“Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living”
T.S. Elliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture
In every company there is a culture; it exists regardless of whether it is hidden and even if it has not been formalised. A company’s culture is its main integrating and, ultimately, motivating force. At Alantra we have grown a great deal in recent years and our deals, and our clients have become increasingly international. We now operate in 21 countries and employ professionals of 22 different nationalities. Consequently, we need to clarify the main cultural principles that guide our work.
“A company’s culture is its main integrating and, ultimately, motivating force”
We believe a company’s culture is the combination of aims, values and general ideas shared by everyone in the company. In a sense, a company’s culture is its “mind,” while its “body” is the way in which means and resources are organised to achieve its aims, involving applying techniques to achieve results, which in the world of social sciences is associated with the concept of civilisation. The main risk facing companies (and people) in our time is cultural “euthanasia”: a process by which the means swallow up the ends, burying the values of social and business life. The recession we have experienced over the last decade is a clear reflection of this process. The question now is to imagine how we can strengthen our businesses culturally, and Alantra is no exception to this.
A global company like ours requires a great deal of effort and intelligence to create and maintain cohesion in its teams. The best way to do this is through the strength of its culture.
What we want to be and how we want to be it
Our culture can be described in terms of a number of key values, which constitute the essence of what we want to be as a business institution:
- We are, and plan to continue being, a partnership, even though we are a listed company. In a partnership the partners assume ultimate responsibility for the company’s actions; they assume it collectively as partners, but also individually. A fundamental principle in our company culture is respect for individual autonomy and independent thinking. In exchange we expect individuals to assume ultimate responsibility for the decisions they make and the work they do. This principle permeates through to our partners and affects all professionals.
- We are a company in which duty comes before results. In our world, results, the consequences of our actions, are the instrument by which everything is measured and valued. Some leading business figures say that which cannot be measured does not exist. We beg to differ. Values cannot be measured, yet they are certainly real. One of our values must be that the legitimate anxiety and energy we channel into obtaining good results should never take precedence over what constitutes our duty. Even in the tough, competitive business world, it is possible to work productively and profitably without failing to do what is right. You don’t need to be especially intelligent to know or have a sense of what your duty is. Every human being has this sense. A company’s culture should reinforce this, not undermine it.
- The main conflict facing a company like ours is to ensure that our interests do not take precedence over those of our clients. Our clients’ interests come first, while still respecting ours. The relationship between the two must be governed by fairness.
- An essential value in our culture must be for the professionals working with us to have a good life. Having a good life is not the same as living well. A good life involves respect, autonomy, valuing the critical capacity and ideas of others, opportunities to learn and advance based on merit, reasonable demands on one’s effort and time, a good atmosphere, ethical behaviour and, above all, taking part in a project carried out by all and for all. A good life is incompatible, however, with behaviour such as free riding, with a culture of discrimination, and with the tyranny of financial incentives as the only type of motivation.
- We are striving for a global company with a global outlook and global awareness. That is why we changed our name and our brand to Alantra. To be a global, integrated company, a company with no physical or mental borders. Our global mentality can be seen in our desire to communicate and to understand, despite distance and regional or national differences; in our willingness to invest in the interests of other branches or business lines without asking for anything in exchange, apart from future cooperation; in sharing the collective project that we are and making critical contributions to its development, and in recognizing that each of us plays a key part in developing the project irrespective of our position or location. In 2016, we accomplished many things and made a great deal of progress. Overall, we believe we have helped our clients, those investing in our management products, our shareholders and our professionals to fulfil their aims and aspirations. These achievements are detailed in the 2016 Annual Report. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of us, the partners.