Let's learn a little about the history of Ricardo Pulido, Director of Sales and Business Development for Latin America and the Caribbean of Johnson Controls and former president of ALAS.
by Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Who has had the opportunity to share a few words with Ricardo Pulido, understands the charisma and good energy of this engineer born in the city of Cartagena, Colombia, and son of a Naval officer (Admiral now retired); these qualities have allowed him to achieve great things as a professional and as a family man, details that led us to recognize in these pages the career of the current Director of Sales and Business Development for Latin America and the Caribbean, under the division of Security Products (Intrusion) of Johnson Controls.
Ricardo is the oldest of 4 siblings and his family life was shared between different parts of the country, traveling every 2 or 3 years due to the positions or assignments that his father had. "All my youth, that of my brothers and that of my friends (also children of soldiers) was spent in the fiscal homes of the Colombian Navy, mainly in Manzanillo, an island of Cartagena de Indias where the "Almirante Padilla Naval School" is located, which is where the cadets and future naval officers of the country are trained, "said Ricardo.
"In Manzanillo I spent literally "my wonderful years", like the TV series. Imagine that this was (still is) a suburb as in the series, full of friends of the soul and in the middle of the most beautiful bay in America: the bay of Cartagena. Out of necessity for service, my dad was absent at certain times in our childhood, especially when he was on a navy ship and sailing for several weeks. That's when I've known my best friend: my mom. For her, for her dedication, the values-forming education that she instilled in us is that for me the figure of women is so valuable and important. A few years later my dad no longer had to be on board for long periods and we spent more time with him, as a family. The old man is my best friend. I have God's blessing to still count on them and enjoy them," said our Professional of the Month.
Ricardo, an industrial engineer, oriented to finance and production processes, also had to live outside the country, something that gave him the opportunity to grow professionally. "One of my dad's most important transfers was to the city of Mobile, Alabama in the United States; there I had the opportunity to perfect my English and study Business Administration at the University of South Alabama, which was another enriching experience."
The topic of working in sales was not on his radar, but it was in 1999 when he was offered an opportunity in a Miami-based electronic security equipment distribution company, DSC's Master Distributor for Latin America. There they were looking for a KAM Junior to serve the business of Central America and the Caribbean. "The owner of that distributor took a big risk in hiring me. At that time I would be about 23 years old, I was a single guy, hungry to learn and they offered me to travel all over the Caribbean and pay me for that ... I ripped off their arm!" he said.
That company was Tronex, whose founder and CEO was George Fletcher and whom Ricardo recognizes as the first to give him the opportunity in the industry and thanks him for all the learning. "From there I went on to work directly with DSC in November 2003: it was still called 'The DSC Group of Companies', where there were factories like Kantech, DeltaVision, Secutron, SafeLink, etc. Of those, DSC and Kantech would later become part of Tyco, which is now JCI. Next year, God willing, I turn 20 at JCI."
Security Sales: What are your personal challenges and your next goals to meet?
Ricardo Pulido: A big slope is to carry out an enterprise, a business of your own. I still do not rule it out and imagine it with a significant social impact. It may be around children in conditions of vulnerability and poverty, which is a sensitive issue for me. It is a "call" that is gradually gaining strength in my mind. Someday it will happen. My current job at JCI is the closest thing to a startup: 20 years ago we started only 8 people in all of Latam working from home. Today we are more than 50 people deployed in 10 cities, with exclusive corporate offices for our business unit in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil. In the other cities we share corporate offices with JCI.
Here we are focused on results and not on man hours. It is my absolute responsibility what is done or not done to achieve the goals in the region. I have the empowerment and autonomy to strategize and choose the path for execution. In fact, this same philosophy applies to the people who are part of our JCI Latam team. Everyone with the responsibility they have in the company is the "Sheriff" of their business. 20 years later I still enjoy what I do enormously and I can't believe I'm getting paid to do it. The day you no longer think or feel this, that day I change activity.
VDS: What analysis do you make as a professional about the importance of the relationship with employees and collaborators and the objectives that must be met in the market?
Ricardo: My philosophy and style is that we should all be clear that we are permanently in a job interview. We are in a process of silent and constant selection. This happens in all interactions with customers, suppliers, employees, peers, bosses, and even in our families and friends.
Maxwell says organizations are only as good as their leaders. I adhere to this completely. In addition, I seek to surround myself with people and professionals who are better than me, and who share my values. For me this is key because I learn a lot from them and if that work group is impregnated with the right vision and motivation, it is possible to multiply the results, processes are optimized, good ideas flow constantly and it becomes practically inevitable to achieve the objectives. The biggest serious joke I make is 'I'm a better leader, when I have great people on the team!' I think I heard that from Phil Jackson, when he was the "coach" of the Lakers: "I'm a better coach when I have great players on the team."
