The 2020 Esade Alumni Best Thesis Awards were presented on 11th March. The talented young winners presented their final projects at an online event attended by members of the executive boards that make up the Interclub Council, as well as Esade faculty, tutors and alumni. This year, for the first time ever, the competition was expanded to include the Master in Legal Practice and Master of Science programmes.
During her introductory remarks, Esade Alumni President Maite Barrera (Lic&MBA ‘98) noted that the awards were created by the Esade Alumni Young Commission as a means of highlighting the potential of young people: “We are very proud of all the talent we have in Esade’s classrooms, and these awards are an example of this.”
Because the winning theses are chosen on the basis of academic classification, the awards provide visibility to the most outstanding projects: “The final thesis is a major part of the BBA, given the academic rigour required to combine knowledge, competencies and methodology,” explained Soledad Moya, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting at Esade and Academic Director of the Bachelor of Business Administration. “This Esade Alumni initiative not only increases the visibility of this talent, but is also an opportunity for the entire Esade community to learn about these students and their projects.”
This objective was also underscored by Patricia Valentí (MBA ‘03), Director of Esade Alumni, who noted that the initiative “helps us understand these young people’s interests and get them involved so that the association can guide them towards their future aspirations.”
“This closeness to our community’s youngest professionals provides Esade Alumni clubs with an opportunity to recruit new talent to their boards and engage in a high-value generational exchange,” commented Silvia Losada (PMD ‘08 / LISONG ‘16), Director of Esade Alumni Madrid.
The panel of judges included Núria Pons (Lic&MD ‘00) from the Law Club, Juan Fernández Laporta (MBA ‘80) from the Automotive Club, Inés Rovira (Lic&MD ‘99) from the Family Business Club, Guillermo Vidal (BBA ‘19) from the Family Business Club, Xavier Llobera (PSM ‘11 / MBA ‘00) from the Operations Club, Alex Mumbrú (Lic&MBA ‘10) from the Real Estate Club, Silvia Botella (MBA ‘13) from the Cultural and Creative Industries Club, Daniel Romero (Lic&MBA ‘92) from the Finance Club, Luis María Lepe (MDMC ‘08) from the BIT Club, Francesc Farnell (Lic&MBA ‘96) from the DPO Club, Josep Campos (Lic&MBA ‘78) from the Health & Pharma Club, Jaime Valverde (MDMC ‘09) from the Marketing Club and Fernando Zallo (Lic&MBA ‘83) from Esade BAN.
Olimpia Capdevila (BBA ’20), author of the thesis Retail y la venta online. Cómo convivirán en el futuro (“Retail and online sales: How they will coexist in the future”), explained that her thesis revolves around four hypotheses: the future of retailers’ online and offline channels, the automation of shops, fast delivery as the core business of supermarkets, and increasing sales of fresh products via the online channel.
Following a suggestion by her tutor, Pablo Banús, Olimpia decided to focus on the Spanish food distribution sector. She had done her internship at Ulabox and the subject had caught her attention, both due to its importance in the market and because of the increase in online sales in recent years.
Olimpia commented: “The level at Esade is very high, so it is an honour to have been chosen and recognised for my work. Even so, part of my success is due to the people I had by my side, who supported me throughout the development of the thesis, including my tutor, Pablo Banús, and Jaume Gomà and Joaquín Llena from Ulabox.”
Olimpia is currently doing an internship in customer category and trade marketing at Findus Spain because she wants to focus her professional future on the food distribution sector at a multinational corporation: “I want to continue my career at large consumer-goods food multinationals. My next goal is to work abroad for a few years.”
She also spoke fondly of her time at Esade: “Here I have met excellent people who, above and beyond the actual learning experience, have had a positive influence on my identity, instilling in me the values of diversity, critical thinking, fairness, responsibility and so on. And then there are the social values that the University Development Service has taught me, such as contributing to the common good and fighting for a fairer and more sustainable society.” The Esade Alumni community is now a bridge for Olimpia to expand her contact network and meet other professionals in the industry at an international level.
Andrea Lafuente (BBA ’20),
author of the thesis Inteligencia artificial y gestión de las listas de espera quirúrgicas del sistema público de salud (“Artificial intelligence and management of surgical waiting lists in the public health system”), decided to focus on the role played by new technologies in the healthcare ecosystem in Spain – and Catalonia in particular – and study the ways in which artificial intelligence could be used in the management of surgical waiting lists in the public health system. The idea arose thanks to Andrea’s tutor, Dr. Daniel Rosselló, and Dr. Juan Antonio Hueto, who helped her see the potential of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector. From there, she decided to explore the application of AI in the management of surgical waiting lists.
