By Stefanie Claudia Müller & Grace Gulino
Planet-Bpm.com talked to Stephan Oeller, founder of Norak Traducciones and investor in many international companies. He gave us 8 keys to be successful in Spain as a businessman or woman.
You’re a very successful businessman in Spain and Germany. What are the biggest differences between starting out in Spain versus in Germany?
There aren’t many differences between Spain and Germany. The most important thing is to always have a solid platform of ideas, a technique or refined craftsmanship, such as a detailed study of the market, and, again, this always applies: go little by little. In Germany, the principle of dual vocational training definitely helps, so companies have well-trained professionals. In addition, in Germany the distribution channels are shorter and the infrastructure is denser.
In which sectors do you still see business opportunities?
In Spain I see great potential in prime areas. There are ventures in the aviation sector – Airbus plays an important role in this sense – and I believe it could go much further. There are many uninhabited areas that could be used for test flights. In the medical and technological sectors there are surely many possibilities. However, the savings policy of the government in sensitive sectors, like I+D, has already caused great damage. Previously, the innovative research centers had a lot of funding. However, the supply was cut off.
How has this crisis changed the way business is done?
Employers have become more cautious and certainly are suffering credit restrictions. It is still difficult for start-ups to find the necessary funding and the same goes for the, so to say, morally lax payments. The authorities are the ones that have contributed to the middle class’s inability to pay debts on time to the service providers. The government has already noticed this issue, but some caution is necessary in relation to public contracts before trying to fix the problem.
Has this harmed the image of Spain abroad?
I don’t think the image of Spain has been significantly impaired. Although Spanish banks are a different story; there has been an unauthorized maximization of profits. Something similar applies to the property market in general, which itself was damaged by the bursting of the housing bubble. Otherwise, Spain is often admired for its livelihood; those who visit Spain always continue to be amazed that it has not been defeated by the serious economic crisis.
Is there talent and Spain, and where?
Of course there’s talent in Spain! Just like in every other advanced European countries. The problem is that there isn’t always backing and support from institutions. The Spanish may not be the best in terms of language, but in other fields they can compete with their European peers as long as – and this is applicable for all counties – they have passed by universities of other countries.
Based on your understanding of vocational training, what do you believe should be changed in Spain?
First of all they should include more businesses in vocational training. It is the businesspeople that know what type of work and employment they need, and vocational training is the best way to get these workers and employees to the businesses. It could be that businesses are a bit conditioned in this sense because I have seen that dual training has worked very well in Germany and that there are skilled workers that are desperately wanted in this world.
Your wife is German, and as are you. Why are you still in Spain?
This is a question my wife and I consider all the time: why don’t we go to Germany? We have spent many years here and we have the privilege to enjoy the best of both countries. We plan to return to Germany someday, but have always found excuses to delay making this step.
What can Germans learn from the Spanish?
We can all learn to relax a little. That nothing will happen if someone is 5 minutes late, that it’s not worth it to lose your head if someone puts clothes on the line on Sunday, that sometimes you have to react quickly and throw previous plans and anticipations overboard. That life is not only about work and that the neighbors aren’t necessarily happier because they drive a nicer car.