LatinX leaders are guiding some of the most innovative technology development across the globe, and at the same time inspiring future generations from Latin America and the diaspora.
While LatinX executives are still substantially underrepresented in countries like the United States, and regional technology hubs are just beginning to sprout within the past decade or so, these technology leaders have made great strides to advance their industries and ecosystems.
Latin America is now the birthplace of 17 unicorns — startups valued at $1 billion or more — up from zero just three years ago. Most of these ground-breaking companies are active in the fields of finance, insurance, and real estate.
In 2019, investment in Latin American startups amounted to approximately $4.6 billion, a significant increase from nearly $2 billion dollars reported the previous year.
Over the last ten years, venture capital investments in the region grew by more than three thousand percent. It is estimated that its tech-driven market could grow nearly tenfold over the next decade.
Latin America also stands out for having the highest female entrepreneurship rates in the world. In Ecuador, for instance, over one third of working-age women are involved in early-stage business activities.
Promising reports coming from Latin America indicate that its governments realize investment in IT-related initiatives helps their countries grow and develop, improving the lives and futures of their people.
And while challenges remain for the region, Latin America Reports is taking the opportunity to present 20 tech leaders with ties to Latam who had impressive accomplishments in 2020 and are leaving a deep footprint on the technology landscape.
Maria Teresa Arnal, Head of Latin America, Stripe
Maria Teresa Arnal is the head of Latam at payments giant Stripe. She is also the president of the board of the Mexican chapter of the World Internet Project and Scholar of the Mexican Academy of Communications.
Arnal is a senior executive with over 20 years of international management experience in the fields of general management, marketing, internet, new media, technology, telecommunications, and entertainment.
Before joining Stripe, Arnal held managing director roles at both Google and Microsoft, and previously worked for Boston Consulting Group. She also shares her knowledge of technology and business as a mentor at international accelerators such as Wayra, part of Telefónica, and Endeavor, a global entrepreneurship program with branches across Latin America.
She is a co-founder and member of the Academic Council of the Instituto Superior para el Desarrollo de Internet (ISDI) in Mexico. The institute promotes digital transformation at its sites in Madrid, Barcelona, Mexico City and Silicon Valley.
In 2011, Arnal was named one of 50 most influential people in technology in Latam by the Hispanic Executive Technology Council.
Juan Carlos Gutierrez, Head of Solutions Architecture and Customer Success, Latin America & Caribbean, AWS
Juan Carlos Gutierrez joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2020 as head of solutions architecture and customer success for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Previously, he was the CEO and managing partner at rational7, leading Data, AI, IoT and Cloud initiatives globally.
He worked as managing director for technology consulting at PwC where he led cloud initiatives and he also spent 20 years at Oracle, ending his term there as a Group Vice President where he managed the company’s $150 million consulting business unit within Latin America and the Caribbean.
Gutierrez also serves as a Member of Board of Directors for the Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council (HITEC), a leading organization of Hispanic IT executives from around the world.
Cecilia Retegui, Chief Executive Officer, Zolvers
Cecilia Retegui is the Argentinian-based co-founder and CEO at Zolvers, a company that is leveraging the power of technology to help improve the life of domestic workers in Latin America.
The company connects previously screened home cleaning, plumbing, electrical and maintenance professionals through an app to thousands of customers across Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Colombia.
Retegui is a systems engineer, holds an MBA, and worked as software developer at Ford Motor Company from 1995 to 1998.
She’s also an Endeavor Entrepreneur. Endeavor is a nonprofit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. Their “mentor capitalist” model is designed to break down economic and cultural barriers to entrepreneurship through the help of a network of world-class business leaders.
Victor Gureghian Baez, VP of Global Cloud Channel Sales, Ingram Micro Cloud
Victor Baez is the vice president of Global Cloud Channel Sales at Ingram Micro Cloud, which is “the world’s largest cloud ecosystem”. The premium cloud services provider employs more than 1,500 dedicated cloud specialists worldwide and tallies 45,000 technology resellers and managed service providers, over 200 cloud-based services and 33% of the world’s top telecoms providers within its ecosystem.
In 2017, the company launched its cloud marketplace in Chile, marking its foray into the Latin American market. Its marketplace is now in dozens of countries around the world.
Over the past 20+ years, Baez’s experience has spanned across leadership roles in sales, marketing, operations, and general management in the United States, APAC, Europe, and Latin America.
His impressive track record includes working in high-profile roles at Carbon Black, VMWare and Microsoft.
Isis Rodríguez, Marketing Lead, Erudit AI
Isis Rodríguez, who is based in Mexico, is contributing to the vision of Erudit AI as marketing lead. Erudit AI helps executives and team leaders understand if employees are suffering from burnout or mental wellness issues It also measures engagement levels and acts on frictions in the workplace before they have a chance to escalate.
Rodríguez is committed to “helping companies make the workplace a more human place with the help of AI technology” and calls herself a “challenge-driven” marketing professional.
