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February 22, 2019

Digital Transformation Opportunities in Latin America

Thriving in the Era of Digital Transformation and AI

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Georgetown University’s Latin America America Leadership Program (LALP), the McDonough School of Business Global Business Initiative (GBI), and the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) were pleased to present MSB Dean Paul Almeida in conversation with Mr. Cesar Cernuda, president of Microsoft Latin America, and MSB Professor Ricardo Ernst, executive director of LALP and GBI.

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (MSB) Dean Paul Almeida and Executive Director of the Latin America Leadership Program and MSB Professor Ricardo Ernst joined Cesar Cernuda, president of Microsoft Latin America and corporate vice president of Microsoft Corporation, as he discussed digital transformation in Latin America during an event hosted by Georgetown University’s Latin America Leadership Program (LALP),Global Business Initiative (GBI), and Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS).

Cernuda explained that we are in an era of unprecedented opportunity, and much of the growth we experience over the next decade will be driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation. Artificial intelligence is already a key driver of digital transformation across a wide range of industries, from financial to manufacturing to agricultural, including emerging markets and regions such as Latin America. With more data at our disposal than we have ever known, and more effective technologies allowing us to make sense of it all, companies are changing the way they work and the ways they interact with their customers in a more customer-centric world. AI provides a scalable, highly efficient way to
deliver on this promise.

The world is transforming, the way we are engaging, learning, and working … it is way more digital than in the past. The first priority of CEOs in Latin America is to transform the company digitally.”

Cernuda stressed the need to understand technology and business in order for companies to anticipate future needs and adjust. He also mentioned the global physical presence of Microsoft, especially
in Latin America.

The region has a sizable young population and language and cultural similarities across countries that allow to us to leverage sizeable economies of scale.”

Among the attendees was Jose Rafael Monagas, a Global Competitiveness Leadership Program (GCL) participant from Venezuela who strongly believes that Latin America needs to pay more attention to digital
transformation. As he explains:

Mr. Cesar Cernuda's talk on innovation and digital transformation was very inspiring to us coming from developing countries, where we are still paying little attention to such an important matter …. Embracing and accelerating digital transformation in our region will help us close the gap with developed countries at a faster pace.

Roberto Mendoza, another GCL 2019 student from Mexico, found laudable Microsoft’s emphasis on doing good while simultaneously remaining profitable:

Technology is now playing a big role in delivering good to society. Today, it is also necessary to be socially​responsible as a corporation; this dictates new ways to do business, new opportunities.”


Cesar Cernuda is president of Microsoft Latin America and corporate vice president of Microsoft Corporation. He oversees a business that includes 35 offices in 21 countries, with more than 2,000 team members and 80,000 business partners and his main priority is to accelerate the company’s current transformation as a leader in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, to support the company mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Previously, Cernuda was president of Microsoft Asia Pacific, and has spent more than 20 years at Microsoft. Cernuda has a bachelor's degree in business administration and marketing from the University ESIC in Spain, and completed a program for executive development (PDD) at the IESE Business School of the University of Navarra in Spain. Cernuda has been recognized as one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Hispanics” by the Hispanic IT Executive Council; as one of the "100 most influential Spaniards in the world" with the ‘100 Españoles’ award, the “Best Executive of the Year” in 2011 by Emprendedores Magazine, and most recently recipient of the Aster Award to celebrate his remarkable career in the business world by ESIC Business & Marketing School.