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Living the American dream, when Catalonia seems to small

"Although there is a very high standard in Barcelona, the clients are not the same”, this is the opinion of a Catalan web developer who is currently based in Manhattan. This is his story.


19 January 2011 10:45 PM


ACN / Ariadna Matamoros

New York (CNA) .- Back in 2009,  Guille Lopez left Barcelona and took a one way flight to New York. Having already worked as a web programmer for two years in a Catalan advertising company and having already worked as a freelancer on various projects for clients abroad, the move to the USA was a natural step for him. \u201CIt was a natural evolution for me\u201D, he says, \u201Cbecause in cities like London or New York, people like me can develop our potential to its fullest\u201D, says Lopez before confesses that in Catalonia although the professional level "is extremely high' but the problem is that clients \u2018are not at the same height\u2019. At the moment he works for a Swedish company that has contracts with international giants like Google or Adidas.

The 28 year old web programmer left Catalonia a few years ago at the heat of the crisis. Future employment prospects in ICT were unclear so he decided to try his luck in the land of opportunity and went to New York to work as a freelance musician. When in New York researching some companies, he came across the Swedish group B-Reel, a company that specialises in online advertising. With a team of 70 people and a headquarters in Stockholm the company has offices in New York, London and LA.

'I was so lucky to find a job opportunity that let me come over here to continue learning, to progress on a professional level, and to get involved in great projects and improve my working conditions, "explains the programmer while recalling his first few days in the city of skyscrapers.

After his two years of work experience in the U.S., Lopez notes a big difference between the Catalan and the American market due to the type of culture that exists in the United States. 'The economy here is more dynamic which means there are more opportunities\u201D, "he says.

Opportunities can mean better wage conditions and in the United States wages are 'undoubtedly higher \u2013 double or even triple the pay in Barcelona\u2019, explains Lopez before saying that the cost of living in New York was 'higher' and how social benefits' are virtually nil. So, in cities like New York you cannot survive without a job.

Returning to the Homeland

Given the current labour market in Catalonia, Lopez feels it will be difficult to return to Barcelona although he would like to. \u201CIn order for me to return to Catalonia, there would have to be certain economic conditions in place that allow be to set up businesses and get involved in projects", he says. \u201CRight now, from here, it seems that everything is in a state of stand-by\u201D, he adds.

Several of his friends in Barcelona have lost their jobs and in his sector that is based on projects commissioned by companies, 'there is a pause that the moment\u201D he says. Like him, many of his friends have gone abroad to try their luck. 'In some ways it is a natural evolution, as cities like London or New York allow us to do the kind of projects where we can develop our full potential\u2019.

Regardless of the economic situation in Catalonia, Lopez stresses that the standard of Catalan professionalism 'is high enough', but that the main problem is that clients' are not at the same level. His experience is based on the US with big companies like Google, Adidas and McDonalds that commission huge projects. 'It's amazing the ability that these firms have to energise\u201D, he says. In contrast, in Catalonia, despite the quality of the people 'companies have no capacity to grow and hire people\u201D, Lopez explains because \u201Cthe projects and clients have very small budgets\u201D.

Catalonia \u2013 limited by the fiscal redistribution

According to Lopez, Catalonia should not try to mirror the U.S. model but rather should look at the Nordic countries. After two years of experience working for a Swedish company, Lopez has come to the conclusion that the Swedes and the Catalans are quite similar. \u201CWe have similar characters" says the web programmer.

For him, Catalonia must have the ability work on a high business and economic scale like the Swedes in order to create export international companies like Spotify, Skype and Ikea. Despite these similarities, Lopez regrets that Catalonia suffers from \u201Ca major constraint\u201D. \u201CTo achieve these goals, we need to get rid of problems like the fiscal plundering\u201D, he said. \u201CWhen we overcome this barrier on a political level, we will be able to develop our economy\u201D.


  • Guille López working in the New York office of a Swedish design company (by A. Matamoros)

  • Guille López working in the New York office of a Swedish design company (by A. Matamoros)