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Peru 2021 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Percy Marquina Feldman, General Director of CENTRUM PUCP Business School, on digital transformation, AI and neuroscience, and the peculiarities of the Peruvian market.

How has digital transformation taken place in Peru?

Digital transformation has been a constant concern over the last five years in Peru, and its implementation faces implications that depend on the sector that we want to focus on. These are four segments. First are multinationals, second are Peruvian firms focused on the Latin American region, third are large firms operating in Peru, and fourth are those firms that don't fall into any of the other three groups. As for digital transformation itself, it is happening on a larger-scale in the first and second group, because the nature of their tasks is related to areas where technology is accessible and easily applied. Unlike the first two groups, in the third one, controversy and discussions regarding its application abounds, while at the same time money to invest lacks. Finally, in the fourth sector, although several people talk about its applications, it is yet not on the schedule of daily operations. On top of these, we can add complications such as the expensive cost of technology, including AI, making it hard to adopt. Precisely because of these reasons, mostly larger companies can afford to implement it, while the smaller ones can do nothing but dream about it. There is a lot still to be done.

What role are you playing to adapt these technologies?

In CENTRUM PUCP, we provide our students with the knowledge and tools to implement these strategies, regardless of the type of segment it works or wishes to work for. We have gone through a dramatic change in our educational model, adapting to our student's needs and improving our educational portfolio. We shifted from a model that was composed by 100% in-person courses to what we call a blended model. Nowadays, many of our lessons are taught online. Our school offers a wide selection of courses related to these new technologies. We acknowledge that industry experience is equally important to understand this topic, that is why we have a partnership with IBM, with whom we have developed one of our courses. Furtheremore, we have invested in some technologies to adopt AI and apply in different initiatives of the program. For example, one of them is called 'personality insights,' in which the student has to respond to questions related to a hypothetical story presented to him. These answers are then matched to the information provided by your social networks. The results can immediately give us insights about your leader profile as well as areas of improvement and strong areas. In other applications, we went further and used AI and neuroscience methodologies to analyze neural sensors connected to a student during the projection of a movie with topics aligned to business situations. Through these sensors, the machine measures the person's emotions. The computer then evaluates what happens in your brain while you witness that situation. As a third application, we have invested in featuring virtual reality. For instance, we know that many of our students face the difficult task of working while they study; therefore, we are developing a VR application that would allow them to visit our facilities without the need to be physically present at these locations.

With Women CEO Peru, you created a program for women in high executive positions. How did this program come into being?

In CENTRUM PUCP, we have always wanted to represent a responsible organization. Following our philosophy, we identified an area where few initiatives had been done, that is, women's empowerment. Specifically, we encountered that women face some disadvantages, particularly in the work environment, which resulted in fewer women holding executive roles in Peru. Thus, we sought an institution that could bring better opportunities for women in the executive world with whom we developed a program aimed at training women in implementing strategies in the executive world. The impact has been excellent. The program is part of our commitment to foster corporate social responsibility.

What other partnerships have you struck with other important private companies?

That has been another source of apprenticeship we have experienced. In the past, ­we believed it was better to do things by ourselves, alone. We did not collaborate with many other Peruvian companies, but we sought to establish agreements with European and US companies. We have now implemented a change related to our manner of understanding the so-called “new” economy. We now possess a large number of partners in Latin America. In a sense, we have joined with our Latin brothers, including some of the most respected universities in Ecuador and Colombia, which are also excellent business schools. We have thus created a network of business schools in Latin America for ethics and other areas. Now, our approach is multi-stakeholder: this means that we constantly develop strategies in partnership with several professional organizations. Moreover, we have aligned ourselves with Peru 2021, the local chapter of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Finally, just like a bank does with fintech, we deemed important to establish partnerships with fintechs for small projects, where we have reached around 30% of our new offer for non-graduate programs in partnerships with start-ups.

How can a more flexible working environment become implemented in Peru?

Due to the particularities of the Peruvian market, it should be done from a bottom up approach. In our Peruvian reality, outside of the first two segments mentioned earlier, companies still have a hierarchical style, meaning that orders come from the top to the bottom. However, leaders need freedom to speak up and propose their visions and be able to implement the objectives they envisage. But more importantly, the business community and top management has to create a culture of trust and creativity promotion that enables leaders to put in practice their ideas and new processes to unlock their key to success.

What are your goals for 2020?

We have been experiencing significant growth over the past two years, since 2018, and we expect this year to experience our highest growth figure over the last two decades. This implies several opportunities for CENTRUM PUCP, which comprise continuously assessing the satisfaction of our students, as well as researching and looking for new ways to adapt our teaching to satisfy the needs of our clients that will face the challenges that the industry poses to them with the imminent arrival of the fourth industrial revolution. We continue to explore for new opportunities and new methods that can provide a holistic preparation of professionals with integrity that are skillful to face the changes they will be exposed to in the dynamic environment of business.