She has years of experience in brand management across different markets in Latin America with in-depth knowledge of Mexican, Brazilian, and SLA markets. She’s held previous roles at toy manufacturer Mattel, and was previously a merchandise intern and Disney. She studied at one of Mexico’s leading technological institutes, Tecnológico de Monterrey.
Courtney McColgan, Chief Executive Officer, Runa
Courtney McColgan is serving as the founder and CEO of Runa, a human resources (HR) startup based in Mexico City. The cloud-based HR and payroll software solution is built specifically to support small to medium-sized businesses across Latin America.
Previously, she worked as the chief marketing officer of Cabify, a ridesharing platform founded in 2011 in Madrid with operations across Latin America, Spain, and Portugal.
Holding a degree in business administration and management from Stanford University, one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions, McColgan has had the experience of working at Morgan Stanley and Draper Fisher Jurvetson as well.
Ester Borges Santos, Coordinator, Minas Programam
Ester Borges Santos researches digital rights and internet governance at InternetLab, an independent research center based in Sao Paulo, Brazil focused on internet policy.
She is responsible for analyzing the impact of internet communications on democratic practices, transparency of public data, digital social movements and online activism, media literacy, and journalism, and the public digital sphere, according to her biography on WomenDeliver.
She’s also a champion of education for young black women in Brazil. She’s a coordinator for, Minas Programam, an organization that challenges gender stereotypes in the technology space.
Borges and her Minas Programam colleagues recently received coverage in Forbes for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic to set up virtual study groups on gender, race and technology.
Sergio Granada, Chief Technical Officer, Talos Digital
Colombia-based Sergio Granada is chief technology officer at Talos Digital, an award-winning software development, digital experience, and e-commerce solutions firm that partners with agencies and other businesses to provide consulting and development on their software products.
Talos Digital has offices in the United States (Miami) and Canada (Montreal), as well as sites in Colombia in the cities of Medellín, Cartagena, Manizales, and Rio Negro. The company has worked with leading companies from the Fortune 500 including Pepsi, Shell, and Cisco Systems.
Earlier, Granada was a partner at JuanRegala.com and a senior developer at Spectrum Data Technologies. He has studied software engineering and telecommunications engineering.
Javier Andres Cardona Mora, Chief Executive Officer, 1DOC3
Javier Andres Cardona Mora is the CEO of 1DOC3 and has had the experience of working for Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica and Aldeamo, a digital marketing company with a presence in countries across Latin America. He holds a bachelors of business administration from Universidad Externado de Colombia.
1DOC3, which got its start in the Colombian capital of Bogotá, is an AI-assisted telemedicine platform that provides affordable access to doctors in seconds. It is a portfolio company of TheVentureCity.
In July, the company signed a partnership agreement with Nequi, a financial services app from Bancolombia, one of the country’s largest banks. The partnership allows for more streamlined telemedicine services and payment options for Colombian patients, according to a report from Soy Emprendedor.
Jimena Zubiria, VP of People & Communications, TheVentureCity
Jimena Zubiria is vice president of people and communications, Americas, at TheVentureCity, a leading accelerator that aims to help “global-minded” tech companies manage each phase of their growth journey—whether they are promising early-stage startups, high growth companies, or established enterprises.
The accelerator raised a $100 million venture fund in 2017 to help advance startups in Latin America, Europe and the United States. The company has offices in Madrid, Miami, San Francisco and Sao Paulo and it has helped grow companies such as Cabify, Pixlee and PlayGround.
Zubiria, who holds a bachelor of science in communications from Florida International University, worked in different roles at Google between 2011 and 2017.
She describes herself as an “experienced leader of tech-focused teams with a passion for building high-performing company cultures, skill development programs, and preparing workforces for jobs of the future.”
Victor Cortés, Director of Partnerships & Growth, Tribal Credit
Victor Cortes is the Former Editor and CEO of Contxto, a startup news organization covering technology, startups and venture capital in Latin American in both English and Spanish.
He recently became Director of Partnerships & Growth at Tribal Credit, a company providing financial tools for startups in emerging markets. Victor has an extensive background in startups and finance, having worked as an investment analyst at Redwood Ventures in Mexico.
His latest employer, Tribal Credit, provides access to modern financial tools for startups and SMEs across Latin America. The company recently won Juniper Research’s Best B2B Payment Platform Gold Award, part of the The Future Digital Awards 2020 for Fintech & Payments.
Dolmarie Mendez, Chief Executive Officer, Abartys Health
Dolmarie Mendez serves as the CEO and co-founder at Abartys Health, a health technology company focused on centralizing healthcare data and improving healthcare processes for insurers, providers and patients.
She is a certified healthcare reform specialist, self-insurance certified specialist, corporate wellness specialist, and United States healthcare policy compliance officer.
Under her leadership, Abartys Health was recognized as the winner of Parallel18’s Demo Day Investor’s Choice in 2017, SXSW Release It Competition in 2017, and the Rise of the Rest Competition 2018.
Born in Puerto Rico, Mendez was named one of Caribbean Business’ 40 Under 40 in 2015 and Caribbean Business Women Who Lead in 2016. She is currently sharing her knowledge and expertise with aspirant entrepreneurs at StartupMexico.
