Javier Salgado leads ATREVIA’s office in Miami. ATREVIA is one of the global communication consulting firms and one of the references in its sector in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. He has a degree in Journalism from the University of Navarra and a Masters in Corporate Communication. He has been with Atrevia since 2000. After assuming different positions at its office in Barcelona, where he led the Corporate Communication team, he was involved in the expansion strategy of the company in Latin America and the US. He has acquired a wide experience in crisis communication and is the author of one of the few blogs on this topic in Spanish (http://jscomunicaciondecrisis.com).
USEC had the privilege of talking to Javier in this exclusive interview.
1.- Please tell us about ATREVIA in general and how it addresses the US market.
ATREVIA is a global communications consultancy, born in Spain, currently we are present in 16 countries, where we have our own private offices. We’ve been designing communication strategies for 30 years, helping organizations influence their target audiences. This covers an array of services that range from reputation and corporate positioning, direct consumer communication and or with your own internal team. Our solutions are comprehensive and include public relations, digital marketing, event planning, relations with influencers and video production, among others. In the USA, our client’s profile is multidisciplinary and it works both ways, since it includes both Spanish and European companies with business interests in the US and North American companies that operate in Latin America or Europe. We’ve worked for example, for 18 years with California Walnut Commission, being true success story and an example of fidelity to our brand by a US company.
2.- What does ATREVIA bring to the US market that can make it valuable for its customers?
As I mentioned before, we accumulate 30 years of experience in Europe and have received some of the most prestigious awards in the sector. In a country as demanding as the U.S., we offer the American company the possibility of working together hand in hand on their leap of faith to very diverse markets, both in Latin America and in Southern Europe. For this, we have a multicultural team composed of 350 workers of some 30 different nationalities. We are innovative and, with a lot of humility, I am proud to say that some of our solutions, like our real-time crisis management apps, are products that few North American agencies currently offer.
3.- Has ATREVIA’s presence in the US impacted in any way its activities in other countries? For example, has it modified the way it is perceived in other markets?
Yes. There is no doubt that the United States is the image that many countries want to emulate. Atrevia’s objective is to lead the communication industry in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking markets. Having a presence in the US is, of course, a necessary step and a considerable step in that direction. Especially considering that Miami is the financial capital of Latin America, one of the first 10 wealth management centers in the world and a point of confluence for families that own businesses in Latin America. By operating in the US we are offering a significant added value to companies.
4.- Your company helps its customers to define and implement successful communication strategies. What differences have you identified in how communication needs to be managed in the US, as compared to Spain and other countries where ATREVIA operates?
The first big difference is that here you do not need to explain to companies the importance of communication as a strategic tool. Keep in mind that public relations was born in the US and its practice spread to Europe when many American companies expanded there after the Second World War. Therefore, in the U.S. companies know that no internationalization plan can work without an adequate communication strategy.
5.- What have been the greatest challenges for you as an executive from Spain working in the US?
To work in an environment that is a true melting pot formed by very diverse ethnic groups, from the white American to the African American, passing through the Asian and, of course, the Hispanic. That diversity makes this a very rich but complex market. For example, when talking about the Hispanic community, it becomes too simplified. Here there is not a Hispanic community, there are many and each one has its peculiarities. The Mexican community has nothing to do with the Cuban or the Venezuelan community. In communication, if you do not take into account those nuances you can see yourself doomed to the most resounding failure.
6.- You have managed teams in Spain and in the US. What do you think are the most significant differences between the two countries that need to be taken into account in a leadership position?
I believe that, when it comes to leading teams, communication is the fundamental aspect since it allows you to transmit exactly what you expect from each person and maintain an open channel to exchange points of view continuously. Regarding the differences between both countries, I have always admired the meritocracy and assertiveness of American society when defending opinions. From teams in Spain I admire the flexibility and creativity to achieve goals even with few resources. As I say, one of the keys is to lead by communicating, to take advantage of the best of each world and get everyone to row in the same direction.
7.- As a leader within a foreign-owned organization operating in the US, are you concerned about policy changes derived from the current government that might create difficulties doing business in the US market?
ATREVIA recently published a paper that analyzed the measures and policies approved by the US Administration in its first months of office. In it we pointed out that it does not seem likely that the Administration could close its borders to foreign companies and investors. Among other things because it has a multimillionaire infrastructure plan that prevents it. I believe that an economy as open as the North American one will continue to be business friendly.