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Continually challenging oneself doesn’t necessarily mean changing companies every three years. Juan Perez is a shining example. The current chief information and engineering officer at UPS didn’t transition into his role after stints at other companies. He started at UPS thirty-two years ago as an intern, then became a loader, and then a driver. Promotion after promotion, Perez built out new skills in engineering, IT, supply chain, the domestic business, the international business, and a whole host of areas that have made him the ideal candidate for his current role.
As Perez sees it, this position is the best one he could ever have. “I’m so happy to be in this role,” he says. “I respect it immensely. Every day that I come to work at UPS, I recognize the obligation and responsibility that I have to this position—not just to myself but to the thousands of employees in the company and the millions of customers we serve every day that depend on our solutions, our technologies, our facilities, and our processes.”
The Best Teachers, The Best Gift
Perez spends a great deal of his interview trying to distance himself from his own accomplishments. He credits the mentors he’s had during his three decades at UPS, who have given him opportunities to fail and learn from his mistakes, and the many IT and engineering professionals he works with each day. And before that, there was his father.
As Perez explains, his family had to leave Cuba after the revolution and begin again. “My dad was just a true professional in everything that he did,” he says. “He left Cuba and came to the United States—and eventually restarted his textiles business in Mexico, primarily because of his language limitations, but filled with pride, a vision, and motivation.”
Perez’s father taught him the value of treating people with dignity and always making sure that he was connected to the people he worked with. Perhaps most importantly, he stressed the importance of finding passion in his work. Perez, like his father, is an avid learner, a key to success in any job. He recently finished his first course in the pursuit of his doctorate. Perez firmly believes that UPS supports and encourages the development of its people.
“My dad used to say that the best gift you can receive is when someone teaches you something,” Perez says. “As leaders in this company, I believe we should constantly be teaching and developing the next generation of UPSers while also acknowledging that you won’t always have the answers.”
More Than Next-Day Delivery
While thirty-two years seems more than enough time for Perez to have learned all about UPS, there is always more to learn. His curiosity remains his constant driver in partnering with new CEO Carol B. Tomé and furthering her goal of providing the best customer digital experience and service that any company can offer, supported by the smartest logistics network. “Our new CEO has helped us navigate through some challenging times already, and I think she’s established a fantastic goal for UPS,” Perez emphasizes.
For Perez’s part, this customer service goal will mean providing support through the UPS Smart Logistics Network. “We will continue to make investments in operational technologies like drones, electric aircraft, and advanced technologies of all kinds, including smart packages, handhelds, and robotics,” Perez says. “The goal Carol has established has to be well supported by engineering and IT, and that’s why I’m so excited about the work that I do.”
Perez’s team members are equally passionate about the work they do each day. Recently, the team was recognized with a CIO100 award for its innovative Harmonized Enterprise Analytics Tool, which provides up-to-date statuses on UPS packages across the company’s entire network. In other words, a digital twin of its physical network to help plan and run operations more effectively. In addition, in 2021, UPS was recognized as one of the best places to work in IT by Computerworld magazine.
More important than any award, however, is the tangible help that UPS’s technology innovations provide to its customers. As Perez explains, the company’s visibility solutions and network planning tools have helped improve the efficiency of the entire UPS network, as well as the resilience and flexibility of the entire operation. In early 2021, when a rogue snowstorm hit Texas and caused power outages across the state, UPS’s network planning tools and operational know-how played a key role in helping mitigate the crisis.
Creating the Future
Perez is immensely grateful for all of the opportunities UPS has afforded him over the years. The organization places great value on its people, he says, which is part of the reason why he’s remained with the company for so long.
“UPS creates opportunities for all, including immigrants just like me,” Perez explains. “By working hard, educating yourself, and committing to the organization, you can do anything here. There are so many stories like mine at UPS, of people who have found opportunities and have been put in a position to help create the future of this company, and it’s a responsibility I take very seriously.”
UPS’s 114-year history began with Jim Casey and his partner working out of a basement in Seattle, Washington. Perez is well versed in the story of the company’s founders. It’s a story of perseverance, partnership, and commitment. And thanks to innovators like him, and his continual desire to keep pushing for the company’s technological evolution, UPS’ future remains bright for generations to come.