Eugenia Bieto is the director general of Esade business school in Spain, the first woman to hold this type of position in Spain. Prior to joining Esade, Ms Bieto worked as the assistant director of the Centre for Innovation and Business Development, a Catalan economic development organisation. She has also given lectures and courses on entrepreneurship.
Ms Bieto has a masters in management degree from Esade and a PhD from Ramon Llull University in Barcelona. In her spare time, she enjoys opera, snorkelling and embroidery.
1. What is the average day of a director general like?
Long. I usually work 12-hour days. When I’m not travelling abroad, my office day starts at 9am with a briefing from my secretary then the meetings and visits start one after the other. These can vary greatly. As director general, you can move from one meeting on the school’s financial details to another working on strategic international expansion, to another where you are representing the school at an important function. It’s a daily lesson in adaptability and sensitivity to the needs of each stakeholder.
2. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
Having taught entrepreneurship to some 4,000 undergraduates and MBAs and seen a number of them go on to launch successful businesses.
3. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Surround yourself with the best team possible and make them feel comfortable.
4. What is the worst job you have ever had?
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always enjoyed my work, be it working as an au pair when I was younger or running Esade. It’s important to be passionate about what you do.
5. What advice would you give to women in business?
Be yourself and keep trying.
6. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
I’ve always worked in male-dominated environments. When I did my undergraduate degree, I was the only woman in the class. I would like business environments to be more diverse, but this will come bit by bit. The key is carrying out all tasks to the best of your ability and winning the respect of your colleagues or classmates. That and never underestimating yourself.
7. What is the last book you read?
The Viceroys by Federico De Roberto. It’s a great historical novel about the Italian unification. I enjoy reading well-crafted, beautifully written novels where you not only learn from the relationships portrayed, but also from the attention to historical detail.
8. What inspires you?
I get my inspiration from others, not just the professional excellence of colleagues but also the fresh approach and enthusiasm of students. I try to go through life putting myself in other people’s shoes and working to see things from their perspective.
9. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I’d follow my heart more.
10. What are your future plans?
In the immediate future, I plan to be a good director general of Esade. Long-term, I hope to learn how to grow old gracefully.
Compiled by Charlotte Clarke