2023 MBA To Watch: Melinda Keys, ESADE Business School

Melinda Keys

ESADE Business School

“A geologist by trade, a gender equity advocate by passion, and a soon-to-be consultant by profession.”

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia

Fun fact about yourself: I am qualified in Mines Rescue & Emergency Response and was a member of the Emergency Response Team when I was at Fortescue Metals Group. During this time, I responded to many emergencies, including bush fires and HAZMAT spills.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Science (Geology) and Masters of Science (Geology) from The University of Melbourne

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Project Lead Geoscience, BHP

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Boston Consulting Group, Melbourne

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Melbourne

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I was a Forte Fellow, as well as VP in the Operations & Supply Chain Club, and active member of the Energy & Environment Club and Women in Business Club. I was also in the top 3% of the cohort academically and received honours for ‘Managing & Developing People’ and ‘Marketing Planning & Implementation’.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was ecstatic that I had the opportunity to present a TEDx talk on ‘Women in Leadership’ and use my experiences as a female geologist in the mining industry to illustrate the importance of getting more women in top leadership roles. It was such a nerve-racking and adrenaline fuelled experience, and I was truly humbled by the engagement and support of my peers and faculty during the process.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My passion in the workplace is leading and developing people. My proudest moments are therefore those times when I see the people who I use to lead get promotions and success in their careers. As an example, I once had a brilliant and driven geoscience field technician report to me, and I was able to work with her to develop her skillsets to set her up to take my role. When I left for business school, it was amazing to see that she was able to easily step into my role and, by all accounts, she is continuing to thrive and keeps getting promotions!

Why did you choose this business school? The diversity of the ESADE cohort is what makes the school great; our 2023 cohort was comprised of 184 students from 41 nationalities and were 43% women. This was the core reason ESADE was my school of choice. I am proud to be part of such a diverse group of bright, ambitious, and collaborative students.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? It was Gloria Batllori Lloveras, who taught me both Finance and Corporate Finance. Coming from a geology background, I was incredibly intimidated by these subjects. However, Gloria made the sessions inclusive, engaging, and fun. Cold calling was not something to be feared in her classes, as she called on you purely to engage in a learning experience and help you through the problem. I never thought that, as a geologist, these subjects would become some of my favorites – and it was all thanks to Gloria.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would not be so concerned about my GMAT result! When I was starting to think about going to business school and researching possible MBAs, I really felt that the key to success was a high GMAT. It was only when I started applying and interviewing (or to some extent when I actually got to school), that I realised the power of the profile and who you are as a person is more important than a GMAT score. I did not let my score define me and have plunged headfirst into all the activities and experiences I wanted to have.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That it is not a consulting school! While it is true that ESADE is not only a consulting school, really its strength is that it is a school of many talents. Whether you want to pursue social impact, entrepreneurship, consulting, tech, or any other number of sectors, ESADE can provide support to help you in your career journey. I did not know I wanted to go into consulting when I started my MBA, but access to the Consulting Career Acceleration Program and the ESADE network meant that I was at the right school to eventually get a full time offer with BCG (Boston Consulting Group).

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Barcelona is vibrant and loud, and a city that is full of laughter and love. I adored living in the home of Antoni Gaudi and being able to walk past his beautiful masterpieces every day. Casa Batlló (or House of the Dragon) is an absolute favourite. It was also incredibly special to be living in Barcelona when they finished the Virgin Mary tower on the Sagrada Familia and anointed it with the Star of Bethlehem on December 3, 2021.

What surprised you the most about business school? That going on exchange was not only an ‘add-on’ to the MBA experience, but what became a truly integral part of my MBA story. I went on exchange to Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, and absolutely loved my time, learning on another continent surrounded by a different group of students. I was able to throw myself fully in academic life and the cultural experiences and had fun watching the Chicago Bulls play and going to a Second City show!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? My admissions director – Mary Granger – and I barely discussed the ‘regular’ business school questions. Instead, we had a totally off the cuff and interesting conversation about gender equality, particularly in business schools and in my industry of mining. I think my honesty and passion for diversity shone through, and Mary obviously thought I had applied to the right school!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Rosario Castellanos is one of the most inspiring and hard-working people I know. She worked in the construction industry as an engineer and manager in Uruguay, so immediately I was drawn to her due to our similar backgrounds of working in male-dominated industries. Rosario came to ESADE to move sectors and take the leap to start her life in Barcelona, with her husband Gabriel and Enzo their beloved (and adorable) golden retriever. I admire her drive and commitment to make this move, and she has worked non-stop to ensure she and her family can now continue to live in the new city they call home – Barcelona.

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

(1) Live and work internationally for a couple of years.

(2) Present at an international conference on gender equality or diversity in business.

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

“Melinda, a trailblazing woman with a non-traditional background in mining, left an indelible mark on her Esade MBA class. With her unbridled passion for diversity, she infused the class discussions with new and unique perspectives that challenged the conventional notions of business. Her background in geology and her summer internship at BCG equipped her with the tools to analyze problems and devise solutions in unconventional ways. She is a clear high performer, which led her to get multiple full-time offers, two of which at MBBs. She finally accepted a position at BCG Australia where she outperformed during her internship.

Not content with just being a stellar academic performer, Melinda was also deeply involved in extracurricular activities. She served as the Vice President of the Operations & Supply Chain Club and was an active member of the Energy & Environment Club and Women in Business Club. Her commitment to creating a better future and making a difference in the world was infectious and inspired her classmates to do more.

Melinda’s unwavering passion and drive did not go unnoticed. She was featured by MBAChic, an online community that strives to promote more women into business school and leadership positions. Her incredible story highlighted the value of individuals with non-traditional backgrounds in business and demonstrated the importance of diversity in every aspect of our lives.

In short, Melinda’s journey through the Esade MBA was a testament to the transformative power of determination, passion, and diversity and a deserving winning candidate for this award.”

Mary Granger
Regional Director, Asia
Admissions Department


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