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In the digital revolution, talent is the key

The earth, capital and technology have been the strategic factors in the industrial revolutions that have taken place from the Neolithic period to the 20th Century. However, in the fourth industrial revolution, which is now underway, individual talent will be the key to success.

The companies participating in the ‘Can Spain compete in talent?’ event, organized by the Association for Progress in Management (APD) and Adecco, all agree on this point. The event brings together the heads of major digital companies like Google, Telefónica and BBVA along with those of small startups.

Enrique Sánchez (Adecco): “The difference between the companies that do well and those that don’t comes down to people

“The difference between the companies that do well and those that don’t comes down to people,” Adecco Spain Chairman Enrique Sánchez said emphatically. BBVA’s Global Head of Talent and Culture, Ricardo Forcano, shared this opinion, adding that the ability to learn continuously and to adapt to change by “both organizations and the people that comprise them” will be a highly important competitive advantage for companies in the digital age.

The key lies in combining technology and talent. The proof is the success of companies such as Airbnb or Uber, which have been able to transform the hotel and transportation industries without owning either buildings or vehicles.

Fuencisla Clemares (Google): “It isn’t man or the machine. It’s man plus the machine that makes the difference

In the words of Fuencisla Clemares, country manager of Google Spain: “It isn’t man or the machine. It’s man plus the machine that makes the difference… That’s what we value the most at Google: people who are capable of constantly evolving, continuously learning and growing, because we are very clear that people we hire today will not be doing the same thing in five years.”

Image of Ricardo Forcano, head of Talent & Culture (BBVA)

Ricardo Forcano, Global Head of Talent & Culture (BBVA).

On this point, BBVA’s Ricardo Forcano insisted that: “We cannot talk about digital or analog people. We could give examples of people – with first and last names – who have been working in our network of offices for years and who are open-minded, and have a spectacular ability to innovate and adapt to change in working methods.”

Ricardo Forcano (BBVA): “The inclusion of different types of people will be critical for success

The challenge is inclusion, Forcano said. “Companies increasingly need diversity. The inclusion of different types of people will be critical for success. We are referring to gender diversity, skill diversity, but above all, cognitive diversity.” A study recently published in Harvard Business Review shows precisely that teams comprised of people with different ways of thinking and tackling challenges solve problems more effectively and quickly.

A large part of startups’ success is due precisely to this diversity and to a corporate culture that “facilitates skill development and makes people feel respected, independent and that they have an impact,” explained Sergio Álvarez, one of the founders of the Spanish startup Carto DB, which has revolutionized the world of cartography with its innovative maps. In order to facilitate the integration of different kinds of people, Carto conducts its selection process without the candidates’ pictures or names.

A model in which customization overcomes segmentation” is fundamental to manage this diversity, Ricardo Forcano said. People have an innate tendency to segment and classify things in order to understand the world better, he added, but “fortunately, reality is much more complex”.

Forcano explained how the bank has been using tools for a while now that allow it to meet each customer’s needs, taking into account their situation at the time. “Now, we are working very intensely on reinventing the way we build solutions so that our employees can also offer them personalized solutions that meet their needs”.

The event also covered issues related to companies and universities, and the regulatory framework for talent management in Spain. Attending the event were Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy; General Manager of APD Enrique Sánchez de León; Director of Human Resources at Telefónica, Javier Delgado; Director General of the San Pablo – CEO University Foundation, José Luis Guillén; and Professor and Director of the Cuatrecasas Institute, Salvador del Rey, in addition to other human resources experts.

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