GLOCAL goes local: sharing experience on the consultancy projects in Barcelona

One of the definite pluses of our semester here in Barcelona is the opportunity to do a consultancy project for a local organization, dealing with the social sphere, urban planning or economic development. This project envisaged field research, preparation and presentation of the report with a solution for a particular issue, the organization was dealing with. As GLOCAL students, we were presented with the choice to go for the consultancy projects either in January-February before the start of our semester, or in June-July right afterwards. After an introductory session on how to prepare a consultancy report at the University of Barcelona, we split off into small groups of three or four people and started upon our research journey with the local companies.

Here is the feedback of the students, who did their projects with Sinergics and Cowocat in January, 2019.

Jeen from Malaysia, conducted her consultancy project for SINERGICS

Glocal students with Sinergics and Mr. Alvaro Porro, Commissioner for Social Economy, Local Development and Consumption of the Barcelona City Council

– What was your organization?

We were doing this project with Sinergics which is a coworking space. It differs from other coworking spaces in Barcelona by the way that occupants have to participate in ‘social return’ projects. Occupants are allowed to use the space for free in return for having contributed their expertise back to society.

– What project have you been working on?  Was it useful for your professional development?

Yes! First of all, our topic was very interesting. We researched about the social and solidarity economy in Barcelona. It gave us a broader picture of what is going on in Catalonia and Barcelona. Personally, I am very interested in both the social solidarity economy and the circular economy, and this project aligned perfectly with my future career aspirations. The consultancy project was also very meaningful because it gave us the opportunity to put what we learned in theory into practice.

– What did you like in your consultancy project? What surprised you?

The passion! We conducted a lot of interviews for the consultancy project, and in the process met with many important stakeholders in the SSE sector, including Alvaro Porro from the Barcelona City Council, XES etc. We got to listen to various viewpoints on the same issue and through the interviews we realized how these people actually practice SSE values, rather than viewing it only as an idealistic thing. I was really influenced and touched by the purpose, persistence, passion and goal of creating a different lifestyle in Barcelona/Catalonia that these people demonstrated! It really shows the possibility of changing the world.

– What advice would you give to the next cohort regarding this consultancy?

Most importantly, to find out exactly what you’re interested in and relate it through the project! We started out not knowing anything about SSE but then, throughout the project, we were able to apply our knowledge from our previous experience, and at the same time learn many new things simply by talking to people. Just enjoy it and take in as much as you can!

A working meeting of students with COWOCAT

Pranat from Thailand, conducted his consultancy project for COWOCAT, the Association of Co-working Spaces in Catalonia

– What project have you been working on?

Our consultancy project focused on analyses of labour transformations and the broader social effect of coworking spaces in Catalonia. In our project we also provided recommendations on how to strengthen and spread the concept of coworking and consolidation around Catalonia.

– Was it useful for your professional development?

My passion for consulting stems from my entrepreneurial spirit and hunger for challenges. I want to develop my interpersonal skills and analytical abilities to pursue a long-term career in the area of consultancy. Thus, this Consultancy project was a unique opportunity to present advice to clients in Barcelona and gain valuable experiences through a series of interviews with local people and business, which used coworking spaces.

– Was it something that surprised you? What was challenging?

The hardest thing for me in this consultant project was the language barrier. Some of our interviewees were able to speak only Catalan or Spanish, that’s why sometimes it was very hard to gain the information from the interviews for the report. Another challenge for us was to conduct a questionnaire and to receive enough responses from our interviewees. Sometimes I also ran out of ideas, however, as always,  it was our teamwork that made this consultancy project happen.

What are your lessons learned from this experience?

We have learnt a lot on the concept of coworking and current digital trends through interviewing seven managers of coworking spaces and 40 coworkers in Barcelona. During our consultancy project, our team was also able to learn more about the benefits and disadvantages of coworking spaces as well as discover how to adapt themselves in the digital era of coworking spaces and digitalization.

Mind map of the COWOCAT project

– What advice would you give to the next cohort regarding this consultancy?

I think the consultancy project is one of the best ways of introducing yourself to Barcelona. During this experience, you will meet a lot of new people and discover new areas. It is a chance for you to talk and work with local Catalan people. I would recommend you to go for the consultancy project in January, so, you can adapt yourselves to Barcelona before start of the semester. In my opinion, it would be too tiring for me if I would do the consultancy project after the final essays and exams – but that’s just me!

Presentation day of the groups working with COWOCAT
Prepared by Iryna Bakhcheva, Pranat Pornsriniyom, Jeen Vern Liew

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