For ESSEC International Business Education Alliance (IBEA) students about to embark on their journey through Germany, Brazil, Singapore and the USA, the Covid-19 pandemic was no doubt a massive spoke in the wheel. Kareena Aswani shares how true to the spirit of adaptability that the IBEA hopes to inculcate, she has found her silver lining.
Meet Kareena Aswani:
- An Indian IBEA program student who started her own company during the pandemic
- Shares that her passion for languages drew her into the IBEA program
- Completing the program amidst the pandemic has taught her positivity and adaptability
Kareena Aswani’s International Business Education Alliance (IBEA) cohort had just begun their semester at the University of Mannheim in Germany when the pandemic hit hard, sending students back to their home countries to complete the semester virtually.
The cohort was only able to meet in Singapore two semesters later—but travel restrictions from India prevented Kareena from joining them. Rather than allow herself to become a victim of circumstance, the innovative Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) student pivoted her plans to complete the IBEA program with the next cohort instead, and to use her time at home to start her own business.
Tell us about your company, Acing Languages. What does the company do and why did you start this?
Acing Languages is an online language learning platform. We train native speakers to become teachers and connect them with students all around the world.
I started it during the pandemic when I realized I had been tutoring people in different languages for a while, and thought I could start my own company to connect other teachers like myself. It’s grown quite a lot in the last eight months, and now we have about 21 teachers and almost 100 students. I hope to expand even more after I graduate!
Why did you choose to start a business revolving around languages?
I grew up speaking Spanish, English, Hindi and French, and then took up Italian while at ESSEC. I also studied at a bilingual school which taught me how important language is to network and connect with people, and I’ve always held that with me and wanted to learn more!
My passion for languages is also why I wanted to join the IBEA program—I thought I could expand on this while travelling to top business schools and living in different continents.
How has your IBEA experience impacted how you handle Acing Languages?
I think the program has made me so much more open-minded. My public speaking skills are better and when I interview teachers I’m more aware of how people in different countries think, which makes it easier for me to connect with them.
In the IBEA program, you’re also constantly evolving and adapting to different schools and curricula. I think this has made me more flexible, and much better with time management.
What are some of your favourite memories from the IBEA program?
One of my favourite memories was when we were in Germany. A few of us got together in my room, got a karaoke mic and started singing in all sorts of languages. We had French, Italian, Spanish, English and Hindi—it was a highlight for me because we were all connecting, but through different languages.
Your IBEA journey is a little different from the rest of your cohort. Any regrets?
Well, as I’ve gotten to experience the same semesters, with two cohorts rather than one, I’ve made more friends!
Ultimately, I think that everything happened for the best—after all, if the pandemic had not happened, Acing Languages would not have started. I’ve managed to have the IBEA program experience, and come out having discovered my passion for languages in business, so I’m grateful!
Any advice for future IBEA students?
First, the IBEA program is selective, so try to do your best in school. Second, keep in mind that the DNA of the program revolves around flexibility. When you travel to different continents, you never know what can happen—like I didn’t expect the pandemic to hit! So be ready for anything, be positive, adapt, and keep moving forward!