During the second term’s reading week, MSc Management students were offered the possibility of going on a study trip to a European capital, to be chosen out of three options. The idea was to get to learn about a new place, from a professional perspective, but without it having any coursework, exams or any other source of stress attached. No need to say that along with that came a big dose of non-business-related fun, be it touristy visits, intense nightlife or just to enjoy our time with our cohort – there were fifty of us in Prague, so one couldn’t possibly get bored.
What brought me to choose Prague was how little I knew about the Czech Republic in many aspects, but specifically about its business ecosystem, its main industries, etc. The most surprising and interesting aspect of the trip was precisely to discover the economic reality of a country that, even as an EU member, remains very unknown for most of us. We had the chance to have a quite comprehensive grasp of how the Czech Republic is positioned in Europe and in the world in various industries. Personally, I was surprised to see how diverse and solid the economy of such a small country is, and it was interesting to hear experts from different fields talking about how they see the future and how they are preparing for it.
We visited companies as diverse as Skoda, the car manufacturer owned by the VW group; Czech Invest, a government’s accelerator and foreign investment attraction office; the Ceska Sporitelna Bank, one of the biggest Czech banks; Avast, a global cyber security firm; and Sotio, a biomedical company specialised in drugs for cancer. Additionally, we had the chance to attend the presentation event of WeWork, which had just started operating in Prague. I found particularly interesting the visit to Sotio and to Avast, as they both are very innovative companies working on two of the most rapid-moving sectors nowadays. In both cases the speaker was a member of the direction board and their presentations were very insightful and inspiring.
Concretely at Avast, we had the opportunity to hear about the current challenges that the sector and the company face from the commercial director of the company, and then we could see the kinds of things they work on daily, with an impressive screen on the background, showing a world map with the cyber attacks that were taking place everywhere in the globe at that instant (no pictures allowed!).
Apart from the more “professional” aspect of the trip, I personally enjoyed a lot spending a few days with my cohort, and during the visits and during our free time we had the chance to create a much stronger bond among us. In our free time between visits we wandered around the city centre, sat on a terrace to enjoy the stunning weather, and visited some touristic sights such as the Castle of Prague and an obligatory visit to Karlovy, the five-story club that is supposed to be one of the biggest in Europe. However, if there’s something that makes Prague memorable, that is without doubt the Czech beer; world-class taste at an unbelievably affordable price. The party was served.
Overall the trip was a great experience, a good opportunity to take a break from the course in London, to build our knowledge about the realities of business in another country, and to create stronger bonds among the cohort. I am very much looking forward to the international elective I will be undertaking in May in Paris, which is going to be a more professional trip where we will apply what we have learned in class to a real business problem.
Pol Beà Navarro
MSc Management, 2019