Happy International Women’s Day! Today, 8th of March, BEBS wants to congratulate all women around the world for their contribution to society and support the efforts in favour of equality.
And to celebrate this special day, we have interviewed Karelys Ramirez, the school’s Founder and General Director.
We have talked with her to learn about the reasons that made her take the decision of becoming an entrepreneur, or the obstacles that were put in front of her because of being a woman in such a male-dominated field such as business. Read the entire interview below.
Tell us briefly about your story. Who is Karelys Ramirez? How did you become an entrepreneur?
Karelys Ramirez is an optimist, honest and happy person that likes to travel, establish relations with different people and learn. Someone that doesn’t judge anyone and discovered when she was 30 that wanted to be an entrepreneur. I studied Business at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and did a Master’s in Finances at UAB as well.
I worked for five years in the Master’s Program, Marketing, Commerce and Distribution of UAB as Deputy Director of University Wellbeing and Operations. But even though my work at UAB was good and stable, I needed to do something more. And I realized that what I wanted was to be an entrepreneur, so I decided to do it. And now we are here, after having founded Barcelona Executive Business School almost seven years ago.
When and how did you decide to create your own Business School?
I was still a UAB employee when I decided to create BEBS. I started working on the project while I was working there because I could not leave my job. When I was ready, I left to start my own entrepreneurship adventure. Being very aware that I could be successful, but also knowing that things could go wrong, I decided that I was ready for it.
How would you describe your working method to direct a company?
I think that you need to be happy at work because in the end, it’s your second home. You just need to count how many hours a day we spend working. That is the reason why I like to give my team flexibility responsibly, I appreciate multiculturalism as something enriching, and I encourage teamwork and mutual trust.
Which are the biggest challenges that you have had to deal with because of being a woman entrepreneur?
I would not call them challenges but curiosities, as I have never been stopped, but I have to admit that there is a lot of sexism in the world of entrepreneurship. This field is advancing, but we still have a lot of work to be done.
For instance, when they see a woman like me, the first thought of many people is that someone has built a business for us. They never think that we can be founders and that we have the ability to build a business “alone”.
Even though I say “alone”, I have always tried to be surrounded by good people and listen to the advice of those who have believed in me and appreciate me. I have accepted the help of everyone that has offered me their help. And without all those people, I would not have gotten where I am now.
In the end, being undervalued just because you are a woman is the first barrier or challenge that you need to overcome to be successful in the world of entrepreneurship.
How have you dealt with those challenges?
I have dealt with them with optimism and sportsmanship because on many occasions I have taken advantage of being undervalued to get information and then make the right choices. For instance, men used to tell me to speak to my boss about business ideas because they did not believe that I was the owner of the school. In the end, those people were giving me more information than they should, so I got an advantage to decide.
Most managers at BEBS are women. And there are more women than men working in the school. How do you think that differentiates BEBS from other businesses?
I believe in talent. I do not think if that talent comes from a man or a woman. But the truth is that BEBS, by having so many women managing, is a school with different values. Like the humanist approach to business or the importance of collaborative work to obtain results.
Which people -or women- have inspired you during your journey making BEBS grow?
I have not had one unique role model, but I have been inspired by a lot of people around me. Men and women that for me have been examples both of good and bad situations. I am not someone that uses every piece of advice I am given, but I usually take something from them. Always adjusting that advice to my principles, values, and ways to see the world.
How did you envision BEBS during the first steps of the school? Are you proud of what BEBS is now?
I have always been imagining BEBS as it grew because I have taken every step at a time, even stopping everything when needed. But I am really proud of what BEBS is today and the people that work and collaborate at the school. I am proud of how we are managing the school and the values that we are sharing internally with our team and externally with our students and professors.
How do you want BEBS to influence women to feel empowered in the business world?
The fact that in BEBS most of the managers are women is a coincidence that has happened by choosing talent over anything else. But since this is the situation we are in, I’d love for BEBS to be an example of a leader school led by businesswomen.
And not only that, it is a group of women that are, in most cases, moms that are efficient with their personal and professional life at the same time. Because who says that it is incompatible to be a woman, mother, director, and entrepreneur?
What advice would you give to women who are aspiring entrepreneurs?
I encourage every woman that wants to be an entrepreneur to do it because we do not have limits. Limits are a lot of times created by ourselves, because of the way society works, perpetuating an old way of thinking. Everything can be done, it is a hard road, but a gratifying one.