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“Barcelona must add to its real and emotional heritage new reasons to love itself”, by Mathieu Herrero

“Barcelona must add to its real and emotional heritage new reasons to love itself”, by Mathieu Herrero

Mathieu Herrero, 49, married with two children. He was born and raised in Estigarde, in the southwest of France. Mathieu lived in France and the United States before settling in Barcelona, 28 years ago, after a year of Erasmus at the UB. He holds an MBA from Esade. Mathieu is currently Director of Concepts & Standards at Areas, after more than 15 years with the company, a multinational of Catalan origin, the world’s third largest operator in the food & beverage and travel retail sector, headquartered in Barcelona, which manages nearly 2,000 establishments in 10 countries around the world with more than 19,000 employees. A true «Barcelonian by choice».

Why did you choose Barcelona?

First of all for personal reasons. We created our family here, with Eva, my wife, who was born in Barcelona, and Teo and Custo, our two sons, also born here. The four of us know that life circumstances could lead us to live anywhere else on the planet, but we also know that our anchor point is and will always be Barcelona. Also for professional reasons. I had the privilege of experiencing the so-called ‘good luck’ described by Fernando Trias de Bes and Alex Rovira in their famous essay on ‘good luck’. I have been lucky enough to come across exceptional people and professionals, who trusted me and gave me great opportunities. In the professional sense, it was rather Barcelona that chose me.

What aspects of the city would you highlight as positive?

First of all, and it’s worth remembering them all the time because they are given to us, but we can’t stop taking care and enjoying of all the clichés for a ‘guiri’ who have been here all the time life: the geographical location, the climate, the food, the culture… Then many more attributes that make Barcelona a unique city. Its human size with all the benefits of big cities, such as excellent communication by air, land and even sea, first class educational centres, and a unique health system. But also the benefits of smaller cities, such as relatively easy access to high-level networking, a strong local culture and a still sustainable mobility.

What aspects of the city need to be improved? How?

I would say above all the capacity to generate a consensus that would allow the city to unite its vital forces around a well-defined and differentiating city project. Nowadays, I believe that its project for the future requires a new effort and a new impetus. Hence the importance of an association such as Barcelona Global which, outside all political passion and short-termism, promotes very specific projects for the future and relies on all the talented and good-willed people who love this city and believe in it.

What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?

That it continues to chart its own path, without complexes. That will strengthen its imaginary, which is still very much intact. ‘Made in Barcelona’ is an extraordinary intangible. A legacy that we have to protect and promote. To this end, I hope for a Barcelona that is more ‘for’ than ‘against’. A Barcelona that continues to add to its real and emotional heritage new reasons to love itself. Barcelona is by potential and capacity, the capital of the western Mediterranean, a centre of entrepreneurship, digitalisation, services and tourism, biotechnology, blue economy, gastronomy and a renewed sustainable industry, so much in demand in Europe. Many assets that, if well managed, should lead us to a future of goodness and social, economic and cultural growth.

What do you feel your city is, and what do you miss most?

My city is definitely Barcelona. I owe everything to this city. And I miss very little about my native France, mainly because we live really nearby and I have never been very far from it or from my family and friends. What I do miss is the Barcelona of the nineties. A more rogue Barcelona in the good sense of the word, probably more imperfect, but more genuine. I miss the slowness of life back then, the magic caused by the scarcity of everything that is too easy to obtain nowadays and the epic of the first professional years. But it is more than compensated by the illusion of knowing that my children are growing up in a city that will surely offer them many opportunities and happiness.

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El Periódico

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