Students stayed late after classes on Wednesday evening December 7th, 2016 for GBSB Global Business School Barcelona’s Global Student Talk, an event organized by MA in Fashion and Luxury Business Management student Tanja Sredojevic in cooperation with the GBSB marketing team. The event was inspired by Ted Talks and was organized as a gathering to embrace one of the pillars our school prides itself on, diversity.
Together with Sredojevic, two students, Misozi Tembo, Dana Esam Saleh Aljohar, and Professor Jaime Romeu presented topics that were meant to encourage discussion on subjects that are relevant in today’s modern society.
Misozi Tembo, MA in Communications & Future Marketing student originally from Zambia, presented her discussion topic about gender based violence against women and girls. Tembo’s experience working for Oxfam as their Country Media and Communications Coordinator in Zambia gave her a deep understanding of the issues that plague our world. A topic very close to Tembo’s heart, you could feel her desire to see change as she described what gender based violence looks like today. It happens everywhere, from public buses to the workplace. It is not only confined to private spaces behind closed doors, but it is a problem of such magnitude that the United Nations reported has effected 1 in 3 women globally at some point in their lives.
How do we resolve the problem of gender based violence against women and girls? Tembo says the first step is to just speak up about it, as she did that evening. By addressing the issue at hand it lightens the heaviness. Good men speaking up and addressing the issue with perpetrators and creating a space to communicate is not always easy, but very much needed. Act. Stop the violence. In closing Tembo asked students to join her, repeating the words, “Together we can end violence against women.” The unison of voice is a strong component in the culture of Zambia, repeating this powerful mantra at GBSB Global Business School.
Dana Esam Saleh Aljohar, MA in Fashion & Luxury Business student from Kuwait discussed the role of fashion in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Dana Esam Saleh Aljohar addressed how fashion in these countries defines social status in addition to acting as an expression of their traditional culture or lack thereof. There is a unique mashup of tradition versus today’s fashion in these countries. Designer fashions abound, and the transition to wearing more European styles has caused this region to lose some of its identity. On the flip side, Europe has recently begun to adopt some of the designs of Middle East traditional dress.
The main point of conflict that spurred on a heated debate was the question of the role fashion plays as a base to establish a social status hierarchy. Many believe it to be superficial, but as a society you can feel the pressure to stay current, spend money, and dress well. Dana Esam Saleh Aljohar explained that wedding season in the GCC is the time of year in which this margin of social designation is heightened as men and women alike travel to London or Paris to have dresses fabricated or to purchase the latest accessories from major European luxury brands. This reliance on European brands as a mark of prestige has given little room for the local fashion industry to grow. She unfortunately says the local designers are being forced to adapt to the trend and create pieces that model European fashions which disallows the regional designs from gaining any notoriety.
The plus side to the issue of dress is that everyone has a choice. If you see women on the street that are covered, they do so because they have chosen this. They may be carrying a purse from Prada and wearing shoes from Jimmy Choo, but again, they can decide where to make their financial investments.
One thing to note, there is no poor class in the GCC countries, only the upper and middle class dwell there. The more modern a person dresses is a reflection of the person and/or the family, often signifying how well travelled one is. It is more common to see the royal family dressing in European fashions than the Bedouins from the rural countryside.
This discussion fired up the audience, engaging them in a respectful debate on topics outside of the fashion industry as well.
The final presentation was a question and answer session with Professor Jaime Romeu, founder of his own company Attitude Global Communications and an advisor for Ferrari. Romeu’s unique background is what drew Tanja Sredojevic to ask him to participate in the event. Having lived and worked in both Europe and the United States, Romeu has an interesting perspective on many topics and the conversation varied.
One of the main questions Sredojevic asked Professor Romeu was, “Twenty years ago, did you have the career in mind that you currently have?” Romeu’s response was not a flat yes or no, and why would you expect anything less? If you know Professor Romeu, he is a great communicator and has a lot to say.
Romeu gave students a brief overview of his history, how he came to be a professor, advisor and founder, a jack-of-many trades. Professor Romeu attributed his success and career to having a good family that allotted him many opportunities and with these opportunities he was able to build his own life and create his career. Initially, he was groomed to take over the family business, but he steered away from this path. Through self-reflection, he was aware of his strengths, weaknesses and where his passion lied. When he looked into himself, he found that the luxury industry was his calling. He started at the ground level making hardly any money, but the position was with a great company with brand recognition. It was the door he needed to open for the rest of his career to unfold.
Did his career turn out the way he envisioned? It turned out the way it was supposed to. His life has been a “cosmic journey.” Only from the vantage point looking back can you make sense of what decisions propel you forward and what deviations along the way got you to where you are going. Professor Romeu says in a world that tells you to say no more often, he finds this advice hard to stomach; he was always a fan of saying yes. By saying yes, you create more opportunities rather than closing doors. He had a lot of faith, believed in serendipity, and still does. His career, his life has been an evolution.
A captivating event that stimulated the students in attendance. Food for thought, that in one way or another resonated with them all. GBSB Global Business School will be continuing the tradition hosting more Global Student Talks in the future. Students are empowered by embracing diversity and hearing about one another’s experiences and views on life. This event fostered growth providing a platform for students to freely express themselves and learn from one another.
By Emily Dawn Szajda, GBSB Content Manager