A little over six months ago, OneOcean Port Vell passed the General Manager reins to highly-educated Navarro Ignacio Erroz. His appointment formed part of a wave of changes at Barcelona’s flagship superyacht destination, the most profound being a change of ownership just a few weeks prior.
Whilst ‘General Manager Vilanova Grand Marina’ does indeed appear on Ignacio’s CV, a superyacht marina 50km down the Catalonian coastline, his early career gave little indication that OneOcean Port Vell would come knocking on his door.
“I grew up in Pamplona, a small city in the north of Spain, close to the Pyrenees but far from the sea,” says Ignacio. “Pamplona is a very traditional and rather conservative place so I did what most children do there – religious school and Catholic university.”
Ignacio was a keen nature lover as a child. He was lucky enough to be born to parents with a house in Candanchú, a ski resort in the western Pyrenees, and spent winter after winter skiing. As the snow melted, he spent the remaining seasons mountaineering and was an avid member of the local mountain pursuits club.
“In my youth, I never had close contact with the sea beyond normal family vacations, yet I always felt a special attraction for boats,” continues Ignacio. “At the entrance to my parents’ house there was, and still is, a model of a traditional Cantabrian fishing boat dating back to the 19th century. It’s two metres long and more than one and a half metres high and I used to play on it – much to my father’s horror.” This passion for boats would re-emerge at university.
Ignacio’s Catholic university of choice was the University of Navarra (in Pamplona, on his doorstep) where he studied law. He already had an inkling that he wouldn’t emerge a lawyer, but found the business and management elements to be fascinating.
“While I was at university, I built a model of an 18th century galleon based on plans I had acquired from a museum. 700 hours of painstaking work went into the project, guided by the President of the Asociación Navarra De Modelismo Naval. He helped me get to grips with the historical plans and source the materials required to create the model. Seems it was this hobby rather than the degree that would give the biggest clue to my future career.”
Having left university age 21, Ignacio set up his own telecommunications business in Pamplona. It didn’t quite take off due to lack of experience, but it was a great lesson in life. Ignacio understood that he needed further training and knowledge so spent a season at Georgetown University in Washington DC followed by an MBA at IE Business School in Madrid.
“When I started the MBA, I did so with a lot of insecurity. Most of my colleagues were engineers but I came from a humanities background. A couple of years later, I had not only achieved one of the best grades in the class, but I was also the only student who had a job offer on the table before finishing the program. For me, this was priceless recognition. What’s more, I had also met the woman I was going to marry.”
The post-MBA job offer was with a French multinational. At the interview they asked Ignacio what he most valued about the MBA program and he responded ‘to have met my future wife’. They hired him, but Ignacio now had plans to get married and move to his wife-to-be’s hometown – Vigo in Galicia.
“The city has an extensive shipbuilding tradition,” explains Ignacio, “so I hastily sent résumés to all the shipyards in La Ría de Vigo. Less than 15 days after my arrival, I had secured a job in the commercial department at Rodman – the oldest company in its shipbuilding sector in Spain, dating right back to 1974. I couldn’t believe my luck to embark on a career with boats.”
Ignacio was one of six siblings – all male. As a large family, his parents instilled values of teamwork, a positive attitude and good work ethic. This of course paid off.
“I spent four incredible years at the Rodman shipyard and became truly passionate about the sector. I barely spent any time sitting in my office, instead preferring to move around the facility, talking with carpenters, electricians, upholsterers, and feeling part of the shipbuilding process. I made great memories, and great friends, during my time there. When I decided to jump ship to the superyacht industry, the owner of Rodman summoned me to his office and spent over an hour trying to convince me not to leave – there is no better recognition of your professional work than this.”
After almost ten years at the helm of Vilanova Grand Marina, Ignacio stepped another few rungs up the career ladder and joined OneOcean Port Vell.
“OneOcean Port Vell is in the ‘Champion’s League’ of superyacht marinas and I am extremely proud to work here. I particularly enjoy working alongside a team of truly excellent professionals. With the General Manager position also comes the responsibility of being one of the main drivers of momentum and continued development of a key sector for the city of Barcelona – it’s a great commitment and a great honour.”
“The nautical sector is undergoing a process of transformation. We have several projects simultaneously in progress that will allow us to specialize even further in the large yacht sector. One of our main objectives is to make OneOcean Port Vell an even more pleasant place, if that is at all possible, for ship owners, captains and crew. We want them to feel welcome at our ‘house’ and make themselves at home.”
“Aside from OneOcean Port Vell itself, we are also continuously promoting Barcelona and the Costa Brava as a top destination for ship owners and charter customers – both as a winter base and a summer hub. Given our strong competition throughout the Mediterranean, this is one of the toughest challenges and we are paying it the attention it deserves.”
A step in the right direction was ousting competitor destinations Nice and Genoa to host the MYBA Charter Show for at least three years – starting last year. The Show will celebrate its 30th anniversary edition at OneOcean Port Vell from 23 to 26 April 2018.
It’s been 15 years since Ignacio married the girl he met at the MBA and they now have four children, three girls and a boy – the youngest two being twins.
“I don’t have so much spare time lately, but I really like to spend it with my family and, now the children are not so small, we try to all have dinner together – every day. Whenever I can, I tend to run away from big social events and crowds. When the weekend arrives, I like to escape to nature in the mountains – of course with my family. I am an accomplished skier and my family and friends say I am a fantastic cook.”
After 11 years living in Barcelona, Ignacio is a great fan of the city and plans to stay here, and with OneOcean Port Vell, for a good while to come.
Captains of Industry – Ignacio Erroz
Sarah Forge, firstname.lastname@example.org