José Ignacio Goirigolzarri: The teachings of Emilio


There are many people who defend that work is not going to make friends. I do not intend to debate that idea in these hard times, but I am going to contradict it because I believe that Emilio Ybarra deserves it. Emilio made many friends in his professional life, among which I am proud to be after many years at his side from Banco Bilbao to BBVA, through BBV. And he achieved so many adhesions to his person thanks to a great relational capacity, his excellent education and his way of treating people, all equally, regardless of his personal or professional position.

In fact, I am convinced that this extraordinary virtue of Emilio was what allowed the Mexican bank Bancomer to remain in the hands of BBVA when Banamex tried to acquire it through a counter-agreement. I asked him to come to Mexico to help us and his response was that the only thing that mattered was the bank and that he would do what we needed. So it was. He prepared himself thoroughly and worked very hard in those days, but I think it was his great capacity to generate complicities that finally tipped the balance in our favor. And we must not forget that Bancomer is a key player in a large group such as BBVA.

On that occasion, as in so many others, Emilio demonstrated another of his qualities: his tenacity and his pride. He had already shown this in his continuing agreements with other entities in the banking management and, above all, in the merger of Banco Bilbao and Banco Vizcaya. In this operation, he assumed a secondary role and became vice president. Later, when he acceded to the presidency after the death of Pedro Toledo, he mastered a very complex environment of confrontations between the 'bilbaos' and the 'vizcaya'. He managed to add, and I want to put value today, which he did without leaving a trail of victims and enemies and / or adversaries. Once again, this enormous ability to develop social relationships allowed the bank to enter a stage of enormous development, especially in Latin America.

That tenacity and pride were also a very valuable weapon to unite years later to the bases of BBV and Argentaria, and they were very valuable to him personally to face the hard professional moments that came later. He fought fiercely then and with great vitality. Because Emilio was a vitalist. He liked to live. He was a fan of everything: from football to sailing, from ball to bullfighting. He was transverse in his eagerness to enjoy life.

Throughout the years we have maintained a continuous contact and a great personal relationship. And I will always thank you. But if I have something to thank him for, it is the great teaching that he gave me and that I try to apply in my day to day life: the enormous love he had for the bank. He did not have his own agenda because his agenda was to get the best for the institution. Thanks, Emilio.

Rest in peace.

José Ignacio Goirigolzarri He is President of Bankia

José Ignacio GoirigolzarriJosé Ignacio Goirigolzarri


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