Vietnamese IT vendor FPT is venturing further into Latin America.
Following its acquisition of Arizona-based Intertec in February of 2023, FPT officially launched operations as a provider of Nearshore tech services for customers in North and South America, bringing a new culture and capabilities to what used to be Intertec’s IT division.
NSAM spoke with Mark McCloud, FPT’s EVP and Partner. The following conversation gives a closer look at how FPT is reshaping its recently acquired Latin American team into a global delivery enterprise with a Southeast Asian bend. Mark provides his insights into FPT’s capabilities for Nearshore delivery, the merging of Southeast Asian and Latin American cultures and the reasons behind FPT’s recent landing in Guadalajara, among other topics.
NSAM: FPT began its journey in the Nearshore with the acquisition of the IT division of Intertec. What were the key drivers in pursuing this acquisition?
Mark McCloud: Having a Nearshore delivery model that would complement what FPT were doing offshore. It gave them a full cycle to be able to provide the best shore model.
NSAM: FPT is not a well known brand in Latin America, or North America for that matter. What makes the company different from other global IT consultancies?
Mark McCloud: A couple things. One is that their attrition rate is very low. They really invest in their people, in retention of their people. They are interested in career-pathing. How they take care of their employees is what I’ve recognized.
NSAM: Have there been efforts to align FPT’s culture with that of their Latin American operations? Or is it more about allowing the cultures that exist in Latin America to flourish?
Mark McCloud: I think the biggest thing that we recognize is that they [FPT] are not looking to disrupt the culture in Latin America. On the culture side, FPT are letting it play out. They understand that Latin America is a lot different from Southeast Asia.
What’s exciting for our teams in Latin America is that FPT are bringing more of the practices and capabilities and offerings that they have offshore, which we [at Intertec] didn’t have; we were more of a custom software application building partner. We didn’t have off-the-shelf practices, such as SAP or salesforce or AI or data science. Now we are able to leverage that knowhow and bring it to Latin America. I think that’s going to be really exciting for the team going forward.
NSAM: What contributions or special capabilities do you believe the Vietnamese culture brings to the global digital transformation discussion?
Mark McCloud: The one thing I’ve noticed is the pace at which they work. Expectations are much higher, things get done quicker. There is more of a focus on the speed of delivery. That’s one of the things the team is adapting to.
NSAM: FPT recently opened an office in Guadalajara. Was there anything specific in Guadalajara that made it stand out from other locations?
Mark McCloud: There were a couple key customers located in Guadalajara. We wanted to be close to them. Secondly, it seems to be one of the major hubs [in Mexico] for technical resources.
NSAM: Give us an understanding of the kinds of customers you’re servicing.
Mark McCloud: We have insurance-related clients, as well as financial and fintech. We have quite a few manufacturing clients, and we also have a lot of SaaS customers.
NSAM: These customers are not necessarily all based in North America? Do they come from Latin America and other locations?
Mark McCloud: Both. I would say 80% of our customer base is from North America, and the other 20% is local, because we’ve been there for so long. In Costa Rica, for example, we have four local customers that we support just because we have a presence there.
NSAM: What was the process of landing in Guadalajara like? Did you speak with local authorities, with local industry representatives?
Mark McCloud: We first landed in Mexico City, because we thought that would be the easiest place to obtain a business license. One of our partners is a labor lawyer and he had a network in Mexico City, which allowed us to establish our business license. From there, we did research on our own to identify which location would be best. Coincidentally, there were a couple customers of ours which had operations in the Guadalajara area who asked us to ramp up for them. We thought: this is going to be a key location, so we better set up business here.
NSAM: Aside from Guadalajara, what other cities in Mexico picked your interest?
Mark McCloud: Mexico City. That was really the only one that we looked at.
NSAM: How does your organization view WFH? Do you go case by case, depending on location, or is there a universal gameplan?
Mark McCloud: We have offices in each location. We have offices in San José [Costa Rica], in Medellín [Colombia] and in Guadalajara, so we do have places for people to come.
I think we’re finding that COVID reinforced the model of remote working. Also, prior to COVID, we had a policy that our employees could work at least two days from home, primarily because of infrastructure. Some of Latin America’s countries have heavy traffic. If you’ve been to Costa Rica, for example, the traffic is a nightmare. I think that [remote work] will continue to stay.
We do in-office events. We find that it’s easy to get people in if you’re offering a free lunch.
We’re in the technology space. It’s not required to come to an office to work. As long as workers have a good Internet connection, they’re good.