2019 Best EMBAs: Ana Patrícia Gabriel Tavares, IESE Business School

Ana Patrícia Gabriel Tavares

IESE Business School

Committed and trustworthy professional, pursuing excellence, permanently seeking consistency, organization, and personal fulfillment.”

Age: 36

Hometown: Born in Lisbon, Portugal. Have been living in Luanda, Angola since 2005

Family Members: Husband (Emiliano Tavares) and two kids (Afonso 7 and Maria 5)

Fun fact about yourself: I first came from London to work in Angola for a 1 year Project and with professional challenges and willingness to contribute to an emerging market, it has now been 14 years of being a resident in Angola.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BSc Economics, Royal Holloway (University of London); GEMBA, IESE.

Where are you currently working? Banco Millennium Atlantico, Angola; Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Sponsor for the Business Continuity Workstream at the Company; Company Representation for the Social Responsibility Projects; Student/Staff Committee University Representative for Economics; Basketball Team Captain (High School and University).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The capacity to adapt and conciliate agendas (academic, personal/family, professional) for 18 months and embrace a promotion to an Executive Board Member position at the Bank during the journey. Incredible experience to push me to excel and test my intellectual, relational and personal capacities.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It is to have been part of the construction of the company I work for, even before we had the banking license (in 2006). It was a challenging and truly rewarding construction process in an emerging market with the main goal to bring quality service and international professional standards to our market while training young professionals and giving back to our community during the process. I’m proud of the training we gave and being part of the construction of the next generation of leaders and quality professionals that will ensure the continuity of the company and our mission.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? The faculty had incredible high quality and extensive experience and knowledge. However, for the capacity to connect and transmit a blunt message to the students right at the start of the program, it was Professor Carlos Garcia Pont who made us deconstruct our pre-conceived ideas of how to see business problems and most importantly, how to face them and find solutions.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Following on the previous answer, Analysis of Business Problems was indeed the best introduction to the GEMBA Program. This course gave me the chance to open my mind to see other perspectives for business problems, either daily problems or even greater strategic decisions. We learned that we may not always be able to solve all problems, but the critical factor is to identify within a certain framework all the possible factors and outcomes, allowing for sustained decisions.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose this program for the extensive quality of the program, the diversity of faculty and class, allowing us to conciliate with our professional careers, the vision of the university, and the focus on the human capacity and moral values of School. It is impressive how the program aims to transforms us as better human beings and to take back to our ecosystem and evolve both as individuals and professionals.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? It is incredible how the case study method brings us each time to a dimension and situation that you can relate to. You can imagine yourself at how solutions are implemented, whether they are good or in need for improvement. It was great to benefit from a multicultural, diverse, and positive learning environment, which was amplified by the multi-geographic locations visited during the 18 months, always with an excellent administrative organization from the School.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Humility. You learn to know how and when to truly listen and learn from others’ perspectives. You learn that apart from all our self-confidence and individual commitment, working in teams and towards a common good indeed elevates our potential and capacities.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Living in Luanda, logistics is a challenge. Add to that the fact that I have little family support as a working parent. During one of my trips, my husband also had a business trip abroad, so we just managed for him to drive to the airport with our two kids in the car. They met me at the arrivals (as I was returning from an international flight and 16 hour trip from Asia to Angola) so he could catch the flight two hours later and I could drive home with the kids. It was a challenging time conciliating agendas, flight logistics, and programs. Luckily, when we work in a team and for a common goal, it all worked out well and it was possible to conciliate.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Be willing to be challenged and pushed to become a better professional and a more humble person, open-minded and committed to giving back to others, while learning.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? While in a professional journey, where you are tested and learning from daily experience, you may forget the crucial role of the business school which is to open your mind, allowing for a certified method to test your knowledge and capacities and definitely bring new perspectives and experiences to your life. After 15 years of and international work experience, greatly based on an emerging market, going back to school helped me to meet very valuable and diverse professionals, individuals and faculty members. That allowed me to learn every day something new and (most importantly) to learn more about myself. No matter how successful and bright you are, we can always learn more and evolve as human beings and professionals.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Time flies and after an 18-month program. It would have been great to invest more time on building even more friendships and network. Even so, the school organization allowed for great team and group activities to extract the potential of a diverse class, experienced in several fields and based worldwide. Still, my advice is to take the most and the best of each interaction, each team project, or opportunity while at the school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Sofia Vichot for her resilience to pursue the program while dealing with a physical condition that at times could be very limiting in terms of mobility and physical pain. Knowing how demanding it is to conciliate personal and professional agendas while going back to school, it was truly inspiring to have met Sofia and learn that our inner strength is our greatest weapon to succeed in life and overcome our daily challenges.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I was prepared to even take a sabbatical year from work if my company would not allow me to conciliate my academic, personal, and professional agendas. It was the best decision I made and I believe that also my company stakeholders see the benefits of supporting me going back to school.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To have built a career based on loyalty, hard work, ethics, and commitment as key success individual factors to allow me to look back one day in the future and be proud to have built a legacy that my children will be proud of.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as a valuable team member with good and rich contributions during the program. Furthermore, it is my personal commitment to pursue the relationship and networking with my peers and school as I feel that the GEMBA Program was just a starting point and not a finish line for a greater long term life experience.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? As a more complete human being and professional, I will pursue a more balanced life between family and work in order to allow me to give back even more to my ecosystem. After an intensive 18 months program, I look forward to traveling with my family and read books (i.e. apart from direct professional subjects, in order to constantly feed my general knowledge base).

What made Ana Patricia such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“When I met Patricia, I was impressed with her determination and drive. During the Global EMBA program, I could witness her strong work ethic; she always excelled in her assignments and class contributions making her an invaluable member of the Global Executive MBA class of 2019.

Patricia showed her leadership potential during the program, helping bring out the best in all her team peers and class, always seeking for excellence and giving her best to the team. She was able to balance her family and work responsibilities with the intensity of the Global MBA, being a mother of two and having being promoted to Board member during the program. Portuguese by birth and Angolan by heart, I can definitively see Patricia making an impact as a female leader in an Africa, helping develop women in business and playing an active role in Africa´s development.”

Elena Santodomingo

GEMBA Program Associate Director


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