Racing across the Saudi Arabian desert for up to 12 days, the annual Dakar Rally is not for the faint-hearted. It requires resilience, strategic thinking, and determination.
Yet, studying an International Master's degree at EAE Business School Barcelona alongside her sports training gave her the right mindset and determination she needed to go full speed ahead.
BusinessBecause caught up with Rebecca to find out how she’s using her Master in Business to succeed in the 2023 Dakar Rally.
Balancing the Dakar Rally alongside a Master in Business
Inspired by her father’s love for motorsport, Rebecca first got behind the wheel at 14 years old. Her father dreamed of making it to the Dakar Rally, but sadly never did. So, when Rebecca turned 25, she decided to turn what was once a hobby into a career and carry on his legacy.
Having never raced competitively before, the Dakar Rally was even more challenging for Rebecca, but she was determined to make herself known in the sporting world.
“When you’re a woman in motorsport, it’s very difficult to find your place. I struggled a lot with self-doubt and knew that if I wanted to prove myself, I would have to compete in a huge race,” she says.
When training for the race, it’s important to be in your car in tough conditions as much as you can, but with a limited budget, Rebecca focused instead on being mentally prepared and planning strategically.
When Rebecca enrolled on the Master in International Business (MIB) at EAE Business School Barcelona, she knew it would be difficult to manage the training while studying but she wanted to use her learnings to give herself an edge in the competition.
As she was embarking on an international sporting career, moving abroad to study the Master in Business in Barcelona was the perfect fit for Rebecca.
Living in an intercultural city and studying alongside a diverse cohort with 88% international students, she learned to present herself professionally to a worldwide audience and potential sponsors.
“I looked for ways to apply everything I learned to my training and position in the competition,” Rebecca says.
In her spare time, she says she loved to experience the city’s vibrant culture, with the excitement of the city mirroring her fast-paced racing endeavors.
When beginning a program at EAE Business School Campus Barcelona, students embark on two weeks of events to start networking and get involved in activities to explore the city.
In Barcelona, you'll see architecture such as Antoni Gaudí's La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, explore the Gothic Quarter, experience the city's museums and art galleries, and try out Catalan cuisine.
Leveraging the skills from a Master in Business to get ahead in the Dakar Rally
Alongside attending classes at EAE Barcelona, Rebecca trained intensely for the Dakar Rally. After classes, she trained in the gym and each week she travelled from Barcelona to Italy to train and organize her team for the competition.
“My cohort and professors were so supportive in helping me to keep up with the workload. We planned study sessions and there was lots of group work where I could learn from others and seek advice,” she says.
Rebecca also says how studying the Master in Business alongside her training helped her to become her own manager, strategize her training and competition plan, and to liaise professionally with her American sponsor.
“During the program at EAE Business School, I was constantly developing my business acumen and learning to speak better English, which was invaluable when presenting myself to the sporting world for the first time,” Rebecca says.
In the ‘Marketing and Commercialization in an International Environment’ course, students engage in innovation to create a new product and present it to the market, with groups battling it out to create the most successful product.
“My competitive streak definitely came out,” she laughs, “but applying the marketing perspective of the task to my own situation, I recognized myself as the product and from there I learned invaluable lessons about how to sell myself to sponsors and journalists in the market.”
Applying an international lens, Rebecca says the Master in Business also taught her how to interact with people from different cultures and countries, which has proved vital in her sports career.
In the ‘People Management’ course, students study topics such as intercultural management, diversity and inclusion, and emotional intelligence.
At EAE Barcelona, students can also join clubs such as Sport and Wellness, the Entrepreneurship Club, and the Women's Initiative who arrange activities and networking events with investors and industry leaders to connect with Barcelona's business world.
The city is a leading center in Europe for entrepreneurship and innovation, home to a booming startup ecosystem. Grads will also find top multinational companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and King, a worldwide video game tech company.
Realizing the long-term value of a Master in Business
After crossing the finish line in seventh place in her first Dakar Rally and graduating from the Master in Business at EAE Barcelona, Rebecca has dived straight into her training for the 2023 Dakar Rally where she hopes to lead the only female Italian team in the competition to success.
As the stakes have increased and Rebecca is building her personal brand, she is continually leaning on her skills.
She says she is meeting more and more people from around the world, both her competitors and potential sponsors, and is working on growing her social media base, which is currently at 44,000 followers on Instagram.
“It’s not in my character to take the easy route. Studying the Master in Business alongside my training has taught me to always challenge myself, which is paying off in my sporting career,” she says.