able to share their stories and learn that they were not the only ones. I’m very proud about this even If it might seem little because I think sometimes little things like talking about the elephant in room require courage and I’m happy to know that I was able to encourage my colleagues to do it positively.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my time in my previous company, I had the opportunity to lead the Women Inclusion Network for a year and during that time we were awarded as the Top 1 company in Gender Equality in Colombia.

Why did you choose this business school? Sense of community. I was very attracted by the way alumni and recruiters express themselves about ESADE. It was easy to see that no matter the connection with the school, they felt like they belonged. I have no doubts about the academic potential of ESADE, but I was greatly surprised by how, even though each of us is very different and diverse, you can see in all the cohort the ‘Do Good Do Better’ spirit.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Gloria Batllori, finance was maybe one of the classes I knew I had to learn but was less excited about it. With Gloria, I could not wait for the class, I enjoyed each of her classes, the way she incorporated each example, and makes sure everyone was on board in class while she was explaining. 

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite class of the MBA was In Search of Principles For a Life Philosophy. It was my last elective and the reason it was my favorite is that it was unexpected. When you come to a business school, there is a list of concepts, subjects, and skills that you want to end up with. However, this course taught me some meaning about life that maybe during this year I could have lost. It was the perfect cherry on top of the ice cream, sometimes, you deconstruct yourself in business school to build yourself again. This class connected me again with my passion and taught me how everything around my life, values, and hobbies makes me the good professional I want to be.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I have a hard time choosing one, so I might say my favorite tradition in ESADE is embracing multiculturalism. I enjoyed all of our mixed culture events as it was the celebration of Diwali with our Indian friends, or Ramadan Iftar with our Muslim friends. There was also the Afrobeat’s Party, where our African friends shared their music and teach us their dance moves and the Gastrofest where all the 20+ countries had a food stand and performance to share their culture. My favorite tradition about ESADE is that, beyond business, there is always time to embrace each person’s background, share it, and get exposed. Every culture, language, and country unlock a new world of opportunities and I never believed I could unlock so many dimensions simultaneously while unlocking my one for others.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Letting my fears stop my potential. When I first came to the MBA, I was aware that I might be the youngest in the room. Many times, I held up to show my true potential because of not recognizing it as my own. As I went through the process naturally, I lost the energy and start giving everything I had to offer. I wish I had been more confident from the beginning to trust my gut. However, more than regret, I learned not to make that mistake in the next step. It is common that as we grow in each stage we are placed with more talented people and the impostor syndrome takes over us. I’ve learned to breathe this syndrome and recognize the merits that have brought me to stand next to all the amazing people around me.

What is the biggest myth about your school? You can identify an ESADE MBA in the crowd. I would say, after a year, that it is true. The ‘Do Good Do Better’ is in the DNA of our people.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? I love everything about Barcelona, I feel a part of me now will always be from Barcelona. The culture, art, architecture, music, football, beach, mountains, and life in this city is just contagious, I feel I’m the main character everywhere in this city. I could not have chosen a better city with joy and perfect harmony for this experience. Even after 1.5 years here, I still feel I’m not done with this city and can’t wait to come back and re-experience this city at another point in my life.

What surprised you the most about business school? I never realized how many meaningful connections I would end up with. I feel that being ESADIAN and part of the 2023 cohort is something I can take for life. I’m pretty sure the MBA is only the first of the many steps I have taken with this community and everything we will build in the future together.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I asked my mentor back in my company and when I was describing the school to him. He told me that only by the way I talked about it he knew it was the place for me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Floris Ruys believes in people and lets them prove themselves always right. I have never met someone who can connect such easily with people and provide so much to everyone. Floris inspired me, and I’m pretty sure that many others as well, to make them their best versions. It is admirable to see how he always gives the best to himself and brings everyone together to be their best.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

Start my own Non-Profit to support women in the Middle East.

After a few more years of work, I want to get my Ph.D. and transit to education.

What made Kimia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Kimia is unique in how she combines intellect, sensitivity, and drive and is one of the best possible representatives of the ESADE community. She has committed to the ESADE MBA and her colleague’s success in numerous ways leaving a legacy that goes beyond her class.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are extremely important issues for the ESADE MBA and Kimia helped to foster D&I by institutionalizing various activities successfully within the school. She was the first Vice President of Diversity of Inclusion in MBASA (ESADE MBA student association). In this role, she also helped to establish the “ESADE Elephant Talks”, which are student-led events focusing on topics like race, gender, ethnicity, and discrimination. Thereby she set a great example of how to create a space of belonging and safety and made sure to inspire others around her on how to join her. In this way, she was able to address often difficult topics and issues in a positive, transparent, and constructive way.

In my class (Corporate strategy) I experienced Kimia as a very active and engaged student, who demonstrated outstanding analytical ability and business knowledge when analyzing and addressing complex strategic and organizational problems and scenarios. Very deservingly, she obtained one of the highest grades in the course, achieving top marks in all grade components.

In relation to her career journey, Kimia has been a clear success story. She set herself a very clear target of working in organizations where she could see real impact on people. She participated in the Amazon Pathways challenge and landed an internship in the company. Despite a difficult hiring situation, as a result of her exceptional performance during the internship, she recently landed a full-time position at Amazon Pathways. Besides working on her career development, she was always available to support her fellow students in their job search.

In conclusion, I believe that Kimia is the “full package” and a deserving winning candidate for the “Best & Brightest” award. She has very much inspired us during the last few years, and I do not doubt that she will continue to achieve great things in the future.”

Jan Hohberger
Associate Dean
MBA Full-Time


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