Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship and the Impact of Sports

Last week, SMBA 15′ had the pleasure of participating in mini workshops led by Pedro Diaz Ridao, director of the Real Madrid MBA in Sports Management. Caroline Bartolome (SMBA 15′) recaps the workshop highlights and shares the story of our distinguished guest.


Real Madrid is the most valuable sports brand in the world. Pedro Diaz Ridao is the director of their Sports MBA program.
Real Madrid is the most valuable sports brand in the world. Pedro Diaz Ridao is the director of their Sports MBA program.

As our time tucked away in the corner of extended studies and in the SMBA classroom comes to an end, everything begins to come full circle. And it all begins with a story.

A little over eleven months ago, we all came to SMBA with our own individual tales of our passion for sports- the single unifying factor amongst our peers despite the variance of our end goals.

And as we prepare to brave the world of sports business through our various internships and work ventures, there’s a story that remains untold, one that has been the most inspirational to date.

It starts with a simple exercise in LEGO serious play. Our first task was to create a tower that represented how we envisioned ourselves using only 6 pieces. But the most revealing parts of the exercise were the reflections we had about each other.

We have been on an 11 month road of professional self-discovery, building upon our experiences and growing our skill sets. But most importantly, we have gone through it all together, as Cohort X, learning more about one another with each passing day.

#LSPSMBA #legoseriousplay
#LSPSMBA #legoseriousplay

Our classes may be coming to an end, but everything is just beginning and the most meaningful questions begin to hit home.

The second exercise in LEGO serious play asked us to dig a little deeper and build a model of where we saw ourselves in 12 months. Many took the philosophical route of self-reflection and it was plain to see where we all wanted to be in a year’s time.

But it wasn’t the playtime with LEGOs that was inspirational; it was the delivery of Pedro’s message to our class that was powerful even in the simplest of terms.

Pedro spoke about social entrepreneurship and the role his desire to make an impact through sport had in his co-founding of inspirasports, a non-profit organization based out of Madrid, Spain.

After completing studies at the University of California, Berkeley in International Relations and the Business, Pedro went on to complete an MBA in Sports Management at Real Madrid International School.

Driven by the desire to get more involved with Spain’s corporate social responsibility movement, Pedro combined his entrepreneurial skills with his passion for sports and development issues and inspirasports was formed in 2009. The success of inspirasports and their various projects have all been due to “happy accidents” and random chance.  The creative collaboration of the inspirasports team has led to the successful launch of inspirarunning- a running club for those at risk of social exclusion, inspirarunning-an additional tool to fight against social inequality and Project SES- an ethical guarantee for sports based institutions.

Pedro Diaz Ridao seen here with one of his post-it notes used in his presentations.
Pedro Diaz Ridao seen here with one of his post-it notes used in his presentations.

Having worked both in the United States and in Spain, Pedro highlights three key skills that are easily translatable between countries. First, possessing the ability to build bridges between communities provides an individual the ability to foster collaboration, an essential skill when working in the middle ground between non-profit and for profit enterprises. But harboring collaboration doesn’t only apply between agencies, but between individuals. Mentorship plays a large part in entrepreneurship because the power of the chain lies in the skills that are passed on from mentors to mentees.

Second, in a new sector such as social entrepreneurship, innovation plays a key role in identifying new trends which can be turned into innovative solutions. And lastly, persistence goes a long way, learning doesn’t stop, the most successful individuals continually ask for advice and seek to continually grow their knowledge base.

And while balancing the multiple roles Pedro fulfills is challenging, by setting expectations ahead of time through strategic planning, he is able to devote time to every role. Uncertainty is what makes the field of sports special, but things will come naturally. Just as every social movement requires risk and a significant investment, it yields the greatest rewards.

I would like to once again thank Pedro on behalf of SMBA 15’ for coming to visit us and offer his guidance, because after all it is up to us to work while no one is watching and make random happen.