Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Satomi Nakagawa, Esade Business School

Satomi Nakagawa

Esade Business School

“Oil refinery engineer, rocking drums, a fan of my little daughter busy being a superhero.”

Hometown: Osaka, Japan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was the leader of the Esade music band.

Undergraduate School and Major: Tohoku University, Aerospace and mechanical engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

Idemitsu Kosan (Japanese Oil company), Business Analyst

Amazon – Summer Internship, Pathways Program

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Barcelona is one of the cities in the world that truly embodies diversity and inclusiveness. Among international cities, it stands out as a place where people of all races and backgrounds are respected, thanks to the deeply rooted social values of a region that values and celebrates the diversity of cultures. As an MBA student, the vibrant atmosphere of Barcelona, where I can be true to myself, has warmly encouraged me to believe in my potential and reimagine my dreams from scratch.

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? Esade has a unique collaborative culture. It stands out for its relentless pursuit of diversity, encompassing not only nationalities, genders and professional backgrounds, but also personal values. Moreover, Esade’s program is relatively flexible, allowing individuals to prioritize and seek different aspects in an MBA.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Esade? One of the most enjoyable classes I took at Esade was Corporate Strategy. Establishing a company’s long-term direction and goals can be described as answering the questions of “Where to play?”, “How to align business units?”, and “How the value of headquarters functions should be played?”. In this course, we learned the strategic decisions faced by actual corporate executives and the strategic approaches necessary to maximize economic value, using various tools and frameworks. Esade is characterized by a well-balanced blend of theory and practical application through case studies. We delved deeply into individual cases, thoroughly discussing them based on theory, which allowed us to gain a comprehensive understanding that could be applied to other scenarios. The course provided a sense of achievement as it elevated my perspective from that of a player to that of a manager.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I am one of the two mothers among more than 180 students of the Esade class of 2024. With my husband also being a fellow MBA student, I initially anticipated certain limitations in opportunities when embarking on this MBA program. However, in reality, I have been able to immerse myself fully in my academic pursuits and job search, even winning the business case competition. On the social side, I have had the privilege of serving as the drummer and leader of the Esade band, performing at various events. I have thoroughly enjoyed my MBA journey, accumulating achievements along the way. All of this has been made possible by the flexibility and collaborative culture of the Esade program, as well as the tremendous support of my family. I am incredibly grateful to my classmates as well, who have wholeheartedly embraced me as a mother throughout this experience.

While MBA programs worldwide are striving to increase gender diversity, mothers still remain a minority. I have met many women who struggle to envision their careers after becoming mothers. Industries that many MBA graduates enter, such as consulting, tech, and investment banking, are just beginning to make the reforms necessary for women to thrive. I strongly believe that balancing motherhood and career remains a fundamental challenge for women regardless of the country or culture. Through these challenges and moments of deliberation, I have always chosen not to give up and have persevered to get to this point. Being recognized as a “hope” or “inspiration” by aspiring women worldwide is my greatest accomplishment and contribution. Moving forward, I aspire to continue paving the way for the future of mothers and empower them to thrive and succeed.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? Since every day is like a ‘life-time opportunity’ in MBA life, it’s really difficult to narrow it down to just one experience. However, if I had to choose, it would be MBAT (the annual European MBA sports event held at HEC in May). Through preparations and cheering on each other during competitions, we were able to discover new sides of friends, broaden network, and have had the best opportunity for team building. I participated in the Band Battle where I served as a drummer and a leader. The thunderous cheers from people all over the world made me feel like my childhood dream of going on a world tour as a rock star had come true. Additionally, participating in the dance competition is also an experience I will never forget. In MBA programs, we often hear the phrase ‘get out of your comfort zone,’ and for me, it was truly a challenge to step into the largest ‘uncomfortable zone’ Being a typical Japanese person with no prior experience dancing at clubs, I had stood frozen watching my classmates dance their hearts out when we first met in September. But then I mustered up the courage to join the dance team. Standing on stage after rigorous training with them will forever remain vivid in my memory.

Oh! I also want to mention the ‘Talent Show’ at the school event. It was part of a three-section competition, and my wonderful classmates invited my 4-year-old daughter to participate. Seeing my daughter dance alongside promising adults from around the world, was really heartwarming and filled me with pride and joy. The collaborative nature of the Esade MBA community, accepting and embracing even my daughter, has allowed me as a mother to enjoy MBA life.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Esade MBA program? Esade is not a place where rivals work hard, but a place where we respect individual values and dreams, inspire, learn from, and support each other. If you can resonate with that culture and imagine how you can contribute to it, Esade will surely be your place.


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