Dual Degree in Business Administration + International Relations alum Paula Ortiz Puchades believes you can accomplish any dream with enough determination and hard work. For her, that dream was bringing a sense of purpose to the fashion industry—and she’s doing so as Head of Sustainability at MATIZ.

Check out this interview we conducted with Paula!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Paula Ortiz Puchades. I’m an alum of the Dual Degree in Business Administration and International Relations, and I’m now the Head of Sustainability at MATIZ, a Spanish sustainable fashion marketplace. There, I’m responsible for the company’s environmental impact, resources, and plans. In addition to that, I help the brands that are showcased on our platform to both evaluate their current impact on the environment and determine how to improve their sustainable practices in the future.

Where does your passion for fashion stem from?

My family has always been involved in the fashion industry—both my parents were models back in the 80s, and my older sister, who is the founder & CEO of MATIZ, has been modeling since she was 15 years old. 

What is sustainable fashion? Why is it important?

The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world—just after the oil industry—and the environmental damage is increasing as the industry grows. Sustainable fashion is a solution to fashion consumption. It refers to all clothing items designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly. We hope for a future where sustainable fashion just “is.”

What is one memory that stands out as the highlight of your professional career so far?

I can definitely pinpoint two dates. The first one is when MATIZ went from an idea to becoming a real startup. The second one is when we received our first purchase. At that same moment, we understood that what we had to offer to the world was actually working. We like to quote Colin Powell, the first Black Secretary of State, as our dream did not become reality through magic—it took “sweat, determination, and hard work.” 

What’s the coolest initiative you’ve done so far as Head of Sustainability at MATIZ?

We are trying to develop the biggest existing database on sustainable fashion. This initiative is taking—and will take—a lot of hard work, research, and dialogue between MATIZ and other companies. 

How did you land the job at MATIZ?

I like to think that I worked my way to it. It is true that my sister is the founder & CEO of the company, but when we talk business, she is my boss and I’m her employee. I have been by her side throughout the creation of the platform—doing research, contacting brands, etc.—while I studied a dual degree and worked. My whole career was focused on sustainability and the defense of human rights. The combination of these aspects and the trust that my sister has in me helped me on this path. 

What skills that you learned in the Dual Degree in Business Administration + International Relations have helped you the most in your professional career? 

I would say that IE University helped me develop my personal skills. Right now, I’m working at two different jobs, which has given me the ability to live independently from my parents. I’m taking Arabic classes and I’m working on my personal health and life. That would have been impossible six years ago. IE University has helped me with my organizational skills and the ability to properly perform under pressure.

What resources did IE University provide that helped shape your professional career? 

I feel like IE University has an enormous alumni and faculty database that enables you to contact amazing people internationally. This has helped me a lot while shaping my career, as I have always kept a very international, open-minded outlook, which is very aligned with my whole network. 

What unique value does IE University provide to ambitious students like yourself? 

IE University has many interesting values, but the one that resonated the most for me was “do it yourself.” From the historical campus in Segovia to the breathtaking tower in Madrid, IE University serves as an incredible example of hard work and persistence. Being part of this educational experience gave me the strength to think that if I could dream it, I could make it. 

What advice would you give students who want to follow a path similar to yours?

My golden advice, which I still try to apply to my personal life and the life of my loved ones, would be balance. It is crucial to find balance between your academic life and your personal enjoyment. It’s very important to allow yourself to become immersed completely in your student life and enjoy all the partying and traveling (as you should), but it is equally important to allow yourself to become immersed in your courses and learning experiences. You should really take advantage of the opportunities that IE University grants you in terms of languages, seminars, debates, etc. It will really make a difference in the future. This balance will help you fulfill all your goals, and you’ll be able to look back and be completely satisfied with the path you took.