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Jorge Cosmen, President of ALSA, at ESADE: “Self-driving vehicles will not destroy jobs but they will change the functions of the driver”

Jorge Cosmen, President of ALSA, considers technology and internationalisation to be the main allies of a sector where “companies can disappear overnight” and competition is fierce, “especially in high-speed and low-cost services”

“Self-driving vehicles will not destroy jobs but they will change the functions of the driver”, declared Jorge Cosmen, President of ALSA, at the third session of the 10th ESADE-Deloitte Lecture Series: “Family Businesses of the 21st Century”, held on ESADE’s Madrid campus. Technology and internationalisation are the main allies of a sector where “companies can disappear overnight” and competition is fierce, “especially in high-speed and low-cost services”, explained Mr. Cosmen.

 

With regard to technology, in addition to self-driving vehicles, the President of ALSA discussed his company’s investments in electric vehicles and connected vehicles. Electric vehicles, he argued, “are extremely urban”. For intercity transport, he noted, “ALSA’s main focus is on gas and hydrogen power, depending on the manufacturer”. The company’s secondary focus, he explained, “is knowing where we’re headed; whether for work or leisure, we always have to be connected”. Digitalisation is also essential “when it comes to “being in constant contact with the client and accelerating internal processes,” commented Mr. Cosmen. Although private mobility platforms entail an important change for the sector, their emergence “responds to a need that was not yet covered”. What is important for the future, he argued, is “working together to establish rules that allow us to compete at the same level”.

Internationalisation is also “obligatory”, according to the President of ALSA, which was one of the first Spanish companies to expand into China. “Back in the eighties, in China, there was no such thing as a return ticket or a pre-established timetable. The secret of our success was to implement and develop this.” Today, ALSA forms part of National Express, a British publicly traded group of which Mr. Cosmen is also Vice President. National Express is the second largest operator of school transport routes in the United States and Canada, and it also has a presence in Europe, North America, North Africa and the Middle East.

Family values

Among other keys to ALSA’s success, Mr. Cosmen highlighted two firmly interconnected aspects: the company’s values and the professionalisation of its governing bodies. “Honesty was the value that guided my father when we arranged for his succession. Talent is not inherited; if we want to progress, we must also hire external professionals,” explained Mr. Cosmen, in reference to ALSA’s previous CEO, Javier Carbajo, and his successor, Francisco Iglesias, both of whom have done “an extraordinary job”, in Mr. Cosmen’s view.

Other values ​​highlighted by Mr. Cosmen included safety (“before profit comes safety”), talent (“if a company does not have a great team, it cannot be successful”) and equality. Towards the end of his talk, Mr. Cosmen noted that “ALSA, as a company, has the obligation to advance with society and be aware that by working together we can improve”.

The third session of the 10th ESADE-Deloitte Lecture Series, “Family Businesses of the 21st Century”, also featured the participation of Fernando Ruiz, Chairman of Deloitte; Pedro Navarro, Executive Vice President of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees; and Alberto Gimeno, Associate Professor of Family Business at ESADE.