SM: How do you tackle this zero unemployment in your industry? That’s bound to create a talent war. How is the region coping with that? How do you propose to cope with that going forward?
BT: The thing is because of how deeply companies want to be part of this industry and offer services globally, some governments, certainly the Mexican government but also other governments in the region, are putting together initiatives to incentivize the industry. The universities are working very hard to have more time ready, offering different kinds of programs, not just the typical university four-year terms. Today, the zero unemployment is true, but it is also true that we see more of the universities working together with the governments, and companies like Softtek and many others are supporting those universities and understanding much better what is needed. Softtek is not just based out of one city as opposed to what happened in the beginning in India, for example. Bangalore became the city for this sort of thing.
In the case of Mexico, the demographics are not the same, so what we do is open different centers in different regions of Mexico in order to have access to different talent pools. And we work closely with the universities. We bring people in their fifth or sixth semesters to start working for us to incorporate them into the workforce sooner. We also have other programs in which the government will re-train people in order to get them ready to work in this industry. I agree completely with working closely with governments and universities. If we don’t work together on those things, making sure that we have the talent pool that is needed, what could happen is the region could be less competitive if we end up with everyone competing for the same talent pool.
SM: If the region really takes off in IT services, the same problem that happened in India is going to happen in Latin America.
BT: Probably the difference here is that there are so many different countries involved and different programs that it is true. I think in the world, we need many more IT professionals.
BT: It’s not a problem of India or Latin America or Europe. Almost in every region, you see that we need more IT professionals. Hopefully, we’ll find ways to make sure that we do have them.
SM: Do you work with Spain? Spain is going through an incredibly high, 50% youth unemployment. And Spain does have good universities and some level of IT talent.
BT: We do have a center in Spain. When we decided to have a center in Europe, we decided to have it in Spain. Our center is in Coruña, which is in the northern part of Spain. It is true that we can be very competitive from Spain. It’s easy to find great talent in Spain.
SM: How many people do you have in Spain?
BT: In Spain, we have engagements that are the best evidence that we are a global company. We have engagements in which we support different countries, speaking different languages. For example, one specific engagement that we have in Coruña, we support 17 or 18 different countries with 10 different languages. I try to imagine if we could have done that from Mexico, Brazil or Argentina. I’m sure it could have been much more difficult to find people who are fluent in one or the other language. Today, we have 8 or 10 different languages. It’s not all the same people, but they speak German, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, etc. There are 10 different languages that our people in Coruña can support.
SM: What about Portugal? Since you work so much in Brazil, Portuguese must be a major language for you, yes?
BT: It is, but it’s just in Brazil. I think one of the reasons why Brazil or Brazilian companies have not been very successful at providing services for the U.S. is precisely, the language. They are focused on the domestic market because Portuguese is getting them in Portugal but not anywhere else. So, yes, we do have a very important client base in Brazil. I believe that two reasons you don’t find global Brazilian IT services providers is because one, they have their hands full. The domestic market is impressive. But two, it’s difficult to find English-speaking people in Brazil. It’s not easy.