As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Mendez, CEO of NEORIS.
Martin Mendez is a restless entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and expertise in the information technology industry. He currently is the CEO of NEORIS, a global business and IT consulting firm, emerger from in-house technology consulting firm CEMEX; with presence in the US, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and headquartered in Miami. He has been in the role since 2015.
Prior to that, Martin served as President of NEORIS for the South American region from 2012 to 2015, President of NEORIS for Argentina, Chile and Colombia from 2010 to 2012, and Commercial Director for CEMEX Mexico from 2002 to 2010.
Throughout his career, Martin has been the recipient of different awards such as The International CEO Award given by the International Business Leadership Awards & Summit developed by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. He has also been named to the HITEC (Hispanic IT Executive Council) 100 List — a compilation of the 100 most influential and notable Hispanic professionals in the Information Technology Industry — at the HITECT Q4 IT Leadership Summit and Awards Gala, sponsored by Facebook.
After graduating from Universidad Austral de Rosario with a Business Administration degree in 1995, Martin cofounded AMTEC.NET, an internet-solution provider that in the year 2000 was acquired by CEMEX to create NEORIS. He also participated in the CEMEX Management International program in the Tecnológico de Monterrey as well as in Stanford University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Instead of a story or an anecdote per se, I would say that there were two main factors that brought me to this specific career path. On the one hand, my grandfather — a native entrepreneur who taught me what it means to start a business from scratch by setting goals and being consistent and persistent on achieving them. On the other hand, my passion for technology and its way of making our lives easier.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When I graduated from college, around the time when the internet was just launching back in 1996, a few of my classmates and I had the vision that the internet would become the next big thing. Therefore, we decided to become agents of change by helping “.com” companies do business online by taking advantage of the available technologies. It was the combination of our knowledge and desire with a business vision. Seeing an investment interest four years later was a reaffirmation that my dream was possible. That was when NEORIS began. And today, 20 years later — having grown to what we are today — it fills me with pride that we continue to have that entrepreneurial essence with which we began, which leads us to being curious and discover new applications for technologies in order to propel companies to the future.
Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Today, we are going through a time in which machines are already exercising decision-making in real time, as well as executing some tasks that were previously unthinkable. This is not the result of the creation of one new technology, but the combination of these technologies to create something completely new. At NEORIS, this is where we come in. We are constantly adapting to what’s going on in the world and combining new technologies to remain innovative at all times. We count on a multidisciplinary team of people who bring diverse ideas and knowledge, combined with an entrepreneurial culture that constantly promotes a high level of collaboration, thus allowing us to continue generating new solutions. For instance, we launched HealthCheck, a platform that emerged aiming to solve the challenges the pandemic brought to the workplace by using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contact tracing, while still being user-friendly. The app guarantees a safe return to the workplace by enabling organizations to assess employees’ well-being data based on CDC guidelines.
How do you think this might change the world?
Just as the 90s were the golden age for India and the labor arbitrage, it would be accurate to say that 2020–2030 will be the age of a new labor transformation. Today, we have technology that has the power to transform how we live in this world, allowing us to enhance our work and continue evolving as a society — the so-called “fourth industrial revolution” that everyone’s talking about. But still, today, we are facing a cultural barrier, making it hard for everyone to move as fast as technology does. For instance, if you asked anyone six months ago if it would be possible to work 100% remotely, s/he would have called you crazy. However, one month into this pandemic, we were able to confirm that remote work was indeed possible, and even more productive. Therefore, if you asked me today if returning to the workplace could be possible, taking into consideration all the health barriers that we are currently facing, I would say yes. That is why, again, we launched NEORIS HealthCheck. And yes, I do believe it has the power to change the world by transitioning us to a new workplace.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
When it comes to technology, you can always see both sides of the coin. There are projections that estimate that the fourth industrial revolution could end 5 million jobs. But we also know that technological advances have the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for entire populations.
Creating new technological solutions will allow us to generate new types of work that, in addition, enhance other areas that up until now have not been developed or that are exclusive to a select few. Creativity, for example.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
In this case, I don’t think there is a specific tipping point; rather, it is something that comes naturally. When you are in a technology company, you constantly have to be imagining that vision of the future and putting the tools and the minds to work toward it.
We do not seek to be the creators of the latest technology, but rather, we seek effectiveness and efficiency, taking advantage of existing technologies to provide solutions that generate transformative value.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
At NEORIS, we accompany our clients in the search for these transformative changes. Our approach is to show them, in a simple way, how technology works, and what it can offer them.
In this case, the key is in cultural change, and we know that it is something that is going to happen little by little. That is why we are showing the success stories and conducting training on the use of HealthCheck.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
More than an innovative strategy, we have a focus on people and their needs. We work on really nurturing those relationships. We have a large number of clients with which we have long-term relationships, a rare peculiarity in the technology industry, and that is an example of how our ability to provide solutions has been key in strengthening those relationships. We believe in the power of success stories, that our results prove it.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are many people that come to mind. I don’t think I could choose just one, because there are many to say thanks to. Throughout my professional career, I am grateful to have shared with many people who — whether they are still in the company or not — represent an immense value in my professional growth. Throughout these 20+ years, the teaching opportunities have always been present, all around the world. But if I had to single out someone who is responsible for my achievements, without a doubt I would say my wife and mother to my four children, who has always supported and accompanied me on this path.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
First of all, I am convinced that those in a leadership position have a responsibility to inspire others, and that moves me to do what I can to create opportunities that help others grow. Second, we see daily how the technological solutions we apply achieve a positive transformation in those who use them. For example, HealthCheck, which is a solution that is allowing us to do our bit to protect people’s health, provides a safe return to work by predicting future hazards and giving employees and employers peace of mind. Today, we have more than 100,000 users who are using it and we continue to expand our reach every day. Being able to make use of technology to help in such a difficult time that we are living is the reason why I do what I do.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.
Dream big and be persistent in achieving it.
Never stop being curious.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Enjoy the road more and not so much the destination.
Find a balance, value the affections around you more and those moments with them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I were to inspire a movement, it would be to push for mass education in key areas of technology for those below the poverty line, especially children. Technology can play a key role in helping to bridge the gap between poverty and socioeconomic inclusion.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson” Quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Think outside the box. Widely used, but no less current. The challenge is to think about things differently and thus find new ways of doing things and innovate as much as possible. As a leader, I constantly seek to challenge my team to break out of their paradigms and follow their gut to achieve great things.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
I would like to tell you that I am convinced that the partnership between entrepreneurs, technology and venture capital is the future. The union of these three things has a potential generator of great opportunities for everyone, and especially for society in general.
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