Saturday 10th December was going to be a day for celebrating. Various members of ESADE were in Lisbon to attend the CEMS Master in International Management graduation ceremony. More than fifty ESADE students were due to graduate this year. But a telephone call at 9 in the morning tinged the day with sadness. Montse Ollé had died during the night, ESADE had lost a lecturer and the Director of its Department of Business Policy.
I met Montse when we were both ESADE students. When she began her degree in Business Studies in 1960 I was in my second year and we became friends straight away. In total we were no more than ten female students so we felt the need to stick together. Over the course of four years Montse and I shared doubts, fears, joys, secrets and, above all, ideals. We belonged to a generation of women committed to changing the destination which, back then, society had reserved for us. We were determined to fight for our professional careers, fully aware that we might have problems along the way. The truth is that neither she nor I encountered major difficulties and the two of us went ahead, mapping out our destinies.
Montse was the daughter of a businessman and I used to love hearing her talk about her father’s chocolate factory, where she went on to work after finishing her studies. Who knows whether it was her family background or the years of experience working with her father which ignited her early interest in the world of entrepreneurs. The fact is that today ESADE is proud to be a benchmark in entrepreneurial training and it was Montse who first launched Business Creation courses, making ESADE the first European business school to offer such training. Furthermore she, together with other lecturers, wrote the manual Cómo crear una empresa (How to create a business), which more than thirty years later, continues to be wholly applicable.
The final years of Montse’s life were difficult ones. Her health was not good, but despite everything she never gave up. She held her head high and that was her attitude: to confront difficulties. She was an exceptional departmental director, knowing how to adapt to the school’s transformation and managing to make the Business Policy faculty understand the need for research but without forgetting the institution’s roots She, more than anyone, looked after the young lecturers who joined us, and tried to integrate them and their families into the ESADE culture. Finally, above all else, she knew how to listen to everybody.
Montse, your friends and your colleagues at ESADE are going to miss you.