Oliver Wiethaus: “Barcelona is a magnet for digital talent”
55 years old and married with one son, Oliver Wiethaus is German and has lived in Barcelona for 20 years. He is a partner at Göhmann Abogados and has worked for the firm since 1999. He is responsible for the Spanish branch of the German law firm and has been involved in numerous financial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and other corporate operations.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
My wife and I met while studying in Belgium. Coming from the north of Germany, which has a cold, grey, wet climate, I fell in love with Barcelona and its inhabitants when I came here for the first time. Right from the beginning, I was attracted to the city’s proximity to the sea, the warmth of the people, the year-round spring weather, the incredible food, and the international cosmopolitan atmosphere.
What positive aspects of the city would you highlight?
In my opinion, Barcelona’s diversity and culture are unique in Europe. The quality of life is great, as are the wonderful beaches so close to the city; it’s a great privilege to be able to enjoy the mountains or to eat outside in the month of February. There are great cultural opportunities, with museums, theatres and world-renowned concert halls. And it is a very dynamic city for business.
What aspects of the city should be improved? How?
For some time now, Barcelona hasn’t really had a convincing goal. The pre-Olympic spirit, the hope that characterised Barcelona for many years, has been somewhat lost. A new impetus is needed to put us in the vanguard, as in those days.
And in the short term, I think we need to question the «tactical urbanism» implemented in recent months. Barcelona deserves an aesthetic that lives up to the architecture that makes our city unique.
What do you think will help the city get over the Covid-19 crisis?
The entrepreneurial spirit of its inhabitants and their tremendous creativity. Moreover, Barcelona is a magnet for digital talent and we need to be able to put the city on the same footing as Berlin, for example, which will guarantee us a promising future in the world to come.
What challenges do you think the city will face once the health emergency is over?
It will need to find a balance between the needs of the economy (attracting talent, investment, and tourism) and the well-being of the people who live in the city. We also have to be able to win back the large digital companies, some of which have chosen to locate in Madrid. It will also be important to make life easier for foreign talent so it is easier for people to settle in the city and create businesses and wealth.
What are your hopes for Barcelona in the coming years?
Barcelona has tremendous potential. I believe that we can learn from the Covid experience and start again with all the creative force we can muster.
Which city do you feel most at home in? What do you miss the most?
I have been away from Germany for many years and today Barcelona is my home and the place where I am happy, although I am also very fond of Cantabria (where my wife is from) and the Baden-Württemberg region where I grew up. I also sometimes miss the order, punctuality, and organization in Germany where everything works like clockwork. Having said that, I now feel completely at home in Catalonia, in the rest of Spain, and in Germany.
Read the interview in El Periódico.
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