Message from the Chair – Sustainability: A Core Value for Latin Americans

WandaBy: Wanda Lopuch, Chair, The Global Sourcing Council

Sustainability and social responsibility in today’s interconnected world, is truly a global challenge. However, the canvas of sustainability and social responsibility with its regional intricacies is painted with the whole spectrum of regional colors and shades. We have decided to dedicate this issue of The Source to Latin America, to bring closer the unique perspective and flesh-out some of the Latin American colors and shades.

Sustainability and Profitability are Complementary

The 2014 good global news is that as the economy improves, so does the focus on corporate citizenship, as the recent report on “The State of Corporate Citizenship 2014” demonstrates (http://ccc.bc.edu/index.cfm?pageId=2180). This report based on research conducted by Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (BCCCC), offers a snapshot of executive thinking on sustainability, and tracks current thinking and trends in the C-suite for the sixth consecutive year.

This year’s significant shift in executive perception is such that sustainability and profitability are complementary now. 750 CEOs and C-level executives from large companies in North America and Europe, care more about sustainability and social responsibility in 2014, not only because of business ethics and values, but as a platform for business results. Executives’ focus on environmental, social and governance investments (ESG) is framed by such factors as talent availability (talented people are actively seeking companies that care and show that they care), innovation and profitability (long-term results are consistently improved by sustainability driven innovations), and the ultimate goal: satisfying consumers.

2014 consumers care, and they show it with their wallet. Moreover, Millennial consumers and employees, who care even more, are gaining more purchasing power or organizational influence.

According to 2014 Nielsen research of 30,000 consumers from 60 countries (“From Brand Concern to Willingness to Pay” (www.nielsen.com) sustainability actions from consumers can result in 5% sales increase. This number is going to increase sharply as Millennials gain more prominent places in society. Executives notice and do their homework.

Latin American Consumers Drive ESG

On the issue of environmental, social and governance (ESG), Latin American consumers stand out from consumers in other geographic regions; they differ in their preferences, expectations and intentions to vote with their wallets, according to the Nielsen research. As the graph below shows, executives’ views (grey bar) on issues of concern in the ESG area (BCCCC study) diverge from those of their consumers. This discrepancy is most pronounced for the Latin American consumers (yellow) who place far more emphasis on social and environmental issues- areas that most executives have not fully integrated into their corporate agendas… yet

wanda graphSource: BCCCC 2014; The State of Global Citizenship; www.bcccc.net

Latin American consumers exhibit distinct differences in their views and perceptions on social values; they make their purchasing decisions based on considerations for sustainability and social impact. As per the Nielsen survey, 62% of respondents (blue bar) say they check the product label to ensure a company’s and brand’s commitment to positive social and environmental impact.

wanda graph2
Source: Nielsen “Doing Well by Doing Good”, June 2014; www.nielsen.com

Nielsen also reports that Latin American consumers are willing to vote with their wallets for products they care about.

Source: Nielsen “Doing Well by Doing Good”, June 2014; www.nielsen.com

In crafting their strategies, corporate executives are integrating consumer preferences and long-term social trends, along with the socio-economic challenges of Latin America: political uncertainty, weak local economies, governmental institutions unable to provide social services, frail and underfunded educational systems, difficulties in creating a sustainable backbone for innovative economies across the region, and a high level of inflation – just to name a few.

In this issue of The Source, you will meet a few companies from Latin America that navigate this everything but simple landscape, and lead their enterprises into the future. Our intent is to share some of the best practices of the leaders who walk the talk of sustainable business development, so we can not only appreciate their unique challenges, but also learn from their experiences and adopt them into our own environments.

Please submit your comments to contactgsc@gscouncil.org. We will share your views with the community.

Formando Futuro Leverages Education for Social Impact

By: Paul A. Dougall, Corporate Development Vice President, Grupo ASSA

 

 
Education Can Be the Most Powerful Social Transformation Tool in Latin America

The IT Services industry in Latin America can make a serious and sustainable contribution towards reducing the educational deficit for boys and girls at secondary school levels, especially for those that come from families in highly vulnerable socio-economic conditions, through the combined and converging forces of corporate volunteer programs, partnerships with specialized education foundations, and the development educational programs that focus on socio-emotional skills as well as technical ones.

gA (Grupo ASSA), a leading consulting & transformation services company in Latin America has developed such a program, “Formando Futuro”, (“Fostering a Future”) that is already in its 4th year. This program began in Buenos Aires in 2011, and since has expanded to Tandil, Santiago de Chile, Curitiba, Sao Paulo and Mexico City. Hundreds of students and corporate volunteers have both benefited from the Formando Futuro experience during this period.

