For me, it’s a pleasure to ‘celebrate’ this beginning phase with you. It is a new phase for us, but in particular, I hope it’s a new phase for you. When I think about lifelong learning, I think about my own experience.
When I finished my degree, I really didn’t want to keep on studying. Yes, I know, big mistake. But then I was keen to get to work. (I imagine that some of you will share that feeling). So that’s what I did, I came to Barcelona, I found a job and I climbed the professional ladder until I became the Financial Director. I loved my work, but I couldn’t help feeling worried, an empty feeling, an absence. I thought about signing up to a History of Art course as a hobby, just because it sounded great… a total failure. Finally the crisis happened, and that gave me the push I needed. I decided to leave the path that I had started 14 years earlier and start another. Without thinking twice, I signed up to a master’s, just as you have all done, and I ended up doing a doctorate, which I just finished a few months ago… Needless to say, opening myself up to knowledge, to learning again, was incredible. It was like I could breath again. The biggest difference that I found with respect to my degree was that I was much better prepared for absorbing, learning and enjoying the whole process. It was unbelievable.
At almost the same time, I started to give classes and enjoy them alongside you. At first as an assistant, and then as a professor. One day, when I was leaving class, I got on my bike to go home, and while I was pedaling I noticed that the emptiness, the absence, the worries had disappeared completely. I felt full. I felt a sensation of contribution, like I was doing something that was contributing and that was relevant, which I had never felt before.
Of course, this is an experience that you won’t have. I’m not trying to make you quit your professional careers and start teaching. But I would like you to give knowledge a chance, open up to learning and the effect that it can have on you.
And I use the word knowledge consciously. Now, we live in a time when information is in reach of everybody, or almost everybody. But information is not synonymous with knowledge, and of course learning through a computer cannot be compared with the experience of sharing and absorbing experiences, opinions, critiques, and doubts in the classroom. On of the best assets that we have in the BSM is our teaching staff… now, you have the obligation (not only the right) to make the most of it. Squeeze us (carefully, there are lots of you). But we have another great asset, and that’s you. The best experience, by far, and the best memory, will be your fellow students. The interaction that you have with each other, in many cases, will extend itself over the years.
I invite you to fill yourselves with knowledge, to draw on your professors and fellow students consciously and proactively. This experience is far better if you surrender yourselves to it entirely.
When I give classes at undergraduate level, I see how you debate amidst the hormones, the intense social life and the classes. We’ve all been there. There are too many interferences. Whereas now, in your master’s there are far less interferences. I think (;). Make good use of it and enjoy what it allows you to do. And not only because it will help you to reach a professional goal, but also because it can nourish and enrich you personally too. One day, maybe not immediately, I’d like you to be able to feel this fullness and calmness that I felt that day when I left the classroom. And I’m sure that will happen.
Professor of Economy and Finances at the UPF Barcelona School of Management