Working for a Company in Spain – Everyday life in Spain 4

I once had an argument with an English friend who suggested that the Spanish don’t work very hard. He thought they spent half their working day having a siesta. I told him that having worked in two companies in Spain, I could say without a doubt that the Spanish work much longer hours than the British and appeared equally, if not more, stressed as a result.

I worked as an English teacher in both companies. The second was a multi-million dollar marketing company, that invoiced its clients hundreds of thousands of euros at a time. By just floating in for a few hours a day (max 24 per week), I earned more than most of the main-floor cubicle workers I was teaching, who worked 60 hour weeks, might come in at weekends without extra renumeration, and were lucky to earn 1,000 euros a month.

They are the so-called mileuristas (great article in El Pais), late-20’s to thirty-somethings with a degree, maybe even a Masters, probably an extra language or two to their name, who just can’t break the 1,000 euros a month barrier no matter who they are working for. Inflation rises, house prices go through the roof, yet salaries in Spain just don’t budge. How is that possible, even when multi-nationals are writing the wage cheques?

Can’t answer that one, but here are a few more things you might not know about work in Spain:

– Many companies still enforce an hour and a half lunch break (as if everyone still worked round the corner from home and wanted to pop back for lunch – now the exception rather than the norm).

– It is still common for women to get paid less for doing the same job as their male colleagues. A female director in the above-mentioned multi-national I worked for said this is because the man is seen as the head of his family, and will need more money to support his household, including, presumably, his low-earning wife.

– Once you get off the cubicle floor and into a managerial position you will earn a more realistic wage, but you’ll be expected to give up the rest of your life to earn it. Don’t expect to be home before 10 at night.

– Working from home is uncommon, but pilot schemes in some companies do let people stay at home once or twice a week.

– A yearly salary is usually split into 14 payments: one per month, and an extra payment of the same amount, the paga extraordinaria, paid once in June or July and once at Christmas.

Conclusion

Working in a Spanish company is tough. You are expected to work long hours for low wages, no matter who you are working for. Multi-million dollar international marketing firm? They’ll pay you little and take their cash for the shareholders, thanks. A Spanish friend of ours works for a multi-million dollar tech company, just outside Madrid, as a mid-level IT consultant with 6 years experience. She has been placed there by her consultancy firm, a large French company. Should be driving a BMW, right? Wrong. She earns less than 2,000 euros a month, probably half what she would earn for the same job in the UK.

If you want an easy life in a Spanish company you have two options. Be the chauffeur driven CEO, or the lowly English teacher.

How does life in your company/country compare?

44 thoughts on “Working for a Company in Spain – Everyday life in Spain 4

  1. Moscow

    And the way to solve this? Make Spain a more market-driven economy, and a more meritocratic society. Scrap centralised salary bargaining, make hiring and firing easier, introduce more flexible working hours, loosen red-tape, but do also invest more in education, facilities for small children, and housing. A pity that at the next election we have the choice between an unelectable right-wing party gone beserk – but with the right policies – and wet socialdemocrats without the guts to really change things.

  2. Beckett

    @Moscow: Amen. You hit the nail on the head. But I think part of the problem is that the Spanish don’t want a more market-driven economy. Many people are quite comfortable with the way things are. They find the alternative (a meritocracy, flexibility in hiring and firing, less red-tape) frightening because it means change and change is scary for a lot of people.

    I read Martin Varsasvky’s blog. He’s an Argentine entrepreneur in Spain. He frequently writes about the Spanish business climate and the cultural norms that are holding Spain back and stopping Spain from being all that it can be economically. But frequently his readers from Spain get up in arms whenever he says things like you wrote about the business environment.

    The mileuristas exist because so many people can and do live at home with their parents. Parents (or grandparents) subsidize their children’s life, enabling them to take those crappy, very low-paying jobs. Young people take crappy or very low-paying jobs because they feel they have to and because they don’t have the expense of covering rent, food and utilities on their own, they can afford to take those crappy jobs, ironically enough.