Formando Futuro LogoWe believe at gA that these initiatives can be replicated and scaled-up in Latin America, to create a broad and meaningful impact. We are convinced this can be achieved by creating a new standard in the technology services industry, working together through industry associations, in partnership with educational foundations, and leveraging the use of digital technologies. We are of the opinion that there is a need to create a new industry standard, introducing the concept of “Impact Sourcing” to Latin America, whereby corporations in North America and Europe that buy application services in this region will prioritize buying services from those firms that are actively supporting these educational initiatives, in favor of those that do not.

The Dilemma of Higher Growth and Lower Educational Standards in Latam

Latin America as a region has been growing at higher rates than the developed economies for the past last several years, fueled mostly by an increase in domestic consumption and favorable prices for commodities, resulting in strong foreign direct investment, job creation and upward social mobility. However, at the end of 2012 there were 6.7 million unemployed youths in Latin America, according to the OIT (Organización Internacional del Trabajo, 2010), with an unemployment rate of 15%, twice as large as the national average for the region.

Perhaps one of the most important factors contributing to this apparent contradiction is the increasing deficit of the educational system in Latin America. On average, only 1 of every 2 students will complete his or her secondary education; only 147 students out every 1,000 will complete their schooling in straight consecutive years, in spite of the fact that 73% of all kids that age enroll in secondary school (Fundación Cimientos research 2012, 2013). This deficit widens when you measure the performance of students in Latin America vis-à-vis those in North America, Europe and Asia. The PISA (OECD-sponsored Program for International Student Assessment) tests results are very eloquent: 50% of 15-year-old students in Latin America did not reach the minimum reading skill standards in 2012, and performed even worse in Maths.

Formando Futuro: A Grupo ASSA Education Initiative in Latin America

At gA we believe we are making a concrete contribution towards reducing the educational gap in Latin America, by sharing the collective knowledge of our 1,500 consultants in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico, with young students that are in their final year at secondary school. This is achieved though a carefully designed 10-module curricula that focuses on non-technical skills, such as leadership, self-confidence, teamwork and communication. The basics of our program include:

1. A Corporate Volunteer Program: As part of its Sustainability Program, gA developed a structured program through which employees from all levels of the organization can become tutors of the Formando Futuro program (see http://bit.ly/1nbKTlC). All volunteers participate in the training programs, and then go out to the schools in the community during at least one of the 10 weekly modules. Participation as volunteers in the program is assessed positively as part of the annual evaluation.

2. Partnerships with Local Educational Foundations: Since the inception of Formando Futuro in 2011, gA has partnered with leading foundations in the education area in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico, as they bring the specialized knowledge and experience in each country. Cimientos[1] (http://cimientos.org) has worked with us to select the schools in greater Buenos Aires where we will take the program each year, and helps us work with the school authorities, infrastructure and the logistics of the program.

Fundación Evolución (http://fundacionevolucion.org.ar/sitio/) has partnered with gA to provide the educational contents of the 10-module curricula, which has been designed to cater to the different requirements of the different countries. Evolución remains our advisor for educational content and is working closely with gA on a strategic plan to scale Formando Futuro to make a much higher impact.

gA’s partners in the region are: Liga Solidaria in Brazil (www.ligasolidaria.org.br); Fundación Educa Mexico (www.educa.org.mx) and Servicios a la Juventud (www.seraj.org.mx) for Mexico; and Fundación Puente in Chile (www.fundacionpuente.cl), and Fundación Mundo Ideal (www.fundacionmundoideal.cl)

3. The Formando Futuro Curricula: A comprehensive set of skills have been prioritized and designed to address certain socio-emotional abilities, rather than provide formal technical ones. We believe strongly that these skills, combined with formal school education, increase the chances of success in later years for these students. A research project that is being conducted by Cimientos[1]  and supported in part by gA is showing evidence that students that receive consistent support on these so-called “soft skills” throughout their secondary schooling, will graduate earlier than their class-mates that do not; they will have a higher rate of moving on to university and increase their chances of getting a job.

