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V ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid

14/06/2011 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Madrid

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V ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid


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"Business strategy in a digital world".

Participants at the 5th ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid had the opportunity to hear first-hand about interesting business success stories involving the Internet, a medium that is leaving its mark on society’s present and future course. As an instructive exercise in networking, the conference also strengthened ties among alumni.

The 5th ESADE Alumni Annual Conference was held recently at a conference centre on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid. The conference, which was broadcast via Twitter, explored ways of addressing the challenges of a global world evolving at a dizzying pace, especially in the field of new technologies. The highlight of the conference was a roundtable entitled "Business Strategy in a Digital World", featuring Javier Rodríguez Zapatero, General Manager of Google Spain and Portugal, and Gustavo García Brusilovsky, CEO of BuyVIP, a company owned by Amazon. These two top-level speakers captured the attention of the packed auditorium; attendance was up 30% over last year’s edition of the conference, held at Mutua Madrileña.

Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97 / SEP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni, opened the conference by welcoming the audience and thanking the event’s sponsors, "la Caixa" and Telefónica, and summing up the essence of the host association: "A place that always leaves the door open for alumni to come together to share knowledge and experiences". He then explained that the conference would focus on "previewing" trends on the Internet, a channel that is essential to today’s economic and social development.

Global optimism

The President of ESADE Alumni, Miguel Trías (MBA 89), then took the floor to point out the growth of ESADE Alumni in Madrid: "We are proud of how far we’ve come and excited about what’s yet to be done". Mr. Trías also highlighted the value of ESADE’s work at times such as these, when Spain is facing major challenges. "We must focus on talent, innovation and internationalisation – precisely the principles which guide our school’s activity", he said. Mr. Trías placed special emphasis on internationalisation, the globalising strategy that ESADE has implemented over the past decade, enabling it to "compete with the top business schools around the world".

Present and, especially, future

Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73) began her talk with an emotional tribute to the six individuals who preceded her in the post of ESADE Director General. Ms. Bieto then continued with an overview of ESADE, including its accomplishments and the challenges it is poised to tackle. She began by highlighting the recognition that ESADE has achieved on an international scale, and by sharing a few statistics that illustrate the institution’s current position: "In the past year, we have had 12,000 students, and let’s not forget that we have 42,000 alumni working in 115 different countries. Add to that our 21 research units and the 128 members of our faculty". Ms. Bieto noted that ESADE has charted its future in its 2010-2014 Strategic Plan: "As we move towards the horizon, we would like to become a leading global institution that is an inspiration to its community".

Virtual environment, real world

Pedro Navarro (MBA 67), member of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees, moderated a roundtable entitled "Business Strategy in a Digital World", featuring two speakers who, in the words of Mr. Navarro, have succeeded in the business universe thanks to their "training, experience and effort".

Gustavo García Brusilovsky began by describing BuyVIP’s path to success: "Without a doubt, the first stage is the most fun, because you have nothing to lose. It’s a time filled with uncertainty, and you learn from your mistakes". Drawing on his own experience, Mr. García Brusilovsky listed several of the keys to a successful project: "One is ambition, in the sense of sharing the dream of doing something that has never been done before; in short, innovating. And let’s not forget training. The success stories I’m familiar with all involve extraordinarily well-trained people".

In a similar vein, Javier Rodríguez Zapatero described education as the factor that can help people to "become more competitive and build a better world". Mr. Rodríguez Zapatero pointed out that we are "in the midst of a digital revolution, with the Internet showing a surprising capacity to change the environment". The Internet, he said, "is integrated in users’ lives and is causing their behaviour to migrate towards the digital world", and this can be seen in areas such as the huge number of messages sent and received every day by millions of Internet surfers. "A solid feeling of community is derived from this", he said. Other relevant facts include the expansion of e-commerce and people’s ability to access an enormous amount of information on the Internet. "As a result, we are faced with ultra-informed consumers", said Mr. Rodríguez Zapatero. On this playing field, companies must "internalise right away" the strategy of offering "competitive products and a highly customer-oriented approach".

Next came a lively question-and-answer session with the audience, led by Pedro Navarro. The questions covered a wide range of topics, including the opportunities presented by an economic downturn. Mr. García Brusilovsky noted that, during the 2008-2009 period, his company’s results were optimal. "When the economy is bad, the sale of bargains is well-received", he said. "We had huge amounts of stock from suppliers that we had to get rid of". More broadly, Mr. García Brusilovsky observed that a recession is a good time to start a business: "Once things go back to normal, you’ve got a head start over those who failed to establish themselves". Mr. Rodríguez Zapatero pointed out that some companies, faced with the economic downturn, reconsidered their strategy and moved their marketing functions to the Internet. Nevertheless, he warned that "if the trend holds, this will affect everyone".

One of the more enlightening questions posed by an audience member was: "What mistakes have you made and would like to keep making?" Mr. García Brusilovsky did not esitate to answer: "Getting a large number of partners involved in projects. This makes it difficult to make decisions in situations such as rounds of financing. But I can’t help following this behaviour, since I tend to work in a chorus". Mr. Rodríguez Zapatero confessed that he tends to commit sins of excess rather than insufficiency. "One thing I will always do", he declared emphatically, "even though the team may think I’m being unrealistic, is to be an ambitious dreamer".

This enthusiasm dovetailed perfectly with the closing remarks of Pedro Riera (Lic&MBA 67), President of the Madrid Advisory Committee (MAC). Mr. Riera highlighted the success of the conference and thanked everyone who helped make this essential ESADE event a reality. After Mr. Riera’s remarks, cocktails were served to the participants.




All the alumni get together every year at the ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid. This V edition titled "Business strategy in a digital world" will be held by Javier Rodríguez Zapatero, Director of Google Spain and Portugal, and Gustavo García Brusilovsky, CEO of BuyVIP, an Amazon EU company.

7.00 pm Doors open

7.30 pm Welcome and introduction by Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97), Director of ESADE Alumni
Speech by Miguel Trías (Lic&MBA 89), President of ESADE Alumni
Speech by Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73), Director General of ESADE

7.45 pm Roundtable: "Business Strategy in a Digital World"

Javier Rodríguez Zapatero, General Manager of Google in Spain and Portugal
Gustavo García Brusilovsky, CEO of BuyVIP, an Amazon EU company

Pedro Navarro (MBA 67), Member of the Board of Trustees of the ESADE Foundation

9.00 pm Closing remarks and networking cocktail





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