Costa Rica 2017 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Paulo Maia, Country Manager of Bosch, on its plans for Costa Rica, ways to boost FDI into the country, and his outlook of the sector.

 Paulo Maia
Paulo Maia holds a degree in management from Universidad Portucalense and is a certified accountant in Portugal. Before joining Bosch, he held several consultant and auditor positions in Portuguese corporations and joined Philips' CSI division in the role of Financial Manager for Iberia by 1998. In 2002, Bosch acquired Philips' CSI division and became Financial Manager for Security Systems in Iberia. In 2004, he moved to Madrid for the integration of acquired companies. In 2007, he moved to the service solution division, responsible for the business in Iberia and the Americas. He is currently the Country Manager at Bosch.

What are your plans for expansion in Costa Rica?

Our first priority for the moment is to fill our current site in the America Free Zone, where we are prepared to have up to 320 people working. That said, we expect to grow both due to internal Bosch projects and third-party projects, since we have started to look at the external market. We expect to grow in the coming years to maximize the use of our resources and as part of our fixed-cost coverage strategy. Together with our colleagues from Central America, Bosch Service Solutions creates the conditions so that the company can enlarge its presence in Costa Rica. This means that if they need to organize presentations or training sessions they are able to do them from here. We also seek to get some people working for them here for the Costa Rican market. This is a small market, but once we have all the infrastructure in place, it will be easy to have people available to work in any market imaginable.

FDI inflows to Costa Rica increased by 1% YoY in 2015. What role does Bosch play in the development of the country?

We currently have 170 employees and our target over the next two years is to have approximately 320 employees working on our Costa Rican site. We also create the conditions so that people can work from home, and look into more solution-orientated and complex services, which require deeper and more complex knowledge. We aim to create service platforms that we can then do the maintenance work for. A great example of this is our development of a management platform for car manufacturers in relation to an emergency call system (eCall), a technology that has to be made available by law in Europe and the US by 2020.

What are the main highlights of your CSR activities?

In 2015, we made a donation of USD10,000 to a local institution that supports the government by giving IT tools and training to underprivileged schools. We engage in a number of activities in terms of our social responsibility to help people by providing resources, and we do sponsorships as well. We are working on designing a new social and technical project involving voluntary work to pass on some of our maintenance knowledge. We will then continue to support them if they go on to university, perhaps even hiring them upon graduation.

What is your outlook over the next five years for both Bosch and the overall sector in Costa Rica?

Bosch and the business support services industry in Costa Rica in general have to develop a more automated environment. Robotics replaces many transactional functions in the accounting field and makes them easier and faster. The first thing is to standardize practices, streamline them, and then automation comes in. This trend will give Costa Rica an opportunity to develop more added-value services to our customers. Most of the work we currently do here is transactional, but if we can shift transactional tasks to other tasks, like controlling, planning, and reporting, we can achieve more. It also gives us the opportunity to develop new services and products to cover the needs of our customers better. In terms of services Costa Rica will continue to be a near-shore option for Bosch divisions in North America, and because of the economies of scale that we will be able to capture, Central and South America could also become partially covered by Costa Rica. This has started with our technical support services, which already cover the rest of Latin America except for Brazil. Certainly 2017 will be about stabilizing the first two projects we have in Costa Rica, and we should also have more projects up and running by next year. Starting our own projects is the most important target for us. For this to take place, we need to build up our human resources.