Working with the Latin American team at Dassault Systèmes is like going home again. Some would say that being raised 100 percent in a Spanish household gives me an “insider track” advantage. Not quite. Latin America is a fascinating place but it is not a homogenous region. For anyone doing business here, these facts are critical to know:
- In Latin America, there are 35 countries in a region of nearly 500 million people including Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. The two predominant languages are Spanish and Portuguese.
- According to the Market Intelligence Alliance group, “Mexico City and São Paulo in Brazil are two of the largest cities in the world, each with over 20 million inhabitants in their metropolitan areas. This will increase, as 36 percent of the region’s population is below the age of 15 years.”
- For anyone who thinks Latin Americans speak only Spanish, eat only spicy food (“comida picante” to be accurate) and dance the tango and salsa like ballroom stars, they are in for a big surprise. (My very own cultural advice.)
So I was quite excited to hear that Dassault Systemes Latin America is led by Marcelo Lemos, president for the region and a man that is no stranger to the company, the industry and the cultural sensitivities needed to navigate in this growing market.
Marcelo’s base is his birthplace of Buenos Aires, Argentina, home to the largest mechanical flower in the world, the Floralis Generica. Better known as the Steel Flower, Floralis Generica was created by the Buenos Aires born MIT professor and world-known architect, Eduardo Catalano. The flower weighs 18 tons and is 23 meters high. Very much the same way airplane wings are designed with CATIA, Lockheed Martin used CATIA to model and test Floralis Generica’s challenging geometrical 6-petal surface.
In a recent visit to the new Dassault Systèmes offices in Buenos Aires, I met with Marcelo to discuss his vision and priorities for the region. Greeted by his friendly and most helpful assistant we sat in his Puerto Madero district office, a district representing the most successful architectural reconstruction of a port located on the banks of Rio La Plata. The entire area has street names and statues dedicated to the role of local women and is marked by a beautiful pedestrian bridge known “El Puente de la Mujer” (A Woman’s Bridge).
Lemos is excited by the recent IDC number updates by Latin America Vice President of Research, Ricardo Villate. In his mid-year forecast, he cites that “Latin America’s Information Technology (IT) growth for the enterprise sector is predicted at 6.6% for this year and this is more than double the expected global average growth of 2.8%. Villate adds: “Many new eyes will be focusing their efforts to beginning business in Latin America as well as strengthening their existing business in the region.”
Marcelo points out that DS’ PLM business in the region has grown three times faster than the predicted IDC growth for 2010, and that DS business has grown consistently over the last several years. The future in Latin America includes continued support for traditional industries such as aerospace, automotive and equipment and machinery, but Lemos is clear: “ We will turn up the volume on emerging sectors such as energy, consumer product goods, lifesciences and hi-tech.”
From business and cultural perspectives, Dassault Systemes Latin America is well positioned for this plan with offices in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, and partner representation across the region. Watch the Latin America space for upswing in 2010 and 2011!
In my experience, there are perhaps two common threads across the Latin American region: 1) the colonial past, and, 2) an uncontrolled passion to win the World Cup. I lived the last one this summer working at Dassault Systemes. And ironically so, the World Cup winner (Spain) brought some of us back to the past. But we are still very happy they won.
By the way, what do you think about the Steel Flower?