Francesco Della Mora, 51 years old, married and with two children arriving soon. Born in Udine (Italy), Francesco has lived in Leiden (The Netherlands) and Milan before moving to Barcelona in early 2001. He is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Peli Products, the EMEA division of Pelican Products, a leading American multinational manufacturer of technical plastic packaging products and systems. Pelican Products has 15 nationalities represented in its workforce and is headquartered in Barcelona, where it employs 35 people.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
In 2001 the company where I was working at the time sent me to Barcelona for a two-year project and I ended up staying. If arriving at Barcelona was partly the result of chance, settling here was a conscious choice: in the following years the economic crisis and job opportunities led me to choose whether to go to other countries or to stay. The price I put on each proposal to change was so high that I realised that Barcelona was the city where I finally wanted to live.
What aspects of the city would you highlight as positive?
Barcelona is multicultural and open to diversity, but it maintains its local cultural identity if you know it and want to look for it. It is a multifaceted city that is always capable of surprising me like the kaleidoscope I played with as a child: every time I turned it, the projected image was different from the previous one. Barcelona is a bit like that, it changes depending on the point of view.
What aspects of the city need to be improved? How?
A lot of things have been done well, but I think the old town has changed little in the last 20 years: its shops depend a lot on tourism and are vulnerable to economic crises. The tourist flow management system has to focus on quality, sustainability and compatibility with the resident community. It is necessary to look at the success stories already implemented in other big cities.
What do you think are the strengths of the city to overcome the crisis generated by Covid-19?
The upheaval in the economy created by Covid-19 has pushed many entrepreneurs to reinvent themselves by generating alternative ideas at an accelerated pace. Barcelona has a strong human capital and a strong entrepreneurial vocation, which will help many of them to thrive. If these ingredients are catalysed by support and an efficient infrastructure, the opportunity is great. So I wish Barcelona a mix of Catalan ‘seny’ and healthy Anglo-Saxon pragmatism.
What challenges do you think the city faces once the health emergency is over?
The legacy of the health emergency can either exacerbate existing problems or transform challenges into opportunities. The question is whether Barcelona will be able to embrace ambitious transition projects while assuming the associated risks, as strong citizen governance requires geopolitical stability in Catalonia. As for the challenges, I am thinking of the social and professional categories that have been left unprotected after the pandemic, as well as the protection of the environment.
What do you expect from the Barcelona of the coming years?
Barcelona can consolidate itself as a future model of a city where the global dimension coexists with the local one, combining sustainability, innovation, economic development and inclusiveness. There are several crossroads ahead and getting the right direction at each of them requires the joint effort of the administration and of each individual citizen.
Where do you feel most at home? What do you miss the most?
After more than twenty years living here I have come to the conclusion that I can be from Udine and Barcelona at the same time. I miss the daily contact with my relatives in Italy and with friends scattered in various places around the world, but now I perceive remoteness as an essentially mental condition: after the pandemic, closeness to people depends less on physical proximity.
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