The votes have been cast, the nominations considered, and the winners of the 2016 Nexus Illuminate awards have finally been revealed.
Nearshore Americas’ inaugural event celebrates the very best of the industry by shining a spotlight on those most deserving of recognition, from the most innovative and pioneering entrepreneurs to the cities and companies that outshine the others in their dedication to nearshore.
Beautiful San Francisco, California, was the setting for the first awards presentation, with industry pillars and thought leaders gathering in the Le Meridien Hotel for the opening ceremony of Nexus 2016.
The winners have been chosen by judges for their achievements in preserving links within the nearshore community, particularly those representing beacons of considerate and humane entrepreneurship in the region.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Yoni Epstein, CEO at Itel-BPO Solutions claimed the first award and is now the 2016 Nexus Illuminate Entrepreneur of the Year. Epstein was nominated for his “true entrepreneurial spirit,” which resulted in the formation and growth of Itel-BPO into a successful nearshore BPO company. In just four years, Epstein accelerated Itel-BPO from a one-client, five-employee unit into a flourishing business, now serving 14 clients with 550 employees.
The Caribbean-based company has workers spread across Kingston and Montego Bay in Jamaica, and Freeport in Grand Bahama, each providing customer and sales service to customers in the tourism, telecoms, utilities, medical billing, and online retail sectors, among others.
“You can’t be an entrepreneur or business owner with a very strong team, and my team put me in the position to receive this prestigious award,” said Espstein in upon receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Executive of the Year
This year’s Executive of the Year award went to David Kreiss, CEO and founder of KM2 Solutions. His nomination characterized Kreiss as a “visionary” with a “keen business mind” who has reached significant achievements during his career.
Among his many successes, Kreiss was involved in the creation of over 450 outsourcing jobs in Barbados thanks to his work on an 80,000-square-foot facility expansion. He also spearheaded a supervisor and manager training program to develop talent, called the Leadership Development Program.
Under his leadership, KM2 created over 1,000 new jobs that can solely be attributed to company growth in the BPO segment last year. As a result, the company made a major impact on the countries in which it operates, creating a strong labor force that includes local managers, technicians, and administrative support staff.
“We care about the people, we care about the countries we operate in, and we want to give back,” said Kreiss in his acceptance speech. “What is the future of nearshore? It’s incredibly bright.”
Voyager of the Year
The Nearshore Voyager of the Year award is a recognition reserved for someone who has gone on remarkable and inspiring professional journey from Latin America to the United States. The first to take this crown is Ana Lemus, a software engineer at Google.
Lemus’ journey began in Havana, Cuba, where she worked as a student assistant of mathematical analysis and discrete mathematics at the University of Havana.
After three three years in that role, she moved up to become a professor assistant, continuing with discrete mathematics while adding research in cryptography to her portfolio, specifically the SHA hash functions family.
Today, Lemus is enjoying a great career at Google, tackling the challenges that come with maintaining the quality of Gmail ads. Congratulations, Ana, on your incredible journey.
City of the Year
After careful consideration, the City of the Year award went to Guadalajara, Mexico, which has positioned itself in a class of its own in terms of becoming a mature, evolved center for global IT services.
The city has been experiencing an unstoppable upward momentum in its tech industry. It became the first Latin American city to host the World Congress on Information Technology in 2014, and has been continually attracting many new graduates and talent due to the employment opportunities that it offers.
Guadalajara is now home to many tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs with a broad range of knowledge in different verticals. This unique, diverse talent pool and grassroots community has put the city on the map in the industry and led to the nomination for this award.
“Guadalajara has become a very important city for IT in Mexico and is fast becoming the hub of IT in the entire region,” said Enrique Maldonado, Mexico’s consulate general in San Francisco while accepting the prestigious award.
Investment Promotion Professional of the Year
The award for Investment Promotion Professional of the Year went to Ana Karina Quessep, who was unfortunately unable to accept the award in person.
According to Nearshore Americas’ Director of Research Sean Goforth, Ana Karina has been instrumental in positioning Colombia as a rising power in the delivery of nearshore BPO and, more generally, serving as an agent in changing people’s preconceived notions about Colombia, making her more than deserving of the award.
Company of the Year
The final award went to BPO specialist Qualfon, which was named Nexus Illuminate Company of the Year. Accepting the award was Doug Hoffschwelle, chief sales and marketing officer at the company.
Qualfon was nominated by the Guyana Office for Investment for the positive impact it has made to the country’s economy and population. The company has dedicated more than 31,000 hours of service to community organizations and nonprofits, as well as supporting employees and their families through its Mission Office.
“Our mission is to be the best BPO company out there, as well as supporting our employees’ lives to enable them to serve our clients better,” said Hoffschwelle. “That mission is our starting point and our bottom line. This award is an affirmation of that mission and we are extremely thankful for it.”