Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lovely Porec, Croatia and the Valamar Group

Our first view of the marina.  Kathy says "This is my happy place!"

Our big bus was too big for the streets surrounding our hotel.  Even regular cars need a permit.  So folks from the hotel kindly loaded our big luggage into a hotel van, and we enjoyed a short walk through a boardwalk-ish area to our hotel.  

The front entrance of the Valamar Riviera, facing the Adriatic Sea.

The view from the front entrance.  Very few cars, pedestrian friendly.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner, wine and traditional music arranged by Prof Yasha and his local colleagues, including his son, Marco!

Prof Yasha and his son!

The next morning we had a presentation from the Valamar Group. Learning a bit about their IT structure was interesting.  I don't travel very often (unfortunately!) so Kozeta had to show me how to use our smart room key to make the room "live".  This is a definite cost savings for the hotel group, since you need to key into the room to run the air conditioning, something that surprised those of us used to refrigerated hotel rooms in the US! 

I personally enjoyed hearing from Ivana Budin Arhanic, VP of Business Development and Corporate Affairs.  In all of our site visits, she is the only high level female executive we met.  Her explanation of Valamar's corporate strategy helped us understand why the group owns several different types of resort, and how they bring a newly acquired property up to their standards before branding it as a part of the Valamar family.  

In all, we enjoyed our time on the coast.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Masks In Venice

This was another fun and interesting visit, but I should state my bias: this was my team's site!  JC, Fred and I were interested to read about Carnevale di Venezia. and to share what we learned with the class.  Our contact, Nancy, did a great job sharing the history and demonstrating the traditional methods still used in the shop.  She was not able to answer our more complicated questions about business strategy or management, but we had a great time at Ca Macana.  It would be pretty fun to go back for Carnevale, but it looks pretty expensive!

No Photos, Please...

Akrapovic understands the role of proprietary information, intellectual property and how important it is to manage the message surrounding rollout of a new brand.  As a result, we were not able to take photos during the facility tour.  

That's too bad, because I would love to show the folks at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity developing our Rapid Prototyping Center!  The facility is appealing.  It's obvious real work gets done, but it's very clean.  They have a Stratasys 3D Printer.  I was pretty excited to see it running, even if I couldn't tell what was printing.  Their ceramic process is interesting.

I was surprised and impressed to learn that Akrapovic has branched out into medical titanium prototyping. It's pretty cool to think that maybe my mom's new "bionic knee" was once a design in their facility!

Akrapovic presents a unified brand identity, despite aspirations into many more different production fields.  Everything, from the conference room, to the logo'd (but still cool) clothing employees wore, to the Lifestyle Magazine demonstrates a lot of thought and effort.

And wasn't it cool to hear a demo of the sound tuning on Mr. Akrapovic's car?

A fantastic visit!

Big Ships in Pula

Big ships are made of big pieces.

Hard hats on, watching the electromagnetic crane and the really big plasma cutter.

We were allowed to bend some safety rules and came into the walkway between manufacturing areas with just hard hats. 

Ying and Kristopher are talking about manufacturing.

Look at those cables!

This crane is HUGE.

Our cohort had a fantastic visit to Uljanik during our day trip to Pula, Croatia.  Our host tried hard to answer our questions, but she is relatively new and not used to giving tours to business students!  She did an admirable job and we are grateful she was able to show us around, instead of canceling this site visit. From a manufacturing perspective, I was interested to see the VERY LARGE plasma cutter.  When we asked about supply chain and how costs of raw materials impact the business, our host told us that because each ship is built to different specifications, the companies ordering the ships provide their own steel that meets their own requirements for strength, etc. I thought that was pretty interesting and is a way for Uljanik to shield their business from fluctuations in the steel industry.  However, I guess a big spike would mean customers delay ordering.  Is this model sustainable?  I would have loved to ask more questions.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sunday Fun-day in Slovenia!

What a busy morning! A lecture from Prof. Yasha, team presentations and a meeting with the Mayor of Bled, Mr. Janez Fajfar, who graciously gave up part of his Sunday to give us insight into the economy and tourism trade in Bled.  Some intrepid folks hiked up to the castle (I heard it only took "four more minutes" ;-) and people have posted amazing pictures!) but I was feeling characteristically unwell, so I took a short nap.  Then we were back on the bus for a fun afternoon in Ljubljana.
Ready to go!

Boxed lunches from the hotel: this ham and cheese sandwich, bread and an assortment of accoutrements that included butter, cheese, and some kind of meat pate spread that reminded me of liverwurst. An apple, cake for dessert, and a bottle of water. (Did I miss anything? It was a lot of food!)