    @Ben, another great paying job in Spain appears to be telecom engineer. They make good money once they get a contrato fijo. Also, teaching English in Spain is not an “easy life” for most. The pay is also generally crappy and the schedule long and at times sporadic, with no renumeration for class planning or commuting time.

  3. Ben Post author

    @Beckett, you are right, English teaching can be tough, I guess I’d been at it long enough to get a cushy number – most English teachers find one after a few years here. In the end I did so little, while getting paid, that I went slightly mad. All my students were perpetually ‘too busy’ for class at the last minute and I spent most mornings wandering the company floor listening to excuses as to why whoever couldn’t make it again. It was a great insight into Spanish company life though. I was often more psychologist than English teacher when they did eventually turn up for class!

  4. Moscow

    Change will be eventually become inevitable. And Spain is not the only country in Europe that needs waking up.

  5. Parubin

    Things are not as bad for everyone. The problem about young graduated spaniards with low wages exist, and I agree to what’s been said before, but you need to take into consideration where Spain was 30 years ago.
    We’ve come a long way and we are now pushing as one of the most succesful and dynamic economies in the world in recent years.

    About wages, yes, they need to be improved, but they are being improved. For instance, the latest figure given by the EU agency of statistics, says that Spain’s Gross Domestic Product Per Capita (the purchaching power of each individual) is higher, for the first time, than Italy’s.

    Spain’s GDP per capita is 107% of the average of the EU (counting the new countries from the EU) and two points above Italy’s.

    Here’s the link to this piece of news :

    EL PAIS
    http://www.elpais.com/articulo/economia/Espana/supera/primera/vez/Italia/riqueza/habitante/elpepueco/20071218elpepieco_2/Tes

    EL MUNDO
    http://www.elmundo.es/mundodinero/2007/12/17/economia/1197931974.html

  6. ValenciaSon

    Maybe when enough time has passed and there is no Franco apathy left, Spain will seek economic goals beyond its borders.

  7. Stuart

    Spain already does a lot beyond its borders. Spanish companies currently provide poor service for high prices in much of Latin America.

  8. Dean Hunt

    Interesting article.

    I have been very lucky since moving to Madrid. However, I realised early that working for a Spanish company should be avoided at all costs, so I worked online and found a way of working for UK and American companies.

    I recently found out that I earn more than the head doctors in Madrid, which is pathetic and scary.

    That said, from what I have been told, Spain has come a long way, and once the Franco shackles are truly off, I am sure it will thrive.

    Dean

  9. -HaRaDwAiTh-

    I totally agree. What is more, I’m concerned that probably to earn money I’ll must go to another countries of Europe, because here I’m not recognised enough.

    I’m studying 4th Chemical Engineering. I try to learn English (I achieved FCE), French and German, and I’m supposed to spend my next academic year in Germany. I’ve worked yet, as shopper o personal teacher for teenagers. I’m dinamic, that what business look for. Probably next year, or in two years when I finish my degree I’ll earn 1.500€ so far. With the prices, the houses… maybe it will be time to think about emigration. Maybe Germany?

    Desolador 🙁

  10. españolito

    Ummm, Ben, in my opinion:

    “Many companies still enforce an hour and a half lunch break (as if everyone still worked round the corner from home and wanted to pop back for lunch – now the exception rather than the norm)”

    NOT TRUE in Madrid, it’s just not practical. Only small companies still do it.

    “It is still common for women to get paid less for doing the same job as their male colleagues. A female director in the above-mentioned multi-national I worked for said this is because the man is seen as the head of his family, and will need more money to support his household, including, presumably, his low-earning wife”

    COMPLETELY FALSE (and illegal, by the way). However, it is true that on average, women get less money, because on average, women have lower qualifications. However, women under 35 have on average, higher qualifications than men of that age-group, and get paid accordingly.
    Maybe in some small, family run companies, there are still some cases. I refuse to believe that that female director you mentioned was earning less than a male colleague. It just doesn’t make any sense and it would be a very stupid Human Resources practice if it really were as you say. Spanish companies also have share holders who want results, you know..

