Interview to Andrés Polanco, Team Leader for the Spanish market in Montreal Associates
Andrés Polanco arrived in Barcelona just two years ago to open the Spanish branch of the technological consultancy and headhunting firm Montreal Associates. "I thought it was a great challenge to arrive in a city like Barcelona and start building the brand and opening the market from scratch". In just two years they have more than thirty employees of various nationalities in centrally located offices in the city. Barcelona is their first and only subsidiary in Spain and here they have created their flagship for the rest of Europe. Now, after the Covid-19 crisis, Polanco sees a clear role for Barcelona: "to continue growing and opening its doors as it has always done".
What are the strengths that will help the city overcome the COVID-19 crisis?
In recent years Barcelona has become a very attractive city for foreign investment, especially when we look at the growth of sectors such as technology. Many companies continue to operate and invest in the city and, despite the current crisis, see potential for recovery in the future. There is a lot of talent coming from outside and the city continues to offer quality of life, a good climate and a lot of culture. In this sense, Barcelona continues to be one of the world's favourite destinations for living and working.
How do you position Barcelona in the technology sector?
Barcelona is very well positioned in the sector, is dynamic and has a lot of technological investment. In fact, I even dare say that before the Covid-19 it was becoming a "mini Silicon Valley". For us, this growth as a technological city has been very positive and has given us a lot of work: we are specialists in finding very specific technological profiles, which are normally the most complicated to locate. Fortunately, Barcelona is so attractive that we can always bring in international talent and convince them to come and live here.
Do you find it difficult to find talent in Barcelona with a certain profile?
Yes, since in general the main challenge is to find not only well-trained people in the technological part, but also people with skills in the business area and customer orientation. Speaking English fluently is another important requirement and it is not always so evident when you look here.
What challenges do you think the city will face once the health emergency subsides?
It is very important to try to minimise the impact of the crisis on SMEs and the self-employed, who are among those most affected by the current situation. We are going to need a lot of leadership and solidarity, as well as the ability to adopt common strategies to survive the crisis together. Barcelona has a fairly diverse international community and we are in a situation of global magnitude, which increasingly requires global solutions. Collaboration is a key element in moving forward. We do not know how long the emergency may last and the measures taken in this respect, but we have the opportunity to strengthen our links and become a more cohesive city with more mutual support.
What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?
May it continue to grow and open its doors as it has always done, sharing its architectural beauty, its cultural character and the way it combines tradition with innovation. Barcelona is one of the cities best prepared to face the technological future, and a great step to take in moments like these is to commit to the digital transformation of culture and communications, to intelligent health care and to different tools that help us to be stronger every day for the future.