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VIII ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid

14/10/2014 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Madrid

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Presentation used by Juan-Miguel Villar Mir (only for members)
Cinco Días (15/10/2014)


This year once again the Palacio de Congresos in Madrid was the venue chosen for the Annual ESADE Alumni Conference, now in its 8th year. Alumni, faculty, friends and professionals from different industries gathered for this event with an optimistic note held on October 14th and entitled "Towards sustainable recovery".

Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97/AMP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni, welcomed the audience, reminding them that this was the 25th anniversary of ESADE Alumni, and that "we have grown considerably and become clearly globalised" since its creation.

Sanchez was followed by ESADE Alumni President, Miguel Trias (MBA 89), for whom the focus of the conference was a logical response "to the turbulent times in which we live, and the recovery we are all hoping for". Trias said that to contribute to "this Spain and Europe of the future, we must begin with a thorough critical analysis and act responsibly". He went on to outline what he considers to be the crucial factors we must focus on in the future, mainly a "real" institutional recovery, a "determined" commitment to education and research, and, in the shorter term, "hard work" in the realms of globalisation and innovation "in order to reinvent ourselves every day". The ESADE Alumni President also said he was a staunch supporter of Europe as an essential framework for development, and cast Euroscepticism aside because "Europe’s future is our future". 

At the end of his talk, Xavier Sanchez introduced the conference’s keynote speaker, Juan-Miguel Villar Mir, businessman, academic and President of the Villar Mir Group, who gave a talk entitled "Innovation and globalisation as levers. The case of the Villar Mir Group". This industrial group, one of the largest in Spain, has made globalisation and innovation the two main pillars of its strategy, with a recipe for business success based on leadership, the desire to progress and continuous improvement.

Villar Mir shared his thoughts about life in an ever-changing world in which humanity had been evolving slowly until the Industrial Revolution "changed everything" just 200 years ago. Villar Mir highlighted that advances in technology and communication have fast-tracked the progress of humanity, particularly from the 20th century onwards, and mentioned the example of life expectancy which increased from 30 years in 1900 to an average of 62 by the end of the century.

"In this increasingly changing, interconnected and global world", he said, "we must focus on innovation and globalisation as driving forces of the future". As regards innovation, Villar Mir recalled that Spain’s R&D expenditure is "unfortunately low" and that despite slight improvements in recent years (1.3% of GDP in 2012) it is still far removed from the average of the OECD (2.4%) and countries such as USA (3%), Japan (3.5%) and Korea (above 4%). 

Villar Mir stressed the contribution that private investment must make to R&D – also lower in Spain than in other developed countries. "In Spain, 45% of all investment in R&D is in the public sector, in comparison with 30% in the OECD and the very different figure of just 16% in Japan". He also pointed out that the number of companies innovating in Spain had halved due to the crisis.

Villar Mir left no doubt that "we still have a long way to go" and reminded the audience that "we mustn’t content ourselves with being competitive simply because of low wages, we must aim to be competitive by selling innovative products to the world".

The Villar Mir Group chairman contended that globalisation has increased in Spain due to the slump in domestic demand during the crisis, climbing from 26% of Spain’s GDP in 2008 to 34% in 2013. "In an increasingly interconnected world, to be competitive one must be competitive around the globe", he declared.

Villar Mir is of the opinion that this innovation and globalisation must be driven by a need to re-industrialise Spain. According to the figures he gave, manufacturing accounts for just 13 - 18% of Spain’s GDP, a far cry from countries such as Germany where it accounts for 22 - 23% of GDP. "Why", he asked, "does industry matter?", and then gave several reasons. Firstly, because "this sector is the driving force of the rest of the economy", and also because it requires "its employees to be more highly skilled and trained, in exchange for higher wages than the average of all jobs in the economy as a whole", without forgetting the role industry plays in R&D&i activities and the indirect employment it creates, "between 1 and 5 jobs".

Juan-Miguel Villar Mir listed the "secrets" of success of the business consortium he started in the 80s and which now operates in 38 countries, is Spain’s 15th largest company, and had sales of more than €6,500m last year. On the one hand the group’s commitment to globalisation, with two thirds of its sales, employees and capital outside Spain, and on the other, its involvement in R&D&i, which Villar Mir summed up as "we don’t buy technology, we sell technology".

He wound up his talk by recalling that "a great deal of the crisis we are experiencing is a crisis of morals". He compared this with what are, in his opinion, the two basic concepts for success in both one’s personal life and at work. "One is to serve others: nothing is more satisfying. The other, of course, is to make others happy – an obligation and ethical demand of coexistence which is, what’s more, very profitable". 

