Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Pakaporn (Mila) Utaobin, IESE Business School

Pakaporn (Mila) Utaobin

IESE Business School at the University of Navarra

“Architect born to an entrepreneurial family, who dreams of having her own real estate empire.”

Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand

Fun Fact About Yourself: I left my job and took a 2-month honeymoon, backpacking in the South of Thailand during the pandemic.

Undergraduate School and Major: Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Architecture (Major in Architecture)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: SIPA Real Estate (family-owned business), Executive Director

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The prioritization of practicality over theory is one of the most compelling parts of the case method. It explores real-world complexities, allowing insights of how the protagonists in the cases (often a manager or the business owner) make decisions within the specific constraints and contexts of that particular situation. Moreover, the inclusion of diverse classmates, each bringing expertise and real experiences from various business industries, further enhances the effectiveness of this approach.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? My favorite aspects of Barcelona revolve around two key elements: the city itself and the language environment. The city is an international hub with a vibrant atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and consistently pleasant weather. The people are friendly and chill, creating a welcoming environment. Secondly, the opportunity to learn and practice Spanish is invaluable. The school’s good reputation also attracts students from Latin America, fostering a unique mix of perspectives and opening up diverse business opportunities, making the MBA experience here particularly enriching.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the IESE Business School MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? In my decision to choose IESE Business School for my MBA, the key factor that stood out to me was the school’s commitment to its mission and values. It really fosters graduates’ aspirations to create a positive impact on society. This commitment is particularly evident in the realms of business ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability, which also resonated with my values and career goals.

During the year that I planned to apply for my MBA, my focus on this aspect was reaffirmed by the Financial Times MBA ranking, in which IESE was ranked first in the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) category.

As I explored the curriculum, I appreciated that IESE integrates subjects within the core courses that address crucial aspects of business ethics, social responsibilities, and sustainability. Furthermore, the availability of electives and clubs such as the Responsible Business Club truly represent IESE’s commitment to the school’s strong mission and values.

The IESE MBA is known for heavy reading and rigorous academics. Has the program lived up to its reputation? What advice would you give to first-years to help them thrive in the early months of the program? Absolutely, the IESE MBA program does live up to its reputation for its heavy reading and rigorous academics. The workload can be really demanding, especially when you factor in the social aspects and the adjustment to a new country. But personally, I’d say that it’s still manageable. Just take it easy and carefully manage the expectations for yourself.

The school cohort has a diverse mix of ambitions, but the main goal that circulates is to get into the consulting world. It’s easy to get caught up in the popular consulting wave. A significant chunk of the crowd seems to be eyeing that path, and the journey to get a consulting internship can feel like a long marathon.

That being said, if consulting aligns with your dream, by all means, go for it. But if you find yourself caught in the current and considering it just because everyone else is, I’d suggest taking a step back and focusing on why you decided to pursue the MBA in the first place. The first term is a rollercoaster, but don’t let it drown your original purpose. Enjoy the ride and have fun with your friends. Don’t fall into the trap of chasing someone else’s goal. This is your experience – make it yours!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’d say my biggest career win so far has been smoothly stepping into a managerial position in our family business. Integrating familial ties with professional responsibilities can be a delicate balance, but I feel good to contribute to something that’s been a part of my life for so long.

Additionally, during the challenging period of the COVID-19 outbreak, I spearheaded initiatives that resulted in a substantial improvement in the company’s profitability, marking a commendable 20% increase, mainly through improvement in productivity and in cost efficiency. The experience has reinforced my commitment to contributing meaningfully to the success and sustainability of our family business.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Surviving the first semester deserves its own medal! (just kidding). Reflecting on my journey as an MBA student, amidst the academic rigors, the true highlights have emerged from the wealth of knowledge imparted by IESE´s exceptional professors. Their insights have been instrumental in broadening my understanding and perspectives. Furthermore, the experience of cultivating meaningful connections with fellow students from diverse backgrounds has been profoundly enriching. The diversity within the class has not only contributed to a vibrant learning environment but has also led to the formation of valuable friendships. Thus, my most significant accomplishment as an MBA student lies in the synthesis of academic enrichment and, foremost, the establishment of friendships from around the world.


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