Alfredo Yepez, Latin America Managing Director, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Alfredo Yepez manages Latin America for Hewlett Packard Enterprise where he oversees everything from development through execution of regional strategy for the legacy computing giant.
Yepez is an accomplished technology sales and operations leader with three decades of management experience at HP. He started at the company in 1990 in Venezuela and has since held various positions as he worked his way up to managing Latin America.
He holds numerous awards from the Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council (HITEC), including one from 2019 for being among the most influential Hispanic leaders in information technology.
Cuco Vega, Chief Operations Officer, Bexi
Cuco Vega is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Bexi, a smart platform for User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design for companies that don’t have the resources to employ full-time design staff.
With years of experience in design and engineering, Vega has built his career working for startups and design studios like TellTale Games, Cibo, Edelman, and Organic as well as Silicon Valley companies such as Bio-Rad and Citrix.
As a Mexican-American, he has been a proactive promotor of collaboration between Mexico’s main tech hub Guadalajara and Silicon Valley and founded Jalisco’s business and tech promotion office in San Francisco.
Laura Mendoza, Chief Operations Officer, Unima
Laura Mendoza is a founding member of the Unima team and currently serves as the chief operations officer. Under the motto of “Diagnostics for everyone, anywhere”, her goal and that of her company is to help solve the issue of lack of access to healthcare in underprivileged areas.
Unima is basically a biotechnology firm in Mexico, which is focused on the development of fast and low-cost diagnostic devices to control diseases that affect the lives of billions of people around the world.
Before helming Unima, Mendoza was in charge of operations planning at pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, where she helped launch a new line of products for the company and managed the operations efforts for supply management of 200+ different products.
Sebastian Vidal, Chief Innovation Officer, Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust
Chilean Sebastian Vidal has a storied background in technology and startups. Having worked his way to become the Executive Director of Start-Up Chile, Latin America’s most iconic startup accelerator, in 2015 Vidal was recruited by the government of Puerto Rico to lead the island’s government backed tech accelerator, Parallel18.
Parallel18 provides grants, mentorship, business connections, and investment to companies from the island, as well as those who are looking to grow and scale from the island to markets abroad such as the United States (Puerto Rico is a United States territory).
This year, Vidal took a new role as the chief Innovation officer at Puerto Rico’s Science, Technology and Research Trust, a public-private trust that’s looking to transform the island into a technology hub. Parallel18 is part of the trust.
Sergio Ramos, Editor in Chief, SocialGeek
Sergio Ramos is the Editor in Chief of SocialGeek, one of the leading technology news publications for the Spanish-speaking world.
Originally from Colombia, Ramos has cultivated a loyal readership of tech enthusiasts across Latin America, the United States, and Spain through his detailed product reviews and first looks at some of the coolest tech gadgets to hit the Latin American market, especially in the mobile phone space.
He’s a regular contributor to leading general news outlets in Colombia such as El Colombiano, El Espectador, and many more, and the Colombian government has even tapped his expertise to teach social media safety to ex-combatants of the country’s half-century civil war as they reenter society.
Ariel Lopez, Chief Executive Officer, Knac
Ariel Lopez is the CEO of Knac, a data-driven talent evaluation platform that provides recruiters with an efficient tool for screening applicants, managing their pipeline, and ensuring they do not miss out on great talent.
She is a career coach, entrepreneur, and public speaker with an expertise in digital media and technology. Lopez has almost a decade of recruiting experience and has worked with thousands of marketing, advertising, and tech professionals to help them grow in their careers and find lucrative opportunities. She is passionate about the future of work and making the job search more humane.
Lopez considers herself Afro-Latina. “I definitely consider myself Afro-Latina, but if someone asks me what I am I say Black and Puerto Rican,” she said in an interview with the blog, Ain’t I Latina?.
Tania Cosentino, General Manager, Microsoft Brazil
Since 2019, Tania Cosentino has been working as general manager at Microsoft Brazil, “living every day our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
Prior to joining Microsoft, she worked for 19 years at Schneider Electric, holding positions such as sales manager, sales director, business development director, and South America zone president.
She studied engineering at Faculdade de Engenharia Sao Paulo, management at INSEAD, and business administration and management at the University of Navarra. Last year, Cosentino made the ambitious claim that her country could increase its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 7% if the country fully adopts artificial intelligence.
María Paz Gillet Martín, Co-Founder, Jooycar
María Paz Gillet Martín is the co-founder of Jooycar, a leading auto insurtech startup in Latin America. She passionately observes the latest trends in the fields of AI, telematics, mobility, and the Internet of Things (IOT) in the insurance and automotive sectors.
Martín has a strong digital background, having worked for two decades in the area of digital and e-business for leading companies in Chile.
In 2010, she founded Happyshop, the first Latin American mobile shopping app. The platform managed to raise more than $6 million.
Martín was named one of the 30 Most Successful Young Professionals by Diario Financiero and Entrepreneur of the Year by INCUBA UC in 2012. In 2013, she was named one of the 100 Female Leaders of the Year by Diario El Mercurio, Chile’s newspaper of record.
Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company.