By Kirk Laughlin
Blanca Trevino, the well-known CEO of Soffttek, may have accomplished a lot during her 11-year leadership term at Softtek, one of the premiere suppliers in the nearshore/offshore marketplace today. But, while sitting down with her at the recent Latin America Outsourcing Summit in Cartagena, you get the sense that her mission is far from complete.
Trevino oversees a sprawling organization of over 6,000 associates in more than 30 offices worldwide. Since launching the ‘near shore initiative’ in 1997, Softtek has been one of the most skilled vendors in the region in articulating the value of building relationships in Latin America. The company has also done a masterful job collecting a number of big name US clients over the years.
On this particular day in Cartagena, Blanca and I talk about her vision of Softtek, how she views the current challenges of doing business in Monterrey and how Mexico needs to respond to those perception issues, and finally how her leadership style influences the larger organization.
On the issue of future growth, Trevino responded with an emphatic “yes” when asked about the pursuit of an initial public offering which she insists is something the company must ‘be open’ to. “It’s an obvious next step for us,” noting that this move will happen ‘when the market is ready.” An earlier attempt by Softtek to go to an IPO was aborted several years ago.
Global headquarters for Softtek is in Monterrey, Mexico, a location that has seen its share of negative press reports over the last year. Despite those issues, Trevino is quick to point out that Mexico remains an incredibly attractive growth market in the global marketplace. Foreign direct investment rose over 12% last year and in a recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce, over 90% of US multinationals have re-committed to Mexico despite ongoing drug violence, which is largely confined to the northern areas of the country. On a personal level, Trevino still thinks Monterrey is a marvelous place to live, saying: “I could literally live just about anywhere in the world, but I choose to live in Monterrey, and my family chooses to be here too.”
Should government and the private sector be more aggressive in getting a more realistic picture of Mexico out to the larger business and commercial sector? “Yes absolutely,” says Trevino. “There is more we can do on that message.”
Finally, in a telling remark about her leadership style, Trevino seems to be a CEO comfortable with working alongside other smart professionals who bring their own unique talents to the table. “I strive to empower the team,” she says. It’s not difficult to also surmise that Trevino is sharply focused on goals – both near term and long term. For Trevino, you sense there is a willingness to pour a lot of attention into the smaller details of serving clients successfully, expanding business in specific markets, and brick-by-brick, constructing a truly global organization. Getting there takes a lot of healthy self-confidence.
And despite the rough time Mexico seems to be enduring, it’s refreshing to see that neither Softtek or its CEO are backing down in what is becoming a very important era for the rise of Latin America outsource services.