More than commercial opportunities, LatAm is valuable for its skilled talent
Pre-pandemic thoughts with post-pandemic feelings: we are still years behind to see the region’s true potential, which means opportunity.
After 3 years of not talking to a friend of mine, we arranged a call to catch up on the things we were both doing. During the call, he agreed to introduce another company and explore opportunities together. Back in those days (2018), my main business was in Mexico, and his company was located in Argentina.
One of the main points on our call was the opportunities of building decentralized technical and creative teams. It was an incredible moment in our society to build outperforming teams, organizing and coordinating all efforts thanks to the power of the biggest platform we ever had: The Internet.
Sharing some thoughts initially with my friend and then with the other company, I realized there had been a substantial hidden opportunity that big companies and some industries have not seen yet. Still, today in 2022, not seen by many key players on the most fast-forwarding scene in the world: technology. I refer to the Latin American (LatAm) potential due to its people’s appetite, ambitions, and unique qualities.
One case my friend shared with me was from a big technology services company, operating with many consultancy business lines, and at some point considered extending its engineering team to LatAm. We assumed many advantages, such as timezone, culture affinity, proximity, and economies of scale, that might benefit different companies’ models to bring great people into the same “virtual” room and develop an exciting outcome. The big constrain in moving forward with that decision back in 2017 was that the company assessing the opportunity didn’t have anyone who could speak the same language as in the majority of LatAm: Spanish (more to come in future posts).
The fact was interesting but concerning for me because the same company preferred to work with other teams located in Eastern Europe and Asia. Many of the previous attributes are difficult to align; even English is not proficient enough and might end up with misunderstandings. I have continuously encountered many team leads, managers, and decision-makers, having challenges talking to teams at the other side of the globe without having a clear structure and procedures affecting the project itself.
Another situation was that some growing companies see LatAm as the next region to expand their businesses in terms of revenue because of many items: population growth rate, millennial/gen-z concentration, middle-class buying power, etc. In the beginning, my sentiment while hearing this was positive, and later, it transformed to be disappointing. In LatAm, we won’t have an actual replica of the state-of-the-art tech scene as in other tech hubs in the world. Instead, we will have a tailored combination of factors where projects will emerge to attend specific problems in the region, whether those are going to mimic part of projects happening in other hubs or adapt those opportunities to the cultural constraints of LatAm.
Many successful cases and unicorns have achieved respect and general admiration among the LatAm professional scene. Recently, LatAm has got 40+ unicorns, and more teams are pursuing such a challenging journey; there hasn’t been any better moment to build a scalable business in the region.
On the other hand, great engineers are migrating and willing to work for the most outstanding companies in the world, looking for better wages, professional challenges, and along the way be part of a different tech ecosystem. It’s ironic how many people from LatAm work today in Silicon Valley (and other US tech hubs), and they do a fantastic job there. Still, there’s a lack of similar level opportunities not only in LatAm but in every region around the world. How different would the world be if every human being started with the same options? What if people struggling in different scenarios had the same instruments to solve or look for ways to tackle those problems?
I am looking at LatAm because of its talent, not the commercial opportunities. I believe LatAm shouldn’t be punished and de-prioritized due to its value at risk to invest in R&D, technology, and lack of novel business models. Today, anyone located or using its infrastructure has the privilege of transforming the region in pivotal and positive ways, at a very particular moment in our history, where just a few are taking advantage.
I see many teams and companies developing talent where there’s nothing, just opportunity, involving every individual through problems to become agent changers. A world with decentralized teams across the Americas would help the entire continent provide a better quality of life from the craftsman to the end-consumer.