At Claro Partners, we have purposefully built a diverse team of passionate people from different cultural and professional backgrounds to solve problems from multiple angles.
In this new blog series, we proudly introduce you to all of the Claros and Claras in our office, and share the personal journeys that brought them to Barcelona.
First up is our resident tech and strategy expert and MBA-toting project lead: Hans Villarica!
I have lived, worked and studied in Asia, the US and Europe, and have over a decade of professional experience. Originally, I am from the Philippines. I did my bachelor in business management and practiced marketing there. In that time, I also did a lot of freelancing as a journalist. I moved to the U.S. to focus on journalism and there I worked for top media outlets like Time magazine, The Atlantic and Fast Company.
Journalism and media had always been in the picture. During my college years, I was an editor for a business journal, and spent all of my open electives in courses in communication, production, sound recording, film theory, journalism, etc. There was always that part of me that was really interested in content, in doing something creative and designing solutions. But, after some years in the U.S., I wanted to broaden my horizons even further and decided to pursue an MBA in Europe. I went to IESE Business School here in Barcelona. I have been here for almost five years now.
Besides the Philippines, I would say Chicago. I lived there for two years and I felt really settled in that place. I even had a car there and somehow that feels like a symbol of settling down. I never bothered to have a car [anywhere else] outside of the Philippines. What I liked about the Midwest is that it was just a very friendly location. People had a smile on their faces, they greeted you in the elevator and just had this positive disposition throughout the day. And it didn’t feel as fake as in many other countries. I am also kind of an indulgent person; that is to say, I like traveling, watching good theatre, eating delicious food, these kinds of activities. Chicago, being such a cosmopolitan city, definitely delivered on that. They have a really good food scene, from sinful comfort food to very beautiful and delicious gourmet food.
One of my favorite places in Chicago is the Art Institute. I highly recommend it. It is one of the best museums in the world. It has a lot of Edward Hopper, and it houses iconic images like Nighthawks and American Gothic. It is also just a beautiful building to go to. Outside, you can walk in Millennium Park and look at ¨The Bean¨ or Cloud Gate and other outdoor sculptures. When you are situated in a certain part of the park, you can also appreciate the Chicago skyline and architecture. It is really nice and you can easily spend a day in that area.
I joined Claro Partners in January 2015 because, towards the end of my MBA, I really wanted to pursue innovation consulting. You have a lot of different kinds of consulting and as MBAs we gravitated more towards strategy consulting, which offers great challenges and is also rewarding. But I preferred the innovation route.
I liked the context of optimism. There is always this undercurrent of optimism with innovation consulting. It focuses on questions like: How can we improve things? What can we produce or perform in a different way to help people? What are exciting new things we can launch?
Personally, I didn’t want to get involved in projects related to downsizing or improving efficiency by one percent. Don’t get me wrong. Those projects are very important and impactful, but the context is always money-driven or heartbreaking, in the case of downsizing. Even though the work can be just as challenging, it is just the general sense of positivity in innovation consulting that I prefer to spend every day of my working life in.
I lead projects. So, I would say my role entails a mix of building and managing client relationships, fostering team dynamics and, of course, problem solving and getting things done. When I am in a project, my mandate is as follows: first, I do everything for the client; second, I continually ask myself: “How is my team?” and “Is everyone functioning well, feeling happy or maybe overworked?” And the last consideration is me. In a way, [I am last] because that [third consideration] is within my control anyway. I think the other two factors deserve more special attention during projects. I am also just happy when my client is happy and my team is too.
Of course, it always feels great if the client gets what they asked for, we exceed their expectations, they want to keep working together, etc. On the other hand, I also really enjoy when I have a beer or dinner with my team, when we enjoy the work we are doing on a day-to-day basis and, when we look back on the project, we think of it fondly. When my teammates appreciate how much they have grown, even though things may have been frustrating sometimes, that makes me happy too. I appreciate the appreciation for what has been accomplished.
For the snowballs (Claro-speak for functional areas), I lead the business practice and our mandate is to ensure that the business skills of our consultants are up-to-date and at a certain level for project work. We produce trainings to ensure that everyone is well-versed in different topics, like market validation, competitive dynamics, understanding client context, criteria-based decision-making, etc. I am also part of the culture snowball, which is mainly about organizing events and keeping the team spirit at a certain level. For recruitment, I am responsible for just a sliver of that snowball, the MBA recruitment.
What comes to mind is just all the silliness. All the funny moments. Humor is a big part of working in a project, in my book at least. All the teams I have worked with, we were able to laugh at things and at each other. I believe it is a great way to elevate the team mood and to make sure you are functioning as a unit.