More like a big bang than a quiet rumble, the Nearshore Nexus 2012 show last week seem to fall right in line with the electricity of Times Square, New York City. The conference, only in its second year of production, got off to a rousing start with the former President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe – and in the opinion of countless attendees – never seemed to lose a beat until we closed the main session and joined together for the “After Dark” reception. The day was studded with important moments – here are just a few that we wanted to make note of:
1. Uribe and CNN: There are always big risks when making generalizations about Latin America and, reflecting their own deep understanding of the region, Former President Uribe and CNN’s Chief Latin Americas Correspondent Rafael Romo were careful to avoid that mistake when going the extra mile to differentiate the tiger economies from the troubled laggards. Uribe singled out Venezuela as a basket case; and Romo pursued several questions on the need for long-term strategies that support education.
4. All In: We were truly happy to welcome representatives from countries that don’t always get the attention they deserve – among our special guests were trade promotion executives from Trinidad, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Barbados. Part of the core mission of Nexus is to provide a platform for regional inclusion – and we hope this only becomes more prevalent in future years for the event. We were especially pleased to meet up with Minister Eddy Martinez, a prominent influencer in the Dominican Republice BPO sector.
3. The Fabrizio Factor: For those who don’t know Fabrizio Opertti, chief of the trade and investment unit at InterAmerican Development Bank, it is difficult to fully capture the level of elevated enthusiasm and passion he expresses around the need for greater attention to the CALA region. During one of the sessions, he urged the Nexus audience to invest more aggressively into Latin America “now… before it gets too expensive.” Fabrizio went on to announce plans for a second “Outsource to LAC” Conference, organized by IADB, in Medellin, Colombia later this year.
4. Socially Sizzling: Just after the main session morning keynotes, throngs of Nexus-goers took to the exhibit/ networking area and mingled with other attendees, voraciously. The space was alive and energetic and tough to move around in. Was it easy luring people away their intense conversations and back into the main session? Absolutely not!
5. You Can Lead a Reporter to Water.. But: It never hurts to have Wall Street Journal show up to a conference that is just beginning to make a name for itself. So on one hand we were of course pleased to host Mr. Joel Schectman, a beat reporter for WSJ’s new CIO blog section – a part of the publication that is expected to expand over the next few months. Joel stuck around for the good part of the day – and he came away with two articles. One looked at the ‘limited’ potential of Medellin and the other trotted down that all-to-familiar road questioning security and risk in Mexico – albeit what he found was a still-thriving outsourcing sector in Monterrey. It should be noted that Joel worked aggressively on the show floor to get a few CIOs on the record – but as is often the standard in our industry, few U.S. businesses given their C-levels a chance to speak directly with reporters – especially on the “O word” topic
6. Mexico’s Acceleration: Alfredo Pacheco, Executive Director of MexicoIT, describing to a standing-room only breakout on Mexico how in ten years the country has moved from less than $200 million in IT exports to one of the top five global IT services destinations as ranked by Gartner Inc. and Forrester
7. Skills-Based Outsourcing: Adriaan Bouten, senior vice president and CIO, information and media, The McGraw Hill Companies, saying that rather than cost, the first thing he looks for in an outsourcer is skills he cannot get within his own organization. (Showing change in the outsourcing to more high-value services.)
8. Hard-Nosed Guidance: The “Destination Unknown” panel discussion featured some strong commentary about the risks of trying to navigate into Latin America without a partner who knows the territory. With so many US corporations exploring both third-party and captive opportunities, the advice couldn’t be better timed.
9. Social Impact: Teleperformance won top honors in the first annual Foundations for the Future social impact awards; presented by the newly formed Nearshore Executive Alliance. (Details on the award will be posted next week in Nearshore Americas.)
10. Breakfast with Mr. Uribe: A standout moment for me personally was having breakfast with Mr. Uribe who revealed his deepest passion for “social inclusion”, driven in part to expand education and technology access for the rural poor of Colombia. Uribe walks the walk when it comes to looking to transform the society he grew up in.