Andres Caballero has a leadership style shaped by qualities that were ingrained in him as a child growing up in Bogotá, Colombia: creating connections and finding ways to harness relationships at their highest potential.
The North American president and executive committee member at Minneapolis-based company Uponor may be an electrical engineer by trade, but he has employed the mindset to grow businesses of his own and provide strong leadership for both private and public companies on a massive scale.
“I think I’ve just always looked for creative ways to solve problems and advance people and businesses,” Caballero says. “That may be partly due to my engineering background and a focus on continuous improvement. I try to maintain a pragmatic approach around executing a clear strategy, optimizing mechanisms to make it happen, and holding people accountable for their success.”
Caballero’s leadership development is second to none. The bulk of his professional maturation occurred at Honeywell, where he was promoted four times over ten years, ran five different business units, and honed his own leadership capabilities.
Prior to coming to Uponor, the executive also spent extensive time building and growing software-as-a-service and consulting businesses. In those efforts, Caballero says he learned what it truly means to be customer-focused.
“So many big companies aspire to be customer-focused, but when you are on the front lines and part of a small organization, you learn what that is really all about,” Caballero says. “I often tell people to treat their customers like they’re the only customer you have. That forces you to spend time building a true partnership, not just a transaction.”
But a massive transaction is exactly what Caballero would encounter upon coming to Uponor in 2022. He was immediately drawn into a potential massive M&A deal that would result in publicly owned Georg Fischer acquiring Uponor in 2023.
Caballero says it was an immediate chance to help Uponor accelerate its growth and value-creation strategy. Initially, Georg Fischer wasn’t the only company interested, and Caballero says that while engaging in the M&A conversations in the background, it was also paramount to continue delivering to our customers on what Uponor does best.
“We wanted to continue to highlight the value of the company, and that meant we needed to stay focused on what was in front of us,” Caballero explains. “We are proud to have ended up with Georg Fischer. There are so many great synergies and cultural fits that just make sense. I don’t expect our strategy to shift significantly going forward, but it will certainly be accelerated by being part of Georg Fischer.”
That strategy remains twofold: valuing a high-performance culture that continues to grow, innovate, and expand margins in tough markets, while at the same time focusing on “enablers” in productivity and efficiency.
On the first front, Uponor continues to win designations as an employer of choice, and Caballero says the local and international projects the company routinely wins highlights those accreditations.
On the second, Caballero says Uponor North America runs processes with a lean mindset that allows it to run at optimal efficiency. The expanded margins the company continues to post are evidence of that efficiency, and the president says there is continued room to grow, especially with the help of Georg Fischer.
For Caballero, those lessons he learned growing up in Colombia remain critical. He stays as committed as ever to learning new ideas, new strategies, and new possibilities from those around him.
“Whether it’s our employees, our customers, or the communities, government associations, or regulatory bodies that we engage with, I just love connecting with people, hearing what they have to say, and truly listening to their ideas,” Caballero says.
When that curiosity is paired with the focus on rigorous execution that has helped define Caballero’s career, it’s easy to understand why Uponor sought him out in the first place.
And Uponor’s mission has only continued to fuel Caballero’s desire to succeed.
“At Georg Fischer and Uponor, we’re providing technologies that allow people to have access to safe drinking water,” the president says. “We continue to look for technologies that will help utilize water in better and more efficient ways. That, to me, is tremendously inspiring.”
When given the chance to look back on his own career thus far, the executive says he wishes he could encourage himself to take more chances, to act more boldly, and not be afraid to show what he was capable of.
It’s a valuable lesson for any immigrant who has felt the need to fit in. Caballero says don’t let that need get in the way of embracing your authentic self. What makes you who you are is, in many cases, the defining characteristic that can make all the difference in the world.
“Authenticity can unleash your career’s true potential,” Caballero says firmly. “You could be the one that sets the tone for the next great thing.”