Interview with Paco Izquierdo of Rolled Steel


Wikimedia Commons; By: Eugen Nosko, Deutsche Fotothek

Sabrina: What exactly does your company do and what is your role within the business?

Paco: Rolled Steel has a general involvement in the trading of steel and, of course, with the raw materials necessary to produce it. Our job consists of contacting producers and consumers with the aim of helping them to reach an agreement and make a sale.

We normally work with importing steel into Spain and exporting it elsewhere, too.

In terms of my job, I’m the company administrator. However, the business is based on trading, and my job essentially involves making contact with customers and producers to make sure they’re reliable and fast, and closing deals.

Sabrina: How long have you been with Rolled Steel and what is your favourite part of the job?

Paco: I started at Rolled Steel when it was founded 15 years ago, and we’ve always worked in the same sector.

My favourite part of the job is that I get the opportunity to meet people from loads of different countries and markets, which is always really interesting.

Sabrina: As you obviously work with international customers from so many different cultures, I wanted to ask you if you could tell us an anecdote about one time you’ve come up against a language barrier at work.

Paco: Well, working with people from all over the world means that we face these barriers every day. You meet people that speak all kinds of languages.

We generally use English with the clients, but obviously, people from Asia, like Vietnam or China, for example, have a strong accent and sometimes it can be really, really difficult to understand.

There have been times when people have asked me questions, and once I’ve understood what they’re saying, I can answer them, no problem. But they were repeating the question and I still didn’t get it and it turned out to be something so simple, like the price of a certain product in Spain.

The stuff that is actually pretty simple in English was so hard to understand in their accent because they were Thai.

I suppose the same thing must happen to them when they’re speaking to a Spanish guy in English.

Sabrina: Do you have any other anecdotes about cultural differences?

Paco: I’ve got loads! We notice it most with Arabic countries because, obviously, they treat people a bit differently to us – women, for example – and sometimes it can get a bit awkward.

For example, we have two women working here at Rolled Steel, and one of them would be writing to this Arabic guy and signing her name as normal, and he would always reply, addressing someone else who works with us here, usually a man.

That’s kind of a negative example. There are funny ones too, but anyway. That’s one which, in terms of cultural differences, definitely gets your attention.

Sabrina: OK, perfect. And what do you think has been your company’s greatest success?

Paco: Well, since Rolled Steel was founded, we have always made sure not just to focus on selling, but also on giving customers the technical and logistical support they need.

In other words, we anticipate potential problems, which is not very common in the brokerage sector. Brokers just want to reach a deal, full stop.

We realised that if deals aren’t closed properly, and customers aren’t satisfied… Even if it’s not your fault, it affects you too. Working in this way has proven successful for us in the end, though we have had some problems.

Sabrina: Of course. And what would you say has been your biggest mistake?


Paco: Well, there have been lots of mistakes – it’s been 15 years! I almost don’t want to talk about them, ha ha ha!

But yeah, mistakes? Well, for example, sometimes we’ve lost suppliers due to a lack of trust on our side, which on the one hand is a mistake, but on the other, it’s been in the interest of the customers who buy through Rolled Steel – we wanted to try and protect them.

Yes, sometimes I think we have made mistakes in giving up on or not encouraging companies that could have potentially brought us good results.

Sabrina: If you could go back and start again now, what would you do differently?

Paco: Very little, to be honest. Maybe just what I mentioned about the suppliers. I’d be a bit less visceral when it comes to them. A lot of the ones with a really good reputation often produce results when it counts. And I’m sure that some of the ones that we lost along the way could have produced better results.

Sabrina: Perfect. And finally, I have heard that you like music and diving. Could you tell us a bit about your hobbies?

Paco: Diving is something that… I grew up diving and I’m on my way to die diving. For me, it’s not just something I enjoy, but I think it’s also given me a lot of things in other areas of life, including my job.

Sabrina: How’s that?

Paco: Well, in the sense that, with diving, you have to overcome a lot of fear and anxiety in order to do it well and be as safe as you possibly can be, and I’ve been able to apply that to life. Nothing scares me when I’m at work and that has brought me a lot of security in my personal life.

Sabrina: So what age did you start diving at, then?

Paco: Umm… I think I started in France when I was about 12.

Sabrina: Wow!

Paco: How time flies…

Sabrina: Ok, we won’t mention age, then! Is music something you’ve been into all your life or is that a recent thing?

Paco: It’s actually more recent. I have always liked music, and I was in some rock bands when I was younger but that… I took a massive break from it… But now I’ve totally fallen back in love with it.

I currently both manage and get involved on stage at some rock concerts, which have been going really well.

Within a really short space of time, we’ve reached milestones and secured some important gigs with really well-known artists, like Barón Rojo and Santelmo.

We’ve managed a lot in such a short space of time. “Ñu”, who’s another Spanish rock legend, is also probably going to come along too, and they’ll probably invite us to perform with them as a group.

Sabrina: Wow, great! Anyway, that’s all for today, thanks a lot Paco!

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