"We are the perfect place for anyone wanting to be trained and to flourish technologically"
Ion Etxeberria the Human Resources Director of IKERLAN, explains the philosophy behind people management and talent development at the MONDRAGON Centre’s main Technological Centre
Technological developments depend on people who are restless and eager to take that extra leap. IKERLAN provides “the most advanced resources and infrastructure and the best workforce”. This is so that “people can develop to their full potential as researchers.”
Following is a brief summary of what was said by Ion Etxeberria, Personnel Director of IKERLAN. As explained by the director, “people are the powerhouse of the cooperative project, where the search and development of the best talent is one of the main hallmarks of the Centre throughout its history.”
How would you define the work carried out at IKERLAN?
At IKERLAN, we are technologists and we are passionate about technology. In few words, the research work is attractive, exciting and provides value to both researchers and the collaborating leading industrial companies, such as Orona, CAF and Fagor Arrasate, which have become more competitiveness on the basis of our developments.
What engages and satisfies us as researchers are projects that have a positive impact on society: to see how our endeavours and dedication towards our customers contributes to the wellbeing of people and the sustainability of our society - renewable energies, cleaner transportation, quality of life...
Collaborating with our customers for this purpose is what motivates us. This is the essence of IKERLAN: apply technology to come up with useful and valuable solutions. This is why we are leaders in technology transfer for companies.
What initiatives promote the well-being of the IKERLAN workforce?
Apart from fact that our line of work is exciting and challenging for people, the satisfaction and well-being of the team is fundamental for its sound performance. This is why we take great care to ensure that working conditions provided by IKERLAN are as attractive as possible and that they adapt to people’s needs as much as possible.
Accordingly, we have flexible working hours, provide quality and stable employment (competitive salary and corporate employment), there are joint decision-making processes that impact on our day-to-day operations, as well as continuous technical education and support for language training, meal vouchers...
Furthermore, we take great care in providing periodic informational meetings, where our General Manager directly informs all workers about the company’s progress and challenges.
Not only that, we are currently rolling out an enhanced professional development framework, designed to maximise and facilitate staff development based on a multi-year and strategic vision.
We also have special committees that focus on issues of special sensitivity concerning the company and workers, such as the Euskara Batzordea (on issues concerning Basque) or the Berdintasun Batzordea, which is in the process of being formed to work in the field of gender equality.
Do all these initiatives have a positive impact on the working environment?
Of course, this is the purpose. Moreover, day-to-day work camaraderie and environment is reinforced with a series of activities that we organise throughout the year, such as the Day of Harmony, a day in which we enjoy various recreational activities to strengthen interpersonal relationships.
We also hold sports competitions, bazkaltegi (luncheons for workers to practice their Basque), an annual photography competition, talks and periodic courses on various topics or robotics workshops for children of the employees.
What differentiates IKERLAN from other research and technological innovation centres?
One of the more distinctive features of IKERLAN is its standing as a training hub: Due to its unique relationship with key universities, we train around 100 university students every year, of which 40 undertake their dissertation with us. We invest one million euros annually towards training.
For the most part, these people join IKERLAN as researchers after their in-house training and specialisation process and, in other cases, they join the ranks of our customers. This important commitment enables us to constantly renew and strengthen ourselves.
Another key aspect is our Technological Specialisation Plan, where we invest more than eight million euros every year. This plan is groundbreaking and benchmark in the industry, due to its structuring and outcomes, and it is the real driving force that attracts and generates further knowledge at IKERLAN.
Nevertheless, the main hallmark of IKERLAN is its practical vision of what is technology and its clear orientation towards the transfer of solutions for the industry. We work to resolve challenges faced by our customers and this is what has made us industry leaders. When our customers are faced with a significant technological challenge, they approach IKERLAN because they can rely on and can count on our know-how, experience and determination. And, what they value most is how we immerse ourselves in projects and take on this process as our own.
Due to these reasons, IKERLAN is a company undergoing constant growth: The main client companies are forging stronger ties with us, where there is a 4.5% growth in the number of transfer projects over the past year and an accumulated growth of revenues of 21% over the past three years.
In order to continue to remain a benchmark company, we need to strengthen our position and recruit the best staff. This is why we are committed to being an education hub and to attract the best professionals at our centre.
Source: interview extracted from the special supplement on Cooperative Employment published in El Correo and El Diario Vasco