10 Days. 5 continents. Day 8

Join my camera and I as we explore what the greatest degree on Earth might look like. I’m meeting brilliant minds, going behind-the-scenes at some of the world’s coolest brands and discovering some amazing places to study. Day 8 began in Madrid.

Today we met Marta at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium at 9am. Marta works for International Services for the Real Madrid Graduate School at EU.

She had invited the Real Madrid graduates to join us for a tour and an interview. The security at the stadium was quite strict and we had to sign in with our passports and get our fingerprints taken.

Alex soon joined us. He is a recent graduate of the MBA (Sports Management) program and is also currently doing an internship with the Real Madrid Football Club.

We were joined by a member of the club to escort us through the stadium on our tour. We started off in the men’s changing room which was super cool. Each player has their own locker with their name and photo on it, and it was surreal to think that this is where they change before and after each game, and I was standing there! Moving further into the change room is the shower room, massage tables, and bathrooms.

Our tour continued into the Press Room, where the players or coach would meet with the press after each game. There was a man mopping and polishing the floor the whole time. It looks like they take a lot of pride in maintaining the facilities here, everything is extremely clean and perfect.

Next we went to the stands and then down onto the field. It was very cool to be there and was a great place to do our graduate interviews.

Marta told us that no guests are allowed to step foot onto the longer grass (the field) but we could stand on the short grass which is the sidelines around the field. No problem! We were just stoked to be there.

Alex was our first interviewee. It was freezing cold but he did a great job of pretending to be comfortable despite the fact I could see his lips chattering with the cold. Alex told us he had discovered a passion for marketing while studying the marketing subjects within the MBA program. He is lucky to have scored an internship with Real Madrid Football Club in their marketing team. He was a professional player in the junior league a few years ago, so he really is following his passion to remain with the club while building his marketing career.

Juan was the other graduate who came to meet with us. Juan was in Alex’s class and also recently completed the MBA (Sports Management). He comes from a finance background and also discovered his passion for marketing while completed his studies. He too has taken up an internship with Real Madrid Football Club in the hospitality and catering area. They were such cool guys! We had a great time and exchanged details.

Both Alex and Juan are not allowed to talk about their internship in any detail, it is a rule for all staff of the club.

The next thing we saw just about made my mind explode. The trophy room is INCREDIBLE! I’ve never seen anything like it, a full museum of awards, trophies, videos, animations, sounds from winning moments and more security guards than the Mona Lisa. The rooms are so well presented it really was a breathtaking experience walking through this area.

At the exact time that we were at the stadium there were over 13,000 tweets about Real Madrid taking place in the last 3 hours. There was a map of the world showing where the tweets and social activity was coming from. This was really cool. Marta and Alex told me that there was the biggest rival match coming up this weekend with Real Madrid V Barcelona – it will bring the entire city to a standstill, the streets would be bare and everyone would be either at home, in a bar or at the stadium watching the game. I promised that if I was not on a plane I would make the effort to watch the game with full support.

The trophy room was so sparkly I just about needed to reach for my sunnies. Even the Basketball area was flooded with gold and silver trophies some over a metre tall. Long trumpets hung from the ceiling playing audio from some of the most significant sporting moments. Alex explained to me that the main cabinet, holding 10 major league trophies were more than any other team in the world had in their own cabinets.

I took a selfie to be included in the fans mosaic wall. This was just an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with the team and their achievements. Respect! Marta was very patient while I ran around ogling the trophy room. We finished up and said adios to Alex and then headed to Alcobendas campus.

I met briefly with Christina Gonzalez who is the Director of Real Madrid Graduate School. We then met with the MBA Director, Melissa. She was so very happy to do an interview with us. She told us about the program and what she loved most about working with Real Madrid and EU. She is very passionate about the fact that the Club’s Executives all take an active role in the teaching of the program and the students get a real life, current and hands on approach to learning. She gets really excited to see the students graduate at the stadium and is most passionate about the fact that the classes are so multicultural and diverse. She currently has students from all of the world with very different backgrounds – one is an engineer who is looking for new challenges, one is a Paralympian who is looking for a career in management, and there are a many other professional athletes from all codes of sports.

Nuno continued the campus tour with us showing us the dedicated zone and classrooms for the Real Madrid programs. He explained that each faculty has its own branded zone which looks awesome. There is a map on the wall of the different schools that offer the Real Madrid programs around the world. I was happy to see Australia on the map. They offer the Real Madrid program in 12 universities across 12 countries and more than 40 nationalities at their Spain campus alone.

