European University is the official educational partner for the Crucero Business Networking (CBN) project, which offers executives and companies a new and innovative way of making connections on the high seas. Making its maiden voyage in October of 2014, the project takes place, as the name suggests, aboard the MSC Splendida cruise ship. CBN is a combination of education, entertainment and networking which not only opens people up to new connections, but also opens their minds to new possibilities. The cruise lasts one week and will take in cities in France, Italy and Tunisia.
What do you think about the CBN project?
Carl Craen (MD of the Barcelona campus): CBN takes people out of their comfort zones and puts them at the same level. Participants will be much more willing to be candid when they are all on equal ground, or water in this case, and the new experience will facilitate stronger connections.
Dirk Craen (President of the EU Network): If you want to give a global executive education in a short period, this is an optimal method, because participants are in a relaxed environment. What professors teach at sea, they can also show in the cities during stops. This kind of project already exists in the U.S. where colleges put their undergraduates at sea for a semester, but we are the first ones in Europe providing executive education at sea.
CC: I think we are the best educational partner for this joint venture as we adapt learning to any market, even in the middle of an ocean.
EU will be responsible for the CBN learning program. What teaching method(s) will attendees find on board?
DC: We are going to focus on innovative course material at par with the approach. On board, you can have a two- or three-hour workshop on a specific topic, like leisure management for example, and then you can observe it in practice, going from the shopping area to entertainment venues, and in the evening, you can even focus on how restaurants and hotels are run.
CC: With a bottle of fine wine of course…
DC: Exactly, like I said: a more relaxed approach!
CC: Empirically, we have seen that adults working in the corporate world respond better to practical learning. It works on the assumption that participants are already experienced in their fields. The information is presented in an appealing way that unobtrusively makes people learn more than they realize
What encouraged EU to partner with CBN?
DC: Well, EU’s business model is based on networking; it’s something we do very well.
CC: Our role in providing the educational aspect of this project and putting some of our best faculty members up to the task is our way of contributing to this revolutionary project.
How important is networking in today's market?
CC: Networking is the cornerstone of modern business. In a world where machines are taking over, people are really looking for that human touch.
DC: Technological networking, like through Facebook, LinkedIn and so on, is cold. It’s missing that human touch which creates real contacts. A smiley is totally different to a human smile, because an icon cannot reflect the depth of your smile; the warmth of your smile; the nuance of your smile. Being together one week makes a team, makes a group; and makes real connections.
CC: You’re right, real connections open doors for companies. Many people will be much more likely to communicate and connect with you online if they've already met you in person. In addition, the concept of mixing global and local tiers into the networking model for this cruise is simply brilliant.
What advice would you give to businesspeople and companies who might participate in this first edition?
CC: My advice is simply: do it. For eight days, you won’t be in your office. You will be exposed to a lot of new impressions and generate new ideas, which will inspire your creativity when you are back at work.
DC: Obviously, mine would be to send as many people as possible, on an annual basis so that this project continues! But seriously, networking is the best and most effective low-cost marketing method for companies to develop sales opportunities and expand their international reach.
What will participants learn during on board training?
CC: When we first designed the cruise curriculum, we took a global perspective of what people are really missing in the active market. We then put together a program that encompasses important and current trends in the business world. These include: innovation and creativity, germane to all new business fronts; creating new corporate paradigms, leading to the evolution of corporate psychology; the development of human capital, currently at the forefront of all business trends; and internationalization, which is absolutely vital in all areas of everything.
DC: This is an innovative way of uniting many different cultural influences in one week. The participants may all be European, but they think differently because they have different values; customs. Take breakfast. Why do people have B'sissa in Tunisia and just a small cookie in Italy? In France they’ll opt for a café au lait; in Spain it’s a cortado. Crucero Business Network is able to balance all these different cultures and teaching methods into one channel: the cruise.