TBY talks to Marcos Matias, President of Andean Cluster, Schneider Electric, on the advantages of gender diversity, the endemic problems of corruption, and the benefits of further digitalization.

Marcos Matias
Marcos Matias has been with Schneider Electric for over 20 years. Before becoming president of the Andean cluster, he was Vice President of the Buildings Business Unit, based in Brazil. He holds a degree in electronic engineering from Mackenzie University and an MBA in marketing from Ibmec Business School.

How is Schneider Electric contributing to the digital transformation of Colombia's industrial sector?

Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy management and automation. A large part of this is done through our digitalization platform, EcoStruxure. People need to connect their devices, as the world has 21 billion devices connected and the number is only increasing. Approximately 5% of our global sales are related to R&D, where we work in digitalization and the decarbonizing industry. One of those areas is connected products. How can we connect and bring information to users? How can we manage this information and these applications and industries with this process? And most importantly, how can I use the data and provide services in a digital way? Schneider Electric invests a lot in soft systems to collaborate with customers to increase the efficiency on that analytic base.

How does Colombia's industrial digital transformation process compare to other countries in the region?

Colombia is a country that has quickly adopted certain technologies, such as 4G, telecom, data center applications, free internet access, and mobile penetration. However, on the other hand when you go to industry we see a little bit of a lack of digital connections. On my network with key entrepreneurs, we are seeing that this is a concern, and people are looking to understand how they can invest more. There are some companies starting this journey of investment, collaborating with Schneider Electric to go on this digitalization journey. This can be seen in utilities, applications for oil and gas, and in buildings where we are looking to have more sustainable and green infrastructures. The standards are being pushed to ensure that companies can be more sustainable in their building management. Data centers are in various tiers, and there are innovations related to cyber security.

How does the market go from understanding the importance of digitalization to actually investing in it?

I love this country; however, its history has created a culture that does not take risks.This is why we can go in the right direction if the culture can be changed. Foreigners are the ones with whom we can collaborate to do this. In fact, Brazil had to go through a similar transition, but Colombia has an advantage: 65% of students here finish university, compared to only 20% in Brazil. The second difference is the gender balance. I work at engineering sites, which are generally not known for having a good gender balance, but here at Schneider Electric Colombia, 40% of our employees are women and this diversity contributes a lot to innovation. I love to work in a gender-balanced environment, and in Colombia, Schneider Electric promotes equality between men and women. Our CEO understands that gender diversity makes the difference between companies; therefore, we are moving in this direction, making Schneider Electric Colombia an important example for the region.

What are your expectations for the remainder of the year for Schneider Electric?

I hope the second half will be better. The first had a huge impact for several reasons. First were the tax increases because of the decrease in oil and gas prices; the impact on the market has been greater than expected. This has decelerated the economy. The second issue is the corruption that is endemic to Latin America. This started in Brazil, and our country was affected, but I am glad to see that there are efforts to fix this going on and that business is becoming more ethical; Schneider Electric is leading companies in terms of ethical responsibility. Third is the global environment. The economy is a little on edge right now, and issues such as terrorism are bringing uncertainty. This can be improved because we have elections in 2018, which is usually good for the economy in Colombia.