The Fiesta Is Officially Over
project management—skills largely dismissed by Spain’s construction industry
during its heyday.
“The climate for project managers in
our sector in Spain was never very extensive. The Spanish mentality is not very
passionate for the methods of project
management,” says Miguel Ángel Álvarez
Pérez, PMP, superior architect for the
Superior Technical School of Architecture
Although other industries, such as IT,
impose more rigid standards, “
construction management in Spain is a kind of
illustrated direction of works,” he says. “It
is applied, but in construction, everything
is still slowly beginning.”
FUELED BY A HOUSING and infrastructure
boom, Spain reigned as a project powerhouse—
until the property bubble burst in 2007.
Already in a precarious state, Spain then got
slammed by the recession and has been stuck in
an extended project siesta ever since.
Economic swagger long gone, the country now
finds itself with an unenviable unemployment rate
nearing 20 percent. As of late November, the only
country in the European Union (E.U.) with a higher
rate was Latvia. And as of September, Spain’s GDP
had contracted for the sixth consecutive quarter.
Even as the broader euro zone slowly climbs
out of recession, “Spain will need more time and
extra care,” The Economist predicted in November.
“Even optimists expect real recovery to come only
Construction project managers, particularly
those toiling in the trenches of residential devel-
opments, are being forced to regroup.
“In previous years, I’ve been working on big
projects related to urban developments with houses
and golf courses,” says Alvaro Artola Peralta, a civil
engineer and project manager at Bovis Lend Lease,
Sevilla, Spain. “Now I’m in a very big project con-
sisting of a development for retail and industrial
As project managers learn to adapt, the economic
crisis may also present an opportunity to highlight
ROOM TO GROW
With construction driving one of the E.U.’s
fastest economic expansions in the past decade,
the field of project management looked poised
to grow with it.
But just the opposite happened as companies
poured money into housing development projects
without evaluating their ROI, says Alfonso
Bucero, PMP, founder and managing partner of
Bucero PM Consulting, Madrid. “As a result,
more projects and organizations have stopped
building,” he says.
Amid what he calls a “chaotic” construction
field is an opening for project management to
finally get its due, as organizations embrace better
risk and efficiency analysis.
“One of the things we have seen because of the
crisis is that some companies are investing money in
project management training, which didn’t happen
before,” Mr. Bucero says. “More organizations are
looking for certified professionals to help them be
more efficient in their operations. I really believe it
will be a great opportunity for project management
because in order to manage money now, companies
need to be more accurate with where it’s going.”
Not everyone is so optimistic.
Mr. Pérez says as construction budgets shrink
and work becomes scarce, many companies have
no need for sophisticated project management.