There are beautiful surprises around every corner.  Look at that fountain!

Takla, before.
Takla, after.  (Poor baby!)

Dean Shawky likes a Segway tour!

Dance lessons on the rooftop of Neboti─Źnik, in the cafe.

When the lady says dance, Bill dances.  (Do not thwart Kozeta.)

See my beautiful coffee to the bottom right?  That might have something to do with me not getting over jet lag as quickly as I should have ...

This #AccidentalSelfie is my personal best.  HAHAHA

Kathy, Jocelyn, Nafeesa and Kozeta.

Little Free Library in the park.  Wooden crates of appealing books, comfy hammock chairs, cushions.  Sometimes it was empty and sometimes it was totally full.   I sat happily on a park bench and wrote some postcards.

Tired and happy!

Prof. Yasha hired a fantastic tour guide and a boat to take us through Ljubljana's canals.  We heard a totally different explanation of the dragon story from our guide, but I still enjoyed reading this one. 

What a great way to see this pretty city!

Beautiful Ljubljana, Slovenia

Street view.

This wallpaper lady on an industrial background.  We saw a bunch of these.

Bird's-eye view out a window at University of Ljubljana.

Bleary from a night of strange sleep and a long bus ride, not to mention a delicious but large gourmet lunch, our cohort nevertheless was riveted by the beauty of Ljubljana. 

Prof. Lev Kreft gave an informative presentation (I wish I'd asked for his slide deck) and helped us gain a better understanding of the political influences in present-day Slovenia. 

Navigating In Venice (and Is This the Best Gelato?)

We were together as a big group during most of our time in Venice.  At some point a big group split off to see the Rialto Bridge, I joined the group going for a gondola ride, and after that everyone else wanted to go back to the hotel, and that left me and Fred in search of the amazing gelato place that John had found.  There wasn't a line, so Fred negotiated with the lady, who let him have four flavors in his two scoops.  But then he had to try to choose:

Decisions, decisions!

I'm not going to say the choice was easy, but I did make it: baci (chocolate hazelnut) and pistachio for me, please!

It was delicious.

Then we needed to find our way back to our awesome hotel. Prof Yasha chose this place wisely and with us in mind.  Venice is confusing to navigate; it's easy to be right around the corner from where you want to be and not realize it.  So we knew we could always find our way back to the hotel by following signs to Piazza San Marco and regrouping from there. 

Then Fred and I saw a sign like this:


It makes logical sense now. Since San Marco is straight ahead, it doesn't matter if you go right or left, both parallel streets are going in the same direction, so they are both correct.  But this sign gave us momentary pause and we even got out my paper map. (I could have turned on my GPS on my phone, but I wanted to try to figure it out ourselves, my lousy sense of direction has not been improved by the GPS in my pocket!)

Fortunately, we weren't far from the Piazza. Fred helped a nice family have a photo that included them all and the gorgeous background.... 
made some pigeon pals...

And we went back to the hotel.  Getting ready for dinner, I peeked out my window to take a picture of the view and got a bonus shot of Kristopher and Jocelyn!
Look at that.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Early Saturday Morning... Rialto Market in Venice

For the few of us willing to get up early on Saturday, Prof Yasha graciously took us on one more fabulous Yasha Tour to the locals' fruit market near the Rialto bridge.  We walked from our lovely hotel and the views of the often-crowded popular spots were really worth waking for.  It was an easy walk because there weren't many people out yet.

Cheers to the bride and the groom--they got up early for some uncrowded shots of Piazza San Marco! Just them, the photographer and the friendly pigeons. (We stayed out of their shot!)

There it is, Rialto Bridge!

 Lily must have taken this one, because she's not in it. The Early Birdies, L-R: Me (Bridget), Lan, Il Maestro Professor Yasha, Bill.

Vendors were just starting to unpack around 7:30.

Spices, rice, dried pasta.


We bought some of these figs and some grapes, but the lady yelled at us in Italian...maybe she was not ready for customers?

Squash blossoms and watercress, big delicacies in the States!

Dried fruits and veggies.

We considered taking the Vaporetto back to the hotel, but Prof Yasha surprised us with a taxi ride!  We could see the vendors for the market unloading and the gondoliers getting ready for a busy Saturday. We watched 2 large cruise ships pull in to the port as well, and before we knew it "our" part of San Marco was crowded.

What an amazing view of the city--thanks, Prof Yasha!

Santa Maria della Salute.  When I return to Venice, I'm going in!

We had enough time for a quick pastry and cappuccino before loading our bags on the boat Prof Yasha hired to take us to the Airport.  Here are Rob and Vikram running to board before 10 am sharp departure!

Ciao, Venice!