    “Once you get off the cubicle floor and into a managerial position you will earn a more realistic wage, but you’ll be expected to give up the rest of your life to earn it. Don’t expect to be home before 10 at night”

    SAD but TRUE

    “Working from home is uncommon, but pilot schemes in some companies do let people stay at home once or twice a week”

    TRUE, but teleworking is spreading very, very fast in Madrid, as the city is getting more and more congested

    “A yearly salary is usually split into 14 payments: one per month, and an extra payment of the same amount, the paga extraordinaria, paid once in June or July and once at Christmas”

    TRUE

    And finally, I have to say that, whether you want to believe or not, quite a few people in Spain in general and in Madrid in particular have good jobs, well-paid, with managers and colleagues who are both decent people and efficient workers, and they have all that without having to stay at the office until 10 pm…Some us even manage to do good job more often than not.

    There are also thousands or perhaps millions who are not so lucky, but that happens everywhere, doesn’t it? I must have been very lucky, because I’m not a genius, I have no “enchufe” and I still managed to get a good job.

    May be it’s because I have the right qualifications and I worked very hard, or maybe I was just lucky, but anyway, although there’s a lot of truth in Ben’s post and in some of the previous posts, I think there’s too much negativity about the Spanish job market and about the Spanish companies.

    ValenciaSon, what do you mean by Franco apathy?, I don’t get it. Franco died in 1975. The people educated under Franco’s regime are most of them already retired. Think about it.

    Stuart, some Spanish companies are also providing poor service in the UK and even in USA, at least just as poor as the service some British and American companies provide here.

    Spanish companies are….companies

  11. españolito

    Ben, el articulo del pais es muy interesante, todos conocemos gente en esa situacion, pero tu y yo sabemos que es bastante demagogico. Hay mucha gente de esa generacion que estudió carreras inútiles, sin demanda laboral suficiente en España. ¿cuantos licenciados en historia o en periodismo ( o incluso en filososfia…), necesita un pais?

    Hay sectores, como IT, donde el paro es exactamente cero, de hecho hay mas demanda que oferta, por eso el sector se esta llenando de ingenieros latino-americanos y polacos, porque no hay suficientes ingenieros de teleco o informatica en España.

    Y un consultor con 6 años de experiencia como tu amiga, deberia ganar algo mas de 2000 euros mensuales, si no se lo pagan, que se cambie de empresa, que hay muchas. Y en Inglaterra una persona con curriculum similar NO conduce un BMW, te lo digo yo hermano.

    Un saludo

  12. Beckett

    Hola españolito,
    Can you please name at least one U.S. or British company that offers poor customer service in Spain? I’d like to know for future reference. Thank you.

  13. Charles C Stirk Jr

    “Spain already does a lot beyond its borders. Spanish companies currently provide poor service for high prices in much of Latin America.” Funny quite funny & they are a client as well ..

    Is there a big advantage I am missing for being an employee ?

    What is the advantage of not being a freelancer ?

    From what I know on the creative professional end in photography & advertising , The Spanish companies pay the prevailing international rates for these services

  14. ValenciaSon

    Oye Españolito, Spain is in Latin America because the language works in their favor but what I would like to know is, what companies from Spain have penetrated the US markets to a similar degree that the US companies have penetrated the Spanish markets? If the Franco apathy is all gone, then why is it that the majority of the world is not aware that Spain produces wine at the levels that it does and why is the delicious Spanish cuisine so unnoticed in the world, especially as compared to France and Italy’s wine and cuisine? Time may have passed since Franco but established behaviors are passed on to the next generation.

  15. Parubin

    I can’t agree with Valenciason. Franco is dead and buried and no one gives a s**t about him anymore except for foreigners who like so much to put on him everything that happens in Spain. I’ve seen it so many times but still it surprises me. That would be like blaming Theodore Rooselvelt for the invasion of Iraq or for not signing the Kyoto Protocol. Absurd.

