Marco Casarín-Junco, who officially took over the task of steering Microsoft Corp.’s Puerto Rico operations as general manager this week, believes the island’s operations — which include sales, manufacturing and, in November, a store — are key for the corporation and must be fully developed and capitalized upon.
In his first meeting with members of the local media Thursday, Casarín-Junco, who arrives to the island from Mexico, said proof of the technology giant’s focus on Puerto Rico is the upcoming opening of the first Microsoft Store in Plaza las Américas, the first such location outside the U.S. mainland.
“Puerto Rico is very relevant for the corporation, and it’s one of the challenges that I have coming in. This is a unique geography where we have a manufacturing plant [in Humacao], a sales and services subsidiary and soon, the Microsoft Store,” he said, suggesting a November opening. “There is also the fact that Puerto Rico is the link between North and Latin America.”
“Without even considering Puerto Rico’s size, the market truly does have an impact beyond what could be expected and Microsoft is aware of that,” he said, noting the quantity and quality of the business partners it has in its local network and the innovative spirit of developers.
“There is also the fact that Puerto Rico’s consumers are very mature and we want to offer them a first-rate retail experience with all of the products and services found in any Microsoft Store stateside, but with a local flavor,” he said.
In response to questions from reporters, Casarín-Junco outlined the three main challenges he faces in his new role: “gaining a deeper knowledge of the market dynamic and that of our partners, for which we’re already executing a 90-day strategy, maintaining and expanding our market relationships, and setting certain new goals to uphold Puerto Rico’s contribution to the business.”
As News is my Business reported, Casarín-Junco succeeds Cleber Voelzke, who returned to his native Brazil after heading the local operations since August 2009. In his prior role as commercial director for Microsoft Mexico, he led a team of more than 100 people offering product sales and services to that country’s private, public and communication sectors.
‘Hybrid environment’ will prevail
As for his take on the current technological landscape, the executive believes that consumers will continue depending on what he called a “hybrid environment,” which combines cloud-based services with software products on CDs and DVDs; that would guarantee the longevity of the Humacao manufacturing plant.
“When it comes to the scope of our operation, we have to realize that there are different needs in different markets. Thinking that everything will become digital overnight would be a mistake, as would be to think that everything will continue requiring a physical medium,” he said.
“The quality of human capital we have on the island leads us to look for ways to generate opportunities, and find the best way to supply the demand we’re getting for that hybrid environment,” said Casarín-Junco, who is currently transitioning from Mexico to Puerto Rico, where he expects to settle down for the long-haul in about a month.
Meanwhile, he also said addressing the island’s digital divide is also high on his “to-do” list and Microsoft is counting on its partner network to help bridge the gap.
“Puerto Rico’s digital divide is actually narrower than the rest of Latin America, but we aspire to improve it because that implies better opportunities for all Puerto Ricans,” he said. “That will entail a collaborative effort between the public administration and work with our partners so they reach those communities that need technology delivered to them.”
Finally, Casarín-Junco is looking a ways to strengthen the island’s development and innovation community, “which can be an extraordinary source of well-paid jobs. We want to see where we can insert ourselves to help people turn their ideas into realities, so they can get their operations going.”