Friday 27 October 2006

Madrid Part 1

Way back in August, I’d read a thread on the IMD MBA 2007 web forum about a get-to-know-your-classmates weekend in Madrid, organised by Javier Asensio. With some Airmiles to burn, I thought I’d take full advantage of the opportunity. This was going to be a serious weekend, with Javier pulling strings at the Prado for a private tour of the museum’s special collection.

OK, I exaggerate a little. Still, I knew in advance that the people I’d be meeting were not run-of-the-mill: these are the business leaders of the future. After all, IMD bills the MBA class as 90 exceptional people who will shape the future of business. Hmm.

So when I got an email from Greg Davis to meet up in London last Sunday, I gratefully accepted, partly so that I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed meeting everyone at the same time. Greg managed to bring Amir Ahmad, Chief Simplification Officer of mobile telecoms to internet company Txtfo. Perrine and I were also glad to meet Greg’s wife, Jodie, and Michael, the partner of another of our classmates, Anna, who coincidentally is in Ghana right now.


Greg and I happened to be on the same flight but didn’t spot each other until we arrived in Madrid airport. In the taxi to the hotel, I was ashamed to admit that I’d let him down by not bringing my running gear, as I’d promised back in London. He eased my conscience by telling me he probably wouldn’t go for a run. Except that as soon as we’d checked in, around 6pm, Greg went for a run and I went with Ivica Pavic, with whom I was sharing a room, to join some of the rest of the group at a tapas bar. I imagined they were having coffee in the last of the sunshine and a shot of caffeine would do me some good.

I didn’t realise, however, that I was out for the evening, that we’d be heading to dinner from there and that my first drink would be beer. I had the privilege of meeting some of the finest young business minds around Europe: Caroline Hamrit, Thomas Buss, Bianca Chinescu as well as Paul Gabie.

We had a couple more beers before taking the scenic route to the next tapas bar via the Plaza de Espana and the Royal Palace. By the time we left the second bar, the rest of the group had joined, we’d consumed several bottles of wine and a lot of beer. I had also gorged myself on a small piece of bread with a lump of tuna mix on top - dinner.

Another bar and OJ got to know some of his compatriots.

If the next paragraph appears to be in note form, it is because my recollection is in note form. A little walk and a long-ish queue to get into a small bar with a dance floor downstairs and a balcony upstairs. Some dancing and drinking. The world’s fastest/shortest dance act ever performed on the miniscule dance floor while the many punters were shoved into the tight corners to allow the performers to show their skills. Very impressive. Some actividades incontroladas. OJ got to know one of his compatriots even better. Some people stayed longer, some left earlier. I think it was late when I took my leave. Well, it was some time after 7am when I got to bed.

Meanwhile, Goncalo and Sophia, having driven from Porto, at 4.30am were busily trying to check in to their room at the hotel, except that between Ming Teck and Paddy Jansen, the couple’s room had been occupied. I’m not sure I’d have been quite as jovial as they were about it over breakfast.

Breakfast, actually, was a quick coffee and croissant in the hotel café, around 1.15pm, before the scenic route to lunch. With just a little dinner and a lot of alcohol, even my rarely hungover constitution was performing below par. But I gave up regretting drinking excessively some time ago.