Another research project led by the IDB[2]  when referring to socio-emotional skills has noted: “today it is widely accepted that this is a set of multiple skills that contributes to achieve different working and schooling achievements”. Formando Futuro has divided these skills into 5 groups: i) communication skills; ii) job searching skills; iii) vocational guidance and learning to research and pick the right universities; iv) tools: email, social networks, presentations; and finally v) developing teamwork and leadership talent.”

Formando Futuro 2photo

The Challenge: Scaling the Program

Typically the dilemma facing successful Sustainability initiatives is how to scale them, protecting those elements that made them special while at the same time expanding exponentially their impact. To deal with this challenge we worked with our partners Cimientos and Evolución to develop a 3-year plan with the objective to scale Formando Futuro, and came up with 3 drivers for growth:

1. Teach the Teachers: When gA takes Formando Futuro to a new school in the community, we develop a relationship with the school authorities and teachers. We recognize that these officers can become expansion agents for the program, if they receive the required training and materials, and reach out not only to a single class or session as we currently do every term, but to multiple activities. We are already organizing “FF Express” one-day programs with several of these schools, where we provide one volunteer and the materials to do a single-day crash course together with the local teacher staff.

2. Creating a Partner Program: We invite business partners, clients and competitors to develop Formando Futuro or similar programs, sharing our intellectual materials and methodologies. We have recently launched such a partner program with Argencon, the association of export services companies in Argentina. The mentoring program, dubbed “Abriendo Ventanas” was launched this week in Buenos Aires with the participation of 11 technology services companies members of Argencon (www.argencon.org), reaching out to close to 200 students in this initial pilot program. Grupo ASSA is one of the founding members of Abriendo Ventanas together with IBM.

3. Virtual Platforms: gA has developed its own proprietary e-learning platform and has developed its own internal collaboration social network (“GAIN”, or Grupo ASSA Inside). IBM also has a virtual mentoring platform (“Mentor Place”) that can also be leveraged. We believe this is clearly the most powerful means to scale our education program, but it is still in its early stages of development and needs to be carefully designed, to make sure the personal element is not completely lost in virtuality.

In Search of a New Industry Standard for the IT Services Industry in Latin America

At gA we believe strongly that the business community, in particular the Technology Services industry, can make a significant contribution to reducing the educational gap in Latin America. To this end, individual companies need to work closely together with clear objectives, partner to create economies of scale and productivity, and work closely with educational NGOs, foundations, and dedicated government departments.

There is a need to extend the concept of “Impact Sourcing” to Latin America, empowering underprivileged members of the society by providing them with an education that includes certain digital tools and soft skills. We understand this has been done very successfully in Africa, with the sponsorship and support of the Rockefeller foundation. Now is the time for Latin America.


About the Author: Paul A. Dougall
is the Corporate Development Vice President at Grupo ASSA, responsible for M&A, Strategic Initiatives and Alliances, and Strategic Marketing at Grupo ASSA. He is also Vice Chairman of the Grupo ASSA Board of Directors, and chairs the Audit Committee.

He joined Grupo ASSA in 1999 as Director of Corporate Finance, after several years as Director of Equity Capital Markets at Deutsche Bank Argentina.

gA (Grupo ASSA) is the leading independent Latin American Digital Business Transformation firm. gA partners with leading global companies to meet their Latin American and global business aspirations, and with leading Latin American companies to meet their global and local aspirations.

gA was created in 1992 by a group of consultants with a deep entrepreneurial spirit and the idea of building information technology platforms to transform organizations. Today, gA is recognized by the information technology research company Gartner for it’s innovative Digital Business Transformation (dBT) approach.

