Rather than worrying about the challenges associated with working with so many different cultures and lifestyles across Latin America, Oracle’s Carlos Victoria emphasizes the positives.
“There is a general attitude toward business relations that is common with Latinos—a particularly friendly environment,” says the vice president of the retail global business unit in Latin America. “Another positive aspect is that doing business with multiple countries, economies, and political systems helps diversify the risk. This comes at the cost of fragmentation and country-specific requirements that impact how our software needs to be adapted to satisfy the business needs of our retailers. But I try to convert these issues into opportunities for differentiating ourselves in the marketplace.”
As a young man in Colombia, Victoria studied industrial engineering and finance. After a short marketing stint at Unilever, he switched to finance and joined Bavaria Brewery (now a subsidiary of SABMiller), and then worked in business consulting at KPMG. Victoria says that every day working at KPMG was challenging, exciting, and instrumental to his professional growth. “That job gave me the opportunity to interact with many companies, CEOs, and board members,” he says. “It also prepared me mentally to work for extended periods of time under stress, time pressure, and uncertainty—
and to assume risks and challenges with not fear but the excitement of seeing the possible upsides.”
When his KPMG boss and mentor, Eric Brenner, moved to Oracle USA, he asked Victoria to join his team to help the company—at the time known mostly for its database business—move into selling high-value-added services and products in the software applications space. “It was a big move for me as I would go from a role within Colombia and the Andean region to a Latin American region-wide role in the largest enterprise software company in the world,” he says.
Victoria’s group helped Oracle break into a space where it didn’t have any recognition or market share, and essentially established the building blocks of what Oracle has today in terms of enterprise applications software and industry-specific solutions.
Victoria then moved to Miami and joined Oracle as a business development manager. After taking on several additional responsibilities, he became Oracle’s first director of the solution consulting team in the retail global business unit for Latin America, eventually becoming the vice president of the unit. He now oversees all business in Latin America, and works with a team of more than sixty professionals with retail-specific and IT experience, organized into sales consulting, solution consulting, marketing, channels, and R&D. “Since this is a very experienced team, my role is now mostly that of a coach, providing strategy and guidance, and empowering the team to perform at its peak,” he says.
Victoria notes that although Oracle’s software set is the most complete—in terms of breadth and depth—for the retail industry, that is still not enough to ensure success. “We need to be as close as possible to our customers, speak their language, breathe and live their culture—understanding all the nuances of doing business with them and how we can contribute to their success.”
He explains that Oracle’s widespread presence worldwide allows him to deploy a team that is local and close to the customer base. “We leverage the best practices from the best retailers around the world and quickly share them with local retailers around the corner. This has allowed us to grow exponentially and offer our customers the best solutions in the marketplace with a local touch and support.”
“We need to be as close as possible to our customers, speak their language, breathe and live their culture—understanding all the nuances of doing business with them and how we can contribute to their success.”
Oracle’s new software generation is cloud-based and readily available via subscription models. “This allows us to offer solutions with a quicker ROI and make our solutions available to segments in the market where it was cost-prohibitive for some in the past,” Victoria says. “We now have a growing number of solution enablers who are partnering with Oracle Retail to deploy our solutions at better-than-ever price points. Our business is growing significantly. Everyone is happy.”
Victoria says that maintaining a good work/life balance is essential for both himself and his team. “My priorities in life are my own health, my family, and my work—then everything else. If you stay in good shape—mentally, spiritually and physically—you will be available longer to your family. And I make sure that work complements my life. Balance is essential for life fulfillment.”
Victoria’s parents were the models for his philosophy. “My hardworking dad wanted only the best for us and offered me every opportunity to succeed. My mother inspired me to dream big, aim high, and to be tenacious.”
He imparts those lessons and inspirations to young professionals hoping to follow in his footsteps. “Dream big. Exceed expectations. Never stop learning,” Victoria says. “Be humble but ambitious. Plan, set goals, and be disciplined in executing them. Master at least two or three languages. And it’s okay to fall or quit as long as you can manage the downside, stand up, and continue on your way to success.”