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"I was attracted by the option of trying my luck in a special company".

Iñaki de Zaldua: "It was Sarri who encouraged me to do my GFP at FC Barcelona, so I will be eternally grateful to him".

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Iñaki de Zaldua poses at the FC Barcelona facilities. PHOTO: Communication Service
10/12/19 10:25 Communication Service

Iñaki de Zaldua studied Industrial Engineering at Tecnun and in the second cycle changed to Industrial Organisation Engineering. "My cousin studied and got his doctorate at Tecnun and therefore had very positive previous experience", says de Zaldua, who is currently working at Fútbol Club Barcelona, after completing his Final Degree Project (TFG) at the club.

What would you highlight from your time at the School?

These are important years on a personal level. The pressure for the future, the expectations generated by the people who love us... sometimes it is not easy to manage at the age of 20. So, apart from the process and the academic learning, I would highlight the atmosphere at the school. There were many hours there, you ended up arriving early in the morning and leaving in the afternoon. And I wasn't a model student, let's face it. But the school always offered you a chance to get back on your feet when you stumbled. Sometimes they believed in your possibilities more than you did. Maybe you don't know how to appreciate it at the time, but you don't find that in just any school.

How did you decide to do your final project at Barca?

For personal reasons I moved to live in Barcelona. And I still had to do the PFG. So I had to get down to work and go out to the street to look for an opportunity to present to the school.

So I opened two lines of research: The "conventional" one: I approached the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) to see if they could give me a hand. In this way I got a PFG option through their SEAT Chair.

And the "curious" one is this: I was attracted by the option of trying out for a "special" company. So I decided to try my luck with FC Barcelona. I did a bit of research to find ways of contacting some people inside the club and I devised a strategy to "sell" the benefits that a PFG could bring them. I didn't know anyone on the inside, so I had to have a concise and interesting pitch. Doing a bit of research I managed to find a way of contacting several of the club's vice presidents and one of them thought that my GFP represented an interesting opportunity for them, in addition to the one I represented for myself.

Did a teacher from Tecnun have a hand in the final choice?

Yes, the rest of the story was made possible thanks to Jose Mari Sarriegui. I went to Tecnun with two PFG options: one in the industrial sector and the other in an "atypical" company. And that, whether you like it or not, generates some doubts. Perhaps "what was best for me" did not necessarily have to be "what I most wanted to do".

It was 'Sarri', who at the time was the person who approved the PFGs in the Organisation department, who invited me to commit to FC Barcelona. As if he had been infected by my enthusiasm, he explained point by point why the Barça project that I presented to him was, from an academic and professional point of view, more interesting than the one that brought him from SEAT. It was a real liberation: academia was in line with what motivated me.

I was very saddened by his death and I remember him often. There is a part of my life today that I owe to that morning in his office and the "discussions" we had in our teacher-student relationship. He always told me that it made him very angry that I didn't reach my full potential. I don't know why, but it is something that has marked me professionally. I would like to take this opportunity to send a big hug to his family and to the people at Tecnun who, I am sure, miss him very much.

What is your day-to-day life like in Barcelona?

FC Barcelona is a constant learning process. The sporting side is the most recognisable element of the club for people. Sometimes the only one, I am aware of that. But a lot of work is done at other levels. I am particularly involved in reviewing the Social Department processes already in place, in trying to find opportunities for improvement and in participating in the design of new processes. I work closely with the club's IT department and we are constantly looking for ways to optimise the work of colleagues and the relationship between the club and external stakeholders. In addition, for some time now we have been trying to evolve from a functional model to a process management model.

What would you say to students when they dream of doing a project or working in a company, but don't know how to get there?

Getting to work in the company of your dreams is unfortunately not exclusively in your own hands. There always has to be a touch of luck. Or showing up in the right place at the right time, which is the same thing. I'm not good at giving advice, but if I had to I suppose I would insist that they have a story. There is no magic recipe. Companies don't have time to waste and you have to know what you can bring to them in the short term, concretely, unambiguously.

Once we have that story, it is a matter of studying the organisation chart of the company and drawing up a strategy to transfer it to the person we think is the most appropriate according to what we have discovered. Nowadays, in this age of networks, it is easier to get an idea of the structure of an organisation. But all this requires a lot of time and dedication. In short: story, research and luck.

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