An interview with Carlos Algarra, senior consultant of MCON Mexico, core essence of MCON Colombian community during his 8-year presence in MCON China. His massive growth and experience in the company has rightfully made him the front man of a BI project for an OEM customer in Mexico.
Carlos, you are from Latin America. What brought you to MCON and the area of Information Technology? And is it true that you are a great Latin dancer because of your origin?
Hahaha, not really, I just tried to bring part of my culture to this international company, but thanks for noticing my skills on the dance floor – and not the lack of. Seriously speaking though, it was a matter of perfect timing. During my university days, there was a boom in computer science and, consequently, the dire need for professionals in the field. IT giants would snag able graduates to join their team in a jiffy. I graduated as a systems engineer and worked in Colombia for a while. The desire to gain experience abroad grew stronger as the years went by, so when an opportunity in China came, I grabbed it. I was lucky to arrive a month before the Beijing Olympics and witnessed how Chinese people open their doors to the world. This made me instantly fall in love with the country. Somehow, I felt that my professional life was destined to have one foot in China.
I worked as a software developer in my early days in Beijing. This gave me the chances to rub elbows with numerous emerging software companies in the city. That is how I came across MCON. I switched to project management and took on the role as a CRM Consultant at MCON in 2010. Initially my task was to handle projects for a China-based European automotive OEM. We helped the client design an efficient CRM system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and then rolled it out in 7 countries across Central and South Eastern Europe. Later on it was implemented in other countries in Northern Europe and Asia. After 8 unforgettable years in China, I felt it was time to move on and embarked on MCON Mexico opportunity. Every day, we are growing rapidly.
What type of work do you do at MCON Mexico?
I act as the steward for a BI project we are doing for a major OEM’s financial services division in Mexico. I serve as a transparent communication bridge between our teams in China and Mexico and our client by making sure that all necessary changes in the implementation of the BI system are aligned and that all additional knowledge are properly relayed.
Being a successful link entails daily client meetings for the timely solicitation of their input regarding our delivery and for the analysis of their requirements. It is vital that, not only a clear conveyance of ideas are practiced by our team to theirs (and vice versa) but also that all issues, needs and requisites are efficiently dealt with.
How did MCON capture such a big project in Mexico given the whole team was originally in Beijing?
I guess you can say that one achievement leads to another. We previously had a BI project for the client’s China-based finance division. The head of IT responsible for the project was later on transferred to Mexico. He immediately found the need for a BI landscape similar to what we’ve created for them in China as there was a struggle for data collection from unsystematic enterprise systems. MCON was invited for the project pitch. We won. So here we are.
What’s the difference amid this project between China and Mexico?
The difference was tremendous. In Mexico, there was a need to restructure local processes while at the same time align these processes with IFRS 9, a new accounting standard applied in 2018. This required reengineering not only in the processing of internal data but also the collection of necessary data amongst different systems and departments. We think that, by far, this has been the biggest challenge our client has ever faced.
What about the challenge you have encountered from MCON side?
We are constantly on the lookout for improvements to fulfill unhindered communication regardless of the 14-hour gap between teams in China and Mexico. We have been successful in the usage of different tools (Rocket, Chat, Email, Taiga, Whatsapp) to show our customers that not only it is possible but also productive to run projects with members present around the globe. Everyone in my team and the rest of the MCON group do not believe in “delegate and disappear”. We want to ensure clients that we are all working on a common goal – to deliver and to deliver successfully.
What was the main achievement in this project?
Before answering that, let me tell you a little bit more of what we are trying to accomplish here. Presently, we are creating and implementing a structured data warehouse system. Our client was once flooded with three very distinct systems plus a truck-load of time-consuming excel files. Our job is to create a system that allows them to consolidate all data from numerous sources and then place these data into one single box – The Data Warehouse. The box continuously and automatically processes data based on our design making the gathering of error-free information much faster.
As we speak, the risk analysis team and the customer service division are starting to align all their information and are utilizing their respective data warehouses. You could say that our achievement is successfully hearing all members of their team finally speaking the same language when referring to numbers and figures with ease. It’s music to our ears and I am pretty sure to theirs, too. Risk managers can soon leverage the power of this system by using data to uncover suspicious or hazardous transactions or contracts before they become real loss.
How other clients can benefit from this experience?
The project has been very interesting for our client and has started garnering attention from different sectors. Our extensive experience working on “reduced time to market” in BI project implementation and financing processes make us highly adept in the consulting and software development arena.
It has been rewarding to witness that we’ve helped members of our customer utilize, to the fullest potential, their data and go beyond common tasks – may it be in accounting or simple data analysis to becoming effective and efficient strategists. The positive feedback that we’ve received from our client has given us a push towards wanting to help more companies by building future-proof, customized BI landscapes that are ROI-proven, which means 100% beneficial to their business transactions and processes.