Last week I spent a couple of excellent days in Madrid and Barcelona. In my conversations with people, I was quickly reminded that this is a country in deep and continuing economic trouble. Some told me of their concerns that a whole generation of young people would give up on the country and simply leave. Certainly headline youth unemployment rates are eye-watering and there are many good graduates who cannot find work. I recalled a conversation I had with the young man monitoring the door at one of my presentation sessions at Symposium last year. He had a first class degree in industrial design, yet in the city of Gaudi’s great inspirational works, he was doing a temping job swiping attendee badges. He told me he felt certain he would have to emigrate within the EU.
However last week I also saw signs of true international greatness and technological hope. In Madrid I met with a bank that is using a team of “digital natives” – all 25 or under to drive new ideas for the future of banking. After my evening presentation I briefly met a senior IT manager from one of the country’s biggest football teams. That club, like others of its kind, uses digital technologies to project its brand globally and attract fan revenues from all over the world. My journey between the two cities was taken on a wonderful, gleaming high speed train that any country would be proud of – and the train was full of commuting professionals. I boarded using a QR code, self printed pass. Such modern infrastructure is the lifeblood of sustained economic growth. When I presented my digital business research in Barcelona, it was on the campus of IESE business school – which is one of the world’s top universities for international MBAs and management education, alongside Associate Professor Evgeny Kaganer. He explained his MIT Sloan published research on the “human cloud” – a wonderful perspective on the future of work and employment models.
Overall – I came away with more feelings of hope than gloom. I believe Spanish technology professionals and thinkers can make a huge difference in helping their country’s restoration to full economic health.
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