Andrea is very grateful to Esade Alumni and the Interclub Council for the award because it recognises many months of work in an industry that she is very interested in. It is also an opportunity for her to highlight certain key aspects of the health sector and bring them to the attention to a greater number of students and professionals.
She is currently enrolled in a Master in Human Rights, Democracy and Globalisation and is doing an internship at MiningWatch Canada, a Canadian NGO that works with indigenous peoples and other communities that have to deal with the consequences of mining activities.
“Esade has undoubtedly helped me become the person I am today,” commented Andrea. “Throughout my five and a half years in the double degree programme, Esade has helped me adopt a critical attitude, value diversity, act responsibly and be committed to society. All of this has prepared me to face my professional and personal future.”
As a member of Esade Alumni Pro Bono Consultants, Andrea contributes to the third sector and learns from the experience of other alumni. “I am impressed by the size of the network that Esade Alumni has created and how it operates in different areas to link up such a wide range of profiles,” she explained.
Georgia Maria Naeder (BBA ’20), author of the thesis Circular Economy Yield for the Office Furniture Industry, discovered her topic in the Sustainable Business Models course co-organised by Esade and two other universities: CBS in Denmark and IB in Norway. “We learned about various sustainable approaches to the economy that already exist and the urgent need to change our current system,” she commented. “I decided to focus my research on the furniture market, since furniture is the item that is least likely to be recycled by a household. Of the 11 million tonnes of furniture waste produced in the European Union each year, up to 80% ends up in landfills, while remanufacturing accounts for just 0.1% of the market.”
For Georgia, this recognition of her thesis suggests that research on sustainable business models has an increasingly important role to play in our modern business world. “I would like to thank Esade Alumni for allowing me to contribute to this important topic, which is one of the key challenges of my generation,” she commented. Georgia is now doing a Master in Business Administration and Innovation in Health at Copenhagen Business School and works at her family’s medical technology business as well as on her own project: selling natural supplements containing Moringa, one of the world’s most nutritious plants.
Esade’s values played an important role “not only in my personal development during my four-year degree programme, but also in the choice of my thesis topic”, commented Georgia. One of the fundamental pillars of these values, she explained, is the creation of a “fairer and more sustainable society” – one of the critical challenges of the 21st century. But integrity, sensitivity, diversity and contribution to the common good are equally important. “During my time at Esade, I learned to work with people from all over the world on today’s most challenging issues,” explained Georgia, “and to think not only about business, but also about society as a whole.” Georgia sees the Esade Alumni community as an excellent opportunity to give back and actively support students and alumni.
Under the umbrella of the Cáritas programme Entities with Heart and Universities with Heart, which is geared towards transmitting the values of justice, solidarity, sharing, hope and dignity to the entire university community, the thesis by Andrea Badia (GBD ‘20) entitled FollowUrFootprint: An app that rewards the consumer for shopping sustainable was selected as the best project with social impact.
FollowUrFootprint (FUF) is a platform that helps users measure, reduce and offset their carbon footprint through their purchases by using a points system and rewarding users for making sustainable decisions. Users who shop at local stores or supermarkets such as Veritas or use electric scooters are rewarded with discounts on future purchases from those same businesses. The aim is to get people – either through their own motivation or through incentives – to consider the sustainability factor of their purchases. In addition, for activities that are relatively unavoidable – for example, air travel – the platform offers the possibility of offsetting emissions by funding sustainable projects.
“My aim was not to assess the need for such a project – which is indisputable – but to determine whether now is the right time to launch it,” commented Andrea. “Through my work, I have reached the conclusion that, although we do not have the same levels of awareness as other countries, there is significant demand. Anyone who is not initially motivated to act can be persuaded to do so through incentives.”
Andrea’s dream has always been to be an entrepreneur. This award has shown her that, if she puts in enough time and effort into a project, it can succeed. “It has also made me realise that it is much more satisfying to start a project that solves a real problem in society,” she added.
Andrea is currently working as an analyst in the Investment Banking division at J.P. Morgan – a job characterised by its learning curve, levels of responsibility and exposure, and, of course, long work hours.
The impact that Esade and the double degree programme has had on Andrea’s academic, personal and professional development has been remarkable: “Apart from all the technical knowledge, I have been able to develop other skills such as discipline, creativity and teamwork, which are serving me quite well. In short, Esade is the key platform from which I have grown and forged long-lasting bonds with classmates and professors.”