2019 Best EMBAs: Cristian Lago Rodríguez, ESADE

Cristian Lago Rodríguez

ESADE Business School

“An outlier and activist who finds the best stories in diversity, and passionate about life.”

Age: 30

Home Town: Barcelona, Catalonia

Family Members: 2 parents, 6 siblings (2 deceased), 5 nephews, 2 nieces, a godfather, and a dog.

Fun fact about yourself: I thought that I would be dumbstruck by stage fright the first time I had to speak in public. Over time, I got over it because I always think the message is more important than the person.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Degree in Psychology

Master’s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology

Master in Research in Clinical Psychology

Where are you currently working? CEO and Co-founder of Singular Synergy, Technician in Fundación ECOM

Extra-curricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Former president of an association promoting independent living and self-reliance for the handicapped, raising funds for hiring those providing care services. Scholarships spanning all my university studies: Impetus Scholarships [Becas Impuls]; the ESADE Entrepreneurial Talent Scholarship; Diverse Talent Scholarship (Foundación Universia). I love computer security and as a teenager I belonged to computer activism groups.

Which academic or extra-curricular achievement are you proudest of at business school? My greatest achievement is meeting highly talented people who want to make the world a better place. Each one of them is eager to embark on new adventures and is someone to be treasured.

What career achievement are you proudest of? Promoting the hiring of people who offer added value but that are at risk of social exclusion because they belong to one or more groups that are handicapped or have special needs. Through my start-up, we are providing jobs to those who might otherwise be marginalised. We are helping to build a society that can meet the socio-demographic challenges posed by an aging population, Industry 4.0, biotechnological advances and, in the longer term, transhumanism.

Who was your favourite MBA teacher? Carles Torrecilla — also known as ’Little Tower’ — for being an expert in the corporate world and because of the way he transformed class dynamics, his presentations of audio-visual content, and his encouragement to learn from gaming. Above all, he was my favourite teacher because he was different, disruptive, and ‘diverse’.

What was your favourite MBA course and what was the greatest insight you gained on business from it? My favourite course was a retreat held at Mon Sant Benet (Mediaeval monastery and cultural complex). During the course, we learnt the tools for real, effective leadership. It was Business Strategy for breakfast every morning.

Why did you choose this executive MBA programme? It stretched my limits and let me leave a legacy. It will also be a big plus in my personal life and career. I knew that ESADE’s support would make it that much easier to create and legitimise high humanitarian impact projects.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? In addition to the wide range of knowledge acquired, the experience of stretching my limits was very rewarding. I constantly had the feeling of giving my best — that gave me a great sense of achievement.

Give us a story of your time as an Executive MBA student and how you managed to juggle work, family and education commitments. I am forever indebted to my family for their support. I told them of the life-changing opportunities the programme offered me and they understood the hurdles I faced. Getting them onboard meant I had to show total conviction and commitment — something that other students also have to do. However, when things do not turn out as you expect, you must show you are as fallible and vulnerable as anyone else. The MBA teaches humility, which is one of the traits that every leader should have.

What advice would you give to a student considering taking an Executive MBA programme? My advice is not to take this programme if you do not want to generate wealth — especially human wealth. As Miguel, a friend and fellow EMBA student says, money comes and goes — what lasts are one’s works. The world needs people with good ideas, good values, and good training. I would tell any prospective student to be one of them.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? It is important to realize that taking an EMBA is not at all like going back to school. When I went to university, I tried to help society. By contrast, my aim in taking the EMBA is to change society itself. I sought to find ways of including groups that were at risk of marginalisation, and to foster a new identity and pride in belonging to a group of people who had a great deal to offer notwithstanding their handicaps.

What was your biggest regret at business school? I think business school opens a lot of doors but I do not have world enough or time to open them all. I would like to attend more events, extra-curricular sessions, and even delve into company data bases just out of curiosity.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Miguel Sastre, whom I mentioned before, is a great leader. He is someone with inspiring values that offer hope for the world.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realised that I could not achieve my ambitious goals without such training.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To generate wealth for diverse groups that might otherwise suffer discrimination and be socially disadvantaged, and

to get governments to help in fostering a social climate that offers opportunities for all.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who loved life and lived it to the full.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? My bucket list concerns people’s well-being. I am grateful for the opportunities I was given, which is why I want others to have the same chances in life. First on the list is building a family based on love, respect for others, and enjoying life to the fullest.

I would also like to chart a roadmap for the future in which functional identity is based on value, not on deficiencies. My aim is to forge a world that puts people and creativity first. These are the dreams I want to make come true before I kick the bucket.

What made Cristian Lago such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Cristian was a change-maker in the inclusion field. Over the past five years, he has undertaken various socially transformative projects to include the handicapped and those with special needs in order to benefit society as a whole. He is advising governments, universities, amusement parks, hotels and the tourism sector on inclusion policies so that these stakeholders can learn about his clients and thereby expand their markets. His main concerns are to create jobs for handicapped/special needs groups, apply enabling technology for everyone, and to foster pride in belonging to the group and to draw on the experiences of its members. Cristian’s decisions as an ESADE Executive MBA student are always oriented towards opening new paths for people with disabilities. His approach is not only to overcome existing barriers but to think ahead and anticipate future ones. He thinks of others, not just himself.”

Michele Quintano

ESADE Executive MBA Academic Director


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