The three months later

Autumn. Valencia covered in rain. Routine.

I am inside my car, a greyish morning. I am surrounded by vehicles. The traffic light is red, the radio is on. It comes suddenly, unexpected.

London calling to the faraway towns…

I exchange a frown for a smile. It has been three months since my visit to Mr. Dickens’ city. OUR visit, actually.

One needs time and perspective to evaluate things properly. When the Two Weeks Programme was finished, it was impossible for me to reflect on the results. In that very moment, the only thing I could think about was the fun, the amazing experience, the euphoria of having enjoyed London.

Indeed, it was a great experience. The feeling is unchanged. Yet, now I am capable of considering more objectively the practical aspects.

It is beyond any doubt, I was marked by this adventure. I came back to Spain having met loads of interesting people, and many of them have turned into very good friends.

I came back home with the certainty that I had grown as a person, as well as professionally. Future continues to be imposing, but now I am convinced I will know how to deal with it. It is just a grander adventure. It is all about passion, will and hard-work.

I came back home convinced that in this life one has to do what one likes most. No matter what it might be.

I came back home with London calling at the top of the dial…

 

PS: My sincere thanks to Ana, co-author of this blog and friend, who one day decided, not knowing me at all, to include me in this initiative.

PSS: Our –Ana and Berta’s- most sincere thanks to Antonio, who made the Two Weeks Programme possible. And to all the people and companies that got involved in the project and made our visit to London an unforgettable experience.

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Day 11: livable + efficient + sustainable

Schneider thinks smarts cities must be efficient, livable and sustainable. Waking up at 06:15 in the morning and traveling by bus, underground and train (plus a 20 minutes walk) might be energy efficient (as opposed to driving), but it certainly doesn’t make London livable.

Jokes aside, Schneider’s project to build smart cities could be considered by some people less ambitious than IBM, but it’s certainly more realistic in my opinion. They think a different approach is necessary to decrease the carbon dioxide emissions even though the energy demand is growing and growing. To do that, they want to focus on energy, water, public services, buildings and home, connections and mobility.

Do you want to know the best part of the day? Today, Schneider’s HR didn’t TELL us about soft skills, they actually gave us the opportunity TO SHOW THEM our soft skills. Much appreciated…

Day 10: It is all about people

Some years ago I decided that one of my favourite parts of this city was the More London Square. It was a suitable desicion, indeed: the dark paving pointing towards one unique place, the glass buildings framing the perspective and closing the view the Tower Bridge accompanied by the City Hall (a Sir Norman Foster’s building). The crown’s jewel.
Moreover, I had never imagined that one day I would be entering one of those high  and imposing buildings which surround the area. Ernst & Young is a ninth storey structure made of steel and glass. It looks directly into the River Thames, providing its offices with a breath-taking sight. However, there is more than splendid views inside the building. There is variety and challenge. There is team working. But above all, the company is made of people. As James Meader said, it is not just about consultancy, but about doing consulting in a different way and creating a partnership with their clients. They do really care about sustainable delivery.
Through some study cases, they were able to explain to us what the company aims to achieve and how it has to be done, analyzing the problem and studying it carefully, trying to  understand and sum up all the information they have about the client. It is important to know exactly what these needs are and what advise should be the wisest.
After a morning spent in diving through the advisory world, we went straight to Moorgate to visit Bloomberg. This part, yet, I leave it to someone -Miguel Mira- who is more well up on the subject:
In a world where every big company sees itself in the necessity of raising money by being listed in the stock market just to fulfil its ambitions of growth, here it comes Bloomberg to break the rule. The power of an idea was enough for Michael Bloomberg to launch a company with just the compensation of his redundancy at an investment bank. Nowadays, it employs more than 13000 employees by just handling information.
The information, provided by several sources, such as public institutions (ECB, Bank of England, Fed,..), is processed or transferred in a way that creates added value to most of the prominent entities in the world (JP Morgan, Nomura, Citi, Bank of America, Santander, ….). Commodities, trading, exchange rates, fixed income, stock market, they are monitored by their especial platform not only on a static approach, but in a dynamic one. Any client can drop a question (no matter how unthinkable it is) to be swiftly answered, many times in a customised way.
Another thing that really strikes at every outsider is the transparency of the building, the abundance of colours, the aquariums that are spread around every office for the stillness of the workers. Workers which are definitely appreciated and impeccably trained in such a way that the tour of Daniel & Company and the HR presentation turned out to be not only highly motivating but illustrative of the whole range of services provided by Bloomberg beyond the well-known media business.

Day 09: Ignorance

Canary Wharf is an amazing neighbourhood to work in and, when you enter Canada Square 20, it seems BP is the king of the land (with 6 floors and its own Starbucks).

