Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Alonso Otárola, Esade Business School

Alonso Otárola

Esade Business School

“Passionate about achieving excellence and generating impact by mobilizing people towards common goals.”

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m partially colorblind.

Undergraduate School and Major: Universidad del Pacífico, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Professional Development Specialist at McKinsey & Company

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA?

Barcelona boasts a remarkable blend of cultural opulence, delightful weather, stunning architecture, expansive outdoor spaces, and a high standard of living, making it an unrivaled destination to pursue an MBA in. Personally, I find great pleasure in the diverse range of leisure activities available in Barcelona. There is always excitement when planning a night out, with multiple thrilling options to explore, that range from theater performances, international dining experiences, and trendy bars that everyone is buzzing about.

Aside from your classmates and location, what has been your favorite part of Esade Business School’s MBA programming and why has it been so valuable to you? Coming from an economics background, I was excited to receive academic training in business essentials such as strategy, marketing, finance, and operations. Despite having a great experience in these classes, what impressed me the most was the entrepreneurship component of the curriculum. 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.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Esade? On the academic side, my favorite activity was the Business Simulation. It was an amazing experience to be leading a team while surfing the adrenaline of complex decision-making with limited time for analysis and an overload of information.

However, when I look back at my MBA years, the MBA Tournament (MBAT) will always be a part of my fondest memories. Having a chance to represent Esade in multiple disciplines and to cheer on all our participants gave our cohort the opportunity to come closer together and experience firsthand the real spirit of Esade. Moreover, meeting amazing people from other schools was the cherry on top of one of the greatest experiences of the MBA journey.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns it brought about were a huge shake-up to the operational model of strategy consulting. Consultants shifted from in-person work that required international travel (along with the associated perks and glamour) to a work-from-home setting. In this new environment, they had to deliver outstanding results while navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic and shouldering the burden of day-to-day tasks that were previously delegated. Consequently, this led to diminished satisfaction among consultants and even mental health challenges.

One of my biggest accomplishments was responding to these challenges for McKinsey & Company in the Spanish LatAm office. Our interventions ranged from emergency measures to ensure that consultants around the world could return home before international borders closed, to designing initiatives that aimed to alleviate the even harsher work-life balance for consultants. These measures had to constantly adapt to the ebb and flow of the pandemic. We successfully provided the tools and companionship necessary for consultants to continue delivering their best work for our clients, and to maintain a high office morale during uncertain times.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Dealing with uncertainty is a key competency in today’s ever-changing world. Despite significant strides in my ability to navigate uncertain times, this competency remained high on my list of areas for development at the beginning of my MBA. However, the MBA experience has exceeded my expectations in terms of personal growth in this regard.

The challenges of adjusting to life in a new city, managing family crises across different time zones, and rebuilding a routine and social life with people from around the world provided me with the perfect context to cultivate flexibility and learn how to relinquish control in order to thrive amidst uncertainty. I consider this personal development to be my greatest achievement during my time in Barcelona.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? One of my fondest memories of this MBA is the Gastro Fest. It was a student-organized festival where students from every country had the opportunity to showcase food, drinks, garments, and artistic expressions from their country of origin.

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.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Esade MBA program?  The word that comes to mind when I think of the Esade MBA is collaboration. I believe applicants need to be mindful of what will be expected of them: working in numerous highly diverse teams with tight schedules, assisting their colleagues in areas where they may be less proficient, and seeking help when facing similar challenges. Additionally, it is critical to participate in activities that contribute to boosting class morale is crucial.

I am confident that applicants who demonstrate not only their ability to contribute to the community but also their willingness to receive support from it, applicants who show a genuine eagerness to collaborate, will have great chances of gaining admission to the Esade MBA.


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