IESE’s MBA Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremony celebrated on campus

Rigorous health and safety protocols allow for a special in-person event

Families and friends of the MBA Class of 2021 connected remotely to follow the ceremony in real time. Photo: Jordi Tarres

May 25, 2021

IESE’s MBA Class of 2021 took part in a special graduation ceremony on the school’s Barcelona campus. IESE was able to hold the ceremony in-person thanks to a series of rigorous health and safety protocols.

The graduation protocols follow on from a comprehensive set of health measures that IESE has already implemented on its campuses, which have enabled it to resume in-classroom instruction since June 2020.

The ceremony included commencement speeches from prominent IESE alum Tobias Martinez, CEO of Cellnex Telecom; Prof. Marc Badia, director of the MBA program; Catherine Vera, president of the Class of 2021; and Dean Franz Heukamp.

Members of the IESE MBA Class of 2021 were able to participate in the graduation ceremony in-person if they had been vaccinated, had gone through COVID-19 as of January 1 of this year, or had received a negative antigen test that was taken the same day of graduation.

Along with the students, about 30 faculty members attended the ceremony. All attendees had to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and wear masks. All facilities also utilized extensive air purification and air renewal systems.

The families and friends of graduates connected remotely to follow the ceremony online and in real time.

Speeches focus on adaptability, lifelong learning, spirit of service and responsibility

The modified ceremony caps what became a markedly different MBA experience than what many of the Class of 2021 would have anticipated when they first began classes in September 2019.

But just as the class had to rise to the challenge and adapt to the new circumstances, so too did IESE.  Since the pandemic began, IESE has adapted its facilities and redoubled its commitment to the hybrid methodology so that it can continue offering a transformative, innovative and, above all, safe educational experience for students.

The more that each of us has a deep sense of responsibility and commitment to the needs of the people around us, the better the world is going to be.

Franz Heukamp


The theme of learning from the challenging circumstances of the pandemic was reiterated in the commencement speech of the MBA class president, Catherine Vera. She spoke about how the class of 2021 have become captains of change,” who have increased their resilience and adaptability. Over the course of the pandemic, “we found ways to reclaim what we had worked so hard to build, proving to ourselves that we are more prepared than ever to convert challenges into opportunities,” Vera said.

“Thank you all who worked relentlessly to ensure the campus was safe and functioning for us to complete our course of study. We couldn’t have done this without you,” she added.

In his address, Cellnex’s Martinez shared his advice to the graduates about the importance of constant learning as well as the three stages of his professional life and how it helped him in his career. The first stage was focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset, the second on management, and the third on synthesis and strategic vision.

For his part, Badia emphasized the importance of the graduates possessing a spirt of service, not just to help them become better leaders but also to have happy, fulfilled lives.

“The pandemic has made evident our dependence on jobs and professions that often remain hidden and yet are fundamental,” Badia said. “We need their help in the same way that others need our help, starting with our families and close friends. When we serve, we better appreciate the many undeserved gifts we receive from others. When we serve others, we are useful, we have purpose and we grow as human beings.”

To conclude, Dean Heukamp reminded the MBA class of their responsibility as future business leaders. “The more that each of us has a deep sense of responsibility and commitment to the needs of the people around us, the better the world is going to be,” he said.