2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Joy Araujo, IESE Business School

Joy Araujo

IESE Business School

Age: 45

“Strategist focused on outcomes, expert in technology development and service delivery on a global scale.”

Hometown: City of Mindelo on the island of São Vicente, Republic of Cabo Verde. Currently living in Houston, Texas.

Family Members: Camila, my lovely wife. Kids: Eva (20), Joaquim (12), Octávio (6) and baby Emilia (April’23).

Fun fact about yourself: In a company of 99,000 employees, I am the only one from Cape Verde, a small country with a rich history and pride in education. I travel extensively for business and the most interesting part of my travels is always the border crossing. Every time without fail, the question, “Where is this passport from?” comes up. Without fail, a conversation ensues with the custom officer, to the despair of people in line behind me. The conversation is always one of curiosity and frequently others are called just to see this passport and hear about this country and take the occasional picture. In a sense, I feel like an ambassador at every border crossing. Having explained everything from the heritage, the economy, politics, tourism and the beautiful mountains and beaches I often secure a “I would like to visit one day” at the end.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Graduated Mechanical Engineer by the Instituto Superior Técnico of Lisbon in 2001. Specialized and licensed in Mechanical Design and Production.

Where are you currently working? I have worked for SLB, a global technology company driving energy innovation for a balanced planet, for more than 20 years now. Having started straight out of college, I have lived and worked in four different continents. I have worked in field services engineering, operations management, technology development, global product management, corporate strategy development and in my most recent role as M&A integration manager for an acquisition we closed in Feb ’23. How many careers in one!

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Sports are essential for physical and psychological well-being. I am an avid boxing practitioner and have trained with and mentored young athletes in the communities where I lived such as in Brazil, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Houston. This sport is mostly practiced in disadvantaged communities and it’s there where I go to be and support the youth.

As a global citizen, I have been fortunate to be able to contribute through programs sponsored by my employer, as we are always involved in the communities where we work. In Houston, I am involved in the United Way organization which creates opportunities for people that are below the poverty line to prosper. I am a member of Men for Change Allies to support and enable gender equality actions within the company and I am also a proud member of the BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership & Diversity) community.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very proud to have worked on the long-term corporate portfolio strategy for my company. As part of a select team, we are focusing on our core services considering the various energy transition scenarios, and have designed a capital allocation framework to support the strategic decisions. The knowledge acquired during business school was a great value added to my contribution to this endeavor.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2019-2021, I worked as measurements technology manager and global product manager for Measurements and Logging. While drilling, we brought to the field and commercialized several technologies that improved our customers’ performance and delivered a record new technology revenue as percentage of total revenues. Furthermore, several of our technologies were recognized by industry organizations and received awards for their superior performance.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? IESE Business School GEMBA is in the top 10 on the most prestigious rankings and presented an innovative way of learning, with a strong international cohort, core and elective modules in a leading international metropolis and was the most aligned with my ranking criteria. I was looking for a strong academic program that had a global perspective and cohort. I have worked in and established strong connections across north America, south America, Asia and the middle east, and wanted to expand my European and African business network. As an African I am very interested in international business ventures and collaborations that benefit the continent.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? After every module I was able to come back to work and immediately apply the learnings to improve upon the challenges at hand. When I started my current assignment as integration manager, I was able to apply the combined learnings to date to evaluate the acquired company strategy, management control and HRM practices and propose strategy actions and business model innovations that rallied the technology development and operations teams with a clear vision.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? After many reticent years, I was finally in a position to start my GEMBA. I had support from family and employer and had secured the funds to invest in this journey. I had mapped out a detailed schedule and how I would be able to continue to thrive in the many facets of a busy life and still get some sleep.

As soon as I made the deposit to start the program, things changed. I was offered the chance to join a challenging new project in the corporate office with an entirely new team. And two months after the GEMBA started, we found out that we were going to have a baby. I swiftly came to the realization that all my excellent plans were rendered obsolete, and that I did not have the energy to do it all. I had to make tough choices on how to spend my time. I learned that no matter how busy I was – at work and with studies – it was always well worth it to break the spartan schedule whenever the family gave signs that they wanted to go for a walk in the park.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Knowing why you are embarking on this journey might be the only thing to keep you on track when everything changes around you. The best laid out plans of study and schedules will be thrown off because your family wants some attention, or your customer changed the scope of an important project.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth for me was that after a certain stage in your career the investment is not worth it. People will be telling me that “You already know all that” or that you can “learn most of it while working and through experience”. For me the investment has been extremely worth it from an intellectual and practical standpoint. Thinking through problems considering a strong academic foundation and leading practices and being challenged by brilliant colleagues has ignited my knowledge and effectiveness beyond expectations.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wanted to have done an elective module focusing on entrepreneurship in Barcelona, but due to conflicting family demands, I opted to skip it. In the meantime, I started a small company and who knows if I will come back in the future to do some more focused learning on entrepreneurship.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Mohammed Bashir Yunusa, for his entrepreneurial spirit, his keen intellect, and (above all) for his kindness.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I wanted to have a focused embedded learning experience. IESE Global EMBA format allowed the flexibility of remote preparation coupled with intense weeks of dedicated teamwork, networking, and learning.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To expand my impact as an energy and technology industry executive and contribute to safe access to energy for all. My secondary goal is to develop my business network and explore ventures to create business focused on generating value in Africa.


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