Footnotes:
[1] Cimientos: Los jóvenes y el desarrollo de habilidades que favorecen experiencias escolares significativas y la proyección a futuro. Buenos Aires 2012/2013

[2] IDB Education: Disconnected: Skills, education and employment in Latin America, 2012

Developing the Talent Pool Through Finishing Schools’ Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean

Opertti Fabrizio100x100By: Fabrizio Opertti, Chief of the Trade and Investment Unit of the Integration and Trade Sector of the IDB

 

 
 

Garcia Pablo100x100Pablo M. Garcia, IDB Regional Trade Hub Lead Economist

One of the key effects of global services is the creation of a “world wide web” of jobs, from general tasks involving Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) activities such as those in call and contact centers to extremely specialized tasks involving Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) activities such as legal services or research and development in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. This means that human capital lies at the core of the industry and that foreign direct investment in this sector is much of a global quest for the availability of human talent. Countries that are successful players in the global services game are those that can adequately face both the challenge and the opportunity: the challenge of adopting policies and measures favoring the generation of versatile, demand-driven and ready-to-hire expertise and the opportunity of maximizing the transfer of knowledge to the recipient societies in terms of business, management, technical and technological expertise emanating from high quality global services delivery.

Job creation led by global services can be especially beneficial for the youth, which tend to suffer disproportionately from unemployment, especially in developing countries. This can range from a first time employment opportunity at a call center to a middle of academic career job in finance or accounting. A key differentiator for those young professionals or “to be” professionals is the ability speak and write in a foreign language, especially English which is the most demanded language in global services exports. However, countries that can also offer a multi-language value proposition can also be extremely attractive for those companies supplying multiple countries from a specific location. An additional and many times overlooked and underestimated advantage in global services jobs is the ability to carry out remote work from any location. Mothers can program software from their homes, students can design videogames from their colleges’ business centers, market research can be delivered from rural locations.

The Challenge

Because human capital is at the core of this business, and scale and employability of the labor pool is fast becoming the definitive aspect of competitive advantage for many emerging service locations, the employability and the quality of skill sets of a location are the very reasons why large multinational corporations service providers decide to establish themselves offshore.

Continuous transformation by service provider locations, including their human resource component, is imperative to meet global market trends and demands. This implied requirement is becoming another avenue to reach higher levels of human development and it is among the top priorities of global firms that seek for locations from where to provide their services. However, as the industry is relatively new to developing countries, dynamics are so fluctuating and speed is such a crucial factor that there is still a deficit of employable human resources within the services outsourcing offshoring industry. For instance, a recent study called “The Networking Skills Gap in Latin America” by Cisco revealed that the region will have an ICT skill gap of 35% by 2015, a rate that has been increasing since their last study carried out in 2011.

In spite of the fact that the region has increased access to education substantially, according to a Demand for Skills Survey driven by the IDB in 2010 in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, there are two trends that directly affect the employability of the youth and clearly show the mismatch between the skills taught by the education system and the ones required by the labor market (Bassi, Mariana et. al., 2012): first, highly demanded skills have changed (essentially due to technological advances), employers have raised the requirements to be hired, and enterprises place more importance on socioemotional skills than on knowledge skills or specific skills to the sector; second, those changes in the demand side have not been accompanied by changes in the supply side (the skills provided by formal education institutions), and the results of the survey indicate that only 12% of the surveyed firms reported that they had no problem finding employees with the skills they required. In fact, the supply and demand-mismatch is costly for both employers and employees, as employers have to invest greater returns in recruitment and training processes, and employees share the training costs receiving lower salaries because of their insufficient skills (Bassi, Mariana et. al., 2012). Enhanced employability of the labor pool translates to increased national productivity and social welfare, as economic development is fostered by higher employment rates, better trained human capital and the delivery of higher value added services, which in fact provide the highest returns.

“Finishing Schools” as an Alternative Approach

Countries that want to develop and increase their market share in the global outsourcing market must be cognizant of the necessity of counting with a scalable and employable labor pool able to deliver the outsourced tasks. Therefore, there must be a Human Resource Capacity Development strategy and the “Finishing School” framework could be an ideal short and mid-term alternative.

By definition, Finishing Schools are non-formal educational institutions designed for short term training programs and implemented by institutional partnerships among the academe, public and private sectors, whose main objective is to train a particular labor pool segment in developing countries according to specialized industries in order to improve their employability. They were first implemented in India, where since the 90’s its outsourcing offshoring industry started to experience a steep annual growth and development yet not accompanied by a similar increase in its labor pool.  Consequently, the public sector, private sector and academe designed specific training programs to reduce the skills’ gap of its present and future engineers between what was actually taught by academia and the capabilities and skills demanded by the private sector.

