Reflections on Spain

During the 6 days in Spain, we traveled to 3 cities, visited 7 big companies and over 10 world’s famous attractions. We learned authentic Spanish culture and business and economic conditions through the very best people, especially our three amazing three Spanish organizers. There are many key takeaways and interesting things I learned from the Chazen Spain trip.

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The People: Spanish people are one of the most down to earth Europeans I ever met. While the Spanish are very friendly, welcoming and laid-back, their other sides are very tough, smart and realistic. Another interesting thing I learned is that they are very conservative. I believe this humble culture of the Spanish has been shaped by its long history. The great power that had in the past from colonizing many countries around the world made them became very rich from tributes earned. After those countries declared independence, Spain was lagged behind without the know-how and capabilities to actually make money on their own. However, their abilities to cope with hard times and bounce back are impressive and what made who they are today.

The Culture: Its long history has shaped its unique culture, arts and architecture. I was mesmerized by all the places I see and things experience throughout the trip from everyday delicious Spanish food and tapas to famous museums, buildings, churches and football stadiums.

The Business: The seven company visits revealed to me that Spain is still a great country with great people. The future for Spain seems to be growing gradually and consistently fostered by the capabilities of the people, their participation in the European Union and the country’s strong presence in the Latin America. While the future might be uncertain as it is for every country, I believe that Spain has the abilities, capabilities and resources to overcome all the challenges and remain great.

Thanujdee Seriwathanophas’17

Chazen Spain 2017

Our Last Stop in Spain, The Vibrant and Elegant Madrid

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Finally, our trip to Spain is approaching the end with our last two days in Madrid, the capital city of Spain. Madrid is a truly Spanish city with the rich culture and artistic heritage. It is the largest city in Spain and the third largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin. The city is very diverse, sophisticated, vibrant and elegant. Not only that its culture is very rich, but the business landscape and economy are also highly developed. It is home to many global big companies such as Santander, Acciona, Ferrovial and Telefonica, which we all got to visit. The architecture and cityscape are very elegant with many beautiful historic buildings, squares and palaces around the city and big roads everywhere. People in Madrid, called Madrileño, are very nice, friendly and welcoming. Now, I understand well when people say “If you are in Madrid, you are from Madrid!” as I felt very comfortable and welcoming living in the city. It is also home of the world’s most valuable football club, The Real Madrid. This city is full of excitement, great food and attractions of all kinds to see and explore.

 

Day 1: Our first company visit was at Ferrovial’s facilities and headquarter. Ferrovial is the world’s leading infrastructure construction and operations company. It provides end-to-end solutions for cities and infrastructure in many countries around the world. Its services are highly integrated including design, financing, construction, management of operation and maintenance. At Ferrovial’s facilities, we got to see Madrid from underground walking through its plant down over 10 floors and access to its tunnel, M30 – Madrid Calle 30 project. The project design and technology used are very advanced that ensure efficiency and security. After that, we went to visit its headquarter and were given an introduction about the company by the Head of Strategy, Ms. Maria Teresa Pulido. The next company visit for today was Santander, one of the world’s famous bank specializing in the retail market. The company’s growth has been driven mainly through acquisitions; and its strong presence is concentrated in 9 major markets including Spain, Portugal, Germany, the UK, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and the US. Its headquarter is amazing; it is like another city for Santander employees with golf course, art museum, training center with a 600-student capacity, huge conference room, infant education center, gymnasium and even a private huge park like national park in the states. The final activity for today cannot be anything else besides a nice dinner at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium of The Real Madrid. No surprise, the restaurant was full; and it is so clear to me that people in Europe, especially the Spanish, are so crazy about soccer.

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Day2: We start our last day with a company visit at Acciona, the world’s number one company in renewable energy. The company also provides construction and management services. The company is 75% owned by a Spanish family. And, we got the great opportunity to meet with José Manuel Entrecanales Domecqthe, the chairman, CEO and the member of the family. After that, we visited the Prado Museum, one of the most famous museum in the world with thousands of paintings from world’s famous artists collected by the monarchy of Spain. Finally, we walked around in the city appreciating the beauty of the city and architecture as well as enjoying the lively atmosphere with the nice Madrileño and our lovely crews.

Our Chazen Spain trip has come to the end. For the past five days, we learned tremendously more about Spain, its culture, its economy and most importantly its wonderful people. Special thanks to our three Spanish organizers who planned everything so well and arranged for us the best of Spain.

Thanujdee Seriwathanophas ‘17

Chazen Spain 17

An Amazing day at Santiago de Compostela and Inditex

Today is such an amazing day not only because the places we went are amazing but also because we were all awake for almost 20 hours! Our schedule was tight but it was totally worth it!

We woke up at 4 am, checked out from the hotel and went to the airport. We took an hour and a half flight to the old town, Santiago de Compostela which was inscribed to be UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. Another amazing thing is that we were so lucky that the weather was so nice that we got to enjoy our walk exploring the town; normally, rainfall in the town is abundant and it rains 2 weeks in a month. Santiago de Compostela is a famous historic pilgrimage site, the destination of the over 200,000 Christian pilgrims and many others each year. Everywhere in the town is very beautiful.

