“If I am born again, I will study telecoms again”
The Official College of Telecommunications Engineers (COIT) and the Spanish Association of Telecommunications Engineers (AEIT) named Albert Cuatrecasas, CEO of Cellnex Spain, engineer of the year.
Albert Cuatrecasas Freixas (Barcelona, 1967) has been CEO of Cellnex Spain since 2015, but his time at the company dates to 2000, when a listing in the employment section of the newspaper caught his eye. The offer, from ACESA Telecom, was posted by Tobias Martinez and Carlos Espinós. “Twenty-two years ago, who would have thought that we would be involved in a business project that has become a benchmark and a leader in Europe. Without you, my friend, it would have been much more difficult”, said Tobias Martinez, CEO of Cellnex, at the gala dinner held 23 November at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid.
Over 22 years, Albert Cuatrecasas has developed his career at Cellnex, but previous experiences forged his character and professionalism as well. Fresh out of university, he joined the Organising Committee of the Barcelona ’92 Olympic Games. After the Olympics, he joined Abengoa-Sainco Tráfico as Marketing & Sales Manager for Europe and Asia, a position that allowed him to travel extensively in China and Southeast Asia selling interurban traffic control systems, highway tolls, parking lots and regulation systems for urban traffic. “We were selling Spanish technology to China, which is hard to imagine today”, Cuatrecasas himself acknowledges.
Cuatrecasas highlighted all these experiences in his thank-you speech at the gala for the Engineer of the Year Award 2022, organised by the Official College of Telecommunications Engineers (COIT) and the Spanish Association of Telecommunications Engineers (AEIT). Nearly 200 people attended the event, including authorities, leaders and representatives from across the industry, competitors. Also on hand were Cuatrecasas’s friends and colleagues from over the years, among whom Cellnex was amply represented.
Marta Balenciaga, dean-president of the COIT and president of the AEIT, presented Cuatrecasas with the award, remarking, “Without memory we are nothing, particularly if we are unable to recognise ourselves in leading professionals like Albert Cuatrecasas.”
Also on hand was Eric Figueras, a former classmate and childhood friend who came expressly from Iceland for the occasion. In a personal and moving speech, Figueras pointed up three of the honouree’s personal traits “that define him very well: balance, leadership and humanity.” He recounted various experiences shared in the 50-plus years the two have known each other, before concluding assertively: “Albert is just a good person.”
Tobias Martinez, CEO of Cellnex, underscored Cuatrecasas’s professional side, “Albert is analytical, multifaceted, ingenious, logical and highly organised. But, at the same time, he combines these peculiarities with a tenacity, creativity, enterprising character, sense of strategy and resilience that are absolutely essential in our day-to-day lives.” He added: “Over the years, I have never seen him give up an opportunity for lost. He does not surrender, he is resistant and persistent. Consistent and uncompromising to the limit with the commitments he makes. Those of us who work by his side have witnessed his ability to bring to fruition projects that initially seemed unfeasible.” An emotive Martinez concluded: “Albert is what English speakers call a ‘game changer’, a facilitator and a driver of change.”
In his thank-you speech, Albert Cuatrecasas was sure not to forget anyone: School, Association, friends, his family (at the epicentre, he confided) and his beloved Cellnex team: “This acknowledgement belongs to all of you; without you it would have been impossible. I’m with you to the end of the world!”
After the event, with authenticity and emotion present in spades, Cuatrecasas’ colleagues past and present, radiant and proud of their experience over the course of the evening, did not hesitate to share their praises, unanimously described him as a “natural leader” and highlighting among his qualities humility, passion, enthusiasm and dedication. “He has many reasons to be proud of the way he is”; “The recognition is well deserved”; “He is a good person and a fine friend to his friends”; “We are with him to the end of the world too!” and “Thanks for the example, Albert!” were some of their comments.
Cuatrecasas also used his remarks to reflect on the profession. “After a professional life dedicated to telecommunications, I have reflected on it many times. From the four forces of nature –gravity, electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear force– we form one”, he said proudly. He added: “Applied telecommunications is relatively recent, but with it, we can shape a connected society, and a better one. Our purpose is beautiful and good!” Finally, he expressed his most sincere thanks “for accompanying me and for this great honour”, and concluded energetically: “Love, perseverance, patience, dedication, focus, cohesion, team, laughter, family… In a word: passion! If I am born again, I will study telecommunications again.”