Have you ever dreamed of going on a trip across the world to visit the Real Madrid Football Club in Spain?
For the lucky Sports Management students at Torrens, they don’t have to imagine what that would be like!
Every year, as part of the long-standing partnership between Real Madrid Graduate School (Universidad Europea) and Torrens University, a group of MBA (Sports Management) students get to fly to Spain for two weeks and get an insight into how the club works at ground level.
They get to visit stadiums, meet managers, learn from industry professionals and get some hands-on experience at every level of the club’s business operations.
So, what’s this exciting experience actually like? Of course, the best people to ask are the students themselves!
Nathan Leaman and Sophie Mcllewan are two of the students who participated in the two-week industry placement this year.
Torrens asked them to do a little day-by-day reflection on some of their experiences, and here’s what they have to say.
Day 1, May 6: Nathan
Today we visited: Alcobendas Campus, Wanda Metropolitano
Today’s learning was: Stadium design, management and profitability
Fun Fact for the day: The link between the ancient colosseums and modern day sporting stadium as entertainment venues.
What was something you discovered? For 7.6 per cent of the, year stadiums are used for match days.
“My first impression of Madrid was how busy it was, people are always on the move.”
Day 2, May 7: Nathan
Today we visited: The Bernabeau
Today’s learning was: The importance of VIP areas in Stadiums, and providing a luxurious customer experience.
Fun Fact for the day: That for Real Madrid there is a direct relationship between the team’s performance and the economic performance of the club.
What was something you discovered? That Sergio Ramos has his own personal box at the Bernabeu.
“The Bernabeu is a big stadium, which maintains its historical charm as well as providing today’s needs to consumers.”
Day 3, May 8: Sophie
Today we visited: University of Real Madrid, for lectures.
Today’s learning was: Events, Staging the Olympics, and the tender process for events. In the afternoon we listened to a passionate explanation of the Spartan race in Spain from Angel Sanchez.
What was something you discovered? The difference in the key stakeholders in an event: the bidding process stakeholders (the owner of the event, TV right holders, government), versus stakeholders of the actual event (athletes, general public, media, the citizens of city where the event is held).
I found it particularly interesting how ‘cut throat’ and strategic the bidding process was. It seems more about lobbying than creating the best plan (and the best event!).
“A very rich lecture this morning with plenty of anecdotes and unparalleled insight into bidding and tender processes. Humorous interludes and stories interlaced with lots of background information. At one point we were told about how a bid was thrown out of the tender process because the organisers simply hadn’t paid the fee on time!”
Day 4, May 9: Sophie
Today we visited: Two gyms: a public sports facility and a low cost gym, both large in scale.
Today’s learning was: Differences is sporting facilities offerings.
Fun Fact for the day: Students were amazed at the grand scale of the handball facilities (very large arena) and how it is a popular sport in Spain, particularly in the north. It looked like a huge sized investment in the facility.
What was something you discovered? We learned about ownership of gyms: public versus private, council run or run on council land (but owned privately). Interesting investment and ownership distinctions were made, which are different to Australia.
“Beautiful weather today to be walking outside, and in the sunshine. We did, however, today get our first taste of Madrid peak hour traffic! Many of the students commented that it was their first time visiting a velodrome – and it was definitely our first time seeing a handball court (which is very different to the game we all played in primary school in Australia).”
Day 5, May 10: Nathan
Today we visited: Ciudad Real Madrid (Real Madrid Training Facility)
Today’s learning was: That stadiums need to make themselves appealing to the consumer they are trying to attract through interior decorating
Fun Fact for the day: There are four full-size basketball courts at Ciudad Real Madrid, and also 11 Soccer (football) fields.
What was something you discovered? That there is a hotel for players located at their training facility
“Today we spent time with students from UCFB and did a tour of the Real Madrid training facility. In groups, we also gave our final dissertation. The different groups enjoyed listening to each other and learned from one another.”
Day 13, May 16: Nathan
What have you learned from this experience?
“You need to follow your dreams and to work hard and to make connections to help those dreams come true. I learned that motivation and commitment and passion are key ingredients for success.”
How have you improved your knowledge of Sports Management?
“The scheduled has improved my knowledge of Sports Management by giving me an insight into sport from a participants view and also and an administrative view of organizing events and starting new companies.
My favourite speaker was Charlie Stillitano. This is because I could feel his passion for the words that he spoke. He is passionate about bringing the global game to his home (USA), has made the International Cup a successful business.”
What were you surprised by?
“I was surprised by how big Real Madrid Club is. People from all over the world come to the Bernabeu to do a stadium tour and watch games, or follow the club online. The club has more social media followers than Nike!”
Day 14, May 17: Sophie
What have you learned from this experience?
“Both the lecturers and the speakers spoke with passion and about being different, going the extra mile, exceeding expectations, offering ideas, networking and valuing yourself and taking pride in your achievements. Beyond purely sports talk, this was absolute motivation.”
Has this experience enriched you? If so, how?
“This experience was the highlight of my time at Torrens and was worth the wait. I’m so happy to have met my colleagues and created lifelong bonds. It was a unique experience to see inside the mammoth Real Madrid organisation.
I’m excited to bring back some of the skills we learnt in class from our experienced and entertaining facilitators. Speakers from the sporting world spoke with surprising candour, which was very refreshing.”
What is your perception of the sports industry and sports management, after this experience?
“We received a very different take on the sports industry from the most successful football club in the world. We saw success from the top – fame, fortune, awards, trophies – and we also saw humble, hard work and passion. This was a lesson in our own humility, but also the grand scale that can be reached in the sports industry.”
What are your goals and aspirations for the future after you graduate?
“To apply the practical lessons from the Torrens course and the trip to Madrid. I also want to maintain contact with the cohort from the trip, and hopefully we can assist each other in our careers.
Our final case study really pushed us to ‘think outside the box’ and not simply send our resume to contacts but to send our ideas and plans and show what value we can bring to a sporting organisation. The students were all invigorated by this motivation and we left on a very positive note full of hope.”
If you want to get over to Spain and visit Real Madrid too, like Nathan and Sophie, you might want to find out more about the Master of Business (Sports Management) at Torrens that allowed them to take this incredible opportunity.
If you’re not at a Master’s level yet, you consider checking out the Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) instead.
Here’s a final word of advice from Sophie, for any students who are considering participating in the Real Madrid industry placement program.
“Arrive motivated to work hard and reap the rewards. It was a great personal challenge working in Spain and adhering to a Madrid day, siesta and all!
Make sure to join Linkedin and make contact with all your lecturers, as they are very happy to help you and even become friends and mentors.
Bring business cards and embrace the opportunity to meet you people such as the English class that was part of our lecturers – they brought new ideas and challenged us to represent Australia.”
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