Building a Software Engineering Team in Barcelona

The best things about an international city like Barcelona is that it’s like a portal to other parts of the world: you can virtually be anywhere around the globe without ever having to leave the city. And we don’t just mean that you can have dinner at a Lebanese restaurant and feel like you’re in the Middle East for the evening. You can make defying the limits of space your lifestyle. This is especially true for the city’s tech scene, where international companies are making sure that you never have to settle for anything. If you’re a developer, for example, thanks to companies like Haufe-umantis, you have the chance to work for a German-Swiss company, build cutting-edge software using the newest technologies, and enjoy all the perks of living in Barcelona. Sound like two birds with one stone?

Setting Up a Development Center in Barcelona

Developers today often find themselves in a curious position where they already have a job that they sort of like, but, due to the high demand for their skills and experience, they’ve also got five offer letters on the table waiting for a response. Some people find it difficult to step out of their comfort zone, others are always looking for adventure and restlessly seeking new challenges. For the former, it may be time to rethink their priorities. For the latter, there’s Haufe-umantis, a German-Swiss company that has recently opened a development center in Barcelona.

“We had quite a few reasons for choosing Barcelona, and one of them was that we want people who have a spirit of their own, who have their own way of doing things and are not afraid to push back when they feel that they’ve got a better idea. We want people who are adventurous, who are interested in building something completely new and eager to become a part of a task force whose mission is to invade new territories. And we believe that Barcelona is the city where you can find these people,” says George Hadjiyiannis, former Chief Technology Officer and current Senior Architect at Haufe-umantis, who has overseen the setting up of the Barcelona office from the beginning.

Building a Software Engineering Team in Barcelona - The Story of Swiss-German HR Solutions Company Haufe Umantis - The Barcelona Team
The growing team of Haufe-Umantis in Barcelona

Winning the Race for Tech Talent

One of Europe’s market leaders in web-based talent and performance management systems, Haufe-umantis opened a development center last year in Barcelona, and they are constantly looking to fill it up with adventurous tech talent. The Barcelona teams are working on a product called Rhythmix, which provides a customized solution to HR processes for large clients such as Swisscom.

Building a Software Engineering Team in Barcelona - The Story of Swiss-German HR Solutions Company Haufe Umantis - George Hadjiyiannis
George Hadjiyiannis, Senior Architect at Haufe-umantis. Photo by Robert Stuermer

“Rhythmix was born out of the realization that software alone doesn’t mean much to the large companies that we work with. A lot of our customers have IT departments of their own that are bigger than our entire company. So why would they be interested in buying software from us? What they are interested in is a combination of software, best practices, and business services to help them solve specific problems. And this is what we offer. We work closely with the customers and design customized solutions for them through a process called co-creation,” explains George.

A challenge from a technological point of view is definitely something that many developers look for, but there are several other aspects as to why they’ll choose one company over another, especially when they have an abundance of options. Sylvia Franzke, Director of Operations at Haufe-umantis in Barcelona, who is in charge of growing the teams, explains what else candidates take into consideration:

“Apart from the technological aspect, what ultimately convinces people is the team spirit that they see here at Haufe-umantis. Even our interview processes show how cooperative and people-friendly our environment is. After the technical test, the second round is a team interview with me, one of our recruiters and someone from the technical team, where candidates can already sense the team atmosphere. We always involve the team in our decisions of who to hire, and sometimes, they even go out for a drink with the candidate after the interview to get to know them better,” Sylvia says.

Team Spirit and Technological Innovation

So you may be thinking, wait a minute, isn’t “team environment” usually the number one selling point for startups? While the Haufe Group is a prestigious digital media enterprise that has been on the market since 1930 and has about 1,500 employees worldwide, the company culture favored by Haufe-umantis is very similar to that of a startup.

“We are not bureaucratic at all, we work in a very flat, democratic structure, we vote for our C-level management, and we make most of our decisions together,” explains Sylvia.

Building a Software Engineering Team in Barcelona - The Story of Swiss-German HR Solutions Company Haufe Umantis - Sylvia Franzke
Sylvia Franzke, Director of Operations at Haufe-umantis in Barcelona

Innovation is a keyword not only from a technological point of view, but from an HR perspective as well. After all, this is what the company does on a daily basis for its clients.

As for their future plans, Sylvia has unstoppable growth in mind for the Barcelona development center currently based in The World Trade Center.

“We already have two teams set up in Barcelona that are in close connection with our teams in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and are working directly with our clients. We’re in the process of building team number three and four, as well as a fifth team for Haufe Group called the Rapid Application Team, whose members will be working on mobile apps. Right now, we have several nationalities among us, including Spanish, English, Irish, Austrian, German, Argentine, Venezuelan and Brazilian. At the moment there are twenty-eight of us altogether, and we are actively looking for thirteen more people, to get us up to about forty. It’s taking longer than we anticipated to find developers: frontend appears to be especially difficult. But we are planning on using new strategies to find the best people, like offering relocation packages for those who are moving to Barcelona to work with us from other parts of Europe,” says Sylvia.

If you’re interested in applying for a position at Haufe-umantis, see the vacancies on their website.

Got your own startup story to share? Get in touch!

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