Today was another exciting day of learning about the business world of Barcelona by travelng on site to organizations that play different roles in the local economy. Our first stop of the day was at Barcelona Activa, a public organization that exists to provide an entrepreneur with all the resources and information that they might need to set up their own business in Barcelona. The purpose of Barcelona Activa is to foster the growth of a business so that it can one day become a source of new jobs in the city. I think that the presence of Barcelona Activa is a tremendous aid to the economy of the city, as it makes it possible for someone who has a good idea but no experience starting a company to create their business and get off the ground. On our tour of the Barcelona Activa buildings, it was interesting to see the different types of businesses that were operating in the office space within Barcelona Activa. A few were designing apps and games, and we could see the programmers and designers as they worked. The overall experience made me consider the potential role that a government can play in creating an economy that supports entrepreneurship and start-up culture.
The next visit of the day was our tour of the BEST Port of Barcelona. The port is operated by Hutchison Port Holdings, which is headquartered in Hong Kong. Hutchison won the tender for the right to run the port in 2006 and has since developed it into a high-tech and high efficiency semi-autonomous port. On the tour we rode a bus through the site and watched as containers were moved around - from the ship to the storage area -> storage area to truck or train car. The most impressive part of the port was the automatic container moving system that facilitates all transfers to and from the storage area. Each of the 9 lanes of containers had two sliding arches that dropped down and picked up the containers to where they needed to go, with no human guidance. It was fascinating to see such a large scale operation run on its own. The other parts of the container movement were operated by human vehicle drivers, who moved the containers with impressive efficiency. We were told that they were instructed container locations via touch screens within their cabins. It was interesting to hear that the human vessel drivers’ jobs were protected by unions and that otherwise the port would have been more autonomous. Another fun fact was that although other ports in Spain brought in a larger volume of containers (like Valencia) the Barcelona port brought in the highest monetary value of goods in the country. The technology and efficiency of this port were the most memorable parts of this visit, and seeing it made me appreciate the port’s economic impact on the city and the region.
For lunch, I traveled to the ESADE Barcelona building to eat lunch with Maurici. Once again, he seemed to know everyone he encountered on a first name basis, all the way down to the kitchen staff. The layout of the food at ESADE’s cafeteria was similar to what I’ve seen at St. John’s and other universities, but the dishes all had spanish touches.
During the evening, we visited KIC Innoenergy, an investment community that focuses on investing in sustainable energy. This appointment was rescheduled from the following morning, so we felt grateful to receive some of their time. The takeaway from this session was that although the process of investing in companies that make the world better is a valuable process, it comes with many of the same challenges (and more) as other investment firms.
who is cj?
CJ is a Senior at St. John's University, hailing from Winston-Salem, NC. He studies finance in the Tobin College of Business. Following graduation at St. John's, CJ will be working on Data Analytics in the Internal Audit function at Synchrony Financial.