    Spanish wine is not unnoticed for anyone knowing a bit about wine and spanish wine exports are at the highest levels. So is not Spanish food, altough because its strong regional variety it is not as easy to cathegorize as, say, chinese or italian, both of which even small kids like at first try.

    Spanish companies are present not only in South America. Spain has become a big investor in Europe (Spanish shareholders have huge interests in Britain, France, Eastern Europe) northern africa (in which is the biggest investor, with France) and even in the US Spain has made significant investments in the recent years, not to mention civil-engineering sector or infraestructure management : Spanish construction companies are building highways, airport terminals, bridges all over the Americas (including the US and Canada) and Europe, as well as they are managing significant infraestructures in England, such as (I believe) the London Underground, or all airports under the British Airport Authority, to name a few.

    I don’t see much apathy in Spanish companies, to the contrary.

  16. Moscow

    For ValenciaSon:
    Sorry, just a question, may I ask, please, when was the last time you actually lived in Spain? And the last time you visited Spain?

  17. Ben Post author

    @españolito – “It is still common for women to get paid less for doing the same job as their male colleagues.” – I’m afraid I stand by that comment. A top director who helps decide wages told me this is the case.

    “en Inglaterra una persona con curriculum similar NO conduce un BMW” – a lo mejor tienes razon, pero podrian sin hacer tanto esfuerzo economico como un español con el mismo trabajo.

    @Charles – “What is the advantage of not being a freelancer ?” – Feeling secure in the knowledge that you are going to be paid the same every month! And not having to pay 220 plus euros a month social security. Spain is not kind to it’s self-employed class. It doesn’t offer all that many incentives (unless you are a woman under 30ish), and the paperwork is hellish.

  18. ValenciaSon

    @ Moscow: It’s been a while since I was in Spain but I stay current through the media such as España Directo on TVE and I stay in touch with my relatives in Spain. You have to be a wine enthusiast to know what Spain is doing with wine, otherwise most people out of Spain are not aware of Spain’s wine activity. As diverse as Spain is, China is even more diverse with its numerous cultural differences and yet people outside of China are aware of Chinese cuisine. Neither France or Italy are monolithic entities as well yet the awareness of their cuisine and wine are there.

  19. Frank

    “as well as they are managing significant infraestructures in England, such as (I believe) the London Underground, or all airports under the British Airport Authority, to name a few.”

    That’s because we “play by the rules” and our companies are open to takeovers, whereas the French and the Spanish, especially in the case of Endesa, do not. They put every obstacle in the way, that they can. Now, I don’t really blame them for that, but given that it’s against the rules, it makes a mockery of the EU. The UK is usually the one accused of not being on side in Europe, but I’m afraid Spain is one of several that likes to put barriers in place when it suits them.

    “PARIS: In a victory for European Union regulators against resurgent protectionism, Spain signaled Monday that it would drop its long-running attempt to thwart a German takeover of the Spanish power company Endesa.

    European states are increasinglydrawing themselves closer economically while maintaining their sovereignty over areas like military contracting and taxes. But there is growing alarm in Brussels over recent moves by some governments – including that in Spain – to block foreign bids in sectors deemed strategically important, including energy.”

  20. Moscow

    It’s been a while…., but you don’t say how much. Should I rest my case….? To be honest, you are right about the cuisine and the wine. It’s a bit of puzzle indeed why on earth the French and the Italians have managed to plug their stuff almost everywhere, and the Spanish haven’t. Middle class Germans knew what Parma ham and cheese were, already in the 70’s. But until the 90’s almost nobody had heard about Chorizo or Serrano or Manchego – and many still haven’t. The same in Britain. There’s a problem there, no doubt. Nevertheless, Spanish companies have been very active abroad lately. This is in striking contrast with past experience – and with this I mean only 15 years ago. A number of US American banks have been taken over by Spanish banks during the last 2-3 years, there is Spanish presence in China, Russia, India. These are not world famous brands (except perhaps for Zara or Mango), but amongst them are automotive part manufacturers, chemical industry firms, building material producers, and so on. It is too soon to say where all this is heading for. But there has definitely been a tectonic-shift like change in business attitudes – albeit, granted, from a very low base. Still, as I pointed out above, further change is required if Spain is to fufill it’s true potential.

