The Big Interview
Preparing for the
CCT editor Philip Mason talks to Motorola Solutions’ new vice-president
for Latin America Alex Castañeda about the challenges presented by the
region, and business development during COVID-19
www.criticalcomms.com October 2020
Could you tell me a little about your background
and your role as vice-president?
As vice-president, I’m responsible for all Motorola Solutions’
sales, service support and system integration for Latin America.
I started with Motorola out of college, and spent a good
chunk of the first part of my career in North America, working
mostly with data. That included private data networks,
command and control solutions, in-car video, as well as twoway
Following that initial nine-year period, I moved into a
global role where I was designing and implementing channel
programmes, as well as the operational systems sitting behind
them. I then moved to Latin America to run the channel
business, which included two-way radio, wireless broadband
and mobile devices for enterprise businesses.
I left the company for almost four years to work with Zebra
Technologies, running Latin America for them, as well as their
North American channel and SMB businesses. I came back to
Motorola about a year ago.
How has the Latin American market changed since
you left and came back?
Latin America is still a very exciting place in which to
operate. It seems like every three years or so there is significant
political or economic change that impacts countries across
The current issue, of course, is COVID-19, which is not just
affecting the region but the entire world. That’s clearly going to
have a considerable impact going forward, not just in terms of
health but also from an economic standpoint.
The impact of the pandemic is pretty deep, and it’s going to
take a while to get back to normal. Many countries around the
world are expected to rebound quickly once the COVID-19
crisis is over, but in my opinion the rebound in Latin America
will be a bit slower and might take more time.
What are the immediate knock-on effects from a
business point of view?
As governments around the world are focusing on facing the
COVID-19 emergency, spending and investment priorities
shift towards dealing with the pandemic.
At the same time, there are region-specific factors such as the
price of commodities and oil. Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are
all big oil-producing countries, and if the oil price is down, that
impacts their economy and spending behaviour.
In the short term, this could lead to less investment from
organisations and people into the region. That causes capital to
be taken out, which in turn affects the value of local currencies.
How is Motorola Solutions addressing that as a
company? What’s your strategy going forward?
We are seeing opportunities in the region, and we’re continuing
to do business. For instance, recently, Petrobras – which is
one of the big oil producers in Brazil – chose to invest in our
MOTOTRBO technology. We are currently rolling out the
solution to 30 of their oil platforms.
In terms of business development going forward, we are
looking at how to deploy our resources more effectively across
the region. To be successful in Latin America, you’ve got to be
committed, close to your customer and understand the specific
requirements for the specific country and market.
Returning to the subject of government investment, we do
still see technology investment, simply because there’s such a
need for mission-critical communications across Latin America.
The one sector where we’re seeing less spending in technology is
in tourism and hospitality which, as you can imagine, has been
struggling during the pandemic.
As I said earlier, Latin America remains an exciting and
special place to be.
You mentioned significant changes earlier on.
Taking COVID-19 out of the equation, what form do
they usually take?
Governmental change is a big one, and every time that
happens, you tend to see capital leaving the country. Right now
– again, because of the pandemic – it’s something that we’re
monitoring very closely.
At the moment we’re seeing some political and civil unrest in
the region. For example, there were protests in Chile last year
and early this year. There is some level of political unrest in
Brazil now as well.
Therefore organisations are still investing in technology to be
used within the safety and security context. We want to help our
customers keep populations safe, and keep assets safe as well.