Globalization is both benefiting the global population and making our world smaller, says Eduardo Uribe Mesta, CEO of Areas Latin America. While technology is constantly evolving and more people have opportunities to travel, the oceans and mountains continue to hold less and less significance as dividers. Uribe Mesta says that because of globalization, a higher level of products and services are demanded worldwide. That’s why he makes sure Areas Latin America—an international hospitality company that provides restaurants and retail shops in airports, highways, and train stations—delivers on a global scale.
“Twenty years ago in Mexico, we were talking about all the great things that the US and Western Europe had to offer,” Uribe Mesta says. Back then, it was considered a given that the same level of service wouldn’t be able to exist in Mexico, but globalization has since changed expectations. “Now people demand to receive the same quality of services and experiences they get in other countries, especially young people,” Uribe Mesta says.
This change in attitudes has forced businesses all over the world, including Areas Latin America, to invest in the services and experiences they’re providing to their worldly customers. As a result, providing great service has become a primary focus for Areas Latin America’s development.
“People react well when you invest in delivering the services and experiences they expect,” Uribe Mesta says. “When you invest in the capital and the people, you see the results.”
Delivering those experiences by modernizing the company is at the core of Uribe Mesta’s approach to revitalizing Areas Latin America’s presence in Mexico and other countries in Latin America.
“My goal is to modernize the company. I want to be the reference in my industry and I want to grow,” Uribe Mesta says.
Uribe Mesta pointed out that the potential of the markets is huge, a fact which has already been proven by the company’s 15 percent increase in sales compared with last year and an 80 percent increase in net profit in the same time frame as a direct result of focusing on those markets—all of which took place in Uribe Mesta’s first year as CEO of Areas Latin America.
“I think we can do the same in the next couple of years and become a very important division of the company,” Uribe Mesta says. “Until now, Areas Latin America hasn’t really been showing the potential that it has, and my goal is to develop it to the point where it becomes a powerhouse.”
The biggest part of Uribe Mesta’s plan to achieve these goals is by investing in the company’s image.
“Every time we modernize the company and the locations, the customers have reacted very well,” Uribe Mesta says. “So next year, we have a very aggressive plan for modernizing the company.”
Areas Latin America has invested in the locations, brands, new concepts, and new products for their approximately 200 restaurants and shops in Mexican airports, but Uribe Mesta says their most important investment will be in their people.
“We want to have the right team,” Uribe Mesta says. “When I got there, the company had been through a very tough time and were managing costs by firing people, so nobody was really proud of the company they were working for.”
Now the Mexican economy has turned around, and Areas Latin America has been able to reap the benefits of the change, both for the company and for its workers.
“We’re changing the culture of the company drastically to a point where people are becoming proud to work for us,” Uribe Mesta says.
The biggest problem with modernizing an entire company is that it requires a lot of manpower, and that’s Uribe Mesta’s number one challenge in implementing his goals for the company.
“Our competition is growing and it’s very aggressive,” Uribe Mesta says. “We have to be able to execute all the different opportunities that we have, and my biggest challenge is to have human resources to be able to implement everything and do it well.”
Much of Uribe Mesta’s success at Areas has come from his diverse experiences. Born and raised in Mexico City, Uribe Mesta studied in Barcelona, Spain, before Areas hired him. He worked in Barcelona for several years before Areas put him in charge of business development in the United States, based in Miami, Florida, where he brought the company’s presence from nonexistent to $250 million in annual sales in the span of eight years.
Uribe Mesta credits his success with his recognition of the differences between regions and his ability to keep an open mind. “Every region is different and you have to adapt,” Uribe Mesta says. “If you’re new in the region, you have to listen first and learn.”
“Every region is different and you have to adapt. If you’re new in the region, you have to listen first and learn.”
Eduardo Uribe Mesta
Areas has sometimes had to learn that lesson the hard way by making mistakes that cost the company a lot of time and money. As with every failure, Uribe Mesta said the key is to learn from those mistakes.
“We learned how to do things according to the market, but then I see people coming here and making the same mistake over and over again,” Uribe Mesta says. “They don’t learn or they take too much time to learn.”
Uribe Mesta says his experience in different regions was a plus when he started working at Areas Latin America, but it’s quickly becoming a necessity.
“Nowadays it’s extremely important to be able to work in different cultures and companies have come to expect that,” Uribe Mesta says. “Before, it was a luxury to have that, but if you really want to be successful in this world right now, you have to have that ability.”