A better SENER
Interview with Jorge Unda, CEO of the SENER group (on the left) and Jorge Sendagorta, President of SENER
SENER has appointed a new CEO for the Group to replace you in the post. What role will Jorge Sendagorta play from now on?
Jorge Sendagorta: Time catches up with all of us. In this new period, I will remain President of the Board of Directors of SENER, a very different role to the one I occupied before, but we have decided to split into two. This will certainly result in greater dedication to the chairmanship than has been possible until now, when I was combining both posts. From now on, the roles of Jorge Unda and my roles will be perfectly differentiated, in other words, they will be limited by executive power, on the one hand, and the chairmanship, on the other. This will allow us to collaborate in a complementary way. It has been a professional privilege to be the top executive of the Group virtually since I joined, in 1986. A sufficiently lengthy period, in which a change was due, and which coincided with a process of consideration we started on the future of SENER.
What does it mean to be the CEO of the SENER Group? Can we look back at your career before and during your time at SENER? What was it like at the company in the beginning?
Jorge Unda: I must say that I feel very honored and excited about this new position as the top executive of the Group. The challenge ahead is enormous. SENER has changed a lot, for the better, in the three decades during which Jorge Sendagorta has set the bar very high. I am overwhelmed, but also very eager to occupy this position at such an exciting time in the Group’s development.
I still remember that initial period at SENER. At the time I encountered a very powerful, unified and committed management team. In fact, it wasn’t difficult joining this team of great professionals, many of them now retired, and accompanying Jorge Sendagorta in the entire development of that SENER.
In this new period, will new and thrilling pages in SENER’s history be written once again?
J.U.: I believe it is a very interesting time, in the sense of establishing a growth strategy, including non-organic growth, with the focus on engineering. We have sufficient funds and a very healthy cash position after abandoning our holding in ITP, so much so that we were recently able to confirm the acquisition of TRYO to strengthen our entire Aerospace section. This is a new phase of renewal, with new ideas, technological differentiation, exciting and rewarding projects for those of us who are passionate about engineering and are engineers by vocation.
Let’s talk about the integration of the TRYO Group with the SENER Group. How does it complement us and make us stronger?
J.S.: The sale of ITP represents a fantastic opportunity for SENER. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my professional career, but that’s another story. Its consequences for the present SENER represent a huge opportunity, which we will be able to take advantage of when there is a slight upturn in engineering market. It is now time for the investments to return, for the infrastructure projects to return and for us to have new opportunities and, when this happens, having a healthy balance and a fund of future investments reserved will represent a formidable advantage which, without doubt, we will be able to take advantage of.
J.U.: We have recently purchased TRYO, a company from the aerospace and defense sector which is very interesting, powerful, with differentiated technology, which focuses its product development in the field of electronics and signal transmission in onboard satellite equipment. We know it well and have done for many years, because we have worked with TRYO in this sector and, in fact, in some of our projects they form part of the team of companies we manage.
What is the biggest challenge ahead for SENER? What will SENER be like in the next decade?
J.U.: There are several challenges ahead. One of the most immediate ones is for TRYO to integrate within the aerospace sector of SENER, for synergies to be generated and, as a result of this union, for one plus one to make three. In other words, the aim is to gain a key position within the aerospace world, better than the one either of the parties currently has on its own. We are looking for growth.
When we design a strategic plan, we focus on the next three years, because it is very difficult to predict any further ahead. Our way forward must always be guided by our passion for technology, and this is the path we are going to follow. Our biggest asset lies in our people, in their talent, commitment and passion for engineering, technology and doing a good job. Within ten years SENER will be different, bigger, but above all we will be much better than now.
Following years of tough recession, what has made SENER stronger and what has been useful to prepare it strategically to manage the current project?
J.U.: After the recession of 2011 we have become a stronger company, consolidated and technology oriented, with a growing international presence and clients all over the world, with whom we have developed our relationship. We are in a good situation to face the next leap forward and continue taking on greater responsibilities, having increased our position in the value chain. We are also a leading company in numerous fields where new technologies are replacing the old ones.
Why will this new SENER require the best team spirit and work of everyone around company values that are so distinctive?
J.S.: We usually say that SENER is its people, but in essence, it is its people and its values. It has a sense of a mission, a way to act and behave which, in the beginning, were the values and way its founders, the family, acted and which later became the way the SENER management team acted and in the guide that enlightens all the decisions. Over time, this culture has been fine-tuned.
J.U.: SENER is a joint project, not one for prima donnas. SENER will go as far as the people of SENER go, not one step more or one step less. This is important: to do it with powerful shared values. We now that the basis of our success fundamentally lies in the work of our people and in implementing these values. To sum up, SENER is a team effort, the result of the commitment of our people to move the company forward. That is the great value and what we need to reinvent ourselves and make a better SENER.