Q&A: Federico Florez
Federico Florez is Global CIO at construction, transportation and infrastructure multinational Ferrovial. In advance of his participation in the 3rd Annual Cloud Computing World Forum (to be held at London’s Olympia exhibition centre June 21-22) we spoke with Federico about his current role and the strategic challenges he’s working to overcome…
Outsource: Federico, thanks so much for taking the time to join Outsource today. Let’s begin with a bit of background: can you tell our readers a little about yourself and how you came to be Global CIO at Ferrovial?
Federico Flórez: I have been working in the IT industry for more than 20 years, in companies like IBM, Alcatel, Telefónica, Banco de España and finally Ferrovial; I’ve been CIO for 15 years. I joined Ferrovial in 2008 as global CIO, and as a member of the Management Committee of the group.
O: Let’s look at your organisation: can you please describe the IT function at Ferrovial and tell us about how it’s changed and evolved to cope with the company’s significant growth in recent years? How have you adopted outsourcing?
FF: We have a global IT organisation for global projects and local IT organisations in each of the business where we need local and different IT solutions. Innovation is also part of my role, and that is coordinated globally in its methodology and strategic projects. We have been growing for many years, integrating new business and companies, and that means more flexibility to integrate the changes, and capacity to implement new projects and IT solutions. We considered in our IT strategic plan that we would externalise the non-core process where we could find a good solution in the market.
O: Are there any idiosyncrasies – for example, cultural or structural – peculiar to Ferrovial which impact upon the IT function (either positively or negatively)?
FF: In my opinion Ferrovial is a very good company to introduce innovation because we have a good knowledge of our business; many employees are engineers able to implement and study new things; and we are a leading company in the infrastructure sector so we need innovation and IT to differentiate from our competitors.
O: Along with keeping up with a rapidly growing organisation what do you think have been your biggest challenges during your time in the role thus far? And how successfully do you think you’ve managed to overcome them?
FF: To change any organisation and a function is difficult in a changing environment. Also, according to the difficult economic environment we must not increase the budget in these years, so we are changing the budget, increasing innovation projects and decreasing operating costs. When you change the mission and objectives of an organisation, you need another culture – and that takes time, which is another difficulty; anyway, we have an excellent group of professionals and the transition is working very well.
O: And what do you see as being your biggest challenges looming for the next couple of years?
FF: Once we have changed the operating environment, after externalising several processes of IT, we need to propose more innovation to the business and helping them in increasing the business or differentiating them from the competence offering new services. IT must be a facilitator for that.
O: Do you believe there is a shortage of suitable IT talent within the EU (and if so, how does Ferrovial mitigate this problem)? Do you believe governments are doing enough to ensure a supply of talent for the next generation?
FF: I think there will be a lack of talent in the EU in IT, and also I forecast more IT talent coming from other markets, because of that lack and because of the cost. It is difficult to have a recipe to solve it, but it is necessary to invest in education, and to specialise in niche markets, among many other initiatives.
O: How are you reacting to the evolution of cloud computing? Do you believe it to be a truly game-changing development?
FF: Cloud computing is not a reality yet, but it will be in the future. The internet opens the possibility for capacity and software in the cloud and to offer a better cost, so it will be a success. It is not certain which will be the market leaders in this – and neither the speed of the process – but I firmly believe in cloud computing.
O: Increasingly, IT is coming to be seen as a potential profit centre and not merely a cost centre. Is this true at Ferrovial?
FF: Yes. It is necessary to change that role: innovation helps in that because it means benefits for the business, and also you need to measure IT in terms of business value.
O: What do you think are the key attributes for success among IT professionals today?
FF: Multinational experience; open-mindedness; education not only in IT but also in business; social networking skills; company with strategic vision; and luck.
O: Finally what are your ambitions for the next few years?
FF: To continue improving in contribution to the business; build a team of the best IT professionals; and being happy everyday while doing this…