MBA Sports Management Students Touch Down in Madrid for Semana Blanca

MBA Sports Management Students

Semana Blanca brings together students from various sport-related master’s degrees at Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea, including 13 of our MBA Sports Management students.

Our MBA Sports Management Students have spent the last two weeks at a partner institution, Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea, celebrating Semana Blanca (White Week), an event that brings together students from various sport-related master’s degrees from around the world.

Semana Blanca (White Week) brings together students from various sport-related master’s degrees at Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea, with over 300 in attendance, including 13 of our MBA Sports Management students, to meet with the top managers of Real Madrid in different areas (strategy, human resources, marketing, foundation, finance). The MBA Sports Management program has been running at the Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea for over 10 years, and it keeps getting bigger and better each year.

Our MBA Sports Management Students complete this international experience at Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea, in the final trimester of their degree. This subject Residence Sport Facility Operations enables students to obtain the broadest possible perspective on all existing sports management models. The trip will include also visits to the headquarters of important sports venues such as tennis, golf, fitness and wellness, soccer and non-conventional spaces. This is one of the best experiences a Sports Management student can have, both from a managerial and an operational viewpoint since they will receive hands-on learning and apply the knowledge they have gained throughout their studies. 


White Week 2018

The first day was hosted in The Royal Box at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu – focused around the values and characteristics that are essential for a successful career in Sports Management: leadership, respect, overcoming adversity and humility. The Torrens students were fortunate enough to have lunch with Maria Saenz – Director of the Business Area of the Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea, at the Real Cafe.

“It’s not every day you get to have lunch overlooking the freshly cut Bernabeau field!” Kristian Purdie, current student


After registration, there was a welcome from D. Emiliano Butragueño – Managing Director of the Real Madrid Graduate School. Followed by Sergio Llull, Guard for the Real Madrid basketball team, “Uncle” Tony Nadal, Rafa Nadal’s uncle and longtime coach, and Zvonimir Boban, former AC Milan and Croatia soccer legend, and Deputy Secretary General of FIFA.

Mr Nadal focused on two key themes – repetition and reflection, giving advice that ‘athletes should always think and be willing to listen, never exaggerate and not consider yourself special for what you do’. He considers himself to be a teacher, rather than a trainer – something he considers a key value for his academy. The students agreed it was really impressive to have the opportunity for Q&A with these industry leaders, with lots of key takeaways to set the scene for the week ahead.

“You will never achieve great things on your own – Tony Nadal” Quote of the day from student, Madeline Head 


On the second day, students first heard from Julio Gonzalez Ronco – talking about the Real Madrid Foundation. The foundation has used the values and methodologies that underpin the Real Madrid FC organisation to set up a foundation to help thousands of children in Spain as well as around the world. The Foundation uses football as a tool to educate, feed and empower the vulnerable and the poor young people in society.

This was followed by Jose Emilio Bas and Marian Arranz to give us some insight regarding stadium management, ticketing and corporate hospitality. Pablo Laso and Alberto Herreros are the Technical Director and Head Coach, respectively, of the Real Madrid basketball team. They discussed how they adapted to retirement and the work they did before taking up their current roles, as well as the role that they play as coaches – both agreeing ‘[they are] constantly learning from their players, as the players are there to innovate. [They also stressed] how important it was to learn from every coach, whether they were good or bad.’

“Did you know the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for a VIP experience at a Real Madrid FC game is 73. This is on par with companies like Apple and Amazon!” Fun Fact of the day from student Vincent Mauric

The afternoon session was undoubtedly the highlight of the day for any Real FC fan or any football fan for that matter. A panel discussion with Roberto Carlos, Santiago Solari, Alvaro Arbeloa and Alvaro Benito. The key discussion points were all about youth development and their experiences as Real FC Juniors, or their interaction with the development side of the club. 


Day three offered the students the following insights into achieving your dreams and the impact of digitisation on international brands, from speakers: Pilar Jerico, author, PhD, Harvard Scholar and head of Be-Up consulting firm, Rafael de Los Santos, Director of New Media Real Madrid, and Cesar Cernuda, CEO Microsoft LATAM.

  1. Make a list of your dreams (like John Goddardthe world’s greatest goal achiever!)
  2. Make fear your ally and discover determination
  3. Put the consumer at the centre of your work/strategy
  4. Company culture is the heart of your brand, ensure you embrace change and technology

Finally, Pedro Diaz moderated a round-table of Real Madrid Graduate School Alumni to discuss their life after the masters, the challenges they faced, and any advice they wanted to give the audience.

“You could be the most promising individual with god given talent, but it can be taken away from you by an event out of your control. Hope for the best and plan for the worst.” Quote of the day from student, Niraj Thakker 


Last night the students were able to attend the Madrid Open Tennis, and really enjoyed the atmosphere from the crowds. Did you know Madrid doesn’t allow plastic water bottles in their stadiums – so people don’t litter, or throw them at players.

Day four’s session started with High Jump gold medalist from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Ruth Beitia, who reinforced the consistent themes given throughout the week by all speakers, that career success is an embodiment of hard work, perseverance, determination and daring to dream. Jesus Bueno, VP Basketball Operations in EMEA for NBA gave his views on the future of sports, and how it will continue to develop, with the international growth potential. Mr Bueno’s key message was, ‘whilst content consumption and distribution will always evolve with the changing behaviour of fans, the product (the sport) will always remain the most important thing.’

Tying in with Laureate International Universities – Here For Good and B-Corp values, Enrique Balboa spoke with us about corporate social responsibility at Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea. The values that underpin the club also go to the heart of their governance framework – there are numerous policies and codes of ethics in place within the company to drive accountability and transparency.

“Football stopped WWI for a moment… why can’t it help to improve the world?” [CSR at Real Madrid Foundation]” Fun Fact of the day from student, Kristian Purdie 


On the last day of White Week, students had the opportunity to hear from Jose Manuel Sanchez, MD for Real Madrid FC, who shared with them the reasons for the club’s consistently high level of achievement. The most consistent sports organisations are always the ones that are administered better than the competition, and Real Madrid FC appears to be no different. Jose conceded that there are still challenges in the future, mostly how the digital transformation will affect the game, as well as how football content will be consumed.

To round out the week, Enhamed Enhamed spoke to the group. Blind since the age of 8, Enhamed took up swimming and has won 6 Paralympic gold medals. He is now a coach and motivational speaker, who spoke to the group about the ‘hunger to overcome’. He narrowed this down to a few key attributes:

Habits – having a strong commitment to work hard everyday
Learning – humility as a guide to lifelong learning
Goals – visualise yourself achieving your goals, and don’t cheat yourself
Goodwill – having a positive effect on others through your own work
Resistance – only when you get to your limits can you discover that you can give more
Excellence – striving for this as a daily habit 

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