Miguel Angel Martínez Olague is an Aeronautical Engineer from ETSIA (1987), completing his training with an MBA at FDC (Brazil).
He began his professional career in 1988 at GMV, where he worked as a project engineer, project manager and team manager, mainly in the area of satellite navigation. In 1995 he was appointed Director of GMV Systems, with the goal of creating the GMV subsidiary devoted to the development of intelligent transport systems. He remained in this position until 1998.
After a period of three years in the telecommunications sector, first at Telefónica Celular-Brasil and later at Iberdrola (Brazil and Spain), he returned to GMV as Corporate Director of Business Development, Marketing and Communication in April 2002. With the aim of consolidating the line of activity in the field of Intelligent Transport Systems, in mid-2016 Martínez Olague was appointed Director General of Intelligent Transport Systems.
What are the main sources of differentiation for a company such as GMV?
The basis for the competitive strategy of GMV is the excellence of our products and services. Our goal is to provide solutions that others do not have, with the maximum level of performance and quality. It is this strategy that has allowed us to become the world’s first provider of satellite control centres and that means we lead other industries such as Defence, Cybersecurity or Intelligent Transport Systems.
The group of companies that belong to GMV share a common mission: the improvement of customer processes and operations through technologically advanced solutions, providing clients with made-to-measure services and solutions. This forces us to constantly innovate our products and services. Our employees, our operational model and our business culture is intended to ensure that each customer receives exactly what they need.
If we think about the sources that make us stand out, first I would mention talent. Our ability to attract and maintain an excellent team of professionals is absolutely essential. Secondly, I would mention the technologies and know-how that we have treasured for our 30+ year history, and our work in R&D. Thirdly, I would mention our way of doing things. At GMV we have developed a method of doing things, which ensures a high level of quality. Finally, there are our culture and values, the true pillar that guides us in our daily tasks.
What is the role of the brand?
If we analyse it coldly, none of the sources mentioned above is really a fixed, inimitable asset for the company. People are free to seek new challenges at other companies. Access to technology and know-how is increasingly easy, and maintaining exclusivity of knowledge is increasingly complicated. Brand, however, is an asset for the company, intangible, indeed, but the ability to generate competitive advantages, to synthesise our offer and our promise as a supplier is really very tangible and, unlike the above, it belongs 100% to the company, is difficult to imitate and is legally protected against copying.
For a company like ours, which offers highly complex technological solutions to large companies and institutions, the brand not only facilitates entry to new markets and the creation of new business opportunities, it also makes us more competitive to build confidence and facilitate a favourable assessment of a decision-maker who is very risk averse and reluctant to rely on a little-known provider. Our brand is an immediate synthesis of the attributes, benefits and values that set us apart from the rest.
But in addition, the brand and the values behind it are an essential guide that assures us at all times that all our staff, in all their interactions with customers, respond to a common pattern of professionalism and quality.
Is the same brand used for each of the sectors where the Group operates? Why?
Initially, GMV operated only in the space market. In the 1990s we began our strategy of diversification and we started to work in other sectors, the creation of new subsidiaries with differentiated brand identity. Furthermore, each product had its own brand without maintaining a connection with the corporate brands of each subsidiary. The result was a structure with a multitude of brands of all kinds, which as a whole did not result in a powerful brand. So, in 2006 we decided to review our brand architecture and we opted for a single corporate brand, the role of which was to encompass all the products and services in each line of business, strengthening the cohesion of the company and projecting a single corporate image for each of our subsidiaries.
There were several reasons that led us to take this decision. On the one hand, a strong corporate brand brings together all the products and services of the company. Our offer is very complex, and is undergoing constant evolution and development. We believed that a single corporate brand would be a powerful tool for promoting our portfolio of products and services and would function as an excellent calling card for new products, without the need to invest in the brand of all of them, which would require a huge effort.
On the other hand, a unique brand is more economically efficient. By concentrating our efforts on creating a single brand, we achieved economies of scale, and were also able to more easily cross the threshold below which hard work in branding becomes completely ineffective.
With this decision, each subsidiary, every service, every product, every project or action, “adds to” the construction of the same relevant brand, which provides immediate value to our offer.
GMV’s overseas turnover is 65%. What are the keys to your success in the internationalisation process?
