In this post, current International MBA student Ruchita Vora describes her experiences on the Madrid Trek, a week long event organised by students of Georgetown University. The purpose of the trek was to visit the main Telecom, Finance, Energy, IT, Consulting and Infrastructure companies based in Spain and gain valuable exposure to these industries. It kicked off on October 17th welcoming selected students from IE Business School, INSEAD and ESADE.

Day 1

BBVA: The first company visit was to BBVA HQ where a Georgetown alumnus working in the bank’s internal M&A team explained about their business, portfolio and governance models. BBVA’s focus on emerging markets is evident from the fact that 53% of its revenues come from these markets. The visit ended with a HR presentation explaining the opportunities and recruitment process at BBVA.

Telefonica: The Telefonica HQ is a huge complex near the Madrid airport. Students were welcomed by one of the Board of Directors, Head of R&D and Advisor to COO and President among others. We had a two hours long discussion on current & future ICT trends, Telefonica’s recent restructuring into four separate business lines, their future focus areas geographically and business wise, role of regulators and their competitors in Spain. Interestingly, Telefonica is going upstream with its new business unit – Telefonica Digital based in London and focussed on innovations.

Day 2

Ferrovial: The Manager of International Business Management presented the various projects at Ferrovial in detail, particularly – “Smart cities”, “Energy efficiency” and “Energy from waste”. He also explained how Ferrovial chooses its markets, projects and its local partners as well as its core competencies and the entire process of setting foot in a new country. Ferrovial has very limited exposure to the domestic Spanish market and operates across 10 countries all over the globe. They also spoke about their CSR activities, specifically the “Water is life” project in Tanzania. The HR presented to us their graduate program and detailed information about their in-house corporate university Summa.

SACYR: At SACYR Vallehrmoso, the CEO of the Real Estate Division discussed the corporation’s strategy and the possible solutions to face the current complex economic crisis, including possible divestments and expansions abroad.

Social Dinner: The guest of honour was Alberto Parrondo, President of Thales Spain. Participants had an informal talk about the changing world macroeconomic dynamics; how India, China and other emerging countries are already competing fiercely in the technological sphere, forcing European and American companies to look for alliances with them to survive.

Day 3:

Téchnicas Reunidas: At TR, we were welcomed by a huge team headed by the CEO with representatives from HR, Investor Relations, Proposals, Legal, Industrial, Project Engineering and Commercial. They explained in depth their various business lines , which are Downstream, Upstream & Gas, Power and Industrial Infrastructure as well as  geographical markets, business model and corporate strategy. Intense networking over tapas lunch followed the presentation.

PwC: If you were wondering about the group of four tallest skyscrapers visible from all over Madrid, one of them is the PricewaterhouseCoopers Madrid Office. We were taken on a tour of the impressive interiors of the building with specific emphasis on their innovation lab where the Managing Director of Innovations explained how the concept of six thinking hats was implemented as well as their process for innovation. We were then hosted on the 50th floor for a HR presentation about the opportunities and recruiting process at PwC.

Day 4

Santander Financial City: The visit to Banco Santander’s headquarters was the highlight of the week. The ‘Ciudad Financiera’ is a sprawling mini town on the outskirts of Madrid and has its own network of buses. We were first given a bus tour of the huge campus consisting of their corporate headquarters, a training centre, a hotel, a hospital, cafeterias, a golf course, acres of olive trees and a huge art gallery with an impressive collection of paintings & sculptures starting from the 16th century by Spanish artists.  Next, we visited the hi-tech visitor’s centre, which has interactive robots to guide you to meetings and conferences. Here, we were briefed by the head of Global Banking, who emphasised Santander’s focus on technology for efficiency and also explained Santander’s way of integrating acquired banks as well as its ring-fence structure and its diversification strategy in terms of business & geography. HR representatives then informed us about the rotational “STEP” programme for MBAs.

Students at Indra

Indra: The most interesting part of our visit to Indra was a detailed demonstration of a whole range of software solutions developed by Indra in the areas of defence, transport & traffic, health care and accessibility for disabled people. Prior to the demonstration, the head of Strategic Development at Indra explained the company’s offerings, its markets, how it competes with the Indian IT companies and how it deals with the challenge of knowledge transfer in China through continuous innovations.

Social Dinner: On this day the guest of honour was Lourdes López Nieto, International Relations Expert and members of the Think-tank Primera Sociedad Global de Amigos del País. The discussions revolved around possible future alliances and cooperation between the US and Spain with the imperative point of enhancing the education system.

Day 5

Gamesa: On the last day, we first started with Gamesa where the Director of Research and Director of Corporate Strategy presented Gamesa’s history, its journey from 95% revenue generation in Spain to 0% in 2011 and the strategic advantages it has. They placed a lot of weight on India and China, explaining how they plan to expand in India, yet how it is still beneficial for them to manufacture in Spain due to their lean operations here.

GMV: The Vice President of GMV, USA and the Director of Products and New Developments explained the global role of GMV, mainly in the aeronautic, defense, IT, and health sectors, including a demo of the innovative solutions they were developing with the strategy to launch them in the market.