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5th Esade Alumni Middle East Annual Meeting 

The fifth edition of the Esade Alumni Middle East Annual Meeting gathered alumni from the entire Gulf region and nearby countries in Dubai with the goal of connecting communities and supporting them in their professional and personal growth.

Federico Ruiz (EMBA17), president of the Esade Alumni UAE Chapter, was in charge of welcoming the participants from different communities to the reunion. He also outlined the schedule of activities, which aimed to analyze the transformation caused by the explosion in AI in organizations, to boost networking, and to further explore Arab culture.

Transformation in the age of AI

This time, artificial intelligence was featured in the knowledge sessions presented by Ivan Bofarull (BBA&MBA 97), Chief Innovation Officer and professor at Esade, and Carlo Sala, Director MSc Finance and associate professor at Esade.

Bofarull Dubai

Bofarull focused his talk, entitled From Disruption to Opportunity, on the “super-habits” that senior executives in both established/leading and new companies should consider to make their organization’s transformation more effective. One of these “super-habits” is truly understanding the business before fully embracing the latest technology, something that is becoming increasingly urgent in the context of abundance that AI is affording. “Every time I have the opportunity to visit the region, I can’t help but leave it filled with energy from the tons of business initiative and moonshot thinking that the new generations from countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are unleashing to benefit humanity,” he said about the gathering.

Another highlight was the session with professor Carlo Sala, AI, Big Data, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, on the intersection between finances and AI thanks to the role of Fintech and other financial services providers that are using technologies like blockchain, NFC, bitcoin, and big data. In Sala’s opinion, big data is the new oil, and it’s even better as the engine driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution due to its easy access, many uses, and low cost.


The analysis of the impact of AI was rounded out with a panel of alumni, Eva Mouriño (MBA 03), CPO of Al Khayyat Investments, and Manuel Bertl (MSc in Finance 18), founder of Upfront Technologies, who shared how this technology is changing the rules of the game in their respective professional fields. 

Commitment to talent

Olaya García (MBA 01), Director of Institutional Development and Engagement at Esade, and Soraya Korkar (EMMS 21), Director of Individual Giving, Marketing, and Communications, outlined Esade’s Grant and Scholarship Program, an example of the entire community’s commitment to supporting talent and diversity. Thanks to our donations, we contribute to educating innovative, socially responsible, and academically outstanding future leaders. Xavi Anglada (MBA 00), General Manager at Accenture, and Juan Beltrán (BBA 20), Senior Consultant at FTI Delta, a donor and recipient of this program, respectively, offered alumni their testimonials on the importance of donations.


Iñaki Ocaña (Lic&MBA 06, DARH 11), Global Relations & Careers Director at Esade Alumni; Judith Puigbò (DAF 00, InDigital 17), Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Esade; and Ariadna Vilalta (InDigital 23), International Alumni Relations Manager in charge of the Gulf Region Chapters, travelled to Dubai to meet with the participants and showcase all the work done by Esade Alumni representatives in the region and the power of the community. They also wanted to thank the former president of the UAE chapter for his past work, as well as the Esade Alumni representative in Saudi Arabia and the alumni from other neighboring countries who travelled to Dubai to attend the meeting.


A group of students in Esade’s Master’s in Finance who were on a study tour in Dubai also participated in what is one of the most emblematic events of the year. It was a chance to connect with the community in the Gulf Region and boost the synergies between the school and Esade Alumni and between the younger and more senior generations.

Learning about the Al Habus tribe in Ras Al Jaimah

As is common at this meeting, the activities continued after the knowledge sessions with an inspiring outing held so participants can learn more about the local culture and hospitality. During the visit to the Arab city of Ras Al Jaimah, at the far northern end of the Rub al-Jali desert between the mountains and the sea, the alumni were the guests of the Al Habus tribute, who welcomed the association and displayed their tradition and rituals. In fact, even though many of the Al Habus’s settlements are now abandoned, several young tribe members are returning to build on family lands.


This activity included a display of drums and Rasfa, a traditional dance that has become a symbol of national identity and union. Plus, the alumni enjoyed coffee, dates, traditional sweets, and taboon bread, along with a tour of the traditional stone constructions in the region.

They were there

Eva Solé (MBA 98)

Eva Sole

“Attending an encounter like this one is an extraordinarily enriching experience which is valuable both professionally and personally. From the professional perspective, you gain valuable knowledge through sessions with experts who address timely issues, as well as the opportunity to make connections through networking and the exchange of experiences with other participants.

What particularly impressed me in the first session by Ivan Bofarull was the concept of moonshot thinking, that is, thinking big without setting any limits in order to be more strategic and foster a more effective transformation on our road to success. My takeaway from the session led by Carlo Sala was the concept of GIGO, garbage in-garbage out, a term usually used to describe failures in decision-making due to imprecise, erroneous, or flawed data. It is essential to ensure the quality of the data entered into digital systems.

The activities, such as the visit to Ras Al Jaimah, offered a profoundly enriching experience by giving us the chance to immerse ourselves more deeply into the country’s culture and traditions. These events create a more authentic connection with the local community and provide a unique perspective that is not always available to expats or tourists unless they have a contact that gives them access to these experiences.”