Luisa Alemany is director of the Esade Entrepreneurship Institute in Spain and a professor of entrepreneurial finance. She also teaches graduate and executive education courses at Esade Business School which she joined in 2002. In 2012, she founded E-Garage, which provides Esade students with the resources to start new business ideas.
Prof Alemany grew up in Getafe, an industrial town in southern Madrid. Aged 13 she became one of the first girls to join the apprenticeship scheme at her local aircraft factory – a branch of The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company. While working there for nearly a decade, she continued her studies and eventually got an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in the US. She also has a PhD in finance from the Complutense University of Madrid and has worked for both Procter & Gamble and McKinsey.
In her spare time, Prof Alemany enjoys scuba diving, sailing, swimming and travelling. Her research interests include philanthropic venture capital and the financing of social enterprises.
1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love being with curious people who are interested in learning, I like the intellectual challenge of research and the conversations with my colleagues. On top of that, as director of the EEI, I am involved with many entrepreneurs. I help new start-ups to get financing [and I] organise different events, inviting many interesting people to share their knowledge with the students.
2. How do you deal with pressure?
I divide tasks and conquer. I think a bit of pressure is good, it makes you wake up.
3. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
You need to be happy and work hard to be successful. Only then will you be ‘lucky.’
4. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
My scholarship to attend Stanford, thanks to The Ramón Areces Foundation, a privately-funded, non-profit institution, and my award for best PhD dissertation, for my work on the impact of venture-backed companies in the economy.
5. What is the worst job you have ever had?
I have done many things in my life, I have learnt from all of them. Now, the worst part of my job is grading exams. I am a professor so this is something we need to do but it would be great to skip that part!
6. What advice would you give to women in business?
Just be yourself. Does it matter whether a person has brown eyes or blue eyes? Whether he/she is blonde or has black hair? So, why should we be thinking that we are women? Professionalism and fairness, this is my advice for men and women.
7. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
I have almost always been in this environment, especially during my early years at the aircraft factory and then in consulting and investment banking. I have never had a problem. If you have confidence in what you are doing and you are willing to learn from other people, if you behave like an entrepreneur, being optimistic, having self-confidence, being creative and taking risks without being scared of failure, you will succeed.
8. What is the last book you read?
I have read many books on entrepreneurs lately. Currently, I am finishing two very interesting ones: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, and Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital by Spencer Ante – a book about Frenchman Georges Doriot who moved to the US, became a professor at Harvard Business School, launched Insead business school and became the first venture capitalist in the world – well, right after Queen Isabella I, the Spanish queen who financed the trip of Columbus back in 1492...
9. What is your favourite business book?
The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. I love how the concept of a bottleneck is explained. Another good one is Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury, all about negotiating. And finally, an old book but one that seems perfect for the days we are living, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay, first published in 1841.
10. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
“Nobody on their dying bed has ever regretted not having more business meetings. Life is too short. Spend time with your family and friends.”