The gains in Spain: Executive Search in a time of recovery

Madrid, Spain – The most recent forecasts from the Bank of Spain predicted that the national economy would increase by 2.5% in the first quarter of 2015. In 2014, the bank predicted that economic growth would increase by 2% through 2015, but has since raised this projection to 2.8%. The European Commission and IMF have also raised their forecasts to 2.8% and 2.5%. 2014 was the first year since the 2008 real-estate crash that Spain experienced economic growth (1.4%).

However, Spain’s serious problems with low and mid-tier unemployment continue. The collapse of the labour-intensive construction industry and the subsequent recession meant that companies needed to lay off millions of employees to stay afloat. According to Fortune, only 59.9% of Spaniards between 20 and 64 years of age are employed, and many of these are underemployed in temporary or part-time jobs. Work of this kind does not provide employees with the security and skills they need.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may have been a little overoptimistic when he said that the crisis is over. But although the economic climate is not yet stable, the facts are there and Spain created over 400,000 jobs in 2014 and employment (as measured by social security contributions) has increased by 3.52%.

Demand from within, investment from without

There are two aspects to the much-vaunted “Spanish recovery”: growth of internal demand and increased international investment, especially private equity funds and real estate professional investors. The new flow of investment often comes from emerging markets (China, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, the Middle East and specifically the United Arab Emirates). At the same time, strengthening internal demand facilitates growth in consumer goods, the automotive industry and real estate.

One sector in which Spanish companies are experiencing impressive growth is infrastructure and engineering construction (railways, airports, fast train technology). The companies focusing on these areas are leaders in both Spanish and international markets, while Spanish banks (Santander, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) are taking top positions in the global rankings for banking. Financial services, M&A, consulting and professional advisory services are growing significantly on the internal market.

Most of the world’s largest automotive producers have production facilities in Spain that are now back at full capacity, and together with their associated automotive auxiliary facilities they contribute to export figures, increase Spanish productivity, and facilitate subsequent job creation.

Spain also shows consistent growth in textile retail – giants such as Inditex, Cortefiel, Mango or Desigual – followed closely by the E-Commerce, Logistics ICT and Business Processes Outsourcing sectors.

The crisis and the Executive Search industry

The downturn had the hardest impact on Executive Search in 2009, with high-level assignments especially affected. The Executive Search sector had fully recovered by 2013-2014, but the industry has evolved. Talent has become global, and clients now demand international specialists. The effect of the crisis turned into a growth opportunity for Pedersen & Partners, as we were able to serve our clients worldwide and leverage our presence in markets that remained strong. There is currently high demand for Executive Search in Spain, as Spanish companies strive to invest in the best talent for their headquarters and regional hubs in Madrid and their international offices.

The available positions are typical general management, with intense demand for good CEOs and CFOs, and an increased demand for high-calibre experts in Corporate Governance, Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance. In the corporate world, the concept of “risk” and its offshoots “risk/reputation assessment and management” have likewise evolved. The digital world demands new skill sets, but these must be backed up by management skills.

In the financial world, banks have an urgent need for new talent to oversee and work with the Single Supervisory Mechanism implemented in 2014. This enormous change in the Eurozone has brought about cultural and conceptual changes, and has also generated a need for high-level expertise and knowledge regarding regulatory frameworks. Asset Management and capital markets specialists are also in high demand.

In advisory services, there is increased demand for risk management experts, talent & reward, board services, credit risk and sustainability specialists.

These factors together with the Spanish labour law reforms have given rise to a more flexible labour market, which in turn encourages job creation at all levels. Many exciting opportunities are now opening up for well-educated professionals with international exposure and degrees from Spain’s elite business schools.

Alberto Bocchieri is a Partner and the Co-Head of Spain & Latin America at Pedersen & Partners.  based in Madrid. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Bocchieri held various senior level positions in large corporations in the Chemical, Banking and Communications sectors in Brussels, Rome and Madrid. Mr. Bocchieri brings a wealth of Executive Search experience, having previously worked for an international executive search firm. His areas of expertise include Private Equity, Corporate and Investment Banking, Legal and Financial Services, Professional Advisory Services, Energy (Mining, Oil & Gas, large utilities, renewable and conventional power) and Industrials. He focuses on top executive positions and cross-border assignments in Western and emerging economies alike.

Mr. Bocchieri is a Graduate in Economy and Business from LUISS University in Rome. He completed the PADE Senior Management Program at IESE Business School in Madrid and the Global Senior Management Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and IE Business School. Mr. Bocchieri was distinguished in 2010 with the honorific title of “Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella” by the Italian Republic. He is bilingual in Italian and Spanish, and speaks English and French fluently.

Pedersen & Partners is a leading international Executive Search firm. We operate 53 wholly owned offices in 50 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Our values Trust, Relationship and Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives. More information about Pedersen & Partners is available at

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