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As Edwin “Ed” Suarez talks about his life and work, he explains that there are two things he has always been good at—math and computers. At around the age of ten, he taught himself to code and he even cofounded start-ups while studying computer engineering at Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia.
“I always thought that computers, specifically software, were going to change the world and change how we do things,” Suarez remembers. “That’s why I decided to go for software engineering.”
Suarez’s career path led to his current position of vice president of technology at LSC Communications’ Center of Excellence (CoE), where he oversees cybersecurity, IT infrastructure, and business applications. LSC is a conglomerate of four business units, and the VP’s team’s work involves all those units.
“Cybersecurity and governance is one area, and we also provide services around ERP [enterprise resource planning]-type of work,” he explains. “We support IT infrastructure, so your network, servers, cloud, all of that is consolidated, and my team is responsible for managing all of that infrastructure.”
Before he joined LSC in 2022, Suarez held leadership positions at Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, CEVA Logistics, Marathon Oil Corporation, and GE. All those experiences played a part in the development of his skills and leadership philosophy.
“I spent sixteen years at GE, so that’s significant,” he says. “My leadership style and my way of thinking about business was built at GE. GE also gave me a platform, and they sent me abroad a few times. I spent time in Brazil, Mexico, and Europe, and I did a lot of work in China. So, my global experience and my global mindset was developed within GE.”
And because he went through the leadership development programs, a lot of his leadership and ways of working comes from that experience. “I got the opportunity to do everything under the sun around digital technology—from business process optimization and using technology to create efficiencies in your business processes, through implementing large systems, to building commercial software products,” Suarez explains.
Indeed, building software products is where his passion lies. “I am a builder; I started my career at software start-ups,” he reports. “I like building things, so having that opportunity was tremendous.”
Then he made a decision that some described as crazy and others as genius: work in human resources at Marathon Oil in Houston. “I like to think it was a good option to actually leave the technology function and go into HR,” Suarez states. “I was still supporting technology and innovation from the people and cultural perspective.”
He built a leadership philosophy at Marathon Oil, where he also learned about large enterprise and cultural changes. Suarez says that learning about the HR processes was greatly advantageous for his career.
“Sometimes, especially in technology, we seem to dismiss HR and that actually has helped me,” he explains. “Now, one of the first things I do when I take any role is partner with HR to talk about organizational processes, capabilities, and talent.”
Another key stop in his career was CEVA Logistics, where he had the opportunity to launch a new digital revenue stream for a business that had operated through analog methods. “I like to think of myself as a technically rooted business leader who sits at the intersection of business innovation, technology, and people,” he says. “So, I had that opportunity to go and do that at CEVA Logistics.”
Suarez values the importance of education. After earning his undergraduate degree in Colombia, he emigrated to the United States to pursue a master’s in computer science. A decade later, he fulfilled his long-time goal of attending MIT. “That had always been my dream,” he says. “I actually went to MIT twice—first to get my master’s degree in engineering and then I got my MBA, also from MIT.”
He is also deeply proud of his Colombian heritage, which he says taught him to be “scrappy” because he didn’t grow up with the resources that are available to students in the US. He is proud of the fact that he is the first member of his family to go to college.
Another priority is diversity, which Suarez says has naturally been a part of his life and the way he does things. He is dedicated to using his experience to help young people, including by coaching high-risk students. “I want to pay back and pay forward,” he says. “My legacy lies with the people I help move forward and with my sons.”
Suarez also gives his time to helping start-ups in Colombia and to supporting people from Colombia who are pursuing careers in technology. “Whenever somebody needs some help, I’m more than happy to step in and provide that guidance,” he says.
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