• Ulma Group

IRENE ALBERDI President of the General Counsel of Grupo ULMA

The world is not stopped and we cannot be that way either

Nov 29, 2012
I believe we are at an unbeatable moment for establishing the bases of how we would like out future to be.

More than a year and half in the position, what general balance could you make?

From a business point of view, over this period there have been some very important events like the commemoration of our 50th anniversary or the scission and merger processes that have taken place at the core of the ULMA C and E and ULMA Manutencion cooperatives, and that are leading to a more logical organisational development in accord to the reality of our Businesses.  Obviously, this is the merit of the partners and of the bodies of the cooperatives that are carrying out the projects with a very important capacity for leadership that has been endorsed by the important changes approved in the POGU and RIC during the last meetings.   Probably now we are not very conscious of it but these decisions are those that will mark the future of our cooperatives and of our Group.  This is the line we should follow, based on the idea that together and supporting one another we can overcome the difficult period that we have to live.  

From a more personal point of view the balance is very positive.  The position is giving me the opportunity of becoming more aware of the reality of the cooperatives of our Group, of knowing and evaluating their partners and trying to help, as much as possible, from a group environment and from the Central Departments, in the complicated moments that we are living especially in some of our cooperatives.

In the institutional section, the impulse given to the General Group Policies, marked in the POGU, is facilitating better cohesion among all our cooperatives, how does Irene Alberdi see this progress?

It is slow progress but I believe it is sure.  I mean, all that in which we over the last years have managed to progress in Financial, Social, Brand and Communication Policies have shown to be an important vehicle for cohesion and support for our partners.   We should continue advancing in a gradual development with the premise that it should not be imposed but rather shared, always offering something that the cooperatives perceive as important for their future development.  The different Committees and Bodies are working along this line and I am sure that, step-by-step, we are going to see the Group become a true facilitating support for our cooperatives.  

Therefore the Group should be built by all and undoubtedly we should focus ourselves on developing those aspects that due to different circumstances have been worked less from a group environment. We should concentrate more on the Occupational Health and Safety Policies and Personal Training and Development.  Together we have the knowledge and capacity that is needed in these environments.  Not only is the development of General Policies important, but also the consolidation of our Values shared as a Group (Cooperation, Participation, Innovation and Competitiveness).  We have an enormous field for working and strengthening our social commitment, solidarity, model of participation as a true challenge to attend to the geographic location of our staff, autonomy, responsibility, etc.  

In other words, we have done many things, but we should be aware and in constant revision.  The world is not stopped and we cannot be that way either. We still have a lot to do with the participation and collaboration of all.  

The economic section is a basic and priority aspect in any company model and even more in these moments of crisis.  What balance of situation could be currently made of the Grupo ULMA in this subject?

The Group on the whole is much diversified and the realities we have to live, are very different one form the other in volume and in time. In global terms we could say that the last year, 2011, a certain change of tendency started that this year, if there are no great variations at the end of the year, will be also reflected in the positive global results at the end of the year 2012. From the refinancing process point of view also the ratios are very positive; therefore we are at a moment of relative tranquillity in this aspect.  But certainly numbers are numbers and this global lecture includes very different situations, visions and realities.  

Probably now we are not very conscious of it but these decisions being taken now are those that will mark the future  of our cooperatives and of our Group. 

Therefore, from my point of view, and as long as at least one of our cooperatives is not on the line of growth and improvement of results, the balance cannot be completely positive.  Unfortunately this is the situation where we are at the moment.  We have cooperatives that have been pushed to present unemployment dossiers, but it is also true that the Group is helping that these situations are, if possible, somewhat less traumatic, starting from the consideration that all partners are one of the cooperatives of the Group, ULMA is partner of the Group and, therefore, it is the responsibility of both the matrix cooperative and the Group on a whole facilitates the improvement of the solutions in each case this happens.  Recently in the past we have had similar processes that are still pending a definite resolution in some cases, but what has been demonstrated is that the solidarity in the Grupo ULMA is not only economic, but also social.

This is something that we have to thank to all the partners and managers of the cooperatives that have become receivers of partners in unemployment for the effort they have made and that they should continue to make until the economic reality allows creating employment in all of our cooperatives.  

To face with guaranteed success the future of the Grupo ULMA will require important efforts and having well-trained persons.  In fact, our people and their knowledge are key factors on which we can build our future. What steps are we taking to potentiate the development of our human capital?

That is true. Businesses will change as a consequence of the reality we have to face, but it is the people that have to be prepared to lead these changes, they have to have vision and capacity for adaptation.  Obviously, the cooperative is not alone in having to do something, the commitment and motivation of our people for and with the cooperative model and with our Group should be at the base of it all.  One of our duties is that of creating the measures for the development of the potential of people, with definition of career curves, possibilities of training and development of capacities in the Group Businesses.  The diversity of size and sectors of our Businesses can present a handicap in some cases, but I believe it to be a plus and an opportunity for developing talent.  Evidently we are not at our best moment to make great efforts and investments in this aspect, but I do believe that we are at an unbeatable moment to establish the bases of what we would like to do in the future.  

From the responsibility of the Presidency of the General Counsel of Grupo ULMA and with the vision of some time in the position, which are, according to you, the true challenges we have to face as a Group? 

From my point of view the largest medium to long-term challenge is that of being able to maintain and develop over time a cooperative business model that allows creating opportunities for qualified employment in our environment.  As we have commented, our cooperatives are faced with an international business reality with a strong demand for more and more people abroad.  Defining an organisational and participative method in which we all feel comfortable and that is in consonance with our cooperative values is going to be one of the debates that we have to face in a very near future.  

Lastly, any message to the collective of the Group during these moments of difficulty through which we are passing... 

The message can only be of hope. I believe that we have a very good base, people who are committed and with the capacity for leadership that will make us successfully to come out of this crisis.  We can neither forget the inheritance that we have received from the people that before us had to experience social and economic moments as or more complicated than these current ones and achieved turning the situation round. From them we have to learn to not give up, trying to have a vision of future and working to achieve it.  I believe that we have demonstrated, over the past 5 years, that our partners and workers put the collective benefit before their own personal objectives and that this the way that I feel we will come out victorious.   In spite of that its will not be sufficient, we will have to efficiently manage the business opportunities with clear international vocation and that we obtain.  It will also be necessary that we continue working with the view of solidarity and commitment.   Thanks to all of you.