  21. Parubin

    All production of Spanish wines is already sold (even before the grapes are collected) either in the domestic market or abroad (more than half of the production is for exportation).

    Spanish wines are praised in most relevant wine-guides, and I’ve seen them in many restaurants in the US (not tasted them abroad so often because I am fond to know new things, so, when travelling, I like to try different stuff).

    People who know France and Italy are great wine countries but absolutely ignore Spain is too, will have to be probably coca-cola drinkers.

    About Spanish companies, in comparison to other similar countries -such as Italy again-, if you take a look at Forbes 2000 biggest global companies, you’ll find that both countries (Spain and Italy) contribute to that list with the same number of firms (40) but these Spanish companies are bigger in terms of profits and market value, as well as they are more international. The biggest Italian companies are from the Banking, Insurance and Telecommunication industries, but they are mainly domestic. There are no great international investments made by those companies, while in those sectors, Spanish banks or telecommunication companies are very active (in England, Abbey National or O2 are -I think- well known brands that are owned by spanish companies).

    Italy is 50% bigger than Spain, in terms of domestic market size, by the way (population of 60 million vs. about 40 million in Spain).

    By this, I mean that Spanish are doing reasonably good, and are not so bad after all, and of course, have gotten well past the Franco apathy.

  22. Ryan

    “All production of Spanish wines is already sold (even before the grapes are collected) either in the domestic market or abroad (more than half of the production is for exportation).”

    This is Hilarious and I would love to have the many wine makers we talk to daily live here in Spain,join in here to tell you about the false nature of this statement.

    Spain produces a ton of wine and very little of it in truth is sold. Much of the wine produced is sold off in bulk for distillation and industrial uses, because there are no buyers!

    To sell Spanish wine requires an insane amount of work and a personal drive that is not possible to imagine. Money is made is small amounts and yet the publics image of wineries is based on a few of the very rich.

    Yes Spanish wine sales are growing but just a quick example with a few facts.

    -Spain is the country with the largest total amount of vines in the world.
    -Spains wine production is third in the world to France and Italy.
    -If Spain could find people to buy it’s wine, it could produce enough wine to easily surpass both France and Itally in terms of production.

    Spanish wine has a long ways to go, I’ve been working with it for a long time now, both here in Spain and in the States. It does have potential though!

  23. Theresa

    I was an English teacher until I had my second child, and I had miserable pay, horrible hours, and no job security whatsoever. Most of the English teachers I know are in a similar situation. Maybe there are better opportunities in Madrid, but in general teaching English is not a very well paid profession here in Spain.

  24. ValenciaSon

    And yet the specialty wine stores in the DC area sell 2-3 times more Italian wine than Spanish wine and up to 10 times more French wine than Spanish wine. In many wine stores, the Spanish section is partly populated with wines from Argentina and Chile.

  25. Parubin

    @ Ryan :
    Since your take on wine is not only recreational (that being my only interest in the precious liquid) but also professional I’m sure you are right and I was wrong to make that quick stament without having the exact informaction in my hand.

    Nonetheless I have to say that that I remember quite clearly to listen to some Spanish winery representant to confirm that exportation was booming and that they had the whole of their production compromised for the next years. Maybe, as you point out, this is only the case of the better known winerys, and not the average company in the industry.

    Anyway, to add another piece of argument to the discussion, I’d like you to read the article which link I provide at the end of the post. It comes from a serious newspaper (El Mundo) and it refers to last years international congress of the wine industry.

    Some very interesting figures and facts were given by the president of that organization (some italian by the name of Federico Castellucci). It is stated that while Spain is the world’s third wine producer (quite behind Italy and France), it is the second biggest exporter before France, and only second to Italy (but really really close).

