Nearly 100 master program graduates participate in first official Alumni Meeting in Barcelona

The Barcelona Graduate School of Economics hosted the first official meeting for graduates of its master programs on May 11, 2013 at the School’s Ciutadella Campus. Nearly 100 alumni from all master programs and cohorts participated in the event. Faculty and current Barcelona GSE students were also invited to attend some of the day’s activities.

Kicking off the Barcelona GSE Alumni & Friends Network

The Alumni Meeting in Barcelona is part of the Barcelona GSE’s Alumni & Friends initiative, which aims to build a solid network of alumni around the world that will be useful to its members for professional purposes and create a sense of community and ties to the School.

To that end, the Barcelona GSE has already hosted local meetings for alumni in several European cities this year, including London, Brussels, and three German cities (Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich). These are cities where many Barcelona GSE alumni are living, working, and studying.

The Barcelona Meeting brought together the largest gathering of alumni so far: 94 alumni from 11 countries participated in this historic event. The participants represented 13% of all master program alumni from all cohorts through the Class of 2012.

“We are thrilled to see that the first alumni meeting has had such a big response,” said Barcelona GSE Director Teresa Garcia-Milà in her welcoming remarks to participants. “It is a clear sign of the strong links that you developed during your time as a student at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics–links to your friends, to the School, and to the city of Barcelona.”

In addition to the diversity of countries and master programs, the participants also represented the variety of academic and professional career paths that Barcelona GSE alumni go on to pursue following the master program. A special “Alumni Outlook” magazine published in celebration of the Alumni Meeting contains placement statistics for the first five cohorts of master program graduates. The data included in the magazine illustrate that Barcelona GSE alumni are working and studying on five continents, in targeted positions, industries, and doctoral programs related to the masters, and that they are attractive to many of the world’s most prominent companies and institutions.

In his remarks to the alumni present at the meeting, Barcelona GSE Chairman of the Board Ramon Marimon commented that the value of education in preparing for these careers is one of the few things that all economists can agree on. “We economists might disagree on many things, but something we all agree on is the value of education and investing in your own education,” Prof. Marimon said. “That was the idea behind the Barcelona GSE, and so was the idea of receiving that education in a very international and competitive environment.”

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Barcelona GSE founder Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell gives keynote speech

The keynote speaker at the Alumni Meeting was Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell, Catalan Minister of Economy and Knowledge and founder of the Barcelona GSE. The topic of Prof. Mas-Colell’s lecture was “The European Economic Crisis: A View from the South.” The speech gave alumni an exclusive opportunity to hear from a current minister of economics who has the challenge of dealing with the current crisis.

“What’s distinctive about the European crisis is that it is a sovereign debt crisis, and it is a sovereign debt crisis, among other reasons, because of the euro, which is a currency without a sovereign,” Prof. Mas-Colell said in his lecture. “The euro was a project driven more by political commitment than by economic logic. The question is, which will prevail: political commitment or economic logic? Let me say that I still believe political commitment will prevail.”

Alumni and current students were invited to submit questions to Prof. Mas-Colell on the topic of economic policy, and he dedicated a few moments of his lecture to addressing some of them, including a question from Patrick Lavery ‘08 about potential holes in the teaching of economic theory. To hear the full question and Prof. Mas-Colell’s response, watch the video of the full lecture:

Alumni speakers call for more knowledge exchange among graduates

After Prof. Mas-Colell’s speech, alumni Miguel Angel Santos (ITFD ‘11 and Economics ‘12) and Max Simontowitz (Economics ‘12) shared their reflections on the master year in Barcelona and ideas for how Barcelona GSE alumni can collaborate and contribute to bringing economic research and real-world economic problems closer together. (Watch the full video of the alumni speeches)

Mr. Santos will join Harvard University’s Mid-Career Edward S. Mason Fellowship Program this July. Prior to this, he was coordinating the macroeconomic policy team for Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. “In the context of the Venezuelan economy, most of what we learned in the master program becomes completely useless,” Mr. Santos half-joked during his remarks. “But if you look at the big picture, you see that using common sense, the rigorous structure of thinking, and the capacity to work hard that we developed here become the most important and useful assets in such a situation.

“I think we as students have the challenge to bring closer together those two ends – the ends of practical economic policy and the end of top-notch research supporting that policy.”

Mr. Simontowitz is a trainee at Deutsche Bundesbank, and he believes that alumni networking can be very useful for sharing new research ideas and exchanging knowledge. “We have many researchers here [among the Barcelona GSE alumni], including probably all the central banks in Europe, plus the ECB and the Federal Reserve System, as well as lots of research companies and consultancies, so making this exchange happen both for the research side as well as for the practical side would be really great.”

One possible tool for Barcelona GSE Alumni to use to begin generating this type of knowledge exchange is The Barcelona GSE Voice, a blog launched earlier this year by current masters students that also welcomes articles written by alumni and faculty.

Following the lecture and alumni speeches, participants had a chance to work on their networking skills in a training session led by expert networking consultants. Other activities on the Alumni Meeting agenda included a unique team-building “drum session,” which reinforced the sense of alumni community in a whole new way, and a closing dinner at Restaurant 1881 at the Catalan History Museum overlooking the sea.

"The Barcelona GSE Alumni Meeting was an excellent opportunity to reconnect to the school that connects us all," said Christina Rott '10. "I particularly enjoyed meeting good old friends, talking to Barcelona GSE representatives who kept us updated about the School and who were interested in our feedback, and getting to know new people in a unique Barcelona-like atmosphere."

Video: Alumni Meeting Highlights

Video: Alumni keynote lecture "The European Economic Crisis: A View from the South" by Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell

Video: Alumni speeches by Miguel Angel Santos and Max Simontowitz

View all photos from the 2013 Barcelona GSE Alumni Meeting

Download Alumni Outlook magazine [pdf]

Alumni came to the Barcelona Meeting from the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States 

“It is enormously satisfying to see that we are already at the stage where masses of alumni come back to reestablish contact with the School.”
Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell

Founder of the Barcelona GSE

“It’s been a really great experience to meet the people from my own masters and from other masters, and to see what everyone is doing these days. ”
Stewe Bekk '08

“The Barcelona GSE Alumni Network is a very young network, and it’s nice to be part of something that is growing.”
Christopher Frieling '09

“From Barcelona GSE students, I have learned how to navigate a world where both the education system and the job market have become much more complex.”
Prof. Antonio Ciccone
"Alumni Outlook" magazine

“As a Barcelona GSE graduate there are lots of opportunities available to you. Understand what they are and choose well.”
John Tsoukalis '10
"Alumni Outlook" magazine

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