After our lunch, we departed the old town and head to Inditex headquarter. I was super excited for the visit with many reasons. Inditex is the world’s largest apparel retailer and the owner of my favorite brand, Zara. The company’s owner, Amancio Ortega, was also the second richest guy in the world in 2016. We spent over four hours at the company and explored almost every corner of the headquarter, from the working space of all the country managers, designers and marketing teams to their fashion shooting studios, mock-up stores of all types, distribution center and production factory. I am truly impressed how they can fully integrate all the process from the beginning of designing to production and distribution as well as in-store execution seamlessly.

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After the visit, we went straight to the airport to get to our next city to explore. It cannot be anywhere else but Madrid, the capital city of Spain. So, I will come back to update about our experience in the city soon!

Thanujdee Seriwathanophas ‘17

Chazen Spain 17

Hola! From Charming Barcelona, Spain

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Finally, after about seven hours of flight from New York, I arrived at Barcelona, the first city for us to explore; and, the journey began. Barcelona is a very unique Spanish city having its root culture and influence from the Catalan, the native of the Catalonia. The majority of the people in the city speaks Catalan. To me, the city is very charming because of its richness in arts, the aesthetic and unique architecture, the down-to-earth and friendliness of the people and the fact that it just super close to nice beach and ocean. We spent three days exploring this charming city and really had a great time!

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Day1: The first thing we did was strolling around the oldest part of the city which was close to the beach and ocean port as it is where the civilization of the city started. Obviously, you can see that the roads in the area are very small, and the size is as small as a walking path. We visited the museum of Picasso, which has the most extensive art collections of Pablo Picasso, the world’s famous Spanish artist of the twentieth century. And, while we were waiting for the welcoming dinner at 9pm, we sat in the small restaurant and enjoyed eating “jamons”, the Spanish Parma Ham. At the welcoming dinner, we all not only enjoyed the delicacies served but also the amazing view of Barcelona at night.

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Day2: The second day started with a very nice walk on the mountain overlooking the whole city of Barcelona. After that, we went to the IESE, one of the top business school in Europe. We were given an economic outlook and challenges facing the EU and Spain. In the afternoon, we explored the Sagrada Famillia, the catholic church that has been building since the 1866 until now. The church’s architectural ground was developed by Antonio Gaudi, the world’s famous architect whose work was greatly inspired by the nature. To me, Antonio Gaudi greatly represents the culture and people of city that they are genuine, down to earth, smart and realistic.

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Day3: And, the start of the third day in Barcelona cannot be anything else besides a morning walk by the long and beautiful beach. There were so many people along the way running, playing and enjoying the sun. After that, we visited Wayra, the startup accelerator and a subsidiary of Telefonica. Telefonica is a multinational broadband and telecommunications provider with operations in Europe, Asia, North, central and south America. Wayra has an extensive presence not only in many countries in Europe but also in Latin America. Then, we visit the research and development department of Telefonica. This team works like an internal startup analyzing the huge data that Telefonica has and translate into business opportunities creating new innovations through lean developmental approach. Last but not least, the last activity of the day was visiting Camp Nou, the world’s third largest football stadium of FC Barcelona, the pride of the Barcelonian!

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Tomorrow, we will have to get up at 4 am to take a flight to Santiago de Compostela, another old city of the country. I will come back and update soon!

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Thanujdee Seriwathanophas ‘17

Chazen Spain 2017

 

España, I Can’t Wait to See You Soon!

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Credit Picture: http://www.australiansabroad.com.au/destinations/europe/spain/

Just in case anyone does not know, España is Spain in Spanish. In preparation for the trip, I started to learn to speak Spanish as I want to blend in well with the people who owns the language that is second most spoken in the world. Actually, I only know few Spanish words like “Hola” (Hello), “cómo estás” (How are you?), “Gracias” (Thank you) and most importantly, taught by my Italian CBS clustermate “Quiero Vino”, which means “I want wine!”.

Spain has long been one of the countries I wanted to visit because of its long history, rich heritage and great influence around the world as evidenced by the fact that the Spanish language is the second most spoken in the world, even more than the English. Spain is famous for so many things such as its food like chorizos, churros, and tapas, its soccer teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona, and its architecture with 44 UNESCO world’s heritage sites. The country is the place of birth of many world’s renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Miguel Cervantes and Salvador Dali. In 2016, the second richest man in the world is also Spanish, Amancio Ortega, the owner of Inditex or known as the owner of Zara brand with the net wealth of $73 billion. Its culture is very interesting and unique in many ways. I was told that Spanish people are very chill. And, I was surprised to know that I will need to adjust my biological clock since the local people normally have dinner at 9-11 pm. With all these interesting facts I learned about Spain, I am now very excited to explore and learn more about its history, culture, and people and to see the amazing places with my own eyes.

For the next seven days, our group of twenty CBS classmates will be visiting Barcelona, Galicia, and Madrid. Our schedule is very rich with business meetings with big companies such as Inditex, Santander and Ferrovial, visiting famous museums, strolling around on the beach and in the beautiful cities and featuring every day with Spanish delicacies.

And, this is why I cannot wait to see you soon, España!

Thanujdee Seriwathanophas ‘17

Chazen Spain