A Conversation with Minerva Incoming Graduate Student Ester Lira

Mar 27, 2023

​​This is the first of a series of profiles introducing students from Minerva’s incoming Fall 2023 graduate class. If you would like to learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

After receiving her degree in Business Administration from the University of Brasilia in 2022, Ester Lira recognized the need to further her education.

“I really loved my degree and I truly found myself in it. Yet I felt a strong desire to further deepen my knowledge and to acquire practical skills in the topics that had sparked my interest.”

Ester was already familiar with Minerva’s undergraduate program so upon learning about Minerva’s graduate offerings in decision analysis—a particular field of interest for her—Ester was inspired to apply and was later accepted into Minerva's Certificate in Decision Analysis for a Fall 2023 start.

At the time, Ester was working as a Business Consultant at Junior Enterprises (JE). She really enjoyed business consulting as it involved analyzing the current state of a business and making the best decisions based on the information available.

“It was analogous to puzzle building. All the pieces were present and it was necessary to fit them together in the most effective way. This is precisely what business consultants do and I am looking forward to continuing to pursue this path as part of my long-term professional journey.”

Ester was drawn to Minerva's emphasis on practical, real-world applications of its curriculum, which largely differs from traditional programs that primarily focus on theoretical aspects and hypothetical ideas of how things work. Furthermore, Minerva's synchronous online format of learning allows her to attend the program while maintaining her existing personal and professional commitments in Brazil.

The first time that Ester found herself amongst an international cohort of peers was while participating in Model United Nation (MUN) simulations at Yale University and Harvard University. Throughout those programs, she made sure that everyone on her team had a chance to share their perspectives and that their ideas were taken into consideration. As a result, she was commended by the team for her exemplary diplomatic conduct and voted as the most diplomatic team member.

“For me, policy-making is a process of synthesizing the available information and perspectives on the issue, in order to make the most informed and equitable decisions. Gathering input from a diverse range of individuals is particularly essential, as it allows us to gain insight into the various perspectives of people from different backgrounds and experiences, even when their interests may seem similar. By looking at the matter through multiple lenses, we can recognize previously-unnoticed nuances and create policies that are most beneficial for all.”

Throughout her MUN programs, Ester was able to cultivate international connections, form meaningful friendships, and gain insight into the diverse backgrounds of her peers, all while getting to know all the inspirational stories they had to share. Thanks to this experience, Ester began to understand the power of informed decision-making. She became acutely aware of the fact that many leaders do not tend to listen to the ideas of others, overlooking valuable perspectives.

“Learning how to effectively manage decision-making is a critical skill for achieving success in the modern world. Every step of the way comes with both major and minor decisions, and the ability to approach them with the right tools and techniques is essential to thrive in any kind of environment.”

Because of her MUN experience, Ester was particularly enthusiastic to join Minerva’s diverse international community and take advantage of the opportunity to learn from a global cohort of professionals.

“I love to get to know stories, both personal and professional, and learn from people’s experiences. Having an opportunity to learn among such a selective group of like-minded people makes me keen to explore and experiment with new projects and approaches, and to broaden my knowledge of the world along the way.”

Currently, Ester works as a Lead and Demand Specialist in the Sales and Communication Team of a US-based start-up. In the long term, she wants to effectively utilize the decision-making and data analysis skills she will gain at Minerva, together with her past experiences, to pursue a career in business consulting and meaningfully contribute to global organizations that foster a collaborative work environment and encourage open dialogue.