Fr. Marià Íbar, SJ passed away last week. He was ESADE’s second Director General from 1964 to 1969 and was for me a link to the early years of ESADE, co-founded by the Society of Jesus and a group of relevant Catalan businessmen in 1958. In those early years ESADE was very much a local institution, born of the desire to provide higher management and leadership education and training and an organised network for the local business community.
Those early Director Generals (all Jesuits), starting with Father Lluís Antoni Sobreroca, were men of spirit and great character who forged an early and, no doubt, home-grown business school, starting with 34 students in a converted family house located in one of Barcelona´s residential areas. By 1960 the Business Studies Degree and Master in Management initially offered were extended to include executive training and development activities, and in 1964 the MBA programme was launched. These early ESADE pioneers already showed healthy entrepreneurial signs of growth and improvement, and by 1965 a newly constructed ESADE building was opened.
The top photograph was taken at the inauguration of the ESADE Sant Cugat campus in October 2009 and, from left to right, shows Fr. Íbar, Felipe, Prince of Asturias, and Fr. Jaume Filella, SJ, ESADE’s 4th Director General. The black and white photograph was taken approximately 45 years earlier, when construction of the ESADE building at Barcelona’s Avenida Pedralbes had just started. This was just 5 years after the birth of ESADE and Fr. Íbar was then the Director General –perhaps he was even one of the two Jesuits in the photo.
Look at the picture. It is a wonderful image because, although very little was yet constructed, the idea and the dream of a bigger and better ESADE were already there. We should never forget –and it is a humbling thought– how much of the present is a direct result of the hopes, vision and effort of those who came before us.