This is part three of a four part series on The University of Alabama’s Executive MBA Class of 2016’s international trip to Morocco and Spain from February 27 to March 8, 2016.
It should come as no surprise that Alabama LOVES football. Can I get a Roll Tide! So if you are a University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2016 student on an International Trip in Madrid, Spain, where do you go first? You visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, stadium and home to Real Madrid or Real, as the team is commonly known, one of the most widely recognized and supported teams in the world. 2015 was a great year for Alabama and Real. In 2015, Real was crowned Champions of Europe for the ninth time after beating Olympiacos in the Final Four, and Alabama took home the CFP National Championship after beating Clemson. In the world of football it’s important to pay your respects. So, we bought a ticket and drank a toast to Real and Madrid. After the stadium we had a quick tour through the city where sites were pointed out and notes taken of places to visit, we then headed to our hotel.
As we arrived we faced a sea of media, spotlights and cameras. Our hotel, as it turns out, was located directly across from the Congreso de los Diputados (Congress of Deputies or the lower house of Spain’s legislative branch). We had arrived on March 2, 2016 to our tour guides exclaiming, “Welcome to Spain, we have no government.” According to Reuters, during this week, “the leader of Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez, was unsuccessful in winning enough parliamentary votes to become prime minister, resulting in a new round of talks or the possibility that Spaniards will have to return to the ballot box in June for new elections.” Everyone quickly and quietly rolled luggage over cables, smiled for cameras (we probably no doubt ended up on Madrid’s nightly news shows strolling through the backgrounds), checked into our hotel and promptly headed out to the nearest Tapas bar or for a cooking class.
There is no dish or drink more identifiable with Spain than paella and sangría. Some of the EMBA students and spouses put their culinary skills to work in recreating the Spanish rice dish rich with meats, seafood, vegetables and spices at Madrid’s Private cooking school the Cooking Point. They also unlocked the secrets to preparing sangría. As with all cooking classes a final tasting was in order for our newly minted Master Chefs.
On Thursday, we visited the Headquarters of BBVA, a multinational group providing financial services in over 35 countries and to 66 million customers throughout the world. During the presentation, Mr. Miguel Cardoso, Chief Economist BBVA Research reported that “1) the world economy will continue to grow but at a slower pace than in past with more risks, 2) Spain’s economy has started 2016 with positive signs pointing to continuation of trends set in 2015, and 3) due to uncertainties, internal and external, forecasting growth at 2.7% for this year.” BBVA also reported that they were investing for new ideas and ways of doing things rather than just for profitability as a long-term strategy.
In the afternoon the students visited Genomica, Spain’s leading molecular diagnostics company. The company’s mission is to improve the current approach to molecular diagnostics in the life sciences by providing reliable and automated diagnostic tools. Genomica’s CEO and General Manager Rosario Cospedal talked about Genomica’s development of diagnostic tests for human papillomavirus, viral respiratory diseases and providing analysis of DNA, legal and forensic medicine and technology transfer service and toured students through the laboratories.
On Friday, students visited Deimos Space and met with General Director Miguel Belló Mora. Deimos specializes in the design, engineering and development of solutions and systems integration in the aerospace, satellite systems, remote sensing, information systems and telecommunications network sectors. Students enjoyed interesting discussions regarding the Galileo Project, mining on the moon, Don Quixote Project (to deflect asteroids), tracking satellites along with Deimos’ work in energy, transport and tracking solutions and services.
The final company visit belonged to the Grey Group, one of the world’s top advertising and marketing organizations. Grey operates in 154 cities in 96 countries serving one fifth of the Fortune 500. CEO Javier Suso led the EMBA teams in a case study on the revitalization of the Grey Group.
As with all good things they must come to an end. Well, at least for some. We ended our official trip with a farewell dinner and (because it’s Spain) a Flamenco Show at the Corral de la Moreria Restaurante. And, yes there was paella and sangria, and dancing. Corral de la Moreria is quite famous. Not sure if they would post our pictures up on the walls with Ron Wood, Omar Sharif, James Cameron, Harrison Ford, Sarah Jessica Parker, Richard Gere and Justin Beber – but we did feel we deserved a spot. I mean, come on Roll Tide! The next morning half of the students, spouses and faculty returned home while the other half extended the stay with an optional trip to Barcelona. We were not ready to say goodbye just yet.
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