Rolando Ortiz is very much on brand. He estimates that he and his family eat at Wendy’s at least once a week.
The Wendy’s Company’s commitment to quality and doing the right thing are two of Founder Dave Thomas’s values, values that attracted Ortiz to the restaurant chain two years ago at the start of the pandemic.
“The culture at Wendy’s is second to none,” the vice president of enterprise architecture and international IT says. “Wendy’s people genuinely care for others’ well-being. The company prioritizes providing the tools teams need to succeed, allowing them to innovate and to do it sustainably. Community, diversity, and inclusion are key aspects of who we are. Being Hispanic myself, that is really important. This is a place where I can be me.”
There are roughly seven thousand Wendy’s restaurants globally. Growing the brand is job number one, Ortiz says, and two initiatives are helping in that regard. One is Own Your Opportunity, which was created to expand restaurant ownership opportunities for all and among underrepresented populations, specifically among women and people of color.
The other pivotal initiative is Good Done Right, Wendy’s corporate responsibility platform that was launched in 2019. Here, the focus is on increasing the representation of underrepresented populations among the company’s leadership and management, as well as the diversity of Wendy’s franchisees.
“We’re definitely looking for franchise partners,” Ortiz says. “Wendy’s is a great investment for anyone who wants to grow with us. Wendy’s will even help you build your restaurant through programs like Build to Suit, for example. I was in Montreal recently, and it was inspiring to see how a local franchisee valued serving his community.”
Ortiz is responsible for Wendy’s global IT infrastructure. In his two years with the company, he has focused on modernizing the technologies to build a world-class technology organization. He says, “The goal has been to design a road map of how to evolve the technologies we had been using to a cloud-first reality.”
An integral part of his role is to ensure that the support teams are keeping up with technological changes and working to deliver on Wendy’s technology vision of fast, frictionless, and fun customer, restaurant, and employee experiences delivered through forward-leaning technology and data science.
Ortiz was born in Mexico City and grew up in Toluca, Mexico. His father worked for more than thirty years for the Chrysler Motor Company as one of the engineers responsible for building up the plant that assembled automobiles for Mexico and North America, Ortiz says.
When he was a junior in high school, Ortiz, who considered himself “pretty good at anatomy,” declared that he wanted to be a doctor. One class visit to the local morgue dissuaded him of that notion. Also proficient in math, he pivoted to pursuing an engineering degree. A year spent in New Mexico as a foreign exchange high school student afforded him the opportunity to “think things through,” he says. He paired two interests, business and technology, and later attended the Monterey Institute of Technology, majoring in business administration and computer science.
Ortiz came to Wendy’s with more than thirty years of global technology leadership experience with companies including Procter & Gamble, the Kellogg Company, and Grupo Bimbo. The company’s offer to make him responsible for Wendy’s global technology infrastructure intrigued him, but what sold him on the opportunity was “when they told me about the culture and values and about the growth they were looking to achieve.”
Wendy’s “people-centric” corporate culture helped with the onboarding process, Ortiz says. “Everyone was extremely helpful in making sure I was part of every important discussion, that I had the contacts to be as effective as possible, and that I had space to build a successful team.”
On the international side, he says, the initial challenge was to work closer with international franchisees. “There were close relationships with operations and marketing, but there was an opportunity to make connections with technology,” Ortiz explains. “Perhaps the biggest challenge we have now is to transform existing partnerships to embrace the changes we are driving. How do we create new partnerships and strengthen the ones we have?”
Ortiz has been married for thirty-three years and has four children. On his family’s weekly Wendy’s outings, each person has a go-to menu item. Ortiz is partial to the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. His son, he reports, is “a Baconator guy.”
But recently, he opted for a restaurant that served a $19 hamburger. “I was sure it was going to be great,” he admits, “But I was disappointed. You can pay $20 for a hamburger somewhere else, but Wendy’s will be a better experience.”
Hughes Network Systems congratulates Rolando Ortiz, vice president of Enterprise Architecture and International IT at The Wendy’s Company, on this well-deserved recognition. We are proud to work with leaders like Rolando, who has a strong vision of how everyone can benefit from technology.