Today is our Greece reunion lunch, so naturally it’s a day of reflection on our trip to Greece during spring break. I participated in a trip organized by my classmates through the Chazen Institute to learn firsthand how companies have coped with the European financial crisis. Contrary to the stereotype of the typical Columbia Business School student, my first exposure to corporate finance was in class during fall semester. However, I had a strong interest in learning about business abroad given my undergraduate background in international economics and global studies.
While most people visit Greece to appreciate its natural beauty and to bask in the Mediterranean sun, it was very interesting to see the country from a different perspective. A group of 23 of us, including Jennifer from the Chazen Institute and Professor Charles Calomiris, spent one week immersing ourselves in Greek life. We toured the countryside covered in olive trees, visited historical monuments such as Epidaurus and the Acropolis, celebrated the festival of Carnival, and of course met with executives across a realm of industries. Our professional visits included a factory tour of the Fage greek yogurt headquarters, a visit to the offices of innovative jewelry maker Folli Follie, and a meeting with the Greek Finance Minister, Yiannis Stournaras. The highlight was a surprise, casual visit with the incredibly humble and hopeful Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras.
Photo 1: at Fage Headquarters, photo 2: with the Prime Minister
My fellow Greek voyager Dyanna Salcedo maintained a blog throughout our travels that you can read to learn more details about our trip here. More than a month removed from this incredible trip, I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to travel with my classmates and to finally understand in person how the struggling Greek economy has impacted so many people. At the same time, it was reassuring to repeatedly hear messages of hope and persistence. I am confident that the resiliency of the Greek people and its leaders will put the country back on track soon.
Photo 1: on the bus , photo 2: at the original Olympic stadium