Barcelona, an international professional destination

September 2013.- In 1999 Barcelona began to become a popular location for international shared service centres, centres of expertise and regional headquarters. Companies like Hewlett Packard, Agilent Technologies, Air Products, SAP, Computer Associates, Colt Telecom,, Scheinder Electric, Alsthom Wind, Bayer, Vistaprint and many others have set up offices in the city, and they employ thousands of employees, the majority expatriate workers. 

Furthermore, Barcelona is now fashionable as a venue for major international events such as the Mobile World Congress or the X Games; in fact, each month there are at least a couple of European or global conferences held in the city. In addition, every year over 2.5 million people visit Barcelona on cruise liners, as the port is the number one cruise destination in both Europe and the Mediterranean. Finally, between 2004 and 2013, the resident European population in Barcelona has virtually doubled and every year over 3,500 University or Business School students come to pursue their studies in the city.

What’s behind this obvious attraction?

Obviously Barcelona is a major tourist spot, but the city also has other features that attract professionals of all types: 

  • Barcelona enjoys direct flights to 135 European cities; one of the largest numbers in Europe. This allows residents to easily visit their cities of origin, as well as simplifying international company meetings and events. 
  • Barcelona is a midsized city. Thus, most workplaces are about 30 minutes from any other part of the city, which means less daily commuting time. Public transportation is modern and fully covers the entire city. 
  • It’s easy to get city-centre apartments, so people do not have to live in the suburbs as is the norm in other large European cities. 
  • Barcelona has its own beaches and the nearby mountains (and ski slopes 90 minutes away) are easily reachable via public transport. 
  • In terms of education and professional training there is a wide study choice from many universities, not to mention the fact that two of the top ten business schools in Europe are located in the city. 
  • The city itself is friendly, with a dynamic social and leisure offer. 
  • As regards more business-oriented factors, salaries are below the average of European Union and labour laws offer enough flexibility to adapt to different corporate requirements. Although there are many more, these are the main reasons why the city is extremely attractive to incomers. 

The result is a motivated pool of professionals - coming from all over Europe - already based in the city, as well as a constant stream of people coming in search of work. Finally, mention must be made of the fact that Barcelona is a top professional choice for relocation.

Young professionals and business attraction

On the whole, the professionals attracted by Barcelona are young, university educated and are highly flexible and adaptable; the perfect profile for the majority of companies. Given that one of the keys for success in an organization are its people, it makes sense to set up offices where there is a good pool of potential employees. So for both professionals and companies it represents a virtuous cycle. With many international professionals wanting to live in Barcelona and companies here offering them the jobs they are looking for, we see more and more professionals coming to the city who then increase the pool of potential candidates for the companies to choose from.

Esther Casademont Ruhí

She holds a degree in Industrial Psychology from the Central University of Barcelona and a Master in Human Resource Management from EADA. 

Founder and Director of HUNIVERS, a HR Consultancy and Headhunting firm and President of SALMAR FOOD. Between 2005 to 2009 she was President of the Spanish Headhunting Association (BYS). She received the FUNDE Award in the category of Female Company Directors in 2008. 

Co-author of the book "THE SUPERWOMAN SWINDLE." 


She started her career combining her studies of Industrial Psychology while working in the family business, where she moved through different departments until her definitive post in the Human Resources Department as Deputy Director and Head of Training and Recruitment. She then worked for four years as a headhunter in a multinational French executive search firm. In 1993 she founded her own company, HUNIVERS, and in 2006, the company CAUCUS, a firm dedicated specifically to the search and evaluation of top executive posts for family firms. The main clients of the HUNIVERS Group are both family companies for whom they carry out direct searches, and also major multinational companies with whom they collaborate on special projects.

Catalonia in Business