Martin Mills: "Barcelona is an emerging hub of technology and innovation"
Martin Mills, innovation and transformation advisor
Martin Mills, 48, was born in Dublin, but has lived in Toronto for most of his adult life. As an innovation and transformation consultant, Martin helps companies to speed up their strategic programs. He also works on AI and machine learning projects and on changing organizations' cultures and working methods. Martin moved to Barcelona with his wife in December 2019 and is currently working with Inditex.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
From the first time I visited Barcelona in 2008, this place has had a hold over me. Barcelona and I share many passions – for good food and wine, for football, architecture and history, nature and outdoor living. The city is also an emerging hub for technology and innovation, and I am excited at the prospect of being part of a diverse tech community helping to create the future.
What are the city’s strengths?
There are so many great things here in Barcelona. I would say one of its great benefits is how easy it is to live without a car. The public transit, bicycle paths, and of course pedestrian boulevards in the city are outstanding. Another is the entrepreneurial spirit - from the artisans in the Cuidad Vella and the owners of bodegas and restaurants, to the technology and deep tech consultants I’ve been meeting through IESE and 22@, their creativity and resilience is inspiring.
¿Qué aspectos de la ciudad cree que deberían mejorarse? ¿Cómo?
One thing that I find surprising is the amount of garbage on the streets. Barcelona is a spectacularly beautiful city, and it seems a shame that so many people don’t take the small amount of care needed to keep it clean.
¿Cuáles son los puntos fuertes de la ciudad que permitirán superar la crisis causada por la Covid-19?
All the things I’ve mentioned already – the entrepreneurial spirit, its superb location, the commitment to emerging tech and innovation – will play their part, but it will also take a concerted strategy and effort at all levels of government. COVID-19 is an event comparable to a war in terms of its impact on the global economy, it will take the kind of breakthrough thinking that led the recoveries after the two world wars of the last century to get all of us through this.
¿A qué otros retos crees que la ciudad de enfrentará una vez acabe la crisis sanitaria?
Tourism as we have known it will take years to recover, so that large segment of the city’s economy will need to be reinvented. What happened all over the world to the travel and hospitality industries, and to the arts, is devastating to see.
What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?
I think that Barcelona will actually benefit from the shift to remote working. As more and more companies move to virtual working, employees will be able to choose where they want to live based on quality of life concerns rather than commute time, and since the quality of life here is extremely high and cost of living is relatively low, I expect more and more professionals from around Europe will relocate to Barcelona.
Which city do you feel is "your" city? What do you miss the most?
I grew up in Dublin, and spent many years in Toronto, and I also have close family in London and Vancouver, so my loyalties are spread out! I suppose Toronto is home because I have many friends there and know the city so well. I miss meals with good friends in our favourite restaurant – the Foxley on Ossington – if you are ever in Toronto you should go!