Main Conclusions of the Thinking Session with Sabin Azua at AMEC Multi-sectorial Association of Exporters

On 25th February, an event was held at the head offices of AMEC (Multi-sectorial Association of Exporters) entitled: “A Strategic Conversation with Sabin Azua: Strategies of industrial companies in the new competitive international scenario”. Participating in this Strategic Conversation was a group of high level executives of highly internationalised industrial companies.

During the discussion there were numerous and varied contributions with participating companies speaking about their own experiences as well as the various challenges they are currently facing. The highlights are summarised below:  

The difficulty of thinking strategically due to the having to deal with urgent day-to-day affairs and the need to anticipate the future so as to be able to adapt to the Client. 

  • The Client demands increasing personalisation. Product personalisation vs. Standarisation. Segmentation: Focusing on market niches to find opportunities.  Glocalisation. Personalisation according to individual markets while being aware of multi-culturalism.
  • Internationalisation. The importance of good decision-making when choosing a location. Being mindful of the development strategies of countries over the long-term while turning away from “fads”. The complexity of managing a multi-location company. Management of the realities with subsidiaries which are larger than the parent company. Producing abroad in order to commercialise in other countries, as well as in the local market. Clearly identify where both knowledge and value are generated.
  • Differentiation: The constant race for technology. The decentralising RD&I, and which cannot be separated from centres of production. Specialisation in the competencies essential to the company. Correctly identifying them without self-deception. Quality, service and flexibility are not differentiating elements, but rather an indispensable condition. 
  • The identity of the company. There are no two companies alike. Utilising identity in boosting creativity, looking towards the future and instilling identity in the people in the company.
  • Entrepreneurial size. Entrepreneurial growth as a goal, or the minimum efficient size. Processes of entrepreneurial concentration between competitors; both suppliers and clients are obliged to acquire a given size. Size matters in order to tackle big projects and to approach big clients. Strategies for size acquisition: organic growth, or mergers and acquisitions. Reduced size confers agility, a capacity to adapt, apart from the fact that there is a large niche market full of opportunities for SMEs. It is imperative to be the best, regardless of size.
  • Family companies with a long-range vision and solid ties with the region.
  • Talent. The human element is fundamental to defending the product. It is important to generate loyalty amongst professionals in the company. Getting ideas to flow through participation channels within the company (intrapreneurship). We are being hampered by huge weaknesses: lack of English language skills amongst technicians; the need to transform the educational system; problems finding candidates who are prepared to go abroad; and an inefficient labour market.