After this interesting talk, Juan-Miguel Villar Mir together with Prof. F. Xavier Mena of ESADE’s Department of Economics, and Ángel Laborda, Situation Director of FUNCAS (Spain’s savings bank foundation) analysed the state of the Spanish economy in the wake of a double-dip recession. The general outlook is encouraging after four quarters with positive rates of growth, but still far from making up for GDP lost in those years. So what’s the reason for this slight growth? On the one hand, higher exports, although they have slowed down in recent months, and on the other, domestic demand with both household expenditure and corporate investment beginning to pick up.

Mena and Laborda mentioned the "drastic" slump in Spain’s construction industry and the hint of slight improvement suggested by some indicators in all construction markets including housing. Against this backdrop, they believe that the confidence of the business world is "on the mend" despite several remaining obstacles such as low prices, which some experts feel is due to a risk of deflation, although Laborda played this down by emphasising that "we are not suffering deflation". They mentioned the drama of unemployment, of course, but also the encouraging increase in registered employed persons. 

The two experts said that wages would remain frozen for "some time because this is what has enabled us to become more competitive", whilst the "enormous" public deficit must be remedied and likewise indebtedness, particularly corporate debt.

In the European landscape, they mentioned that the euro’s depreciation against the dollar together with the impetus apparently being experienced by the European Central Bank have enabled some positive economic improvements. "However", explained Ángel Laborda, "work on the banking union must continue with one of the EU’s cornerstones of growth". Europe "is at a standstill", he declared, "and needs to get moving to ensure sufficient growth to reduce unemployment". 

Both experts concluded that the economy has started to recover but "we still have homework to do and inequalities to redress" whilst recognising that these corrections "are compatible with Spain’s economy starting to grow".

After this cautious but optimistic analysis, the event was brought to a close by Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73 / PhD 08), Director General of ESADE. Bieto reminded the audience that in addition to the 25th anniversary of ESADE Alumni, two other important anniversaries were being celebrated at ESADE. On the one hand, the 20th anniversary of the Law School, which was, she explained, “marked by two new programs: the Master in Global Business Law run in conjunction with our friends at ICADE in Madrid, and the joint degree in Law and Global Governance”. The third anniversary is the graduation of ESADE’s first students. "Fifty years have gone by since then and it’s an important date to remember in order to reassert our origins, carry on making progress and never stop, and bravely face the future with determination, fully aware of the responsibilities we shoulder in a world of uncertainty".

Bieto declared that ESADE has several strategic priorities for the future based on international growth, "with our sights set on Latin America, Asia and the Pacific", plus strategic alliances and academic excellence.

"The life of ESADE", she said, "is far more than numbers. What gives our activity and our identity meaning is our willingness to serve others". Eugenia Bieto concluded by saying that "we must transform the world to make it more humane, and ESADE must help build a better future for society".




ESADE Alumni invites you to the VIII ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid titled "Towards sustainable recovery".

The Spanish economy is on the road to recovery. This new scenario must lay the foundations for solid, sustainable growth based above all on boosting industrialisation by innovation and globalisation. We must redefine our priorities, consolidate our reforms, become more confident and address the uncertainties in the global panorama. The road from recovery to sustainability is paved with strength, credibility and leadership.

Juan-Miguel Villar Mir, President of the Villar Mir Group, will start the day with his talk, "Innovation and globalisation as levers. The case of the Villar Mir Group".

We live in a constantly evolving world driven by technological progress and globalisation. Against this global backdrop, the Villar Mir Group, one of Spain’s foremost industrial groups, has made globalisation and innovation the two main pillars of its strategy, building its business success upon leadership, a desire to excel and continuous improvement. 

Spain’s economy is on the road to recovery after a double-dip recession. Exports and investment are gaining momentum, and also, at a slower pace, household consumption. Our experts Prof. F. Xavier Mena of ESADE’s Department of Economics, and Ángel Laborda, Situation Director at Funcas (Spain’s savings bank foundation), will examine the scenario and share their thoughts on the key factors for solid, sustainable recovery in an uncertain scenario

Opening and registration of guests

7.30 pm Welcome and introduction
Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97/AMP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni

Miguel Trias (MBA 89), President of ESADE Alumni
Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73 / PhD 08), Director General of ESADE

7.45 pm "Innovation and globalisation as levers. The case of the Villar Mir Group"
Juan-Miguel Villar Mir, President of the Villar Mir Group.

8.15 pm An expert opinion
F. Xavier Mena, Professor in ESADE’s Department of Economics
Ángel Laborda, Situation Director, Funcas (Spain’s savings bank foundation)

8.35 pm Closing address:
Ana Pastor, Spanish Minister of Public Works

9.50 pm Networking cocktail

For further information:
91 2526845

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