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28th Esade Alumni Annual Meeting in Barcelona: “From Creators to Innovators: Empowering Change”

In its 28th edition in Barcelona, we had the chance to listen to and learn from the stories of successful entrepreneurs in order to continue to drive change.

On May 13, the Palacio de Congresos of Catalonia welcomed around 800 alumni, students, professors, and workers in the Esade community, who had the chance to meet up again and participate in an event devoted to entrepreneurship, while the rest of Esade’s huge international family was able to watch the event online. This meeting is the most anticipated chance to both celebrate networking and create mutual value and generate new professional synergies.

During the introduction, Patricia Valentí (MBA 02, Promociona 17), the director of Esade Alumni, celebrated the fact that the association has been declared a public utility organization after its solid track record of having a positive impact in both our professional world and in society at large. “If anything makes us unique, it’s our values, along with an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit that we continue to reinforce,” she said.



During his talk, Daniel Sanchez (Lic&MBA 92), president of Esade Alumni, presented the association’s 2023-2027 Strategic Intentionality, which is organized around engagement through four cornerstones: enhancing the value proposition in the International and Young areas, improving communication and technology, strengthening the connection between Esade and Esade Alumni, and promoting a more sustainable income model. And these cornerstones are joined by the importance of being donors to the Esade Scholarship Program, about which the president said: “If we want to enhance the school’s prestige, we have to increase donations to promote talent while being fairer and more inclusive.”


The power of entrepreneurship


At this meeting devoted to entrepreneurship, George Chondrakis, professor in the Department of Strategy and General Management at Esade and director of the Esade Entrepreneurship Institute, spoke about the complexity entailed in determining whether entrepreneurs are the products of nature or nurture. As he explained, Esade creates the conditions for the development of a unique entrepreneurial ecosystem by offering outstanding training in management, mentoring, and networking, developing the ability to raise capital, and experimentation based on theory. Indeed, Esade’s mission is to promote the development of new businesses by connecting academic excellence in entrepreneurship with the business world and the entrepreneurial spirit of its alumni. This is joined by Esade Alumni’s network of private investors, Esade BAN, and Esade programs that foster collaboration and innovation.

Next came the panel discussion moderated by the president of the Association, Daniel Sánchez, who is also the founder of Nauta Capital and president of Ship2B Ventures, along with the Esade alumni José Manuel Villanueva (Lic&MBA 99), co-founder of Privalia, and co-founder and CEO of 011h; María Alegre (Lic&MBA 2008), co-founder of ChartBoost and Flori Ventures; and Maite Barrera (Lic&MBA 98), founder of Bluecap and board member of Globant. They all reflected on Esade’s DNA and entrepreneurship. The alumni surveyed their own careers as entrepreneurs and the importance of following our dreams, being disruptive, choosing our travelling companions carefully, and seeking excellence in everything we do. They concurred that the drive and values fostered by Esade have to be transferred to our business projects to have a greater impact on society.



2024 Esade Award for Responsible Leadership 

This time, the 2024 Esade Award went to Niklas Adalberth, founder of Norrsken Foundation and co-founder of Klarna in 2005. He was chosen for his innovation in business leadership and his commitment to social causes, especially as the founder of the Norrsken Foundation, which works to support and promote social and technological entrepreneurship in order to address global challenges. In addition to its existing offices in Stockholm (Sweden) and Kigali (Rwanda), Norrsken has recently opened Europe’s largest technology and impact hub in Barcelona.



Adalberth was given the award by Xavier Mendoza, Director of Esade; Daniel Sánchez, president of Esade Alumni; and Jaume Guardiola, chair of Esade’s board. Critical of today’s society, focused on maximizing growth and consumption, Niklas Adalberth delivered an inspiring speech full of courage and transparency. He shared his personal and professional experiences in his journey of entrepreneurship and personal growth, which has led him to “stop being part of the problem and instead being part of the solution.”

The honoree disclosed to the audience that his desire for economic independence with the sale of Klarna came at a high personal cost: “I had spent seven years pursuing a dream about status and happiness, and once I had the money and freedom to do whatever I wanted, I felt miserable,” he reported. “I thought about Klarna’s business model and the fact that everything in our society is based on maximizing growth and consumption. This economic growth comes at a significant cost: we are living better than ever, but we feel worse than ever. Even though Western society is richer than ever, stress, loneliness, climate change, and environmental degradation are endemic. We’re headed in the wrong direction,” he added.

His goal by founding the Norrsken Foundation is to make impact unicorns possible, companies that earn money but also positively influence millions of people. “At  Norrsken, we like to create new models that can be imitated, like the ones created by Peter Carlsson, founder of Northvolt, or Pol Valls, founder of Submer. If these companies win, we all win.” In his speech, he also expressed hope in seeing that one of the most prestigious business schools in the world is acknowledging the need to have a positive impact.

Finally, Xavier Mendoza closed the event in the auditorium with a clear message: “Our alumni community is an example of responsible leadership. We nurture it and make it grow.” Indeed, the meeting was also a perfect chance to thank Xavier Mendoza for his efforts at the helm of the academic institution these past two years. The new general director of Esade, Daniel Traça, will start his mandate on September 1 of this year and will be introduced to the alumni community at the meeting that will be held in London at the end of the month.



The social cocktail, with the participation of Esade’s DJs of Unity, promoted the participants’ support and engagement by creating community and strengthening the values that unite us. To this end, multicolored caps were handed out to alumni who registered on the Esade Alumni WhatsApp channel so they could take pictures together and post them on Instagram. The pictures with the most participants won a prize.




You can now see the photo album of the Meeting and the complet video of the sesion. 

Don't miss the peak moments in the Meeting: