Having grown up in La Guajira Desert in Colombia, Esteban Rubiano has seen first-hand the challenges faced on remote communities on the region. In fact, by the age of 18, he had already set up the pillars for his first social initiative (The Linaje Project) to support single mothers from the local indigenous tribe, the Wayuu People.

For as long as he can remember, helping his local community has been a motivating passion.  However, with bigger dreams of making a significant positive impact on his home country, Esteban knew that finding a life-changing educational opportunity was essential to generate a lasting social impact.

In 2021, this came along when his passion for social development and impressive academic achievements secured his position at IE University in Madrid, Spain, through the Young Talented Leaders Scholarship. The programme – sponsored by Cubico and Celsia, and supported by the IE Foundation – covers all costs over a four-year degree at IE University.

Now settling into his third year studying Business Administration, Esteban talked to us about why he chose the Young Talented Leaders Scholarship and how it is bringing him closer to his colossal ambitions.

What role did education play in your life growing up?

Education has been a very important aspect of my life, providing me with the tools to break down barriers and open myself up to new opportunities. Growing up in La Guajira, a region where opportunities for development as a future professional are limited, I knew that I needed to work hard to access the best opportunities, especially with my dream of studying abroad.

It’s a really big decision to move across the world to study. What inspired you to do this?

The decision to study abroad stemmed from my interest in learning about sustainability from an international perspective, an area that wasn’t as emphasised at Colombian universities. I wanted to see how business and sustainability were approached in on different socio-economic scenarios, as I knew this knowledge would be so valuable in achieving my aspiration of becoming a political leader in my home region. I knew that studying abroad would also give me the chance to experience different cultures, broaden my horizons and bring back diverse perspectives into my community.

What made you apply for the Young Talented Leaders Scholarship in particular?

This scholarship stood out to me because it offered full supporting, making my dream of studying abroad a possible reality. Also, during my whole application process, I felt a very strong connection with the IE community and the human view they offer over business interactions. I was so excited about the course on offer as fit perfectly with my educational goals and personal beliefs on how firms should be managed. I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to miss!

How would you describe your experience at IE University so far?

It has been a turning point in my life, aligning my education with my passion for sustainability. The professors have not only taught us the course content but have also provided real-world insights into business and sustainability. I believe that following the career path at IE has provided the necessary tools to succeed in the future as an entrepreneur and businessman with a vision of making an economical profit. In this way, I can clearly state that growing as a human being in an environment with likeminded people is an aspect I am grateful for.


What opportunities has this scholarship provided that might not have otherwise been available to you?

I’ve been given the opportunity to be part of a diverse and talented community at IE University and it has broadened my perspectives on life and businesses. There are so many valuable growth opportunities that I have been exposed to, where connections have arisen with colleagues.  Those connection have strongly grown to the point where they have become the base of many of the collaborative projects I am developing at the moment. Getting to know other talented minds and great human beings is therefore another opportunity this scholarship has provided.

In addition to the scholarship, what support has Cubico offered to help with your personal and professional development?

The team at Cubico has been incredibly supportive throughout my studies, not just academically but also with personal matters related to adjusting to a new location and environment.

Cubico has also supported me with a personal social project which supports indigenous local communities from my region in Colombia. The Linaje Project, as is called, works with single mothers from the indigenous Wayuu tribe to ensure that they get a fair price for the handcrafted bags they make locally and sell internationally. I am extremely grateful for Cubico’s support as it is positively impacting the lives of these talented artisans and the community, they live in.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?

One aspiration is to continue working on my social project in Colombia, empowering single mothers and preserving their cultural heritage. Another aspiration of mine is to work in the renewable energy industry, focusing on the green transition and a sustainable future.

My ultimate goal is to become a leader in Colombia, using the knowledge and experience I will have gained in Europe to make a positive impact in my home country. Colombia is where my heart is, and I want to be part of its progress and development.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone considering applying for this scholarship?

Trust in yourself and the knowledge and experiences you have gained throughout your life so far. Sometimes we underestimate our capacities, and I know that keeping motivation high is not an easy task, but always be the first one the bet on yourself and remember that scholarships like this can be life-changing opportunities that open doors to new horizons.