Claudio Boada Villalonga (1920–2006)

The engineer Claudio Boada Villalonga became one of the outstanding business leaders of the late-twentieth century in Spain, a technocrat ‘trouble-shooter’ and moderniser who managed enterprises in all sectors of Spanish industry. As president of the national institute of industry in the 1970s he led more than 200,000 employees.

His family ran a hardware store in Barcelona. After graduating from the school of industrial engineers in the city in 1946 his first job was as an engineer in the textile industry at Tarrasa in Catalunya. He then moved to the Spanish Protecorate in Morocco, where he worked as a transport engineer for Transportes Eléctricos Hispano-Marroquíes de Tetuán. He rose to senior management for the first time in the motor manufacturing company Pegaso and its parent company Enasa (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones SA), of which he became vice-president in 1962. From 1967 he restructured the great Basque steel company Altos Hornos de Vizcaya.

Boada brought his expertise to a wide range of public companies in the early 1970s when he was appointed by the government to lead INI (Instituto Nacional de Industria). This was a state-owned financing company established by the Franco regime in 1941 to reconstruct Spanish industry after the Civil War and increase economic self-sufficiency. He restructured the organisation and strengthened its component groups. INI became the biggest business conglomerate in the country, working in metallurgy, petrochemicals, fertilizers, electricity, shipping, arms and other sectors; it included his former company Pegaso alongside around 200 others.

Boada’s later roles included the presidencies of the Bank of Madrid, the Catalan development bank and Ford Spain. At INH (Instituto Nacional de Hidrocarburos) from 1981 to 1985 he undertook another rationalisation, this time in the gas and oil sector, encompassing the whole industry from exploration to distribution and marketing. Before retiring in 1990 he reorganised the struggling Banco Hispano-Americano. Throughout his later career he was involved as an advisor or trustee in business development, education, training and museums. He argued for the importance of generalist technocratic leaders who brought together a range of skills to work alongside technical specialists.