Catherine Halford – Head Of Sales at KKV Investment Management
Catherine Halford was born in Yorkshire in 1977. Catherine studied in politics in Manchester before moving to London, where she lived for 20 years. Last year, she moved to Barcelona with her husband, who is a local, and their two children. Catherine began her career working in politics before changing direction and subsequently working in finance for the last 19 years. She specialised in marketing and sales in asset management before more recently focusing on sales to institutional investors of alternative investments. She received her MBA from ESMT in Berlin in 2012. She is currently a Partner and Head of Sales for a boutique private credit company KKV Investment Management, which is a subsidiary of Iceland bank Kvika banki.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
After living in London for 20 years, we felt it was time for something different and viewed Barcelona as providing a much better quality of life for us as a family. London is a wonderful city to carve a career, but is not as family friendly as Barcelona. We wanted a change, and as we had already spent so much time in Barcelona, it was the obvious and only choice for us. The access to and affordability of good schools is a real positive. Before we left London, I was lucky enough to be able to secure a new job with a very forward-thinking boss who ahead of Covid-19 was already very comfortable with remote working, allowing me to retain a 'City' job from Barcelona —which in my opinion provides me with the best of both worlds.
What aspects of the city would you highlight as being positive?
The location is wonderful, with very easy access to the beach and mountains. The quality of life is very high and, of course, the weather! Furthermore, there is a great entrepreneurial flair to the city that is attracting international talent, I have met many ex-pats since moving here who have chosen to come to Barcelona to set up companies, as well as many people like myself that are living here whilst working remotely —that is a huge positive for the future of the city.
What aspects of the city should be improved and how?
The location is wonderful, with very easy access to the beach and mountains. The quality of life is very high and, of course, the weather! It can be difficult as a foreigner to navigate all the different processes needed to establish yourself here (i.e. bank accounts, healthcare, residency status) and get all the correct paperwork in place. I believe that if countries/cities don't make it easy for talent to settle, they will just go elsewhere. The process could be streamlined and there is demand for more 'relocation agencies' to help out those who don’t have local contacts to help them with this.
I have also read lots of comments about the great public transport in the City, and whilst I agree wholeheartedly and love the Barcelona Metro —more needs to be done to ease the burden of traffic in the outskirts of the city which can be particularly congested and polluted. Many bike lanes don't extend that far, and bus routes are much more limited.
Which are the city's strengths that will allow it to overcome the COVID-19 crisis?
I love the culture of the city and whilst I have not managed to enjoy all that Barcelona has to offer due to the crisis —I hope that the arts and culture will get the support needed to bounce back.
I have been impressed at how quickly some industries have adapted and really embraced technology inorder to survive through this crisis, that spirit of embracing change, pivoting, and adapting when needed will always drive Barcelona forward.
What other challenges do you think the city will face once the health crisis ends?
I expect that once the health crisis is over and the subsidies provided by the state are curtailed, we will see once again a significant increase in the inequality gap between rich and poor. Of particular concern will be the disparity between children in the city and the education they have received during the crisis. The city will need to address how we can overcome this, and level the playing field of opportunity for the future.
What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?
A continued influx of talent who choose to make this city their home for making business and living. This will lead to an increasing international feel to the city.
Which city do you feel as "your city"? What do you miss the most?
London, I miss the buzz of the city, the feeling that anything is possible. I miss the people, the diversity of thought and the open-minded spirit.