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At 7am on a summer’s Monday, I am queueing up in front of a boarding gate. I am flying from my hometown of Barcelona back to my new home in London, where I have been working as an investment banking analyst since last March. As I wait, I catch up on emails about a live transaction taking place in Portugal and text friends in London, Paris and Shanghai. It feels like a junior, economy-class version of life-in-the-fast-lane. Life is also occasionally scattered but not without its charms.
The path to the boarding gate began when I enrolled in a four-year bachelor of business administration programme at Esade Business School. Growing up, I always saw the Barcelona-based institution as the prestigious choice: an intellectual challenge that would lead to a wide range of career opportunities. It was all that and then some.
With its tight-knit community of peers, instructors and mentors, Esade is both a secluded academic space and an engine of the Catalan business world. Professors and guest speakers constantly showed us how we could apply what we were being taught. Meeting successful people who were willing to share their knowhow was more inspiring than any case study. Some of these speakers had a direct influence on many of the decisions that I made, from internships to specialisation tracks.
As a student at a time of political, social and economic change in Spain, I felt privileged to be in a place that took part in – and often led – the national conversation.
Esade is also very much a global player, which is why, when I was accepted into its MSc in finance-Cems masters in management double-degree programme, I enrolled practically on the spot. Besides my interest in finance, there was the allure of spending a semester at HEC Paris, after a previous half-year at Tsinghua University in Beijing. I learned to navigate life in an environment completely removed from my own: picking up the basics of Mandarin, absorbing the culture and its norms and building a network of friends with whom I am close to this day. My stay in Paris was equally memorable, although less of a cultural shock. I enjoyed the Cems courses on offer, such as “luxury strategies”. Having studied at Esade was good preparation for the programme run by Cems, a consortium of business schools and companies that prioritises teamwork and engagement beyond the academic community.
As for career opportunities, I enjoyed the personal approach of the programme. Given that candidates have different backgrounds and levels of professional experience, they are encouraged to think outside the box and be proactive in their interactions with the organisation’s business partners. A great example was the team-based Cems Business Project, where I co-authored a study on market trends in retail banking under the guidance of the consulting firm Kurt Salmon.
The ultimate test, however, has been the beginning of my “adult life” this year. As an investment banking analyst at Citigroup, I take part in interesting projects, benefit from a steep learning curve and am surrounded by very talented people. It is a demanding job but also a very rewarding one because its effect tends to be immediate and visible. Even at the lowest levels of seniority, you get substantial responsibility and creative leeway. Living in a global city has its perks, chief among which is the fact that many of my former classmates are also here. I do not expect boredom to set in any time soon.
Besides the rite of passage that is becoming a productive member of society, I still have the Cems graduation ceremony in November to look forward to. In this interval between milestones, I think back on a memorable piece of advice that I received at my high school graduation. The speaker, an Esade alumnus, kept it simple and quoted former FC Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff: “Go out and have fun.”
Maria Nadal Dargallo was born in Barcelona in 1990. She graduated from Esade Business School’s MSc in Finance-Cems MiM programme in 2014 after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the same institution. She works as an analyst at Citigroup’s corporate and investment banking division in London. She previously worked as an intern at Danone Spain and at Citigroup.