Mercedes Mora (41). A native of Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra now based in Barcelona. A passionate, extroverted art fanatic and amateur photographer always interested in learning new things and broadening her horizons. Mora, who holds undergraduate and masters’ degrees in Administration and Business Management from IESE, is currently the owner’s representative of Casa Vicens Gaudí SA, a position she hopes will permit her to convey her family’s deep commitment to cultural heritage.
What is your professional background and what brought you to Casa Vicens?
I started out in the financial sector (BBVA), where I specialized in business development and innovation and worked as a family business advisor while fulfilling other management responsibilities. However, a passion for the arts and culture runs in the family blood, and when MoraBanc decided to transform Casa Vicens into a house museum, I immediately wanted to become involved. I’ve worked on the project for years now and there is no place I’d rather be. The competences I acquired in the banking sector have been very helpful. The experience was perhaps a bit daunting at first, but I have loved every minute of it. It’s been a true adventure!
What is the relationship between MoraBanc and Casa Vicens? How did a bank in Andorra become interested in taking on the property?
MoraBanc understood that Casa Vicens was a perfect opportunity to forge an enduring link between Gaudí, Barcelona and MoraBanc. Taking on the project was a logical decision for an independent bank with a profound respect for culture and sense of public service. Given our love for art and culture, what better way was there to demonstrate our passion than to restore the only building in Barcelona declared a World Heritage Site not yet accessible to the public?
MoraBanc views Casa Vicens as a sustainable sponsorship project. How does this approach benefit Casa Vicens?
As a privately owned family bank, MoraBanc has the freedom to invest in projects such as Casa Vicens that focus on the restoration and management of historic buildings positioned to serve the needs and interests of both local citizens and society at large. To sum it up in three words: value creation, respect for cultural heritage, and profitability.
You are described in the press kit as the owner’s representative of Casa Vicens and it is obvious that you have devoted a lot of time and energy to this project. What does this position entail and what do you on a daily basis?
I usually split my day between business management responsibilities and other areas essential to the medium to long term future of Casa Vicens such as marketing, legal issues, financial sustainability, risk prevention, motivation, and operations. My work also entails looking beyond the nuts and bolts of the work we are currently carrying out and exploring ways of explaining our mission to the public.
I do my best to balance this work with the institutional role I play as a representative of the family that owns the property.
From MoraBanc’s acquisition of the property in 2014 to the present time, what do you consider to have been the most difficult moment of this project?
The transformation of this historic house into a museum has supposed the dual challenge of preserving and restoring the building designed by Gaudí structure as well as its decorative elements and making it accessible to as many visitors as possible—in other words, conserving a priceless heritage site and making use of the interpretative tools needed to ensure that visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds have a wonderful learning experience here. As the museum is expected to attract a high number of visitors and the physical limitations of the building must be respected, this has meant thoroughly analyzing risks we might need to deal with going forward due to insufficient planning. Reducing this risk factor has required careful planning and management on the part of the entire team during every phase of the process.
And the happiest day?
The day I knew I would be part of the project and the day we received the required works permits from the city. But there is also the day-to-day joy of working with so many highly talented people, each with his or her individual but complementary skills— experts who view the world from a myriad of different perspectives. An entire new family has grown out of this project.
How will you celebrate the inauguration?
Smiling and proud: happy the public will now be able to enjoy Gaudí and this jewel of heritage, ready to work for its success as a cultural center, and, if we meet our objectives, thinking of how pleased my grandfather and great grandfather would be with the fourth generation of the family.