Jordi Botifoll: Transforming Telecommunication
Latino Leaders in High Tech
How did you come to work for Cisco?
I joined the company in 1999 having been a former customer. As an electrical engineer, I have always been passionate about technology and its ability to transform people’s lives as well as the communities and countries in which they live and work. At Cisco, I have found fertile ground to promote the use of technology for this higher purpose.
You now lead Cisco’s efforts in 45 countries and territories; what has been the key for Cisco’s performance in LatAm?
One thing that sets us apart is our focus on digital technologies. They are the key to how countries can increase global competitiveness, contribute to GDP growth, foster innovation and create more jobs.
Our Digitization Framework allows for countries, cities and businesses to see how they can transform everyday operations. We are also making Latin American cities more livable, working with local governments to gain efficiencies, in-crease competitiveness and social inclusion. Urban digitization brings increased connectivity and smarter services through better transportation, public safety, citizen mobility, education and more. Our work in Uruguay with Plan Ceibal and in Colombia with SENA are both examples of how digitization is improving access to education. In Mexico, Conectado connects the unconnected and enables country mobility.
What are the key elements to lead transformation in these markets and the Tech industry as a whole?
We are living in an era where technology connects everything. As leaders, we need to be fully aware of this complex, ever-changing landscape. We must help our customers and partners adapt to market transitions and realize growth opportunities.
How has digitization impacted leadership and the way organizations/teams work?
Resources like video and TelePresence bring leaders to the desk of every employee. The process of sharing ideas and making decisions has become faster and more meaningful. A leader needs to empower people with the right digital skills, updated processes, and an adaptive culture that will position their business for success.
What was given to you in terms of advice or mentorship that pushed you to where you are today?
I have always put great effort into, not only what I do, but also in making sure that the people I work with are performing at their best—delivering results and feeling proud about the contributions they are making.
Now that you have made it, what advice can you give to the upcoming generation?
Read, ask questions, collaborate, and think about different ways to do things. Education is the most powerful resource people can use to create, develop and in High Tech improve not only their careers but their lives. The Internet provides access to unlimited sources of information on any and all topics. Take advantage of it!
What steps do we need to take to address the Hispanic Technology pipeline shortage, and what role do programs like the Cisco Networking Academy play?
We need to understand the gap and work together to close it. Cisco is com-mitted to helping students in Latin America gain the skills they need to thrive in a connected world. In just the last 12 months, over 200,000 students went through the Cisco Networking Academy. Since its inception in Latin America, we’ve educated more than 1 million students. We aim to empower them so we can help create a new generation of problem solvers.
Which is your main strategy to ensure customer success and long-term relationships with your clients?
We strive to put their needs first in everything we do. And we’re here for our customers over the long term. This means listening and understanding their business challenges—and making a commitment to their success.
Cisco LatAm recently got the 1st place from the Great Place To Work organization (all countries in Latam, all industries) - why is it important to establish a multi-cultural leadership and diversity strategy? What do corporations such as Cisco gain from an inclusive culture?
This recognition is a reflection of how our Latin American employees feel about their ability to contribute to the digital transformation taking place all around them. They all have a very active part in our company vision, strategy and execution to connect everything and benefit everyone. At Cisco, we’re committed to creating an environment of empowerment, development and recognition – where all employees can thrive. All this is clearly good for Cisco’s business, with high levels of employee and customer satisfaction.
What are your most important work and professional values?
Integrity – always do the right thing, no matter what; Passion – love what you do and do it the best you can; and Adaptability – be prepared to react quickly in a rapidly changing environment.
How do you see the challenges ahead for your company and in the industry?
The world of technology is moving faster than ever. A digital organization will require new leadership skills, combined with connecting people, processes, data, and things. Through digitization, companies and governments can provide services that meet the evolving expectations of their people and businesses. Customers need to adopt new products and services that will enable the network to be an integral part of their strategy
What is the philosophy you lead your teams with?
Be passionate and proud of what you do, work hard, think as “we,” always do the right thing, and always put the customer first.