    Here’s the link to the article :
    http://elmundovino.elmundo.es/elmundovino/noticia.html?vi_seccion=7&vs_fecha=200606&vs_noticia=1151428729

  26. Ryan

    It’s the biggest exporter second to france because of BULK wine…Germany buys a ton of bulk wine in Tanker trucks that they then bottle for supermakerts and other blended wines.

    Look for an article that talks about “quality wine” and not “wine in general”.

    exportation is booming, but right now(seeing that I’m helping wineries do this sort of thing) the Strong Euro is starting to slow that boom down!

  27. españolito

    Beckett, I could name quite a few American poor-service companies , all of which I’ve (or the companies I’ve worked for) dealt with as a customer. For instance:

    -Hewlett Packard
    -IBM
    -Microsoft,

    their customer services are just infamous, and they all are very expensive….But yes, the people working at Starbucks are very nice, fake but nice, how couldn’t you love that?

    There are “cowboys” and “pirates” in every nationality, Beckett.

    Ben, I’m not sure about the BMW thing. How much would a person with the same CV as your friend earn in England? Between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds?, something in that range? How much is an average rent in London? And where in London? And how far from your office?. And how much are the monthly bills ? And the food? And a couple of pints every Thursday after work? Ok, let’s agree there are more professional oportunities in England, but life is not a bed of roses there neither…

    ValenciaSon, what can I say?, you never say anything positive about Spain, and you are really not very well informed. Spain is changing a lot and very fast, come and see it for yourself. If your source of information is España Directo and your relatives, it’s no wonder that you are basicaly clueless and/or biased. Other posters have already mentioned the unprecedented recent international growth of many Spanish companies, not only in Spanish speaking countries, but all around the world. For a country of 45 million people, it is not that bad. I’ve also noticed that you have a very USA-centric view on everything. The world is big, what stands true for your country, might not be the same in the rest of the world. You make a lot of assumptions about the Spanish economy and the “apathetic” (does this word exist?) attitude of the Spaniards based on how badly the Spanish wines and foods are doing in your country. Funny, and

    It really gets on my nerves, to be honest, everytime a foreigner mentions Franco. HE IS DEAD, he died long time ago, right?, we(the Spaniards) have no excuses anymore, we want to compete like anybody else, we are not a poor and ignorant contry anymore, thanks to the EU help and thanks to our own effort. We want to be as good as the best are, or at least get as close as possible.

    I read in some other post of yours that you think the Spaniards envy Americans. Why shoud we do it? I’m very interested in knowing your reasons.

    Saludos a todos.

  28. tom

    I would like to see a breakdown of the cost of living in Spain. I see people living very well on comparatively low salaries, yet car and home prices are high. I’ve heard that real estate taxes are very low compared to the U.S. and of course there’s no sales tax, But is that 14000 euros a year after taxes?

  29. Beckett

    @españolito. Not sure I catch your drift. Cowboys and pirates? Where did those words come from? Not from me. Please don’t put words in my mouth, (or put words in quotation marks next to my name). It gives the false impression that you are quoting something I wrote, which I didn’t, in my earlier comment on this thread. Thank you.

  30. ValenciaSon

    @españolito: you don’t have the inability to withstand criticism as was mentioned of spaniards, do you? And you aren’t amongst one of the many who have by default an anti-american mentality, do you? Where I stand, there certainly is no lack of information. Our ability to market successfully and our ingenuity is world renown so envy is not uncommon. At least not as uncommon as the notion of customer service in Spain.

    I love Spain, which is why I want it to realize its full potential.

  31. Jonk

    Interesting conversation guys.

    The Spanish are quite proud aren’t they.

    It’s funny how someone is comparing Spain to Italy, when Italy in itself is regarded as a joke.

    I’m really looking forward to my time in Spain. But from abroad, reading all these articles in El Pais and others, workplace laws do come across as very poorly managed indeed.

    In the second comment, Beckett was 100% right.

    Australia’s unemployment rate has gone from 9.6% to 4.3% in 11 years because of the exact changes to the laws that Beckett is talking about.

