Hildebrando is launching an ambitious campaign to expand its share of export IT and BPO services in the US over the next year. Unlike rivals Softtek and Neoris – firms that have become ‘household names’ among sourcing decision makers in North America – Hildebrando is a largely unknown entity outside of Mexico. The firm’s strategy is bolstered by the financial backing of deep-pocketed Grupo Carso, part of the Carlos Slim empire, which controls a share of the Hildebrando group.
David Sanders, a veteran global consultancy executive with stints at Bearing Point and Perot Systems, is the newly appointed CEO of Hildebrando USA. Global Managing Director Humberto Sanchez says Sanders was the “ideal person” to lead the expansion of the US operations as the company executes its growth strategy.
Targeting High End
Although Hildebrando was built on staffing and software development in Mexico, Sanders pointed out that there is a need in the US market to offer higher value added services. “We will be doing some component of software in the US, but taking it up the value chain more and moving toward project growth.” Hildebrando does not “chase verticals,” said Sanders because they are not big enough, and some of the services they offer, such as Financial Services and those to Telecoms, are not differentiated by verticals.
Instead of targeting large corporations, “because we would be competing with everyone,” Sanders explained that Hildebrando will instead concentrate on the mid-market (companies with between $500,000 to $3 million dollars in revenue) as they present an opportunity for it to become either a single source provider or one of two providing a full range of services. “That’s a place where Indian firms have not done a good job,” stated Sanders. “The best client we find is the one who is aware of challenges and issues with India.” H1L1 visas are also an issue when working with India, but it is not an issue with NAFTA which enables Hildebrando to “Bring people back and forth all the time. It is good for clients and our people who learn about doing business in the US,” he declared. While the Mexican market is stable, Sanders predicts that the growth will come from the US and there are initial plans to target opportunities in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas and Miami.
Hildebrando, Sanders reported, will reach $400 million in revenue this year, and the goal is to be a $3 billion corporation in three to four years. “We are in acquisition mode to buy companies in the US and Brazil, and we are looking for people who are a strong Microsoft player, involved with consulting, business intelligence and content management.” These would be strategic acquisitions that would provide skills to drive lower cost capabilities. “We want to be in consulting, managed services and staffing. We are also looking at a small security consulting company, and what we can do around cloud,” Sanders said. “If you are a CIO of a billion dollar company looking at cloud, we want to provide services directly to them.”
Even though his focus is on growth in the US market, Sanders has a deep understanding of the challenges that the core of Hildebrando faces; one of which is the misunderstanding of Mexico. “You have to sell Mexico before you sell Hildebrando. We as the three major companies (Softtek, Neoris and Hildebrando) should be selling Mexico,” he declared. “Mexico needs and entity like NASSCOM that promotes Mexico to the US.” He is optimistic that Mexico will take advantage of the opportunity to “show itself to the world” during the Global Public Policy Summit being held in Guadalajara in November.
Sanders discussed two other challenges facing the US operation; the first one being the lack of brand identity in the US and the fact that Hildebrando is not known to that market, “We have been told that we should change the name – branding is a challenge.” The second challenge is one of scalability. Whereas the company had a measured and solid growth in Mexico, it is trying to triple growth in US in a year. This creates an urgency for the Mexican operation to scale faster than they have before. And, there is a need for sophisticated, high-end skills in the US, which may prove to be difficult to find, especially as Hildebrando seeks to fill between 700 and 1000 positions in the next year.