As many company leaders are restructuring their strategies to adapt their business to the new way of the market, I thought it’d be a good idea to share my conversation with Armando Tejeda, who’s been a great mentor of mine and has had previous experience in adapting to change.
MB: Armando thank you for your time, would you mind introducing yourself and giving us your background?
AT: Thank you Marco. My name is Armando Tejeda, I have more than 25 years experience working in the technology / /telco industries. Most of my career I spent it with Grupo Carso and Telefonos de Mexico. I was a national commercial sub director for the finance industry, later on I was focused on the northwest region of Mexico.
After that, I started working as a CEO for one of the larger companies in the group whose main focus was to provide customer service to several (Fortune 500) companies across the US.
I’m an electronics engineer with a MBA and for the last couple of years I’ve been training and educating myself on AI and Machine Learning.
I joined Arkus probably no more than a year and a half ago. My focus has been in helping the sales organization, but also I’m overseeing different teams across the company such as the AI and Machine Learning division - Kraken.AI
MB: You are no stranger to health emergencies, during your time as a senior executive you’ve gone through some important contingencies in your past. Would you mind share some of those?
AT: Yes I was a CEO in 2017 during the big earthquake in Mexico City, at that time I had more than 2500 employees at the Mexico City office. Prior to that the 2010 earthquake in California, I was also a CEO. We had a delivery center of more than 1500 employees. I also experienced the health emergency of Influenza back in 2009 in Mexico City as well, in this case it was an epidemic and not a pandemic. We basically had to shut down operations and activate our business continuity plan that we had prepared back then.
MB: As a company leader, when you’re facing an emergency it’s expected that you prioritize in order to make more efficient decisions. How do you prioritize in times of emergency?
AT: It's definitely a good idea to have a business continuity plan, aside from that the number one priority is the physical integrity of your employees, that should always be the top priority. It’s also important to maintain the whole staff informed, across the entire company. Lastly, maintain constant communication with your clients, that’s really important as well. That’s key.
The second priority is probably evaluating potential damage in order to ensure the continuity of the business. After that, again is to keep constant communication with your clients. Show them how strong your partnership is with them. Obviously, maintain open communications with the pertinent authorities to get the government official communication.
MB: In terms of operations logistics, most companies have shifted to a work from home model, but now what’s next?
AT: First of all, it is important to understand that this whole (covid-19 pandemic) situation will have a long term impact and it will change our perspective about our modern world and the way we think and prioritize. From my personal point of view I see it in different phases:
Phase 1 - Contingency
In the first phase focus should be on ensuring the health and safety of your employees and at the same time guarantee business continuity. Basically ensure the company survives.
Phase 2 - Assessment
The second phase would be an “assessment” phase where you’d focus on understanding the context of the new reality and how the world will continue to operate.
Phase 3 - Reconstruction
This is where you begin to identify new strategies and (why not) even business models, you may also look at organizational structure shifts and potentially even new market opportunities according to the updated market situation.
MB: Where do you start when you’re looking to re-construct your organization before continuing to move forward?
AT: Like I said, first understand that this is a long term change and a new reality will emerge. You should be open to potentially shifting your business models, costs structures, perhaps redefining your target market, looking for new revenue sources, etc. During this process you should always keep employees informed about the challenges, because there will be a lot of challenges. You’ll have to make the pertinent structural changes and take ownership of the change. Second, you have to execute your new strategy and adjust in real time to the new reality.
Commonly there is a stabilization period when things begin naturally falling back into place. Once this happens, usually the economy and markets will reactivate. In some cases the next thing that may happen is comparable to an earthquake’s aftershock. During this stabilization stage, some gaps will surge so you have to be on your toes as those gaps in the market may unlock new business opportunities for you.
First understand that this is a long term change and a new reality will emerge. You should be open to potentially shifting your business models, costs structures, perhaps redefining your target market, looking for new revenue sources, etc.
MB: How is it that a CEO should be able to adapt revenue strategies in the aftermath of this pandemic?
AT: Good question. It is critical to keep constant communication with current clients. Truly showing the level of partnership you have with them before, during and after the crisis in order to maintain as much as your current revenue possible. Evidently your revenues will be impacted, but the idea is to make an effort to minimize that.
Now, in order to get some of that revenue back and potentially increase it, you have to really understand what is happening in this new reality of your market but also your client’s market. This in order to anticipate any changes or be able to adjust your new value proposition and stay alert over the new potential opportunities, which will likely surge during the stabilization phase.
During this phase, some gaps will emerge like I said before, you’ll have to find them and fill them as they represent new business opportunities for you. These new opportunities (if capitalized correctly) may actually make a difference on your path to recovery.
MB: My final question is what are your recommendations for technology executives in these times of economic uncertainty?
AT: My first recommendation as previously mentioned, is to keep your employees informed at all times. Secondly is to be very close to your clients, because at the end of the day you have a partnership with them. And third is to be aware about the new reality and keep an open mind, mainly in your company because it may shift your organization's structure but also potential your core. So be open to that.
Also if applicable, you may have to redefine your business model and redefine target market, in any case you should do so by staying alert and paying attention to potential market gaps that you can fill to capitalize, ultimately you don't just want to simply survive, there’s also a positive side to the pandemic and you want your company to be on that side by taking action and executing your strategies promptly.
Arkus is your local software development consultancy. Servicing Southern California for 17+ years, the group assists companies grow their software development capacity and accelerate delivery of software products. Arkus’ teams have contributed to successful acquisitions throughout southern california. For more info go to goarkus.com