VDS: What do you think are the reasons for your recognition in this market?
Ricardo: I want to believe that the people who have interacted with me these years have the certainty that I am someone reliable. They have also seen that the business done has been mutually beneficial, scalable, and usually recurring. The agreements reached and the commitments made have been fulfilled. With certainty at some point something will not have gone as anticipated, but with equal certainty I can say that work was done to solve and comply. Problems or challenges are normal to appear in the development of a project or during the execution of a contract. The fundamental thing is that the missing party strives to solve and comply.
VDS: What has been the evolution that the industry has had in your country in the years you have been working in it?
Ricardo: The Latam perspective shows us that there is a strong tendency to focus on the "korea" or main activity of business. Not diluting resources in lateral (distracting) activities seems obvious, but in this incredibly industry the practice was always to save pennies in the immediate term, without analyzing the entire operation and the dollars lost in the long term. This is changing, in part because there are new generations of executives leading companies and they are the ones who apply these maxims of business management. So, the movement is really to outsource what is not part of that "korea" in the economic activity of the company. In addition to financial and operational benefits, entrepreneurs in the sector have empirically proven that this brings greater mobility and flexibility to their organizations, making them more competitive, faster and more easily adaptable to change.
With the above, topics such as moving to solutions and services in the cloud presents a vertiginous growth. Access control, video, monitoring of alarms against intruders, automation and energy efficiency, comfort and lifestyle, is today all "a service" and is information now processed at the edge of the devices that collect it and / or in the cloud, where artificial intelligence with specific analytics result in a greater and better use of the information collected, giving the user the particular expected experience, even exceeding expectations.
VDS: How do you see the future of this industry in Latin America?
Ricardo: The modality of working in virtuality and its very high worldwide acceptance is here to stay and makes even more interesting the panorama that I am going to propose below. Before, I gave testimony that my commercial team in Latam has not been going to work from our corporate offices in their respective cities for more than 2 years. I anticipate that in 2023 we will go to work from the offices 20% of the time, maybe less. Productivity and results in virtuality are definitely possible.
All this is linked to the advancement in technology, outsourced solutions in the cloud, in such a way that the playing field is leveled and evened. If I wanted to start a business today, with seriousness and correct work plan, taking advantage of the whole concept of "cloud computing", I can offer the same and even better service than a medium or large company that has been operating in the market for several years. Of course, leaving aside financial issues and the "goodwill"; but technically and operationally my new company would practically start at the technological forefront in its ability to competitively offer electronic physical security products and services.
A comment that I saved for the end: strategic alliances are key. No one can earn 100% of the business alone, 100% of the time. Many technologies, processes, procedures and even practices that we consider correct in our LATAM business of electronic physical security, are still not regulated. That is why I find great value to ALAS International, the Latin American Security Association, which is also a non-profit entity. In the partnership, together, we have created a magnificent and gigantic ecosystem (in constant expansion) where we have raised and promulgated good practices, we have generated trust before end customers of all caliber, always with the aim of professionalizing the industry more and more. Not being in WINGS is staying outside the largest and most serious ecosystem that exists in the region.
The pandemic brought the family together
Ricardo lives in Bogotá, has been married for 19 years to Andrea, "the love of my life" and has two daughters, aged 12 and 4. Andrea works with Ecopetrol, leading the financial relationship with the partner companies and their assets. "Our jobs demand a lot of time and energy, which we must combine with dedication to our daughters who are at a key age for the formation of values and strengthening of our family unit bonds," he said.
For Ricardo and his family, the pandemic was an opportunity for unity: "With how devastating the pandemic was for many people, and I sympathize with the pain produced in all those cases, I must confess that for our family it was the possibility of uniting more. Virtuality and quarantines allowed us to spend a lot of quality time together and further strengthen our home. We change habits and priorities. Today I prefer to make plans as a family."
Ricardo has squash as a hobby, but most of his activities are shared as a family, such as traveling, where he takes care of the entire program. He is also responsible for technological and logistical issues and delegates to his wife everything that is remodeling, decoration and suppliers. "That's his talent: he's able to see the potential when something is in gray work. She creates or takes advantage of spaces, improves them, and beautifies environments always in the most cost-effective way possible. I've told him that can be good business, but he keeps doing it like a "hole."