2018 Best EMBAs: Uliana Obynochnaya, ESADE

Uliana Obynochnaya


A very romantic, sensitive, poetic, self-sacrificing person who tries to grow armor on herself.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Moscow, Russia.

Family Members: My son, my daughter and my parents.

Fun fact about yourself: I often ask my 5-year-old son to advise me on matters I cannot solve. Once he told me: “Dear Mommy, don’t worry, I’m going to invent a magic stick especially for you.”

Undergraduate School and Degree: Lomonosov Moscow State University, specialist in journalism (in the Russian education system, this is one-step higher than a bachelor’s degree).

Where are you currently working? Academus GmbH (Berlin, Germany). A mature start-up. Position: development director.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Given my circumstances, I didn’t manage to do much, but I did my best to be helpful towards those who needed help with classes and homework. I hope to be more active in the alumni club and post-graduation life.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My results on the financial analysis exam, without a doubt. I have a special inclination for the humanitarian sciences and I had never dealt with financial reports. Financial analysis was a huge challenge for me. It was my own struggle, my own work and my own result.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am very proud of building my career in the Russian government, representing the government of the Ivanovo region. I was employed there when I was 19. By 24, I had become a vice-head of the representation. The head of the office was more of a nominal figure, so I actually had to manage the entire team. Considering how challenging it is to cut your way out of the stone using just your own talent and will, and taking into account my age and minimal professional experience at the time, this is the career achievement I am most proud of.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Lluís Martínez Ribes. He is a real master of communication who is able to transcend the sciences. His discipline – neuromarketing – lies at the crossroads of marketing, psychology, physiology, communication and more. Personally, I think that most successes and failures in business and private life depend on precisely that.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Please refer to my previous answer. Honestly, to fulfill the skills I got from Prof. Ribes, I am also looking forward to the “Negotiation, Communication and Persuasion” course that I will attend in April. After that, I hope to become a real guru of inter-human relations.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose it because it was recommended by a man whom I respect both for his career achievements and his talent at enjoying life.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The only possible answer: the people. The business school became my way of surviving in the context, which is so different from my native one. Here, personality comes first – it is the biggest and most important value – and everything else comes second. The school became the place where I took “vacations” from all the problems I had to overcome in my private life. It was a new family that I know will last forever. I have never felt such unity with my classmates in the past – not in school, not at my first university. Only here. It’s such a thoughtfully selected group of the best of the best, and I am sincerely proud to be part of it.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? My biggest lesson: I have to believe in myself. After everything I’ve overcome in this year-and-a-half, I can do ANYTHING! Nothing in any business or job could be more encouraging than this. I apply this feeling of myself everywhere and every day.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? The story of how I proved to everyone around me that I needed the EMBA is a long one. I wanted the degree and I decided to get it. Being a mom of two kids, plus being involved into two businesses at the same time, I was very often treated by my family as an irresponsible person wandering in the dark, searching for any concept in my life. But from my point of view, the concept is very clear: successful and happy Uliana = happy kids and happy parents who have everything they need for a good life = a strong and prosperous family. I have four people who are fully dependent on me or will become fully dependent on me very soon. And I do not have anyone at my side to help. Therefore, I feel immense gratitude towards my dear parents and kids, who had to overcome these times together with me. I really believe that they have also invested heavily in their future by doing this. I must say that they are my strongest motivation.

If I come back to the formula given above, I am certain that the school has been exactly the right accelerator of the success and happiness that is so important to making equality work.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Dear candidate! It’s like a fairy tale: you cannot know in advance who or what awaits you in the cave. You can only feel that the path will be not easy. But when you reach your target – your desired treasure of new friends, knowledge and experience – you will fully realize that none of it was in vain. This discovery is worth all your efforts. So my advice: just do it!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Many people consider going to school be a lot of fun and joy, that it’s a kind of like entering a new community, being driven by curiosity. But in reality, it’s hard work and requires a lot of self-discipline. You have to be really determined to reach your targets, have big visions for your life, and use the school as a tool to achieve them.

What was your biggest regret in business school? That it did not have a division in Berlin. Although I love Spain, due to various unexpected family problems it was sometimes a bit hard for me to organize my monthly trips to ESADE.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Aurora Martínez. The reason is not even her academic success – although it’s impressive – but the way she values people, the way she defends and stands up for them no matter how close they are to her. She is a perfect example of what a modern woman should be: active, smart, strong, loving, longing for justice and helping others.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…not my body but my brain ran the risk of getting out of shape because of maternity leave.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in a huge depression.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to become a globally known orchestrator of people’s communication on the topics and fields that are most innovative and essential for the modern world. We plan to become a communication laboratory that gathers together exceptional minds and provides all the tools they need to cook up disruptive strategies from brilliant ideas.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “Lovely Uliana is Ms. Hidden Resources, with such a strong will and a peaceful mind where creative ideas are born.”

Favorite book: Judas Iscariot by Leonid Andreyev.

Favorite movie or television show: Anna Karenina with Keira Knightley (2012).

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Build up the start-up in Berlin in order to secure a prosperous future for my kids.
  • Build it to the level where we are able to spend our funds on charity purposes.

What made Uliana such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Uliana stands out as a young, talented, determined professional. She moved to Berlin from Russia to kick-off a new venture in the medical care industry, after having built a career in the Russian government, which employed her when she was only 19. Her project in Berlin, where she currently serves as development director, became a successful start-up and is currently being scaled up.

Uliana is exploiting to the fullest the managerial and entrepreneurial skills she acquired during the Executive MBA. With her vision and determination, along with her technical capabilities, Uliana will be capable of achieving her professional goals.

A mother of two children, and with parents who are also dependent on her, Uliana can cope with both personal and professional challenges in amazing ways. She achieved excellent academic results, which we are certain will accelerate her success.

With her perseverance and savoir-faire, Uliana is capable of making complex issues look simple.”

Esteve Mogas

Executive MBA – Director



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