We wanted to create an environment where women from all types of businesses can come together to connect, share advice, stories, and develop relationships. Our monthly meetings are held around the center of Madrid and guaranteed to keep you extra entertained. We have short talks, giveaways and always an extra something special planned for each event. We show you more about us:
Candy Lee LaBalle
I help people reach their educational dreams!
As an MBA consultant and founder of mbaSpain, I shepherd my clients through the application process, from choosing the right MBA program to crafting an MBA resume to polishing the application essays.
My expertise comes from +8 years in the field. I am on the Board of AIGAC (Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) and have organized international MBA conferences at Columbia Business School, INSEAD, London Business School, NYU Stern, and Wharton. I have also visited the admissions teams on the campuses of Harvard, Haas, Stanford GSB and MIT Sloan.
However, I do a lot more than application advising: I am there for my clients throughout the grueling process, supporting them in tough moments and sharing their joy when they are admitted (clients often call me with the good news before telling their parents!)
The 300+ clients I have helped enter schools from Harvard to Haas, INSEAD to IESE agree: my combination of expertise and empathy works.
What I love most about my job is helping people achieve their goals. This passion also motivated me to co-found International Women in Business-Madrid. I believe in the power of women helping women and there is no better way to do that than through building relationships. That is what IWB-Madrid is all about.
When I’m not working or networking (actually I hate that word!), I speak at events, most recently at the International Institute of Madrid on the importance kindness for entrepreneurs, write about Spain, and spend as many hours as possible rolling around on the floor laughing with my two sons.
My journey began with falling in love with a good man and moving to Madrid, before actually thinking what on earth I would do with myself. Whilst I had a strong background in Training and Law, there was a small problem – I didn’t speak any Spanish! After some failed attempts at playing house I did some research and found that I could learn how to be an English teacher with a structured TEFL course and there seemed to be plenty of work available. Whilst it didn’t have ‘dream job’ written all over it, it would be something I could do whilst I figured out my next move but actually, from day one I loved teaching! I finally understood what it means to find your calling in life.
I taught executives in Madrid and later ran an in-house language programme. The more involved I became with teachers and offering advice and guidance, the more I realised the training side was the area I wanted to specialise in. I started working at a TEFL training centre but was disappointed by the lack of care, love and attention the students received whilst carrying out their TEFL course. The only solution, of course, was to start my own TEFL academy. I launched TtMadrid in 2005 (www.ttmadrid.com) and it has slowly and steadily grown, with over 800 students having taken our TEFL course since.
Noticing that our students also wanted to learn Spanish alongside and after completing their TEFL, in 2013 we also started a Spanish school (www.laemadrid.com) focused on fun and interactive Spanish courses with qualified, native teachers; and soon after a sister Spanish school for families and kids (www.laekids.com). I have the attention span of a 2 year old and love identifying new ways of innovating within the business, including the most recent branch of the company in 2015: a virtual Spanish academy (www.on-espanol.com).
With the company growing and diversifying all the time, I wanted to have one parent name for them all and so we have just rebranded as LETS Education (www.lets.education) which brings everything together into one very pretty package.
LETS is based in a beautiful educational centre in the heart of Madrid that’s filled with amazing women; and a few emotionally intelligent men, too!
I became involved in IWB as I love networking and I am very supportive of women setting up their own businesses. I think working life can be challenging, especially when you become a mum, and your own business can give you the passion, flexibility and values that make for a much happier life. I hope this group will give many women the support, encouragement and skills they need to set up and grow their businesses.
I arrived in Madrid from London in the summer of 2013 with one large suitcase and no real plan, other than to fulfil my dream of learning to speak Spanish fluently. Realising pretty quickly that it was going to be difficult to find a good job here, I decided to do a TEFL course – at Natasha’s Tt Madrid, of course – and began teaching English.
After several months of doing this, studying Spanish and meeting many amazing professionals who also taught English, but who had many other talents and expertise, I started developing the idea of my new business Two Birds Languages (www.twobirdslanguages.com).
The idea is that you can learn something new or do something fun, whilst also improving your English, whether it’s art, photography, wine tasting, games, book clubs or professional development – ‘Kill two birds with one stone!’
Networking groups like IWB have been fundamental during the difficult process of setting up a business, both for practical and emotional support, and I wanted to be involved so I can help others access the same type of support that I experienced and continue to experience from this group.
My professional background is quite varied, having gone from Police Officer to Corporate Journalist to Communications Manager and then to my most recent role as Operations Manager at an international private equity and venture capital company, where I worked for five and a half years. All perfect training for the ‘jack of all trades’ you have to be as an entrepreneur!
I joined the organizing committee of the IWIB Madrid to give back to an organization that was instrumental in giving me the confidence and support to set up as freelancer when I found it difficult to reconcile the long hours of my previous job with caring for my young son. It is still early days but I can honestly say I am much happier now that I have more flexibility to fix my work around my family life rather than vice versa!
So how did I get to be in Madrid? As a language graduate, it was during my year teaching English in a village in Navarra that I first fell for Spanish gastronomy. I decided to make a career of it and after a year studying in France, I got a job at one of London’s leading specialist food and drink communications agencies, where over the course of 8 years I was promoted to account director, running a number of wine accounts, including a multi-disciplinary marketing campaign to broaden the appeal of Rioja wines in the UK. Our solution was to set up Tapas Fantasticas, an award-winning food and drink festival, now in its seventh year.
Meanwhile I broadened my knowledge and passion for wine through over three years of study at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, passing the blind tasting exams to become an accredited taster (Diploma Level 4).
I loved the buzz of London but always had a nagging desire to return to Spain, so when offered a role in the marketing department of one of Spain’s biggest winery groups I jumped at the chance. My husband and I moved to Madrid in 2011 and I gained valuable experience in marketing wine brands across the Spanish domestic and international markets.
Through Taste Exchange I now organize and host food and drink related events: team building activities, educational tastings and launches as well as representing drinks brands from the UK and Spain in marketing activities. Visit my website www.tasteexchange.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.