They just recently opened a new business school called Impact Business School. It was opened by Steve Wozniak, CEO of Apple. Steve Wozniak launched the school at the event and also answered questions from the students that were submitted via Twitter.

We had lunch with Nuno in the cafeteria. It’s normal for students to have two courses at lunch. So I had grilled fish and potatoes with a salad. After Italy and Switzerland I’m pretty sure I’ve put on 5 kilos in a week, so this was my attempt to be good for a change.

The last area we discovered at this campus was the student incubator lab for start-ups. It is called The Hub. Here students will prepare a proposal to the university of which the top proposals are selected and supported by the university to get up and running. When it is ready, the student will then pitch to an audience of investors in this room. Its really inspiring to see this support for the student start-up community.

We said our goodbyes to Nuno and Marta. They had been so wonderful and generous with their time. And we made our way into the city to meet with two companies and see how they operate in Madrid.

Our first stop was The Apartment Strategic Communication at 3pm. We were met by Alex and Mauricio who are the directors. They were so warm and inviting and super excited that we had chosen their office to do our filming. Their office was gorgeous. But they insisted that they needed to spend 5 minutes tidying everything up before we switched on the cameras. Pedro the intern came to talk to us about what he is doing here at The Apartment, he was enjoying it very much working in this creative space. The whole team were on board and excited to be part of our film.

Mauricio agreed he would be our tour guide and will show me through the office and to his desk where he will be interning for the day.

We explored their showroom where they had their fashion department, hospitality department and retail department on display. The room was filled with beautiful designer garments, a display case with bottles of Ruinart champagne and golden skills, and an H&M DJ booth that they were preparing for event next week. We met the social media team, design team and communications team. Everybody was so lovely and friendly and it seemed like a very innovative and fun place to be working. They had great artwork hanging from every wall.

Mauricio told me that they had only been in operation for just over 2 years, and yet they had some major clients on their portfolio including Tag Heuer, InterContinental Hotels, H&M and more. They had grown to a team of 18 pretty quickly and it looks like they have found a formula for success.

I was feeling really inspired and was (almost) ready to hand over my CV and move in. What an awesome team! The whole team joined us in the foyer for an office photo and we said Muchas Gracias and were on our way to our next appointment.

Our next appointment was only a ten minute walk from the Apartment, in another very trendy and arty part of town. We were to meet with Gonzalo who is the founder and CEO of Steve Mono, a leading leather accessories manufacturer. Steve managed a global operation with just the help from one employee Louis.

Gonzalo and Louis worked in a small workshop/studio/office in a cobbled street. They had been in this location three and a half years, and Gonzalo had been running the business for just 8 years.

He prides himself on gathering all his materials from Spain, north, south and central spain in order to support the local economy.

The studio was very tidy and minimalistic and opened out into a small organised office space. The showroom featured some very classic handbags, clutches, wallets and coin purses. The colours of winter season were red, brown, orange and black. Suede shoes came in yellow and blue, and belts in many colours. His bestseller is the man’s leather briefcase.

Gonzalo gave me the official tour of the showroom and the office pointing out each item on display. Then he took me back to the office area where he was going to teach me how to process an order and prepare the stock for shipment. I was taught the intricate detail of polishing the leather bags, neatly rolling the shoulder strap into a tight ‘doughnut’ shape and stuffing the bag with tissue paper to maintain its best shape.

Then he would put it into a branded bag and into a box. Golzalo showed where the order is on the computer and how he would mark off the order and prepare for shipment. A fair amount of time and work went into this process and getting it right. This is obviously the high quality that Gonzalo continues to produce which keeps his customers and distributors coming back. He told me that he has two stockists in Sydney, one of them based at the Bow and Arrow in Manly. I must pay them a visit! 50% of his production goes to Asia, mainly Japan, Korea and China. And he travels 7 times per year to the Paris, New York and Tokyo fashion shows.

We thanked Gonzalo and Louis for their time and since we had 2 more hours to kill before heading to the airport, we had one more stop to tick off our list – Mercado San Miguel. This is a vibrant and colourful marketplace for fresh food, wine and sweets. We explored the fruit displays, the oyster shucker, the thousands of sweet treats (YUM) and the unusual looking meats. I couldn’t go past the black paella. It looked weird, but smelt so good! The man behind the counter couldn’t speak any English, and my Spanish is pretty terrible, so we still had no idea what was in it but it tasted pretty delicious! I have a feeling it was squid ink, but who knows.

It seems every single night the people of Madrid are out and about, dining in the streets, drinking in the bars, shopping at the malls… there really is a reason to celebrate every single night! Follow my journey on Facebook for more and keep checking back on the blog for more updates.