Aner Garmendia

Director-General of Ega Master

“If Europe is not okay and the emerging markets are doing badly, where is international growth going to come from? Spain is facing a complicated situation”

Should there be explicit promotion for internationalization?

We have to educate each other. Many companies have come to the conclusion that they have to internationalize because they are not making as many sales in Spain as they did in the past and they need to find new markets. That’s fine, but internationalization is much more than this: it has to form part of a strategy to make a company more competitive in a sustainable way. When you take your business abroad and you immerse yourself in these hostile environments such as Germany, the United States, or Japan, in order to make progress you have to demonstrate that you are not just as good as local brands but better than them. This is what activates the mechanisms that allow a business to adapt and evolve. What’s more, the mere fact of having an international presence—above all if it is very diversified—allows you to have your radars set up all over the world, and these can send you information in real time on what your competitors are doing, as well as on new technologies and needs as they emerge.

Is there too much fear of failure in Spain?

There are fears, but there are also objective difficulties. Objective difficulty number one: companies often suffer from a lack of knowledge of what lies outside Spain, which evidently stems from a lack of practice or experience. Objective difficulty number two is their capacity to do business on an international level. The average Spaniard still has no experience abroad. Regardless of the language involved, this affects whether we can hold our own in different environments, not just when it comes to communicating but also in decoding what people from other cultures (who express themselves in a different way) are trying to tell us.

What forecast would you make for the economy in the international context?

Over the short term, we will see a lot of uncertainty and gloom because it seems that the emerging markets, which have been the driving force over the last decade, seem to be having some engine trouble. Despite having recovered slightly from the crisis, Europe isn’t exactly in the best state either. If Europe is not okay and the emerging markets are doing badly, where is international growth going to come from? Spain is facing a complicated situation. In principle, there are a set of variables within the economy as a whole that are very favorable for Spain: interest rates at zero, rock bottom prices on oil and raw materials, and the fact that the euro is cheap against the dollar, meaning that we can now export more. Nevertheless, if we are hardly growing at all despite the situation in Europe, the outlook isn’t particularly positive. I really don’t know what can be done over the short term. Over the long term, Spain must invest in education. We have to have at our disposal a country of well-trained people who can hold their own on an international level.

Do we have to bring businesses closer to universities?

At EGA Master, the vast majority of leadership roles in the company started work as interns. We companies have to start seeing internships as part of our staff selection process, evaluating our interns during their time with us in order to verify whether they have the qualities that will lead them to succeed in our company.