Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs

Melania Sauma

About me

I’m originally from Santa Ana, Costa Rica. I would describe myself as passionate, sporty, excited and curious about life. “Pura vida!” I enjoy Padel a lot, traveling as much as possible and, of course, the amazing and diverse gastronomy in Madrid!

Melania Sauma
Master’s student
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Master in International Development
Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs

"I want to be in a company whose values align with my own, where we work towards positively impacting everybody who is directly and indirectly involved with the business."

Melania Sauma

Working towards positive impact: a journey from engineering to international development

Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs

Melania Sauma’s career journey is an unconventional one: after gaining a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Arizona State University, she went on to work as an industrial engineer in a contract packaging company in Chicago. Her three years there enabled her to learn and develop as a professional.

While working in engineering, Melania was introduced to the concepts of sustainability and impact—and, in her own words, “got hooked” on the idea of making a difference. This passion led her to investigate master’s programs in related areas. She settled on the Master in International Development at IE University, which, she says, fit all her interests and needs.

The program particularly appealed to Melania because of its focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which, she explains, “have been designed to involve all of us and make all of us stakeholders.” Whether in the private or the public sector, the SDGs are concepts that she feels we all need to understand and work with.

Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs
Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs
Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs

Melania’s own career aspirations are to work for a company whose values align with her own. Wherever she ends up, she hopes to make a positive impact on everybody who is directly and indirectly affected by her work.

When asked to describe some of the benefits of her experience, she highlights the opportunities that program and IE University offer, especially the events. “This year, I have been able to go to the MENA Climate Week in Saudi Arabia and even meet ex-presidents, such as the former president of Colombia, Iván Duque. I also had the opportunity to attend conferences with Waze founder, Uri Levine, and hear guest speakers in class from the alumni events, fostering connections with the UN, Red Cross, Oxfam, Global Bank, BID, etc.”

“We all come from very diverse backgrounds and being with people from all over the world with different experiences has truly enriched my learning experience.”

Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs
Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs
Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs

Melania Sauma | IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs

The diversity of her cohort has been a positive takeaway for Melania. She comments, “We all come from very diverse backgrounds and being with people from all over the world with different experiences has truly enriched my learning experience.” Her experience at IE University, especially in the Master in International Development, has been everything she could have expected and more. “I have been able to connect with people from all over the world and with so many different professional and personal backgrounds. Having such a diverse cohort has provided for way more enriching discussions and improves the learning process.”

What advice would Melania give to someone considering pursuing the Master in International Development? “Do not feel intimidated if your undergrad degree and work experience are not directly related to this program,” she says. While initially, she felt out of place coming from a STEM background, she came to realize that her contribution to class discussions added value. This diversity is, Melania stresses, “one of the most important benefits” of the program.