Barcelona

To go shopping in Barcelona with a Swiss budget really is fun. Barcelona with its light-flooded paseos flanked with polished shopping windows and terraces of fancy restaurants with scrumptious food which all of a sudden had become affordable for me. I remembered my arrival to this city back in 2010, a year where the so called “crisis” had reached a new peek in Spain and the initial optimism, that the country’s economy was only confronted with a simple recession which would not last for long, was as vanishing as the GINI index grew (according to the World Bank Group the GINI index actually reached an unknown high in Spain of 36.1 in 2011). The GINI index indicates the distribution of family income on national levels -a low value is associated to a high distribution of family income amongst an economy’s total households.  

Shortly after my arrival to Barcelona I had, however, somehow managed to take advantage of the crisis. Once I had graduated, it was hard to find a position which would meet my professional expectations even in Germany, where I had started to search. And me, a freshly graduate who was above the average age of a grad and whose grade point average was low because I had not only been a notoriously lazy student but had also pushed hard to get to the finals as fast as possible because I had enrolled my studies relatively late, had not much to offer to meet the requirements to compete for a high profile job. And once I had finished my thesis I was anything but interested in going for a postgraduate with such limited budget. But my objective was to become a consultant. And yet my only way to do so was to get myself on the right job. After many applications and several interviews for modestly interesting positions located throughout the whole country I had always received the standard lines of “We are terribly sorry, but…” I decided to find a different way to accomplish my objective and to start searching in Spain. An ancient roommate of mine was working as an accountant at a shared service centre which had been established by a well-known company and which now rendered administrative and financial services to its notable international clients. It was mainly two factors which rendered Barcelona a favourable business environment for shared service centres: the low cost for fairly qualified employees and the labour supply of native speakers from all European countries. Slack labour protection laws rendered the precise legal background to enable companies to correspond dynamically to eventual adjustments on their demand for human resources. And people kept coming to Barcelona to stay for years since the quality of living offered by the Mediterranean city offsets the low wages by far.

So I started working in one of these shared service centres. My reward was not (only) the lousy loan which was transferred to my bank account by the end of each month but the information and professional formation I received every time I started a new job. And that was often. To improve my professional perspectives I followed the Chinese example (some employees in China take advantage of the incorporation training which is provided with the entry to any new white-collar post, comprising a steep increase in the employees’ professional knowledge and skills[1]).

The labour conditions offered by most of the companies I worked for did not satisfy my personal expectations -actually the salary did not even cover my anyhow moderate living expenses and the professional assignments themselves were the digital equivalent to any fabric’s chain workers routine back in the 18th century.

Almost immediately after starting any new post I would use the companies’ internal networks to chat and joke with my just as bored colleagues and fellow sufferer from other departments. Here I want to stress that I had always taken my work very seriously but must admit that due to the basic working conditions offered by many employers did not always fully concentrate on the job. However, I made a lot of friends that way and some of which I kept until today. And I had yet started to work for Fortune 500 companies whose names gave my working experience a new and bright coat. I loved what I did and was good in it.

I had become a job hopper improving my skills and knowledge with every new post and was yet improving my working conditions with every move. All my efforts were rewarded when I received a job offer for a management position for a book publishing company in Switzerland during the first half of 2011.

[1]http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1406&context=cahrswp

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