McDonough School of Business
Ana Clara Fernandez (B'24) on her Global Business Fellows trip in Madrid, Spain
Student Experience

Traveling to Madrid with the Global Business Fellows Program to Consult for Uber Spain

This story is part of the Student Voices series, which provides a firsthand perspective of the student experience at Georgetown McDonough.

Ana Clara Fernandez (B’24) is a Global Business Fellow (GBF) in the Undergraduate Program who recently traveled to Madrid, Spain, as part of her global consulting project with Uber Spain. Here, she shares more about her journey abroad with her classmates. 

Hello, wonderful readers! It’s Ana Clara Fernandez, a senior at the McDonough School of Business and an incoming investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs. Today, I’m not just here to share but to take you on an extended voyage—a deep dive into the capstone project that defined my GBF experience. 

A Glimpse into My Background and Choosing the GBF Program

I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, a small Caribbean haven that’s close to my heart. My passion for business, coupled with an innate curiosity for global affairs, steered me toward the GBF program. Why? Because it seamlessly intertwined my business and economics pursuits, allowing me to broaden my horizons and dive into the intersection of politics and public policy. The GBF program provided more than just a degree; it provided a panoramic view of global dynamics and, importantly, allowed me to foster connections with a cohort of exceptional peers.

My classmates and me at Uber Spain in Madrid.

Unpacking Our Consulting Project with Uber Spain 

As part of our capstone project with Uber Spain, we traveled to Madrid, Spain, during spring break to present our findings to the Uber team. The main objective of my team’s project was to identify Tier 2 venues for the Pick-Up Drop-Off (PUDO) program’s implementation, specifically in Barcelona. A Tier 2 venue is second in importance to Tier 1 venues, which are considered critical to Uber’s go-to-market strategy. Examples of Tier 1 venues are airports and train stations, where designated PUDO locations have been created to enhance brand visibility and connect drivers and customers in a centralized way. Examples of Tier 2 venues are shopping centers, entertainment venues, restaurants, and nightclubs. 

To complete our project, we were given access to certain KPIs, which we analyzed for over a month. For the last two months, we also had weekly meetings from Washington D.C., with our point of contact in Uber Spain, where we updated her on our progress. Finally, earlier this month, we had the opportunity to visit Uber Spain and present our findings to company representatives. We were so happy to learn the Uber team was fascinated with our project and very proud of the results.

Students presenting their global capstone projects with Uber Spain

Presenting our consulting project to our clients at Uber Spain.

Some of the key takeaways from my time working on the project on campus were that teamwork makes the dream work, and as cliché as it might sound, communication is key to ensure that the scope of the project is clearly defined and all tasks are completed. Weekly checkups with the team also made the experience more tangible, even more so because our client was located abroad. Furthermore, the most important part was working as a team to ensure the information we received could be analyzed to tell a story. 

When thinking about my key takeaways in the international terrain, I think the paramount lesson was understanding the market abroad. Our days in Spain weren’t merely about conducting a project but about embracing a cultural and operational shift. Uber, a global entity, navigates its complexities differently in Spain than in the United States. Varied problems, markets, customers, and regulations paint a distinctive picture. Understanding Uber Spain from this localized perspective became the compass guiding our project adjustments.

My Favorite Moments While Abroad

Amidst the consulting project, one standout experience was our visit to “La Ciudad Financiera”, the headquarters of Banco Santander, the Spanish multinational financial services company based in Madrid. We engaged in insightful discussions with executives who have 20+ years of industry experience, which was akin to a masterclass in global business dynamics. They made their presentations a dialogue, in which we were invited to ask questions and were greatly engaged. We dove into macro trends and go-to-market strategies and the challenges in the different regions where they operate, and the experience definitely left an indelible mark on my understanding of global business. We also had the opportunity to visit a valuable art collection that Santander holds. 

A group photo after our talk with executives at Banco Santander.

While in Madrid we also were lucky enough to participate in a panel with Georgetown alumni that spanned several industries across Spain. They gave us insightful information about working and living in Spain, and they were all nice enough to share their experiences as Hoyas. This event proved how powerful the Georgetown community is in giving back, and it made me feel proud of being at Georgetown. Furthermore, during our spare time, we attended a Real Madrid game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. It was a unique and fun experience – soccer is such a vital element of Spanish culture and that was definitely noted throughout the game. 

Students attending a Real Madrid game in Spain

Attending the Real Madrid game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Reflecting on this journey, I could not overlook the friendships forged within my cohort. Prior to embarking on this adventure, we were merely classmates – familiar faces with names that might not have all registered. However, the experiences of this trip brought us together in ways we hadn’t anticipated. From navigating early-morning travel, to collectively enduring sleep deprivation, these challenges served as the glue that bound us. Undeniably, some of my most cherished moments with my peers unfolded during our shared lunches at Esade Business School. The echoes of laughter through the hall were a testament to the camaraderie we had developed. GBF cohort, I’ll definitely miss our happy lunches! 

As a Spaniard myself, I’d describe the interaction with locals as a glimpse into a vibrant culture. Spanish cuisine, a tantalizing blend of flavors, became a daily source of joy. From the bustling streets of Madrid to the breathtaking views of la Sierra de Guadarrama, the trip unveiled a multifaceted tapestry of experiences. Coming back to Spain reminded me how Spaniards really understand the meaning of work-life balance and that they are very family-oriented. 

Impact on My Perspective of Global Business

How did this journey influence my outlook on global business? It revealed that while global expansion is a strategic imperative, a nuanced understanding of each market’s dynamics is the linchpin for success. The consulting work for Uber Spain emphasized that operations in every country present distinct challenges and opportunities. In business, learning from initial failures underscores the importance of market comprehension, adaptation, and the courage to try again. For example, due to strict regulations, Uber Spain did not succeed during their first launch in the country. However, they tried again in 2016, and they are now the number one ridesharing-hailing company in Spain. The three-fold mantra I learned while abroad: Expand, Understand, Adapt.

As I pen down these reflections, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the transformative journey provided by the GBF program. The insights gained, the connections forged, and the cultural immersion experienced have enriched my academic pursuits in ways beyond measure. Here’s to more adventures, perpetual growth, and a steadfast commitment to embracing global perspectives as a Hoya alumna! 

Baratta Center for Global Business
Undergraduate Program