I believe that we are a rather unique case. GMV was created in 1984, as a company with 100% of its turnover from outside Spain. At that time, GMV worked exclusively in the space sector, a market that was, and continues to be mainly international, but with the peculiarity that you do not need to have permanent international presence.
GMV’s true process of internationalisation, understood as the deployment of international presence, with subsidiaries and offices in multiple countries, came later, when we started to develop projects that did require an international presence. This was the case when we started to work for NASA, which led us to create a subsidiary in the US; or when we started to implement systems for city public transport in countries such as Poland, Malaysia, Mexico, etc.
In a business like GMV, the success of our projects depends on the talent of the team in their ability to work to the same standard of quality, assume the same values and the same distinguishing marks, in short, the same brand.
In our internationalisation, we have been able to export the identity of our model as a company to other countries. In most of these countries we have started from scratch, and we have been able to incorporate local talent, without which it is impossible to succeed. Even in different cultures the essential values of our brand are presented in the same way. This guarantees that GMV is GMV wherever it goes.
What challenges and opportunities does GMV face in its international expansion?
As I mentioned earlier, the main challenge is to be able to maintain the essence of GMV and to be sure that a project developed at an international subsidiary is run to the same standards, and that our client perceives those values.
When you enter a market in a different country, a local partner can be a strategic ally, helping to accelerate the process, but there is a risk of your offer never being transferred to the customer with your brand values. For this reason the organic model, although slower, is sometimes much better.
I believe it is a mistake to think of international expansion only as an opportunity to grow in the market. For us, the inclusion of international talent is essential. There are very good professionals in Spain, but we are competing globally, and the ability to employ brilliant staff from other countries is essential for our future. This is probably the most important opportunity to be gained by internationalisation.
In a company that integrates mainly highly qualified professional profiles, how can you help the brand to attract and retain international talent?
Today, a recent graduate of engineering, physics or mathematics who has a bright academic record looks not only to the national employment market, he or she aspires to work in a technology company that offers an exciting project and may be located in any part of the world.
GMV, like other technology companies, is immersed in a global competition, in a race to have the best talent, wherever it comes from; that is the key to our business. In this competition, brand is far more powerful than is sometimes believed. A relevant and prestigious brand that projects appropriate values can be a decisive factor for a bright person to notice a vacancy at your company, deciding to become a part of it or wanting to continue to work with you. We all like to feel proud of the company we work for and for it to be well-known.
What are the projects that you feel most proud of?
At GMV we do really amazing things. It would be too much to list all the projects of which we are proud. In fact this is one of the factors that explains why so many excellent professionals are still with us. Working on the construction of the European satellite navigation system, Galileo; having the opportunity to participate in the development of complex systems for space missions; protecting a large bank from a sophisticated cyber-attack; working on the development of an advanced control system for the Sydney tramways or design boarding equipment for the Airbus 400M; these are exciting activities that are not easy to find in other companies.
Cybersecurity is a topic that is the order of the day. What are the future trends in this area? How is GMV facing these trends?
We are going to witness growing concern about the threats posed by cyber attacks on companies, institutions and individuals. We are already seeing how fraud, theft, extortion, or attacks on institutions and even entire nations, are practices that find in the digital world the opportunity to materialise in a more surreptitious manner.
Organised crime, terrorist organisations and even hostile governments are increasingly investing in sophisticated mechanisms for cyber-attacks. This situation is exacerbated by the level of sophistication that these can reach and easy access to database technologies. For example, today a criminal can steal money relatively easily and safely, from an ATM that has previously been infected with malware, developed specifically for this purpose, and that is available online.
The increase of these practices will lead to the need for specific legislation and regulation to ensure that essential services or strategic assets of national economies are properly protected.
GMV has been working in this field since the beginning of the Internet in the 1990s. The first internet firewall implemented in Spain at that time was made by GMV. Since then, we have evolved a great deal. We not only have a team of highly specialised experts that has worked for many years in this field, but we continuously invest in the development of new products and technologies in the field of cybersecurity. This is the case, for example, of our product Checker, which is providing cybersecurity for tens of thousands of ATMS at a number of banks around the world. We are currently developing a new product for cybersecurity for the increasingly complex and critical digital systems in cars, which we are convinced will be fundamental to protect our vehicles in the near future.