Not many second year business students can say they’ve developed a marketing strategy for a major arts center—but the Bachelor in Business Administration is committed to breaking down barriers. Opened in 2017, the Centro Botín has become a beacon of arts and development in the northern Spanish city of Santander, furthering the work of the Fundación Botín. With a focus on fostering the power of creativity for wider social change, the Centro now stands as a site of artistic innovation—as well as an architectural feat offering a memorable visitor experience.
United by the spirit of social entrepreneurship, Bachelor in Business Administration students partnered with the Centro Botín to help develop a new strategy aimed at boosting customer engagement. As a taste of the fast-paced world of marketing, students were delighted to get an early opportunity to apply their learnings from the first 18 months of study. For many, implementing class content in a real-world setting was the ideal way to round off their second year, and get some highly relevant work experience under their belts.
While restrictions surrounding COVID-19 meant that students had to carry out their projects remotely, these working conditions shaped a valuable experience of new business realities. The expectation to manage all virtual communications and pandemic-based disruptions put students in the places of many marketing executives worldwide, offering a perspective on professional life amid the recent global crisis.
The real-life impacts of the pandemic at the Centro Botín were also reflected in the project brief. Students were not only instructed to work within tighter, fluctuating budgets, but also to facilitate customer engagement in a way that would restore visitor numbers to pre-pandemic levels. Having successfully operated within these requirements, students finished the project more confident about rising to new challenges that post-pandemic business will bring.
What’s more, working with the Centro Botín was a window into a specific niche of marketing. As students recognized, marketing “intangibles” is an increasingly important capability now that the service-based economy dominantes in the business landscape. The opportunity to dabble in arts and city marketing was, therefore, an excellent way to broaden their cross-sector knowledge. Working for a cultural and tourist center demanded that students propose fresh, inventive ideas, as well as getting to grips with a previously unfamiliar target audience.
In line with IE University’s commitment to practical education, the hands-on component of Marketing in Action also made a mark. While professors were on call for guidance and consultation, the course aims to employ an independent development approach that simulates a professional environment. For that reason, the main takeaways were competencies that students honed through trial and error. Among these were soft skills such as time management and situational awareness, creative problem-solving, and driving innovation. As assets that are in demand among today’s leading recruiters, students came away from the challenge with a revamped skill set to offer employers.
Overall, the challenge offered students a stepping stone for their careers, made all the more worthwhile by working with an organization that shares IE University’s commitment to humanistic education and entrepreneurial spirit. Through Marketing in Action with the Centro Botín, students have taken the first step towards becoming experienced, versatile business professionals.