EMBA Alumni at Work: Former Classmates Invest in Big Ideas

It started as a casual gathering in a bar, but it turned into a business that keeps members of Salome Iglesia’s EMBA class connected for the long haul.

Inspired by their EMBA experiences at the University of Zurich and motivated to make a difference, the peers pooled their resources and founded the Owl Business Angels, a venture capital start-up.

“We wanted to do something,” says Iglesia, who serves on the Angels’ management board. “We wanted to affect the world around us.”

Launching a Business

“We wanted to do something,” says Iglesia, who serves on the Angels’ management board. “We wanted to affect the world around us.”

EMBA grads turn venture capitalists: Owl Business Angels management board members (l-r) Yves von Ballmoos, Marcel Rohrer, Salome Iglesia, and Michel Roserens

Since its launch in May 2016, Owl Business Angels has invested in three companies: a veterinary medical technology start-up, a company that manufactures chin and shoulder rests for violinists, and a firm that built a cloak security system.

So far, the investments look good, and the Owl Business Angels plan to expand as returns grow. The goal is to invest in early-phase start-ups and coach them through growth, Iglesia says.

The business also keeps relationships among her peers strong. Those relationships were one of the motivations for Iglesia to apply to the EMBA Program at the University of Zurich.

“I wanted to improve my network,” she says. “It was a good opportunity to learn from and share experiences with peers.”

Starting with and EMBA

With a technical background and a master’s degree in industrial engineering, Iglesia also viewed the MBA as a key stepping stone.

“It is the natural evolution of education in business management,” says Iglesia. “At some point or another in my career, I wanted more management experiences, and this kind of program helps make that possible.”

Iglesia, who works at Siemens, one of the world’s largest industrial manufacturing companies, carefully balanced her plans for another child with her goal of completing her MBA.

She gave birth to her second child and took her five-month leave as her EMBA Program began, which gave her time to focus on her new baby while adjusting to the program. She also enjoyed the full support of her husband, who agreed to assume additional responsibilities at home.

It wasn’t easy, but her journey reinforced for her the value of investing in both home and work. “My career is important to me, and I can succeed in both my professional and personal lives.”

Her commitment to education paid off with a promotion to head of product management for control and operation systems and a future that will likely bring new opportunities to exercise her leadership skills.

“I am someone who likes pushing myself,” she says. “I have more to achieve in my career. EMBA helped me to grow – to better see my strengths and weaknesses – and to be more confident.”

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