It is this time of year that I make my annual pilgrimage to possibly the place I’d have chosen to live in if things had turned out differently; Barcelona.  The main reason I go around now is the big ‘eye for pharma’ SFE conference. Even though my career has evolved from the SFE expertise area over the past few years,  I went with a keen interest as it is where I have worked for 20+ years, and also to catch up with some colleagues and meet some new ones. It’s always interesting to hear what people are presenting as new topics, and to compare this to my own healthy regard for skepticism with regards to what constitutes innovation in my career industry. In this years conference, the main theme was how the pharma industry should become patient centric in its planning, execution, measurement and operations.

Whilst there I always like to stay the weekend after the conference, I think of it as a free weekend break (well at least the flights are paid for by someone else!)  This year was the same although it included some additional logistical dimensions, namely flying out a wife with horrendous flu and a one-year-old incredibly inquisitive and active baby boy.

Thankfully, I had the foresight after rounding up at the conference to relocate from the all expenses paid hotel suite near the forum to my personally paid for apartment in a different neighbourhood, shop for essential supplies (beer, nappies, bread, wine, more beer, token pieces of fruit), and settle down with a cold Estrella in the street whilst waiting for the time to travel to the airport to meet my wife and son.  The difficult bit; flying for the first time ever with a baby, buggy, luggage, medication etc. was left to my wife to execute on. I felt this was best for various reasons I shan’t bore you, the reader with.

After stocking the apartment, setting up the baby cot as far away from our room as possible, and doing a quick reccy of the local area’s essential facilities I had a bit of time on my hands.  With this, I skilfully navigated the metro system to the airport, bought the necessary tickets for us, and met them both at the arrivals area holding a sombrero and stuffed donkey.  (I may have made that last bit up to promote the stereotype).  I was feeling pretty pleased with myself when my wife emerged at the gate looking weary, carrying tissues and ushering the boy along in his buggy with an oversized rucksack on her back.  We then proceeded to the airport bus transfer into the city centre (no expense spared, just 5 Euro each, a bargain), then walked to the metro station to travel to our new neighbourhood, finishing off with a mere 25 minute stroll to the apartment.  Easy peasy.  After a cold beer, some initial investigation by the boy, and a Lemsip treat for the wife we settled the lad into his new bedroom and discussed the week’s events.

I reflected on my week of intelligent business focused dialogue, meeting new people, hearing about the latest trends in the industry and then my wife recounted her stories of endless tissue usage, trips to the pharmacy, trying to get the baby into the buggy several times that day and her desire to maybe have stayed at home.  It was sounding like a promising weekend ahead. I couldn’t wait.

The weekend ensued with some excellent lunches consisting mainly of tapas (as you do in Spain), lovely cold Estrella, walking lots, and introducing my son to the beach and the sea for the first time. I drew the line at swimming as it was only March and I didn’t want him mentally scarred for life, drowned, or worse. I practiced my best Spanish phrases and even asked for cough medicine in a Spanish pharmacy.

Overall a successful trip with lots learned by us all.  A great conference (thanks to eye for pharma), lovely food and drink, some new experiences for the boy, and the wife survived her bout of flu.  Above all, I discovered a new found love for Spanish pharmacies. I’m looking forward to the next trip already.

Does my tale resonate with you? Can you recount any tales of bringing the family out to join you after a business trip? Where was your favourite place to explore?

Which are your favourite, or most valuable conferences to have on your calendar? Do you find the content inspiring or is it all about the networking for you? Let us know and maybe I will see you there in my sombrero!