As a chemical engineer who leave near the refinery in Castellon, I was only familiar with its petrochemistry business line. BP is much more than that. Take BP IST (Integrated Supply and Trading), in charge of BP’s trading operations around the globe.

This is what I learned today: I am an ignorant and that is unacceptable. I might not be interested in working in the field, but considering I deal every day with oil derivatives, I better start paying attention.

In the afternoon, Francisco A. Gonzalez Redondo, professor of the University Complutense of Madrid on a one year sabbatical in London, told us some facts about the history of Spanish scientific in the UK.

Who would have though Spain had within its scientific ranks the precursor of things such as the algebraic machine, remote control or airships?

Did you know the first chess automaton player was invented by a Spaniard, Torres Quevedo?

Well, you can find all this information and much more in www.torresquevedo.org

Day 08: Part 2

It was a Monday morning: the insistent alarm clock piercing through my eardrums; the sleep hanging on the eyes and the remainder of the weekend on the memory. There was no doubt: it was Monday. But just to make it more clear, the Westbound of the Central Line decided to give up and take a morning break. Wonderful, indeed. What else could I have wished for a Monday as there is no better thing that to be on the train for more than an hour knowing you are late?

Fortunately, the delay ended up being not too serious and when I reached Waterloo Station it was 9.30 and the presentation of Bouygues had just begun. In the end, it was not that bad.

At Bouygues they explained us how the construction sector is running nowadays and the degree of commitment they have in approximately 80 countries all around the world. Such a leading enterprise. Of course, we discused about the crisis and the way the recession is affecting us and the construction and architecture world. The conclusion, though, is pretty obvious: if people keep working keenly and passionately, the society will not fail to keep progressing.

Our visit to the Shakespeare’s Globe in the evening was by far the best part of the day. We were not familiarised with “The Taming of the Shrew”, but after adapting our ears to the Shakespearian English we enjoyed the play so much. Methinks it was splendid.

However, that was not the end of Monday. The moment we decided to get back home we realised that the Central Line was still on strike. I hope she enjoyed her holiday as much I savoured the suspensions.

Day 05: Social Corporate Responsability

Yesterday, we had a full day. We visited IBM, Santander Bank and Foster & Partners. Consulting, banking and architecture in one day, a brilliant combination. And then I got home, checked my e-mail. And there it was, an e-mail from Deloitte, telling me they had received my CV and Congratulations! I will soon be contacted for the next selection process matching my profile.

All is good news. Funny thing: I HAVE NEVER SENT MY CV TO DELOITTE. And before you ask: yes, I am sure. Obviously, it really doesn’t matter if Linked In has been doing things better than I ever expected (and by itself, which could be quite scary, and the story for the next Christian Bale film); or if my networking skills are superb, or if I simply have a fairy godmother. The most important is I AM IN, and by God, they will have to kick me out!

But, for now, there is not much I can do about Deloitte. So let’s focus on what we did on Friday.

I am embarrassed to say that, until I joined this programme, I always associated IBM with hardware. Well, ladies and gentlemen, IBM is a consultant company, and their most important product nowadays is ‘Smarter Planet’. A smart planet is an instrumented, intelligent and interconnected planet. All presentations were helpful (some more than others I must say) and well structured. I specially enjoyed listening to Celia Guix, who explained to us IBM employees have the possibility to apply to be part of a particular project. The key is networking inside the company, which will help you keep track of what is going on and when interesting projects pop up. This is very interesting, since it enables you to try out different roles and choose projects that will help you strengthen weakness and develop you skills.

On the other hand, I felt disappointed with the answer IBM gave us when asked what the company was doing in regards of social corporate responsibility. These were their answers: ‘We educate our clients’ & ‘Very simple things that can make a big difference to the bills’.

Santander bank was another story. As a chemical engineer, I am pretty
sure I won’t work for a bank, but you never know if you will end up
working WITH a bank. And let me tell you something: I hope someday I
will be as good a saleswoman as Stephen Brooks. Everybody needs to
either sell a product, a service or yourself.
[Now, Berta’s turn]
But the day didn’t end there for us. We walked all the way from Sloane Square, crossing the Albert Bridge, to Battersea, where Foster + Partners is.
Do you know that feeling when something which you always thought as quite impossible takes place? After years of wondering how would be to be there, all of a sudden I was THERE. The architect in me felt amazed, bewildered, stupefacted. There I was, in that great building made of pure white and a magnificent view of the River Thames, sitting in a kind of boardroom and imagining how everything worked in the office while Ricardo Mateu, a partner of the company, kindly explained to us the most relevant of the projects created there.
Even if I keep reminding myself that the visit was real, I still can believe it. Whatsoever.

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