The Finishing Schools can potentially reduce the gap between the supply of fresh graduates’ skills and labor market demands, benefiting both sides of the chain, complementing formal education with a more demand-driven methodology, and increasing the country´s economic development and productivity by training people to be employable enough in the global services sector. The concept of “finishing” implies a necessary previous step that involves formal education. Because it is naturally difficult to keep up with the dynamic and ever changing market forces that drive global services, Finishing Schools are designed to be a more flexible complementary tool that can tackle those dynamic forces and train employees according to the latest industry requirements. Their focus is on fundamental skills, technical skills, communication skills and interpersonal skills (IT Pathshala, 2012). These last two categories refer to what is known as Soft Skills, consisting of personal and social abilities that determine the professional, organizational and social performance of the employee at the workplace. Studies conducted in the United States, Latin America and India have shown the great importance of these skills and the similar mismatch to core and technical skills as the traditional education system has not been able to supply those needs.

Objectives of the Finishing Schools Programs:

Source: IDB, 2011.

In order to develop finishing schools’ programs and achieve the objectives mentioned above, it has to be considered that they are a country-specific strategy that depends on the country’s labor pool situation, stakeholders and business segment specialization. Likewise, public and private partnerships (PPP) and a coordinated communication among their actors are basic tools to attain such objectives as they are the stakeholders in charge of designing, monitoring and implementing the country’s most suitable program. Regulations and standardization are core roles of the public sector. The goal is that trainees are formed in the most required general skills useful to work in many companies through the finishing schools, so they will be able to have more opportunities of being employable for many firms, taking advantage of the fact that they can increase the firm’s productivity by accurately performing the necessary tasks without in-house training. The private sector fulfills a central role in providing inputs for the curriculum design. Generally speaking, the firms can actively participate by taking part in the programs and content design, establishing the selection criteria of the trainees, providing most of the trainers in charge of teaching the required contents and skills, contributing with an internship system for trained students, and also offering their physical infrastructure for practical training.

The InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) is supporting demand-driven training programs in the global services sector such as Finishing Schools as an effective tool to support the Latin American and Caribbean region become a more attractive location for foreign investors in order to compete against the most traditional locations. As a Bank committed towards the socio-economic development of the region, it is actively involved in a number of on-going projects, pilot programs and future initiatives in order to foster the creation of Finishing Schools according to each country characteristics and market demand, through public-private co-financing initiatives and technical assistance. It has already supported the creation of Finishing Schools in Uruguay and Colombia, it has recently approved a project in Trinidad and Tobago, and it is currently implementing a pilot program in Argentina.

Summarizing, finishing schools are a relatively new demand-driven human resource development tool that is being increasingly implemented throughout many countries which aim at developing their services outsourcing offshoring industries. The main objective of the establishment of these institutions is to improve the scope and employability of the talent pool to develop the local productivity of the services outsourcing offshoring industry and improve the rate of foreign investment in that field, as this business training approach allows the labor pool to better adapt to industry trends and market predictions. Predictions suggest that technology will move forward at a faster speed than in previous years, human capital will continue to be a great source of value, and outsourcing will increase, thus countries must be aware of those trends and develop their workforce to take advantage of that.

References

Bassi, Mariana, Busso, Matías, Urzúa, Sergio & Vargas, Jaime. 2012. “Disconnected. Skills, Education, and Employment in Latin America.” Inter-American Development Bank.

Blom Andreas and Saeki, Hiroshi. 2011. “Employability and Skill Set of Newly Graduated Engineers in India.” Policy Research Working Paper 5640. The World Bank.

Garcia, Pablo M. and Bafundo, Fiorella (2014). “Best practices of finishing schools and outsourcing strategies”. IADB Policy Notes Series (forthcoming)

IT Pathshala. 2012. “Employability Gap in Indian IT Industry.” IT Pathshala Research Article Series.

