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This ESADE MBA Is Using Big Data And Wireless Sensors To Fix Ghana's Water Crisis

Project at CERN aims to bridge gap between science and society

ESADE Business School MBA Farah Haddad is using her engineering and business expertise to hammer home social impact.

In an experimental training program which bridges the gap between science and society, she worked on a six-month project with researchers at CERN, which houses the Hadron Collider exploring the Big Bang.

Her team’s challenge was “to improve public health by providing safe access to water”. Their solution, Well2go, was to install a network of sensors at dams and wells in Ghana, Africa, that collect data and detect any health-related problems that may arise. The tech used included databases and wireless sensors, mobile apps, and LED displays.

Born in Tampa, Florida but raised in Lebanon, Farah first completed a degree in industrial engineering in Canada. She volunteered with Engineers Without Borders and worked with a district planning unit in Ghana for four months.

After graduating, she moved back to Lebanon and worked at a construction company, eventually rising to project manager. After four years, she opted for the MBA at ESADE in Barcelona, Spain.

What makes engineers great MBA candidates?

Engineers are great at problem solving, so generally excel at applying systematic analysis to management problems.

Furthermore, associated with the engineering profession is a commitment towards ethics and professionalism, which makes engineers great MBA candidates.

What is your fondest memory of your time with Engineers Without Borders?

I had the opportunity to participate in the Junior Fellowship program for four months in Ghana. It was a great personal and professional experience working and living with inspirational people from diverse cultures, including EWB volunteers and my Ghanaian colleagues and friends.


What made you want to do an MBA?

After being a manager for two years, I decided to pursue an MBA so that I can get professional training in management, and learn practical tools and techniques to further develop my leadership skills. Also, I had been considering switching to a new industry, which an MBA helps provide the opportunities for.

What makes ESADE Business School unique?

ESADE’s flexibility in length and tracks provide a customized program to fit your interests, along with a strong core program. It has a great diversity of students and faculty, with over 43 countries represented in my class. Finally, it is clearly committed to excellence and social responsibility, evident in their syllabus, initiatives, and ranking first in CSR [corporate social responsibility].

Tell us about your CBI project — and solution — with CERN to improve safe access to water.

An essential problem identified is that 78% of wells in Ghana are not fully functioning. Our solution is to place sensors to monitor the condition of the wells, and a platform to provide the information to those who need it (technicians, funders, community).

CBI has been a unique learning experience, from the inspiring team of teachers, valuable interactions with CERN professionals, the diversity of cultures and backgrounds of the students, and the network of contacts built.

I was impressed at how the application of a simple approach to complex problems had led every team to innovative and come up with feasible solutions. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to learn from this excellent program. And it was fun.

Where will the MBA take your career next?

I’m still exploring several opportunities. I will be continuing with the project started at CERN, while looking at various industries, for MBA development programs and roles in business development, innovation, strategy, CSR, or change management.

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