Meet Esade Business School’s MBA Class Of 2024

It’s in their blood: entrepreneurship and innovation. They’re always asking questions – the why’s and what if’s – that expose every angle and application. And entrepreneurs aren’t intimidated by scope, precedent, or opinion, either.

That’s because they’re optimists – true believers who know the odds, accept the risks, and endure the grind. They don’t wait for permission or dwell on setbacks. Equal parts passionate and pragmatic, entrepreneurs never lose sight of customer needs and outcomes – all while closely guarding their time and resources. Call them salespeople or survivors – visionaries and virtuosos – and they excel by executing the four ‘ions’: Determination, preparation, communication, and gratification.

Entrepreneurship is a spirit as much as a vocation – one that’s practiced in a boardroom as much as an accelerator. Even more, it is a discipline as much as an inclination – one that can be learned in a classroom as much as trial-and-error. One of the best places to study entrepreneurship is Esade Business School – an MBA program that follows the credo: “We don’t predict the future, we create it.”


Opened by entrepreneurs in 1958, Esade boasts the #3 entrepreneurship program in Europe according to the 2023-2024 Bloomberg Businessweek MBA ranking. Last fall, it was ranked as the #3 MBA entrepreneurship program in the world by Poets&Quants. Over the past eight years, Esade alumni have launched over 190 startups during the program. That includes Colvin, the school’s Startup of the Year in 2021. A flower supply chain operation, it now employs 145 people and generates $25.5 million dollars annually. That doesn’t count Rappi, a Latin American tech firm founded by an Esade alum that carries a $7 billon dollar valuation.

The Esade Entrepreneurship Institute sits at the center of the action. It orchestrates the program’s entrepreneurial research, teaching, events, networking, overseas treks, and partnerships. It also includes eWorks, a series of incubators that provides space, resources, funding, and guidance to new ventures. On average, 45% of Esade MBA students belong to an entrepreneurship-themed club, with 81% taking an entrepreneurship elective. What’s more, the discipline encompasses 28% of electives and 21% of core courses according to P&Q research. Not surprisingly, 99% of Esade MBAs are involved in a startup project at some point in the program. It obviously makes an impression: Between 2017-2021, 21% of Esade graduates joined startup ventures.

The students aren’t the only members of the Esade curious about entrepreneurship. Three-quarters of the faculty are involved in entrepreneurship. That includes 41% of professors teaching a course or more about entrepreneurship and innovation – the highest percentage of any business school worldwide.

Students at Esade working on their projects for the Challenge-Based Innovation (CBI) program from ATTRACT Academy that is presented each year at CERN.


Before joining Esade’s Class of 2024, Alonso Otárola worked as a professional development specialist at McKinsey & Company. An economics major with undergraduate “academic training” in strategy, marketing, finance, and operations, Otárola points out that entrepreneurship has made the biggest impression on him so far.

“I was not aware of the multiple layers of complexity behind such an uncertain but exciting world. Furthermore, one of the subjects focused on entrepreneurship through the lens of an investor rather than a founder, which made the experience wholesome.”

Jan Brinckmann, a professor of entrepreneurship who heads up eWorks, sums up the Esade difference another way: “We frame entrepreneurship as more than just creating your own startup. What we want to offer is that entrepreneurship is empowering you in life. I define entrepreneurship as your personal declaration of independence.”

Indeed, freedom – or flexibility – is another differentiator that attracted students like Domenico Potortì, an engineer from Italy. “At Esade, I have the freedom to select from a variety of optional courses and LABs, like the Tech CAP, Innovation Lab, and Social Impact Lab. This allows me to explore the subjects that genuinely pique my interest. Additionally, I can personalize the length of my MBA to accommodate my internship and exchange opportunities seamlessly. Overall, Esade has given me the incredible opportunity to pursue everything I aspire to and more!”


Kimia Koushesh, a ’23 Best & Brightest MBA, describes the students’ DNA as “Do Good Do Better.” Among the Class of 2024, you’ll find a study body that excels at both. Take Inês Filipa Rodrigues Fonseca Monteiro. Working at a Portuguese NGO, her work helped lead to her team doubling in size. Then there is Gokce Gun. A medical director at Novartis before enrolling at Esade, she counts her biggest achievement as saving lives as a physician. As an MBA student, she is looking to take the next step.

“As I pursue an MBA investment, I am filled with confidence that this opportunity will enable me to expand my reach, allowing me to positively impact the lives of even more people over time.”

At Esade, MBA courses rely heavily on cases, which leverage the backgrounds and expertise of students. Thanks to working in many high-profile firms and roles, you can expect case discussion to be sweeping and rich. After all, the class has worked in high profile firms and roles. Anna Oliveras Torra held sales and marketing positions at Schneider Electric and Amazon. After two years at EY Business Consulting, Nabil Rajafellah was promoted with distinction and recently completed internships with both the Boston Consulting Group and Amazon. By the same token, Felipe Alarcón Alvarez has interned at Bayer AG and serviced as senior associate counsel at the Dow Chemical Company.

