On the lighter side of things, we ask the industry experts what makes them tick. Here we chat to Luis Ortega, Managing Director, MEA at Pagero.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
I feel proud of many things in my professional career but I am especially proud of having built scalable and sustainable businesses in the green field sector for the multinational vendors I have worked for over the years. That can only be achieved through great products, honesty and hard work.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
This comes from my early school years. I have always been interested in how scientific discoveries were translated into usable and practical technologies to help us progress. I then took my studies as a telecom engineer and worked in the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) department of a major power utility company.
The years with SCADA helped me understand how technology can support businesses and government organisations to optimise their processes and how technology in the hands of challengers to the status quo could lead to innovation. I think that cycle is fascinating, and I want to be part of it.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My current position as MD for Pagero is once again a market expansion challenge for a product that is ahead of the times in many markets. I am extremely lucky to work with a brilliant young team who have developed the most innovative, independent, global platform to facilitate digital trading and global compliance.
In this position as a manager, the key is to help the sales teams across MEA to be successful. My role is also to advise the product teams to develop the product with new features demanded by our customers.
To summarise, my management philosophy is to humbly add my experience and knowledge of the market to help both our customers and employees to be successful in what they do.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
I think the hot topic not anyone wants to talk about is the role of humans in the future world of AI, Robotics and massive data analytics. I think there are a good number of ethical discussions around the use of technologies and these have already begun.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I am a family man. Enjoying time with my wife or catching up with my daughters back in Europe helps me to unwind. Apart from that playing music and swimming are two of my passions.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
I would not change any. I have learnt a lot from all my career experiences, good or bad. That is the beauty of this journey: you take decisions and need to manage the consequences of these decisions. The only thing I would change are those days when I was not focused on managing the consequences but kept revisiting the decision.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
My current company Pagero operates in the electronic trading document space. We believe in a world of interconnected networks, similar to the mobile phone network, where there are no obstacles connecting trading partners. Currently, less than 10% of the invoices globally are managed electronically and there is a growing demand from tax authorities to control indirect tax to reduce tax gaps.
I believe that many governments need to build infrastructure to facilitate pure electronic exchange of trading documentations and develop basic regulation for access points to operate in both B2G and B2B space. Those investments will also bring significant benefits to companies who will improve the quality of information they input in the ERP systems, improving their analytics, providing real time insights and optimising costs of trading transactions.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies?
There are still some challenges with the access to reliable communications in many countries in MEA especially Africa. The diversity in terms of rules and regulations can also be a barrier but I can see significant steps in the right direction recently. At Pagero, we facilitate trading by assisting companies to stay compliant in the countries they operate.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
I am just 60 days in the role so its still early days but I see my role moving from an instigator (educating the market about the benefits of the technology we provide) to a facilitator (assisting companies to solve some of their business problems while helping them to have a global reach) as we grow the business across the region.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
I would rather mention the advice I was given by one of my previous CEOs. He told me to focus on making everyone around me (customers, partners, employees) successful and by doing that I would build a successful career for myself.