Jimena Barrera
Jimena Barrera, Senior Product Manager at Equilo

Jimena Barrera, who recently completed her Executive Certificate in Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education (HKS), has always felt a calling to make a global impact. Born in Colombia, she has lived in five different countries, and her career is at the intersection of business leadership, technology, and social impact. “Having been raised in the middle of the war period in my country, I grew up with a deep commitment to social change and human welfare,” Barrera said.

This calling led her to pursue Executive Education opportunities at HKS. “HKS’s motto, ‘You’re here to make a difference’, resonated deeply with me. I saw it as the next step in my journey as a leader in the impact ecosystem, and HKS is renowned for its excellence in providing the academic framework, strategies, and practical tools needed to create a lasting impact on society,” Barrera said. “The prospect of becoming a part of the HKS professional and lifelong learning alumni network was also incredibly enticing. It meant access to HKS's remarkable professors, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with outstanding classmates from all corners of the globe. This holistic package made my decision to join an executive program at HKS an easy one, and I've been immensely grateful for the experience ever since.”

During her time at HKS, she attended Leadership for the 21st Century¸ Negotiation Strategies: Building Agreement Across Boundaries, and Persuasive Communication: Narrative, Evidence, and Impact, all programs that have allowed her to develop and hone her leadership skills for her growing career as Senior Product Manager for Equilo, a tech startup focused on gender equality and social inclusion through data analysis as a service for humanitarian aid organizations.

“The key takeaways from my programs have been nothing short of transformational. These skills have seamlessly become part of my daily interactions with colleagues, supervisors, and C-level executives, greatly enhancing my problem-solving abilities, and empowering me to lead substantial technological innovations,” Barrera said. “HKS’s programs have significantly bolstered my leadership style, enabling me to approach new challenges with greater thoughtfulness, strategy, and pragmatism. These skills have also enabled me to advocate more effectively for gender equality and female empowerment through technological innovations driving social impact.”

When thinking about her next chapter, Barrera feels confident about continuing on her current path of advocating for women and marginalized communities through emerging technology, using her HKS experience to help guide her. “My next chapter will focus on spearheading boundary-pushing initiatives that generate ripple effects of change for women's and minorities quality of life,” she said. “HKS programs are not just about acquiring knowledge; they’re about gaining the tools and insights to navigate the challenges of our contemporary world. To another leader considering Executive Education at HKS, I would describe it as a priceless opportunity for personal and professional growth, with the people you meet being among its most valuable treasures.”