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Leading with Purpose: Empowering Women and Driving Change - A Journey with Lina Arbeláez MBA'05J

Lina Arbeláez, MBA’05J,
Lina Arbeláez, MBA’05J,

During the Alumni Forum Asia in Delhi in February 2024, Lina Arbeláez, MBA’05J, shared her inspiring journey from Colombia's coffee region to becoming a catalyst for global change. Her story offers valuable insights for alumni and students aiming to make a difference, particularly in empowering women in male-dominated industries. 

Lina's early years were defined by determination and a desire to help others. Hailing from Manizales, Colombia, she recognised the scarcity of opportunities and proactively sought ways to broaden her horizons. Remarkably, Lina is among the first ten Colombians to have attended INSEAD, reflecting her trailblazing spirit. 

At INSEAD, Lina's experience extended beyond the classroom. Immersed in a diverse community and guided by renowned faculty, she honed her leadership skills and embraced resilience and adaptability. "The quality of the teaching and the quality of the professors is just mind blowing," she recalled. 

Lina's career began in the oil and gas industry, a heavily male-dominated space, gaining invaluable experience and demonstrating resilience. By establishing herself in such a challenging environment, she not only advanced her career but also paved the way for other women to follow. 

"INSEAD was a gift. After graduation, it feels like the gift that keeps giving." 

Living in Colombia during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lina made a bold decision to move back to the UK, by herself with two children. This personal journey underscores the challenges many face in balancing family and work. "I think we all need to combine family and work, and this is not easy," she reflected. 

Currently, Lina is leading a corporate venture capital fund focused on decarbonisation, another male-dominated field. "I expected to see greater balance between men and women in decarbonisation given this is a recent trend, but unfortunately this has not been the case," she noted. Despite this, Lina remains committed to fostering change and driving sustainability, continuing to break barriers and inspire women to enter and thrive in these sectors. 

In venture capital, Lina's focus on climate tech investments has yielded significant impact. By identifying and supporting start-ups with innovative solutions to environmental challenges, she has played a pivotal role in driving positive change. From renewable energy initiatives to sustainable agriculture projects, her investments have contributed to building a more sustainable future. 

Beyond her professional endeavours, Lina remains committed to empowering others and fostering inclusivity. As a Colombian woman navigating the business world, she brings a unique perspective shaped by her intimate understanding of the developing world. Her advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion serves as a guiding principle in all her endeavours, amplifying the impact of her leadership. 

Reflecting on her journey, Lina emphasised the importance of resilience, adaptability, and purpose-driven action. "Self-confidence is not about being sure you can make it; it's more about being sure you can recover and try it again," she said. Her story serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the impact of individuals who dare to dream big and act boldly. 

 

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