I feel like my half Spanish, half North American roots make IE University the perfect environment for me to teach in. I love the multicultural outlook. My academic background has been extremely varied and I hold a degree in English Studies with a thesis on postcolonialism in literature, as well as a Bachelor in Business Administration. On weekends, I love getting up early to walk my dog Luna round Madrid’s Retiro Park, combining my fondness for natural spaces with my love of a good breakfast in one of the city’s many incredible cafes.
Bringing an open mind to the world of finance
Susana’s professional and academic background has been rather varied to say the least. Born to Spanish and American parents, she is no stranger to a multicultural setting. In fact, while studying her Bachelor in Business Administration she split her time between Icade in Madrid and an Erasmus period in Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium, before finishing off at Boston’s Northeastern University.
She explains how she grew up in a creative household, surrounded by art and literature, even going on to complete a degree in English Studies and writing her thesis on postcolonialism in literature. Humanities is just one of her broad set of interests, though. She credits the 1987 movie “Wall Street” with inspiring her passion for finance, specifically stock market trading and investment banking. It is in this field that she has pursued a highly successful career.
Before joining IE University’s teaching staff, Susana worked in investment banking for 15 years, specializing in the fields of valuation and sector research, and rising through the ranks to become head of an equity research department. She explains how her thoughts on the industry have shifted over time. She came to develop a strong belief that the classical financial model must be altered, consequently choosing to undertake a Master and subsequent PhD in Sustainable Finance. She advocates for a move away from the approach that seeks to maximize shareholder value at the expense of hugely important factors such as the well-being of the planet and society at large.
She reflects on her experience in what has long been an extremely male-dominated sector. As a junior, she did come up against challenges in the form of colleagues’ attitudes but says the industry is changing and has become increasingly diverse in recent years. She thinks the recipe for success in such a competitive environment is a relentless desire to learn and update one’s knowledge, citing her CFA Institute Certificate in ESG Investing as an example. That said, letting off steam is hugely important to Susana, who underlines that finding sports or other activities you enjoy in your free time is crucial to striking a balance.
As for her move to IE Business School, she says she quickly took to teaching as she began giving the odd lecture while still in full-time work. She thrives in the diverse classroom environment, highlighting how the vast array of personal and professional perspectives she’s exposed to in the role make it a unique experience for both students and professors.
In her experience, the group’s learning experience is only ever enhanced by varying points of view. As such, she would encourage people of all backgrounds to consider enrolling on her course. She highlights how engineering students have often excelled in her classes, reiterating that the key is to come into it with the right attitude. Susana provides extensive references in the form of notes, books and additional exercises for any individuals who don’t come from a typical financial background. When armed with an open mind, she’s certain all manner of pupils can get the most out of her field of expertise and what’s more, she believes their contributions can be invaluable to a comprehensive learning experience.
Susana prides herself on ensuring her classes are as up-to-date as possible. She draws on real-life cases because, as she underlines, sustainable finance is such a dynamic and ever-changing area. Her classroom is a space for participation, role-playing, debates and a fair dose of good-natured competition.
Outside the classroom, she recommends her students consume knowledge in all its forms if they are serious about success. She considers Professor Aswath Damodaran an authority on the topic of valuation and says any of his books are well worth a read. A slightly more light-hearted view on her field can be found in Robert Hagstrom’s “Investing: The Last Liberal Art,” she says. Lastly, she recommends subscribing to newsletters and podcasts to keep up-to-date with all the latest sustainable finance news. Some of her favorites are Bloomberg Green, Impact Alpha and the ESG Now MSCI podcast.