Leadership Students Study Abroad in Barcelona, Spain

By Andrew Aguilera,
Stillman News Editor
The Gerald P. Buccino ’63 Center for Leadership Development studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain over spring break from March 2 to March 11.

Each year, the program studies abroad in a foreign country. Some of the countries that they have visited in recent years include Portugal, Greece, and Ireland.

The trip is designed to expose students to different cultures and business environments. Some students take the trip for general elective credit or use it as a substitute for their Global Business course requirement.

Over the course of trip, the students visit businesses in a variety of sectors to learn about the country’s economy and business practices.

The leadership students select the location each year via a voting process.

When the students arrived in Barcelona on March 3, they had time to adventure around the city and participate in a paella cooking class as a group.

Paella is a traditional dish of Spain that usually contains rice and seafood, among other ingredients.

In the class, the instructors educated the students about the variety of ingredients used in Spanish dishes via a tour of one of Barcelona’s major markets, Mercat de Santa Caterina.

On Saturday, the team went on a tour of Barcelona, visiting La Sagrada Familia, the Olympic Port, the Olympic village, the beach, and the Gothic quarter.

La Sagrada Familia is arguably the most iconic monument of Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudí.

The Olympic Port was constructed for the 1992 Olympics hosted in Barcelona.

On Monday, the business visits began when the team visited Gómez-Acebo & Pombo, an international law firm with locations in the European Union, United States, and Japan.

At the session, Richard Silberstein, a partner, spoke about the economy of Spain and the high unemployment rate.

One of the major topics that the group discussed was the competition for jobs, particularly for people ages 18 to 25.

Later in the day, the team visited Happyforce, “a feedback tool that combines a mobile app where employees can participate in a transparent and anonymous way, plus an easy-to-use dashboard for companies to follow up and analyze the information they receive.”

Alex Ríos, the chief executive officer, conducted a presentation outlining the business and how it operates globally.

On Tuesday, the team attended a session at Dexma, an energy management software company.

Daniel Utges, a product director, conducted an informational session about the company.
Then, the students split into groups of four to work on a real business case for Dexma. The case comprised of the development of a marketing plan.

Following Dexma, the team visited Hewlett Packard’s office in Barcelona. The visit began with a presentation by Terence Raghunath of Business Development. He discussed the importance of management skills in the workplace. After that, the team took a tour of the office.

Hewlett Packard produces all of their large printers at their Barcelona location, and the team was able to see how they are designed, created, and tested.

The next visit was to Ficosa International on Wednesday. Ficosa is an industrial company that produces automobile parts for many automotive manufacturers.

They typically work on projects and technologies that will hit the market within two to three years. During the visit, the students were able to see the future of driving as it pertains to technology.

Ficosa anticipates that cars will no longer have any mirrors, but rather, have cameras that can capture an entire 360-degree scope of the vehicle.

Later, the team went to the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) to learn about the breakthroughs in the biopharma market. Reimund Fickert, a project director, conducted a presentation and tour of the uniquely designed building located on the beach.

Most of the team attended the optional cultural event later that evening. Little did they know, they would witness one of the greatest comebacks in soccer history. The team attended the FC Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain Champions League knockout stage game at Camp Nou.

FC Barcelona lost the first game by a score of 4-0 and went on to win the second game 6-1 to advance to the next round.

The comeback was the largest comeback in Champions League history.

The event proved to be very rewarding, as the students were able to be immersed in the culture and passion of Barcelona.

Thursday was the final day of business visits, beginning with We Jazz, a marketing company. Carla Ibañez, Head of Strategy, and Khaled Abbas, Found of Plateselector, discussed their business and product.

The main takeaway from their session was that leaders cannot be afraid to pursue their passions. Each of them stepped aside from their jobs to create a business that they are passionate about.

The final visit was to Street Child, a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities to unfortunate children in West Africa. Florian Weimert, a development and marketing manager, led the discussion and introduced a business case for the team. The business case involved creating a news story that would go viral to advertise one of Street Child’s musical festivals.

Although the team did not leave until Saturday morning, they had their “farewell” dinner on Thursday evening with tapas and a passionate flamenco show, performed by some of the finest flamenco professionals in Spain.

On the last full day, the team visited Tarragona, Spain and El Poblet monastery. Tarragona was a prominent area during the Roman Empire. El Poblet was founded in 1150 and is located hidden in the mountains, where there are still 32 professed monks.

The trip served as an excellent opportunity for the Leadership students to learn more about how businesses operate in foreign markets. They were able to immerse themselves in the Spanish culture and visit businesses from a bunch of different sectors.

The team is already looking forward to next year’s trip although the destination has yet to be determined.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 print edition.

Contact Andrew at


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