Preparing the Next Generation of Software Talent for Nuevo LeonBy Jan Hogewoning | Tue, 01/05/2021 - 17:05
Q: What value does CSOFTMTY bring to the region?
AV: CSOFTMTY has four strategic lines of activities: innovation and entrepreneurship, human capital, markets and networking. There are different projects and initiatives in each of these lines. We work with 11 industry metrics to measure the impact of these projects on the state. The projects or initiatives emerge from working groups in which our members share their ideas.
We recently held virtual engagement sessions with members of the cluster, where they could explore how they would reinvent their business to meet new demands as a result of the pandemic. We had an expert from a Silicon Valley cluster share experiences and tools on how to initiate innovation and recreate a company. This person was accompanied by a Swiss consultancy firm that presented a methodology for innovation. We are also holding a series of talks and conferences every Tuesday in November. We are inviting speakers from different companies, from among our own members as well as other places, to talk about how new trends in tech can be used by companies to be more successful. These events are accessible to the whole IT community in the region.
Q: How did you increase the number of software engineers in Nuevo Leon from 2,000 to 14,000?
AV: Various projects have been at the root of this achievement. The cluster has been around for 16 years. One of our main objectives from the start was to get more people involved in IT. For many years, we have been promoting technology degrees among prospective students. This has helped to break paradigms that IT is boring or that it is very hard. We had a program called “Reconversión Ingenieros” (Reconverting Engineers) to encourage engineers from other disciplines to enter software and IT engineering programs. The program had a total of 268 participants. It motivated schools and universities to create conversion programs. This was just one of many initiatives we have launched over the years. Many companies in the area participated in brainstorming and organizing them, sometimes sitting around the table with their own competitors. Ultimately, competition for these companies is not in Nuevo Leon but in places like India, the Philippines and China. They know that we have to get together and bundle our strengths.
Q: How do you help local companies recruit tech talent?
IR: This year we started an event called Monterrey IT jobs. Four hundred students registered, from all university levels, and not just from here in Nuevo Leon but from the entire country and even Argentina and the US. At this event, companies presented themselves, they held professional workshops and students could view job offers. For students, this helps understand the opportunities and the areas in which they may want to develop further. Our plan is to do this biannually. The goal is to make sure that more talent stays in or comes to Nuevo Leon. It is important that people know that there are very interesting careers in the state.
We also have programs for different age levels. For example, companies hold fun workshops for children on tech topics like Industry 4.0, IT and programming. This has been organized for three years now, with approximately 200 children participating each time. Now we will do it virtually, which gives us the advantage of being able to reach more people. The goal is not for every child to pursue a related academic degree. Regardless of what they end up studying, they will need knowledge on these topics for their professional life.
We also support a special program for young women. This is called “Patrones Hermosos” (Beautiful Bosses) and was created by Dr. Abel Sánchez of the Center of Computational Sciences at MIT. In Nuevo Leon, it is provided through a partnership between MIT and Tecnológico de Monterrey. The target group are women of around 17 years of age. They do not necessarily need to have prior contact with software or programming. The goal is to introduce them to computational sciences and motivate them to pursue engineering, particularly in IT. Last year, we had more than 2,000 girls across the country participating. Now, the event will be a one-week digital camp. Participants can come from other Latin American countries, as well as Spain. We also aim to reach people who did not finish high school. With the support of universities and companies, we can get them into programs and change their future.
Q: How do you increase interinstitutional and private sector collaboration?
AV: One of our goals is to make Nuevo Leon the capital of digital transformation. During the months of the pandemic, we organized a commercial mission to Colombia. In September 2021, we will have a mission to Canada. There is already an agreement between the government of Nuevo Leon and Alberta. Fifteen of our members participated in the Colombia mission, focusing on how companies from each country could benefit from its peers’ technology and services. What helps in strengthening the ties between business hubs around the world is that companies see the level of human talent our state has. This helps to pique their interest in investing in this state.
We have alliances with clusters in Bogota, Medellin and Quito, as well as the Basque Country and Bavaria. Here in Nuevo Leon, we work closely with the state initiative for Industry 4.0. We also work with the local Institute for Innovation and Technology Transfer. Another spinoff of one of our initiatives is the Center for Intelligence and Innovation in Cybersecurity. Furthermore, we work closely with the Mexican Internet Association. Part of our cooperation with these institutions is our exchange programs. We provide places for students and professionals at companies, universities and associations to learn and gain experience.
Q: What makes Nuevo Leon such a hotspot for innovation?
AV: One of Mexico’s advantages, and in particular for Nuevo Leon, is its proximity to the US. That closeness strengthens cultural similarities, while at the same time makes us a bridge to Latin America. Nuevo Leon is also a place where innovation is part of the culture. People are not afraid to take on new challenges. For young talent, there are many fascinating real challenges that they can take on by working with a company here. One of the wishes of the younger generation is to have a social impact and to leave a social legacy through innovation. With support from international companies and leading universities, these young professionals receive top-level training.
For foreign companies, we have a well-developed ecosystem in place with high-level talent. Just recently, Accenture stated that the contribution of Mexican engineers to regional innovation challenges was much higher than that from other parts of the continent.
Consejo de Software Monterrey (CSOFTMTY) is a cluster that brings together government agencies, companies and universities to drive economic growth and foster better quality of life in the state through innovation, market development, talent and furthering the infrastructure of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry