Students on the road – Athens, Greece
Doing business in a recovering economy: Experiencing Greece
Wheels up for a group of 15 Athabasca University MBA students who have arrived in Athens, Greece. This group of students will spend the week exploring and participating in on-site lectures, and tours of local businesses for their required in-residence MBA elective.
Arrival & get to know you (pre-day 1): Sunday, October 15
MBA students have arrived! Today was an optional group tour of the Acropolis with a guide. We met at 10:30 am in the lobby and headed off to the metro station. Side note – one of our students witnessed a pickpocket in action, his efforts were foiled – he dropped the wallet, we picked it up and handed it over the rightful owner.
On to the Acropolis Museum, our guide Hera took us through the mammoth building, the artifacts are amazing. The museum has glass floors in parts of the building so that you can see below to the ruins. Once the tour of the museum concluded we then climbed the hill to the “rock” to the Acropolis and the Parthenon. I don’t think words can adequately describe what we saw. Truly awe inspiring, incredible to think of how this was all constructed.
Following the tour the group descended from the hill to the area known as Plaka – we enjoyed a great meal, lunch here is from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, coffee is at 5:00 – 6:00 pm, dinner is from 8:00 pm on, I think we are having some trouble adapting to our new schedule!
Upon arrival back at the hotel, the students made plans to get together with their groups to start work on their presentations. Let the games begin!
Day 1: Monday, October 16
This morning, we made the short walk from the hotel to the ALBA School of Business. The students participated in lectures on topics such as, The Greek Debt Crisis and The European Union: A Dichotomous Model of Economic Growth – Prospects of Growth by Dean, Kostas Axarloglou, ALBA School of Business; The History of Greece through Economic Lenses, by Dr. Ioanna Pepelasis, Associate Professor of History and Economics ALBA School of Business; and The Greek Business Community Now, by Dr. George Xirogiannis, Director, Industry Growth and Infrastructure, Federation of Greek Industries.
In the evening, students had client visits and continued to work on their presentations. A long but very eventful day of learning!
Day 2: Tuesday, October 17
Today the students spent the majority of their time in class. The morning kicked off with a discussion and presentation by local ALBA professor Alexis Komselis. He spoke on, From Family Business to Tech Start-ups: A Journey Through the Entrepreneurship Map of Greece. For the remainder of the afternoon students worked with ALBA professor George Theriou on their group case studies and prepping to present.
Later on, the students participated in a workshop called Networking for a Lifetime – the facilitator was Maria Moragiannis, Director, Career & Alumni Office. The workshop participants included ALBA students from their MBA program. The workshop was very loud and very energetic!
Tonight the students will rehearse and put the final touches on their presentations of their case studies.
Day 3: Wednesday, October 18
Presentation day! The three groups of students delivered their final presentations to the clients and to the instructors. Dr. Alex Kondra, MBA Program Director & Associate Professor, Organizational Theory; Dr. George Thereou, Professor ALBA Graduate Business School; and Alexis Komselis, Director of ALBA Hub for Entrepreneurship and Development, provided feedback to both the students and clients. Final Reports are being prepared based on the feedback.
Later in the afternoon, students visited COCO-MAT, a Greek multinational award winning company and supplier of high end mattresses, bedding, and home furnishings. Members from the COCO-MAT team spoke to the students about their company, the culture, and their methods for success. Students then had the opportunity to tour the store to see firsthand what the COCO-MAT brand is all about. If the chairs in the auditorium were any indication of the comfort of the beds, I think that the Canadian team of student were sold on the product!
On a side note, we had our first experience with Greek traffic – it was craziness, and being late must be inevitable in these parts! We also had the opportunity to drive past the 2004 Olympic site, it was quite impressive.
Day 4: Thursday, October 19
Today a little bit of relaxed downtime learning about local culture as the students partake in a tailor designed photography and walking tour in the Historical Centre of Athens. And an adventure as we attempt to maneuver the local metro! Later the students headed to the Chamber of Commerce to visit the Athens Startup Business Incubator…what a beautiful building! While there they visited a collaborative work space and had and interactive session with some of the startups.
Day 5, final day wrap-up and goodbye’s: Friday, October 20
Heading into the last day of the in-residence elective but still a very full and busy day! First-up, a cosmetics company – APIVITA – where bees, yes bees, play a very important role. Students and faculty were able to don beekeeping attire and see hives up close and see examples of the crops used in their products. Students were then given a tour of the building, totally sustainable and green. Students also had the incredible opportunity to meet the founder of the company, Nikos Koutsianas.
The students stopped to take in a traditional fish tavern lunch across from the beautiful Mediterranean sea in Porto Rafti. Next on the agenda, a visit and tour at the family owned and run Papagiannakos Winery.
Last stop of the day was to catch the sunset at The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, from all accounts it was simply breathtaking.