  32. Moscow

    Jonk,
    I’ve been to Italy a few times. I agree there is much to criticise about Italy. However, in the eighties Spaniards used to look up to Italy as an example to follow (no irony intended). Things have changed quite a bit since. For instance, I find nowadays Milan looks definitely more run down than say, Madrid. I could go on. However, I’d be careful before calling Italy a joke. It still is the world’s 6th or 7th largest economy. Besides, I would find it, at least, unfair to call a joke a nation that produces so many of the world’s best goods.

  33. Parubin

    @españolito : I haven’t noticed Valenciason having a negative attitude towards Spain. All I know about him is because of his posts in this site and it seems to me to be a Spain lover, being of Spanish descendant himself and having lived here in his youth. Just like me, when I’m talking about a different country I just don’t always have all the insight. It seems to me that he indeed focuses a lot about Franco time, when he is gone for good, and he has sometimes stated that in his environment Spain is often confused with Latin America, which only speaks for itself. All in all, I think he is a great lover of this country and he has a decent and fair and informed view of whats going on here. Living relatively close to Spain, I wish he could come here more often, not only to his native Valencia but to the rest of the country too.

    @Valenciason : Come visit Spain, is just a short trip from where you live!!. And then come back again. You know you’ll love it, you’ll see with your own eyes a country that is not black & white anymore.

    @Jonk : I was comparing Spain with Italy because we were talking about Spain’s suppousedly inability to market its products, and you have to agree that Italians are true masters in the fine art of selling. Anyway, Spain just made the news for surpassing Italy in purchasing power and Gross Domestic Product per capita. So if Spanish companies don’t know how to sell and are so bad, maybe we are doing other things not so bad.

    Some more insight about Spanish companies : Since people are generalizing and making one piece of example the norm as a whole, I’m going to give another piece of example of Spanish companies Vs. companies abroad.

    I work in Spain for a Spanish bank. One of the biggest retail banks both in Spain and Europe, with presence in over 40 countries. Few years ago (about 4 years ago), the bank I work in, purchased the majority of the shares of one of Britain’s top 5 banks, at that time that was the biggest transnational coporate adquisition in the banking industry in the world (or maybe it was only the biggest in Euroland, I don’t remember). That British bank had undergone serious losses in the last few years prior to the Spanish takeover, but still was (and is) one of the biggest of that country in number of clients, turnover and employees. As of today, only four years under Spanish management it is one of Britain’s most profitable companies in the industry. When the Spanish shareholders bought the British bank thought that despite of recent losses the investment had great potential because a number of reasons which I’ll try to briefly explain :

    -> The average branch in that British bank had no less that 30 employees. Most of them working in back-office routines.
    -> The average branch in the Spanish bank has about 3-6 employees. All of them working towards clients and potential clients.
    -> Despite this difference in personnel size, the average Spanish branch yielded bigger turnover (not to mention profits).
    -> The working mentality in the British bank was completely passive. Everyone sitting in their desks waiting for a client to come to the bank only attending to their specific demmands without having the ability to cross-sale or turn all situations into business opportunities.
    -> The technology platform in the British bank was obsolete and had to be removed, because it didn’t allow for easy tasks such as client segmentation, profit measure, etc…
    -> Etc, etc, etc…

    I imagine that from an English point of view this looks like the other way around, but its not. Spanish companies are very dynamic abroad. In banking, in telecommunication, in the media industry, in construction and engineering, etc. etc. etc.

    For instance, very recently (this year 2007) a huge transnational takeover ocurred in the european banking industry (bigger than the one I mentioned before, the biggest ever bank takeover in history). A consortium leaded by the same Spanish bank and a very big Scottish bank bought 86% of the shares of Hollands top bank, one of the 20 biggest in the world.
    What I say is that working in Spain can be good or bad, or just ok. In terms of GDP per capita, and according to the International Monetary Fund, Spain is at the same level of countries like Italy and Japan. And very close (and closing the gap) with Germany and France.

  34. españolito

    Jonk, if the Spanish are proud then the Americans are….what? Mega-proud??

