Nearshore Americas
Nexus Illuminate Awards 2022

Illuminate Awards 2022: A Celebration of the Best in the Nearshore

In spite of a couple of terribly difficult years for the world economy, the Nearshore keeps soldiering on, with a firmer and faster pace in some cases. Growth continues in the IT/BPO marketplace, allowing for the development of whole communities in Latin America and the Caribbean, one of the regions that was hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic shockwave, which is being felt to this day.

But the Nearshore doesn’t expand by itself. It is pushed, cultivated and re-engineered by the minds and efforts of the people within it; molded by the enterprises that spearhead its evolution; and affected by the places where it is allowed to take root and grow.

The Nexus Illuminate Awards exist to honor the achievements of the people and the places that had a profoundly positive impact in the development of this industry. After more than two years of economic struggle at a global level, it makes more sense than ever to applaud those triumphs and celebrate the efforts behind them.

These are the winners of the Nexus Illuminate Awards 2022, held in New York City during a ceremony meant to celebrate the best the industry has to offer.

Nearshore Entrepreneur of the Year – Mario Chaves, president of Americas at Encora

Mario has made use of his more than 40 years of experience in the software industry to push the BPO ecosystem in the Americas. From the mid-90’s onwards, as leader of Avantica Technologies, he spearheaded the company’s growth as a provider of software engineering services to clients in the US, Canada and Latin America through development centers in Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia.

Mario Chaves, President of Americas at Encora and Nearshore Entrepreneur of the 2022

Mario keeps cultivating the BPO business in the continent to this day. Avantica was acquired by Encora in 2019, and the company saw fit to name him president of its operations in the Americas.

Over the past two years -and in the midst of the pandemic-, Encora managed to increase its pool of collaborators in the region from 900 to 1,600. The company expects to push that number to 2,500 by the end of 2022.

A veteran of Silicon Valley and the software industry; a specialist in software development, engineering services, data integration, web applications and offshore/nearshore development, among many other things; and a successful entrepreneur on his own, Mario stands out as a light that guides the efforts of those who dream of pushing the Nearshore beyond what it is and into what it could become.

“Way over 25 years ago, my brother and I had the crazy notion that the technical talent in Costa Rica could serve the needs of companies in Silicon Valley. And lo and behold, it could,” said Chaves after receiving the award. “Not only the services part of Nearshore is becoming important, but I think Latin America as a whole is coming into its own”.

Nearshore City of the Year – Bogotá, Colombia

Colombia is one of the brightest stars in Latin America’s BPO industry. The country has grown into one of the most attractive sites for BPO investment in the region and now holds the distinctive achievement of being the only one with two Illuminate Award-winning cities.

Bogotá joins Medellín as a recipient of the Nearshore City of the Year award for similar reasons: a strong influx of investment, government incentives, competitive wages and a large talent pool.

Bogotá joined Medellín, becoming the second of Colombia’s cities to win the Illuminate City of the Year Award

The Colombian capital is rapidly turning into a hub for BPO services. It holds 25% of the country’s labor force, which ranks third in size within the region. It also has the highest concentration of Colombia’s bilingual talent pool, with over 70%.

Bogotá was ranked among the top 5 Latin American capitals for investment by Site Selections “Best to Invest” report in 2021. The government is conscious of the city’s appeal for the BPO business and provides support through investment promotion agencies at a federal (ProColombia) and local level (Invest in Bogotá).

“This confirms how the Colombian BPO sector keeps growing and showing off its potential for continuing to receive foreign investment,” said Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia, Colombia’s government agency in charge of the promotion of the country’s goods and services in an international stage. “World-class talent, cutting-edge technologies and more international clients who believe in Colombia’s vocation towards customer service make of our country an ideal partner to cover new international businesses in the Nearshoring modality.”

Nearshore Executive of the Year – Gloria Henry, President of the Global Services Association of Jamaica

Few did more for the economic growth of her country and for the development of the BPO industry during the pandemic than Gloria Henry.

Gloria Henri, President of the Global Services Association of Jamaica and Nearshore Executive of the Year 2022

As president of the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), Gloria led the Covid-19 protocols adopted by the country’s government (the Disaster Risk Management Act and Work at Home initiative) that allowed the BPO business to thrive and grow during a time of crisis for the rest of Jamaica’s economy.

Gloria’s hand is guiding the transformation of Jamaica into a hub for the BPO industry. Thanks to her efforts, the country is on a path to find sources of economic growth other than tourism, which collapsed during the pandemic, slamming countries all over the Caribbean region.

As Assistant VP of Operations and Customer Relations at the Montego Bay Free Zone, she increased office occupancy in the zone from 64% to 98%, moving those same numbers from 23% to 100% for factories.

Nearshore Promotions Professional of the Year – Adriana Llorenz, Executive Director at Mexicali EDC

Adriana’s drive is transforming the city of Mexicali (Baja California, Mexico) from another manufacturing border town into a hub for the export of business services.

Adriana Llorenz, Executive Director at Mexicali EDC and Nearshore Promotions Professional of the Year

Adriana took over as Executive Director at Mexicali EDC in early 2020. Since then, she has been hard at work drawing BPO investment into the city, where the industry is taking its first steps. In mid-2021, Redial BPO landed successfully in Mexicali.

With several years of experience in the public as well as the private sector, and with a successful run as promoter for business development in Tijuana (another Baja California border town known mostly as a manufacturing hub), Adriana is already speaking with other BPO investors interested in Mexicali’s bilingual labor force.

Nearshore Company of the Year – The Office Gurus

Nexus’ most prestigious award goes to The Office Gurus (TOG), a call center and BPO provider that has been expanding operations and creating jobs throughout Central America and (lately) the Caribbean for almost two decades.

The Office Gurus, Nearshore Company of the Year 2022

TOG’s clients characterize it as a business partner that is more than dependable and which is willing to go above and beyond to stay competitive and adaptable in the ever-changing world of BPO.

TOG managed to navigate the storm unleashed by Covid-19 by leveraging work-from-home solutions in order to increase its capacity. In early May 2022, the company announced its expansion to the Dominican Republic and an increase in operations in El Salvador, Belize and Jamaica, hoping to increase center capacity by 2,000 seats.

Nearshore Lifetime Innovator – Tata Consultancy Services (Latin America)

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been one of the companies at the forefront of the BPO business for a while, and it just keeps going.

Already an Illuminate Award winner, TCS has one of the largest Nearshore presences in Latin America, from where it provides consulting talent for major markets like Europe and the US. By the end of FY 2022, it managed to surpass the 592,000 employee mark, adding over 100,000 in one year alone.

Rajeev Gupta, head of TCS’s Nearshore Operations in Latin America

Known for its cutting edge tech solutions like big data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), AI, RPA and Cloud Migration, TCS has used its strength in the industry to put cities like Guadalajara, Querétaro and Montevideo in the Nearshore map. It has also partnered with over 40 universities and enabled thousands of graduates to join the digital world through training and recruitment.

“I think, collectively, we are changing the entire landscape of Nearshore and bringing it to the global leadership of IT outsourcing and services,” said Rajeev Gupta, head of TCS’s Nearshore Operations in Latin America. “I feel extremely happy when I see that the countries in Latin America are being considered on the same level as India, Israel or Silicon Valley.”

Cesar Cantu

Cesar is the Managing Editor of Nearshore Americas. He's a journalist based in Mexico City, with experience covering foreign trade policy, agribusiness and the food industry in Mexico and Latin America.

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