“Because it all begins with a person (the employee) and finishes with another (the customer)”
Xavier Escales (Barcelona, 1976) is the Country Manager for ASICS Iberia, the multinational sportswear firm that has climbed from 18th to 3rd position in the Spanish market in recent years. The executive joined the company in 2006 as Sales Manager for Spain after five years of experience in senior positions in other sectors, and two years ago, he replaced Emilio Risques to lead the brand’s business in Spain.
He has just published his first book, where he explains, first hand, why people are a company’s best investment. “Always People First” tells the story of the last 10 years of ASICS in Spain, and how a group of people made it possible for the company grow during the crisis. They have achieved huge results, while all the time remaining faithful to the values of the company’s founder, Kihachiro Onitsuka. The acronym ASICS, Anima Sana in Corpore Sano is Latin, and in English means A Sound Mind In A Sound Body.
After 15 years managing teams in large multinationals, Escales has reached the conclusion that people are always the most important if a company to function well. And to understand his business vision a little better, LookOut Magazine interviewed Xavier Escales, a very fortunate man who has managed to unite his two great passions in his work, business and sport.
In “Always People First” an innovative leadership model on team management can be seen that differs from the more authoritarian or classic models, and reminds us more us of the managements models in other modern day multinationals that conjure up a hierarchy more based on horizontal models and teams, who have your been your mentors and models to follow?
My mentors and models have been the bosses I’ve had throughout my career, people like Carlos López and Susana Casado when I worked in Accor and especially Emilio Risques in ASICS. However, you’d also be amazed by what I’ve learned from my colleagues and teams in ASICS.
What do you believe are the keys to fostering talent in the workplace?
In my opinion, it’s about knowing how to find the right balance with your team between needs and the genuine willingness in difficult personal and professional moments.
Gym in the office, psychologists, physiotherapists and free-seating… What’s next?
The next thing is to continue investing in your team, so the most talented people want to work with you, and those that already do work with you give their utmost to the company and don’t want to leave.
According to your vision, the key to your success lies in people, but what happens when you encounter bad people or toxic individuals along the way?
Well, that means I made a mistake. I’m always present in the final interview with all the people we hire, so it’s my responsibility. And from there, well, we have to make decisions very quickly, so it doesn’t affect the rest of the workers.
Are there any pending issues ASICS Iberia? And Spanish companies?
I’m no one to say what other companies should do to improve. However, in our case, we have to work harder to be able to pay our people better as they work really hard and they deserve it.