    ValenciaSon, I can take criticism, but the question is, can you?

    I’m not antiamerican, or pro-american for that matter, I’m anti-nothing and basically pro-me (yes, I’m selfish, nodody is perfect). And I don’t believe the Spaniards are by default anti-american.

    I think we should not compare the USA and Spain, the USA are not a model for Spain, for many reasons.. This doesn’t mean that I think there’s anything wrong with America, it is just….the two countries are very different. : Maybe you are confusing not being a USA enthusiast with being Anti-American? I think each country has to find its own way to success. We can all learn form what others have done right. America has done a lot of things very right, but that doesn’t mean that we should be american-clones.

    I’m sorry if I was a little too harsh to you, but honestly, vey often you come across as Franco-obsessed and a bit pesimistic about everything Spanish. I’m sure you didn’t know many of the of the things about the Spanish economy commented here. Furthermore, I bet you find them hard to believe. I’m just guessing, but, that’s my impression. I suppose you are right when you say Spain, the Spanish products and the Spanish companies are alomost irrelevant in the USA. But there are places where the brand “Spain” is getting recognition, and that’s what I wanted you to understand.

    Let’s take Zara, one of the world biggest fashion retailers, as an example. Are they widely known in the USA? Probably not. Are they widely known in the UK, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Mexico, etc,etc,etc,ets? Yes.
    So….

    I’m an optimistic, I can’t help it. And I hate that “pesimismo iberico”, that lack of self-esteem, so typical Spanish in the past. I really hate it. It’s very negative.

    Yes, there’s room for improvement, but I think Spain is going in the right direction.

    I could be wrong, but I prefer to believe I’m not.

    Salu2.

  35. españolito

    Parubin said:

    “What I say is that working in Spain can be good or bad, or just ok. In terms of GDP per capita, and according to the International Monetary Fund, Spain is at the same level of countries like Italy and Japan. And very close (and closing the gap) with Germany and France”

    AMEN to this, it couldn’t be said in a better way….

  36. Tom

    Beckett, Thanks for the link.
    I have noticed more Spanish products here in the U.S. in the 15 years that I’ve been going to Spain. Just recently All of the local supermarkets started selling chorizo and manchego [along with meats and cheeses from various other countries].

  37. Gary

    I spotted the first Christmas lights at the end of october this year. I enjoy and endure Christmas – its a 3 day event 24th, 25th & 26th.

    As for all the commercial crap that goes with it Greg Lake summed it up:

    … They sold me a dream of Christmas,
    They sold me a Silent Night…

    ….I believed in Father Christmas
    And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
    ‘Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
    And I saw him and through his disguise….

    … Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
    The Christmas you get you deserve.

  38. Chris

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about mingling with other expats – as you say they made the right move to so they must have something about them. However, there are also certain expat circles in Spain which just seem to be made up of the lager louts of the 80s who made a buck and went back for more when they moved out to Spain 20 yrs later – this particular demographic can sometimes be a nightmare.

  39. Margarita

    I think working in Spain is a breeze compared to working here in the Philippines. For most of the people who don’t know, Philippines is a country located in South East Asia.

    I work for a multi-national company and is already considered very privileged at my 350 EU monthly salary. Let me share the working conditions in my country:

    – Most of the women are working either here or abroad. Men are also working but most of them stay home to look after the children. (This used to be other other way around but turns out women workers are favored more).

    – We only have an hour for lunch break – which means eating at your desk while working – and 15 mins. morning and afternoon breaks.

    – People get paid depending on their type of work though this doesn’t necessarily mean that women are paid less/more than men.

    – If you are paid overtime here in the Philippines then most likely you are a non-exempt employee and you earn less than those who are not paid overtime.

    – People who are paid high have bigger responsibilities but get to leave work on time. They say, it’s just a matter of delegating tasks.

    – Surfing the web for non-business related content is a violation of company policy and would often times result to dismissal

    *which reminds me, I need to get back to work*

    iHasta Luego!

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