O’Neil, H. F., Allred, K. G., & Baker, E. L. (1997). Review of Theoretical Frameworks for

Workforce Competencies. In H. F. O’Neil (Ed.), Workforce Competencies and Assessment. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

About the Authors:

Fabrizio Opertti is Chief of the Trade and Investment Unit of the Integration and Trade Sector of the IDB, where he supervises an operational team in charge of international trade and foreign direct investment promotion projects in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

He also directs the IDB’s initiatives in the services globalization sector, having led the preparation of offshoring services promotion strategies in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Fabrizio also leads the organization of the IDB’s pan-regional trade events, including the Asia-LAC series, the 2012 CEO Summit of the Americas, and the 2009 and 2011 International Business Meetings in Haiti, in collaboration with the Clinton Global Initiative.

Pablo M. Garcia is the Lead Economist in charge of the IDB regional hub for trade and investment activities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. He is also the Export and Investment Promotion Cluster Coordinator for the Trade and Investment Unit.

He has worked previously as a Chief Economist for the Argentine Ministry of Economy, and consulted in the private sector to several national and international organizations (IDB, World Bank, USAID). He has authored studies and books on international economy, trade in services, and intra-industry trade and has also taught at Georgetown University and the University of Buenos Aires.

[This article originally appeared in The Source in January 2014.]

Sowing Education – Harvesting Talent

Pallotti Carlos100x100By: Carlos Pallotti, CEO of ARGENCON

In Argentina more than 120,000 people work in companies engaged in providing offshore services in activities such as ITO, BPO, Engineering or Media. These industries generate locally revenues that exceeded US $6 billion in 2013. Both of these figures are expected to grow every year.

For this reason, several global and national companies formed ARGENCON, an entity to promote the Argentine Knowledge Service Sector. ARGENCON’s board includes companies like Accenture, IBM, HP, HSBC, ExxonMobil, PWC, CH2M Hill, Globant, Telefonica, Citibank, Siemens, JP Morgan and many others.

ARGENCON’s ambitious plan aims to generate more than 150,000 new jobs in both national and international companies in the next 5 to 10 years.

Currently more than 2 million young people are attending institutions of higher education. Of which, 240,000 students are directly enrolled in careers related to exporting services as engineers, computer technicians, accountants, specialized lawyers, graphic designers, and audio-visual content producers to name a few. But the plan needs more people to be educated in these careers to support the possibilities of development.

Therefore, ARGENCON is carrying out an ambitious project called “Open Windows” (“Abriendo ventanas” in Spanish). Volunteers who belong to ARGENCON’s member companies are focusing on mentoring young people, from low-income families, who are finishing high school. The goal is to help the mentee to decide the career that suits them and their abilities best during a six week program.

Argencon

September 24, 2014 Open Windows mentoring event at the Metropolitan University for Education and Work (UMET).

This group of young people often has trouble in accessing information on the possibilities offered by different universities or institutes. Thus, a decision to focus on this point has been taken. Volunteers address a pre-set topic per week. As a result, the process compresses all the topics that students should know. The mentoring takes place in a virtual platform provided by IBM Argentina, allowing us to monitor the progress in each case. Mentor and mentee share one face-to-face meeting. Afterwards, they then continue mentoring through this platform.

September 24, 2014 Open Windows mentoring event at the  Metropolitan University for Education and Work (UMET).

September 24, 2014 Open Windows mentoring event at the Metropolitan University for Education and Work (UMET).

Right now, more than 200 volunteers from IBM, Accenture, HP, Grupo ASSA, Globant, Telefónica, HSBC, Siemens, JP Morgan, PWC, Telefé and CH2M Hill have been trained as mentors. On the first step, the mentoring has an equal number of young people and tutors. This program finishes in a couple of months.

The plan aims to reach at least 1,000 young people in 2015 and continue to grow in the coming years.

The “Open Windows” (“Abriendo ventanas”) project forms part of ARGENCON’S plan aimed at building sustainability to this activity which is planned as a major economic opportunity for Argentina and for this segment of the global economy. More trained people could be the key to convert Argentina into a true regional leader for this kind of business. 


About the Author: Carlos Pallotti
is the CEO and Director General of ARGENCON. Throughout his career he has been the founder, CEO and President of several companies engaged in IT and software business. He is also an active member of several non-profit organizations such as Enablis Entrepreneurial Network, Capitulo Argentino, Marchigianar, Fundacion Clementina and Fundacion Sadosky.