“My biggest accomplishment was earning the trust and respect of the Latin-American leaders at The Dow Chemical Company,” he explains. “I was considered as a dedicated person that acted with the highest level of integrity and ethics, which is why I was appointed as a member of the board of directors and selected as an officer at Dow Chemical-Colombia. I also became the corporate secretary of Dow´s legal entities in Colombia, México, Costa Rica, and Perú.”

Esade campus in Sant Cugat, Barcelona.


At Nissan, Domenico Potortì worked as a design and project engineer, where his work increased safety and reduced CO2 emissions.  At the same time, Xiaoming Song has left a global footprint as a reporter for CGTN (China Global Television Network) – among other outlets.

“As a journalist, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing numerous Latin American leaders, including Michelle Bachelet and Oscar Arias. However, another experience stands out to me—the time I collaborated with Globo News, Brazil’s most influential TV channel, to launch a Portuguese version of the Chinese documentary, “Epicenter: Wuhan 24 Hours, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. This initiative played a significant role in helping local communities comprehend COVID prevention and control measures. It was then that I truly grasped the potential social impact my work could have.”

As MBA students, the Class of 2024 has enjoyed the times of their lives. Satomi Nakagawa, a mother who recently completed an Amazon internship, is a drummer who has played gigs with the Esade music band. In class, Domenico Potortì was part of a project team that worked to increase fan engagement and monetization opportunities for a football team. Long-term, Rashmi Nirbhavne made an impact at Esade itself when she founded the school’s Data Analytics Club.

“The vision [is] to help peers understand the power of data, was an extraordinary moment. This is especially true given the shy person I have been who prefers being behind the scenes. It gave me the stage to boost my confidence to speak in public, interact with industry leaders, and forge meaningful connections.”


Some of the Class of 2024’s best memories have (so far) revolved around events. Domenico Potortì lists watching World Cup matches together and hanging out at the Diwali Party and Argentinian Asado as examples. Like many MBAs, Potortì also cites Gastrofest, where students indulge in food from student countries. In the past, the class has experienced Australian pavlovas, Peruvian pisco sours, Indian chicken curry, and Gambian smoothies. In addition, students often bring national garments and art to the proceedings says Alonso Otárola – who went above-and-beyond this year.

“As a proud Peruvian, I felt a great sense of pride in being able to cook and choreograph a dance act for my cohort. It was truly an honor. Moreover, experiencing the cultural flavors of over 30 different countries and witnessing the joy my colleagues felt while sharing their dishes and music acts was truly memorable.”

Gastrofest was just one outlet for the class to bond, writes Anna Oliveras Torra, most recently an international recruiter for Johnson & Johnson. “The endless cases discussions of the first term, the classes in late Friday afternoons after a hectic week, studying exams together, the lunches in the rooftop, the ski trip to Andorra, the section dinners, the spontaneous nights out, clubs’ events, the MBAT, the Christmas party… There have been so many moments of companionship.”

The MBAT – the MBA Olympics held at HEC Paris – resonated with Nabil Rajafellah in particular. “It included football, basketball, swimming, CrossFit, board games and video games, dance competitions, live-band competition – and the list goes on! Every day for three days, there were games happening and you were competing against other top MBA schools which brought out the best sportsmanship, school spirit, and hype amongst your teammates and classmates who you may normally not have interacted with during the school year. It really brought us all closer together in such a short time. To wrap things up, HEC hosted an extravagant gala in one of the most beautiful locations in downtown Paris. In short, for three days you felt like a professional athlete.”

Barcelona, Spain — home of the ESADE Business School


That said, some of the Class of 2024’s most memorable times were unplanned. Last year, an indelible moment happened over the holidays, when Inês Filipa Rodrigues Fonseca Monteiro opened her home to seven classmates who couldn’t make it back to their countries to enjoy time with their families.

“We had the most international Christmas ever, with songs from Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina being played at the dinner table. It was emotional and unforgettable not only for us as friends but also for my family. To this day, they still talk nostalgically about that amazing moment. My friends who have become family to me, are the source of my happiest memories from the MBA.”

For some class members, the best is yet to come. Matthias Scheider, a former senior associate at PwC Germany, is heading overseas for an exchange at the University of Chicago’s Booth School. His classmate, Inês Filipa Rodrigues Fonseca Monteiro, has lined up several opportunities in the coming months.

“I am doing an internship at Roche headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, collaborating with people from all over the world. Later this year, I will be heading to Bengaluru, India for a two-month internship at Infosys, where I’ll experience a completely different culture. In addition to international internships, next year I will complete my exchange program in São Paulo, Brazil, a country where I always wanted to have an immersive experience. Pursuing an “All around the world MBA ” has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone to grow and develop professionally and personally.”

Next Page: Exclusive Interview with Associate Dean Jan Hohberger

Page 3: In-Depth Profiles of 12 Full-Time MBAs

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