Momentum builds at CIO & IT Leadership Conference
By Laura Rentas-Giusti
Special to News is my Business
More than 700 leaders of industry, government and academia gathered for a direction-setting exchange that took place during the first CIO & IT Leadership Conference hosted by the Puerto Rico Information Technology Cluster (PRITC) last week.
The unprecedented gathering of IT sector professionals, government officials and academic leaders included a full-day agenda that covered a wide range of topics.
The event kicked off with welcoming remarks from PRITC board president Víctor López and messages from Puerto Rico CIO Giancarlo González and the Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce Alberto Baco.
“The information technology sector, fueled by well-prepared professionals and world-class infrastructure, is poised to become a powerhouse that could buoy the local economy during its current hardship, especially if we focus on working together to promote the growth and exporting of our services,” López said.
The enthusiasm continued during a keynote address from Putman Bridge Funding CEO Nicholas Prouty entitled “The exciting challenge of revamping Puerto Rico’s economy,” in which he stated the case for investing in Puerto Rico and gave attendants a fresh perspective on the island’s potential for economic growth.
“My fundamental belief in Puerto Rico remains absolutely unchanged — Puerto Rico is in the process of a great reinvention and the smart money knows it and that money will soon make its way into your hands,” he said.
“Look past political affiliations and work towards the improvement of Puerto Rico, anything else should be a distant second place. I know this is easier said than done, however, it is critical that Puerto Ricans join forces towards economic prosperity,” he added, garnering a standing ovation from the crowd.
Additionally throughout the day, diverse ideas were generated during panels covering such topics as the vision for the local IT sector, the path to exporting for growth, the role of academia to improve the supply of human resources, and the government as catalyst for growth.
Economist Heidie Calero offered an engaging presentation where she proposed the local IT sector lead the way up the steep climb to Puerto Rico’s economic recovery and Secretary of State David Bernier addressed attendants regarding his department’s contributions to improving business on the island.
A panel of government officials — Senate President Eduardo Bhatia, González, Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust Executive Director Iván Ríos, and Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company Executive Director Antonio Medina — concluded with a commitment to work together with the private sector to create the conditions necessary for the accelerated growth and expansion of the IT sector.
Concurrent with the event’s afternoon session, the PRITC board of directors convened a group of private sector leaders to an open discussion about how to consolidate agendas and ensure the opportunities of the IT sector are known and exploited across industries.
Attendants to the candid conversation included Puerto Rico Products Association President Manuel Cidre, Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce President Jorge Cañellas, Puerto Rico Engineers and Surveyors Association President Edgar I. Rodríguez Pérez, and representatives from the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association and the Puerto Rico Internet Society.
The event marked the starting point of an aggressive action plan set forth to unite, strengthen and grow the IT industry to spearhead Puerto Rico’s economic development, organizers concluded.