He has been recognized with several awards, including the Gold Sadosky Award 2007, Business Man of the Year 2007, as well “premier entrepreneur” from many organizations in Argentina and Latin America.

ARGENCON is an organization that brings together domestic and foreign companies that export services and software knowledge, with the aim of promoting the development of the sector and raise awareness in young people to study technology careers. Target knowledge service segments include: accounting and legal services; architecture and engineering; audiovisual and advertising; computer, software and consulting business; R&D; online services and others.

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ARGENCON works with the Government to create leading-edge policies and regulatory frameworks that allow increased knowledge-based service exportation thereby positioning Argentina internationally as the main global service export center in Latin America.

When Traditional KPI’s Become Obsolete

Gonzalez Fernando100x100By: Fernando Gonzalez, Marketing Director of Belatrix Software

Many companies claim to do CSR activities. Many will just say they are contributing to a certain cause. Some companies have this in their DNA. Some use it as a way to promote themselves (and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as they actually do those activities and effectively contribute). But a common mistake is to see this as win-lose schema.

When speaking to key CXOs involved in carrying out and/or understanding how these activities benefit the company, there’s always the “impact measure” issue. Most of the decisions are based on the impact those activities have on the people they touch and on the company that organizes or promotes them. “How will the image of the company be improved?” “How much more are we going to sell if we position in that way?” Frequent questions with mostly uncertain answers most of the times.

If you decide to measure those actions based on how much money you’re spending and how much of that returns to the company, you might be doing it all wrong. A large number of authors and executives will state just the opposite, but let’s not get into that discussion right now.

If you’re reading this you probably have experience in doing CSR activities, or at least have been wondering how to start. And no matter where you are, it’s always a great time to re-think your strategy.

CSR is about, in part, creating consciousness that
things can be done in a different, better way.

CSR decisions must be made with one objective: improving the community (or communities) by giving something that is not already available. Or at least at a reasonable or reachable cost. CSR is not (only) about giving money to disadvantaged people. It’s not just about giving a free meal at some event. It’s – and I’m writing based in my opinion and my own experience – about impacting positively in as many lives as possible. It’s about sending a message and creating a wave that will gather more and more people to do the same kind of things. It’s about creating consciousness that things can be done in a different, better way.

Let me give you a simple but clear example: at Belatrix we organize and promote free training. Training is open to everyone no matter if they’re experienced or not, work for Belatrix or for the competition, or have no interest in joining the company. Hundreds of times – if not thousands – we’ve been called crazy. “You’re giving away expertise. You’re giving training for free to your competitors”. We see it as just making the workforce better and more prepared. Everyone wins.

Photo Courtesy of Belatrix

Photo Courtesy of Belatrix

Someone could say it’s just about training your future workshop. We also have programs to benefit unprivileged kids to access education and grow into future professionals, no matter what career they choose.

At any company, fighting to gain competitive edge is part of the DNA of business. You must always have new products, services or attributes to be seen as different from your competitors. How frustrating is it when you see others doing exactly what you’ve done? After you’ve spent many hours of thinking, developing and testing new ideas and capabilities for your product. After you’ve spent many dollars on advertising that you’re the only one. That’s the classic, never-ending competition mentality.

Many times CSR consists of raising the standards to “push” your competitors to start impacting the community as well. There are great examples of competing companies that have partnered just to make great contributions to the society. For me that’s the heart and soul of this. If your competitors start doing the same things that you do, then feel great. You’ve won! But, you didn’t defeat them. You just have the perfect metrics, the right KPI’s to show that your CSR initiatives are worth continuing.


About the Author: Fernando Gonzalez
is the Marketing Director of Belatrix Software, based in Mendoza, Argentina. With an entrepreneurial background and a strong passion for marketing and management, Fernando has led multiple projects and worked for several companies in different industries including Tourism, Retail, Technology and Hydrocarbons.

Belatrix Software is a South American company with offices in Naples, New York, Mendoza, and Lima. It provides Software Development Outsourcing Services from its Delivery Centers in Mendoza, Argentina and Lima, Perú. Their clientele includes established Fortune 500 companies and emerging, venture backed firms across different industries, such as Financial Services, Entertainment, Healthcare, Retail, and many others.