Toni Tió is a self-proclaimed happy man. And why shouldn’t he be? At 65 years young he is fluent in five languages and president of Barcelona Clúster Nàutic, an organization that seeks to assemble government, business and people to stimulate the economy of Barcelona. The nautical mogul graced the EU Barcelona campus as a part of our guest speaker series, Learning from Leaders, where he spoke to MBA students about sport and business management.
A renowned negotiator, business strategist and navigator (check LinkedIn if you don’t believe me), Tió’s sailing career includes international and national competitions such as the Admiral’s Cup, Sardinia Cup and Ton Cup. In addition to this, he was on the committee that organized the Copa del Rey for 12 years alongside the Trofeo Conde de Godó and the Trofeo Puig Vela Clásica. Before assuming his position as president of Barcelona Clúster Nàutic, a position he has held from day dot, Tió was also the director of Dexter Technologies.
When Tió was growing up, there was one popular sport. Unsurprisingly, it was football. In summer, when the football season came to a close, a lot of young people found themselves sportless. For this reason, his school started a yacht club. From then on, the sport became a guiding force in Tió’s life.
Tió put a lot of effort into becoming a good sailor and the sport rewarded him for it. Through sailing, Tió formed a great network of contacts, such as the former prime minister of the U.K. and King of Spain. In fact, this great network helped the cluster gain its almost 50 members from both the public and private sectors including Town Hall, Port of Barcelona and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).
Measuring up Barcelona’s nautical sector
Barcelona Clúster Nàutic has pulled together some pretty powerful statistics. The coast of Barcelona alone is over 100 kilometers and contains 24 ports that offer both important services and activities. In the region, 1,175 businesses are related to the nautical sector as a whole, with the industry bringing in about 84 million euros annually, affecting roughly 9,000 workers overall.
Tió hopes that one day sailing will be as popular as skiing in Catalunya. Barcelona Clúster Nàutic was born out of this conviction. The organization also holds that the nautical sector can become a major player in the economic growth of the region.
In terms of getting people interested in the nautical sector, Tió admires the French way of doing things:
“French people did it very well, in Spain it’s harder… At the moment people are [only] looking for a job [in the nautical sector]. If you [look] at kids in Spain, they go to the snow. When they are 14 they want to… work in the snow. They work in ski shops, schools or pizzerias. But in France, they actually put sailing in the schools at base education level. In contrast, in Spain, sailing started with the King of Spain. So we have an aristocratic model that the people reject a bit. So now were working with the government… to put the French model with the benefits of the aristocratic model.”
And what’s next for the cluster? Establishing local links with the Balearic islands and the Valencian government. See more from our guest speaker here: