Originally from Colombia, Silvana Leyva is a third-year Bachelor in Business Administration student at IE University. Passionate about writing since she can remember, Silvana was thrilled about the opportunity to write an article for the Council on Business and Society on a topic that promotes responsible and ethical leadership. Silvana’s goal was to leave a lasting impact with her words, and she did just that. We talked with Silvana about her writing process, and what it was like to win the 2023 Student CSR Article Competition.

My name is Silvana Leyva and I’m from Colombia. I’m in my third year of the Bachelor in Business Administration program at IE University. I love IE University because it constantly offers students new opportunities and challenges to tackle. Their partnership with the Council on Business and Society led me to the 2023 Student CSR Article Competition, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my purpose in written form.

How did you find out about the Student CSR Article Competition and why did you decide to participate? 

I found out about the 2023 Student CSR Article Competition in one of the monthly newsletters that I receive from IE University as part of the Bachelor in Business Administration, and it immediately caught my eye. I have loved writing since I was little, and I thought it would be fun and freeing to write an article on something I’m passionate about, especially without having to worry about receiving a grade on it. 

I truly admire what the Council on Business & Society stands for, and I thought it would be rewarding to be part of a purpose that promotes responsible and ethical leadership. I wanted to show my passion for the topic through my article, as well as leave an impact with my words. 

Tell us about your experience throughout the Student CSR Article Competition.

My experience writing my article was enjoyable, despite any and all challenges. I already had some knowledge of the topic I chose, but of course, I had to dive deeper and research much more. This was fun and insightful, especially as I learned more about the business world and income inequality, which I believe also helped me as a student. I also was writing with purpose and passion, which made the writing experience even more enjoyable. I was able to share my voice and my thoughts—this was the most rewarding part of my experience.

There were, however, some challenges. I believe the greatest challenge was managing my time. Naturally, during the writing process, I prioritized my courses and graded assignments, often leaving me with limited time to work on the article. Other times I was too tired or simply wanted to stop thinking about business and watch a movie. But I always knew that I would regret it if I didn’t complete my article. Once I sat down at my desk and began writing again, I remembered why I joined the competition in the first place and was determined to put in all my effort. There is nothing better than knowing that you did your best in reaching a personal goal, so this was a thought that truly fuelled me to overcome any challenges along the way. 

What was your piece about and why did you choose your specific topic?

My article was titled Mind the Gap: The Role of Business Schools in Bridging the Income and Divide, and was mainly about how business schools can, and should, address the issue of income inequality. I chose this topic because I have always been impacted by economic violence. To put this issue into perspective, in the past three years $26 trillion went to the richest 1% of the world and only $16 trillion went to everyone else. Reading news and statistics like this really leaves me shocked at how the problem is just getting worse, especially after the pandemic, which is something I address in the article. Therefore, I believe that business leaders play an enormous role in promoting social equality, so this is something that I aimed to highlight. 

Do you think the Student CSR Article Competition will help you in the future?

This experience allowed me to grow both personally and academically. Writing my article affected my own personal growth because, as I learned more about income inequality, I truly realized the type of business leader I want to be. I aim to be a leader who aligns with social responsibility and ethical practices, and after writing this article I feel even more passionate about this goal. It’s easy to be trapped in our little bubble and lose sight of what’s truly important, so I’m grateful for this experience because I was able to gain a greater perspective on the societal issues that surround us and how I can contribute to the common good. 

What are your main takeaways from the competition? 

I have a range of takeaways from the experience. First, I learned that new challenges should be exciting, not scary. I didn’t join this competition with the main purpose of winning, or with a fear of failure. I joined because I knew it was going to be a rewarding experience overall, that I was going to learn and grow from. In fact, I hope to continue signing up for opportunities like this!

I also came to the conclusion that there’s always something new to learn about, and there’s always room for improvement. Learning and understanding more about the societal issues I researched overall has made me a more aware and knowledgeable student, and writing my thoughts on the topics has allowed me to develop my communication, creativity and research skills. 

I learned the importance of passion at work. Of course, the prizes were a motivator for my writing, but I know that if I wasn’t truly passionate about writing or about the topic I chose, this would not have been an enjoyable experience for me—and I definitely wouldn’t have won. So from now on, I hope to find passion in everything I do, to be the best version of myself. 

Lastly, I took away the aim to take my own advice. My main goal is to follow a business path that aligns with the main ideas I highlighted in my article, and I’m even more excited to do so now.

What would you recommend to future IE University students?

My experience at IE University has been amazing. The school has great resources and experiences to offer, so for any future IE University students, I’d recommend you make use of this. Sign up for competitions, join clubs, go to workshops and events—you’re lucky to be part of such an amazing community that pushes you to be the best version of yourself. Make the most of it; trust me, you’ll have fun while doing it too!