2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Eric Gené, University of Chicago (Booth)

Eric Gené

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Age: 45

“I am a Spanish entrepreneur leveraging my skills to create business opportunities in West Africa.”

Hometown: Barcelona, Spain, but living in Ghana since 2008.

Family Members: Wife and 3 kids (boys 4, 6 and 8)

Fun fact about yourself: I have lived in 12 different houses, in six different cities, and three different continents. When moving to a new place, if I have not opened a box from the previous move, I will throw it or give it away.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Boston University, BS in Business Administration

Where are you currently working? Africa Building Partners, Managing Partner / CEO

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: We work together with foundations in Ghana to help them design and build schools and hospitals, at a reduced cost, to support their amazingly challenging work. Being able to combine our work and philanthropy is a blessing and a great satisfaction.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? We recently sponsored and delivered a school for autistic children in Ghana. It’s a special project because Africa has very limited resources dedicated to children with disabilities, and the toll on a family of raising an autistic child is one of the more challenging things I could think of.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The achievement I am most proud of in my professional career was to design, build and equip a Maternity, Neonate and Pediatric ICU emergency project in Ghana within six months, to help alleviate a health crisis where up to seven neonates died daily. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing our work saves thousands of lives every year.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Luis Garicano, professor of Competitive Strategy because of his capacity to convey the material with real-life applications in an interesting way, and his focus and intensity through interesting interactions with the class.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Chicago Booth offered a unique combination of the following: (1) great reputation, (2) flexibility to attend classes in London, Chicago and Hong Kong, (3) focus on a data analysis framework, (4) the humble culture of the cohort and university matched my values, (5) the program offered what I thought is the most challenging academic rigor among all executive programs.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? It was the Chicago Booth Community, including the cohort, professors, and administrators. Booth attracts a certain type of personality, sharing traits of very humble but high goal-driven people who strive to make the world a better place.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The detailed analytical approach from all perspectives. It has changed the way I plan my meetings, negotiations, choice selection frameworks (Nudging), asking the right questions, and optimal decision-making.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? Juggling the Executive MBA, family, and entrepreneurship is extraordinarily difficult. However, I was lucky that my classmates at Booth were all very conscious that we all individually faced immense challenges. This was when our friendship, camaraderie, and support took shape as one of our core values. Similar to me, many of my classmates have gone through really difficult times over the last two years. I am happy to say we have all been there for each other and came together as a team. I would say that this humble and humane approach of valuing the team over competitiveness is one of the traits that make Booth a special place.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? An Executive MBA is about learning and resetting your work frameworks, so it’s worth embracing an academically rigorous program. Wait for the right moment to have had enough professional and managerial experience, which will allow you to get the most out of it and relate to real-life experiences. If possible, choose a school with the culture to match your personality to bond well with The Cohort.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school is the difficulty to do well in exams. Life is full of challenges, and exams is just one more. All challenges are welcome and force you to improve your own skills.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Ignacio Basagoiti, who excelled with high honors while dealing with his wife´s pregnancy and a very time-consuming job at Deloitte. Being only 35, he showed maturity, resilience and a great capacity for sacrifice in achieving such an outstanding result in all the different subjects.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized Booth was going to give me a new set of tools and skills that would give me a unique competitive advantage and continued personal development for the next 20 years.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I do not have an ultimate goal, as long as I continue to face challenges every day, learn from mistakes, and improve my own skills and those of my partners, colleagues and employees around me. My own high expectations make Booth such an important experience to keep my improving every day and succeed at overcoming challenges.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as a good person who can forever be counted on for personal or professional support.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Provide a healthy and loving environment to my family, and give the best education and values possible to my children.

Contribute to improving people’s lives by providing jobs and solutions in today’s challenging world.

What made Eric Gené such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Eric has been a great student with exemplary work ethic inside and outside classroom. He is an intelligent, highly motivated, and compassionate student who demonstrated leadership and entrepreneurial skills during the program. Professionally, Eric strives to improve the lives of his fellow Ghanaian citizens so that everyone can have a healthy and secure environment and better chances of pursuing their life goals. The knowledge and network which Eric gained at Chicago Booth will make his future contributions ever more far-reaching in his community and beyond.”

Natasa Blecic
Director, Program & Operations – Europe Campus 


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