Up&Ap: Luis Ortega on his career journey and leading IFS operations in 3 regions

Born and educated in Spain, he moved East to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to explore job opportunities in the mid 1990’s. Luck seems to have been his companion as he later settled while holding senior management positions   at a number of major technology companies. In 2012, he joined IFS, the Swedish-based software maker whose solutions serve a growing number of key industries, as its Sales Manager for Middle East. In June last year, he moved a notch higher to become the firm’s MD in charge of Africa, Middle East and South Asia. Read on as Luis Ortega takes as through career journey, leading the IFS team, the company’s strategies and focus for the region as well as what provides him with inspiration and motivation…   

Question: Who is Luis Ortega? How would you describe yourself to someone you’re meeting for the first time?

Answer: My name is Luis Ortega and I’m the Managing Director for IFS’s operations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions. I hold a Master’s degree in Telecommunication Engineering and have more than 20 years’ experience in the IT sector in Europe, Middle East, Latin America and Africa. My experience lies in engineering, consulting and outsourcing services with a primary focus on the energy, utility and telecommunications industry. Based in Dubai, I’m responsible for growing the IFS footprint in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions.

Q: Give us a brief background about professional life

LO: I joined IFS in 2012 as regional sales manager. In June 2016, I advanced to the role of Managing Director. Prior to IFS, I was Managing Director for the UAE branch of a global energy, engineering and construction company. Having experience in managing teams and infrastructure projects from project inception to completion, I’m in a strong position to add value to IFS’s growing customer base and support the company’s growth plans.

Q: In your current role, how many countries are you in charge of?

LO: While there are 54 countries in Africa and 22 countries in the Middle East, we only focus on stable and growing economies.

Q: What is your normal day in the office like? Take us through your typical day – from the time you report to the office till when you leave for the day.

LO: I’m usually in the office by 7:00am where I have a coffee with my management team in Dubai. We get top-line updates on our IFS Middle East business operations and share our opinions on the latest news.

The rest of my day consists of a combination of the following: mid-term business strategy planning calls with colleagues from IFS global; receiving updates and managing the directors in my region, updates and follow-ups with my sales team in the Middle East; meetings and/or calls with senior managers from our customer base, prospects and partners.

Q: Since 1999, you’ve had a presence in all the continents. Zeroing down to Africa, in which countries within the continent does IFS currently have full-fledged offices?

LO: Our African operation is based in South Africa and our clients are spread across the continent.

Q: As a provider of software to enterprises, how do you ensure that you meet your customers’ expectations while serving them either directly or through your partners?

LO: IFS’s partners can be described as organisations that are committed to excellence, are strongly dedicated to innovation, show exemplary business agility and are superior industry experts who deliver complex solutions to our customers – often in challenging environments. For each implementation, we choose partners who, together with our expertise and best practices, can facilitate and find solutions to customers’ unique requirements through optimal use of technology. We find that many of our solutions providers’ experienced staff have worked on several other large-scale IFS Applications projects, including end-to-end implementations, roll-outs, integrations and support. This gives us and our clients peace of mind.

Q: What concerns and challenges are both small and large business enterprises dealing with which makes them approach IFS for solutions? What are some of the common challenges clients are always dealing with when they come to IFS?

LO: Let me answer this by way of examples: To optimize projects and processes;  centralise disparate systems so that employees can work in real time and have complete visibility, capture and analyse large amounts of data to make meaningful business decisions, to help organizations leverage digital transformation and so on.

Luis Ortega strikes a relaxed pose outside the office.


Q: The enterprise software space is very competitive as it has thousands of other rival firms offering solutions targeting the same clients. How does IFS work to ensure that it stays ahead of the pack, retaining existing clients while attracting new ones?

LO: IFS works closely with its customers to develop and deliver enterprise software that enables global and demanding businesses to successfully handle 4 core business processes, including Service & Asset Management; Manufacturing; Project Management and Supply Chain.

In addition to this, IFS has been recognised as a Great Place to Work and by industry analysts as a market leader in its field – with Gartner naming IFS a leader in FSM while ARC ranks IFS as a market leader in EAM for Oil & Gas and Aerospace & Defence.

Q: Like other IT firms, you’ve mostly grown and expanded via acquisitions of other firms. Are we about to witness any such acquisitions in Africa?

LO: The IFS strategy is to grow organically, and focus on investments that complement IFS’s portfolio. We proactively look at opportunities all around the globe, including in Africa.

Q: Going forward, what can existing and potential clients expect from IFS in terms of new solutions?

LO: A division of IFS is our IFS Labs team, which looks beyond today’s expectations of enterprise software. It takes inspiration from consumer technologies and innovative solutions from a range of industries and then we apply these innovative concepts to IFS products. At IFS Labs, we prove the concepts today that customers will ask for tomorrow, to make their everyday work more productive, efficient and inspiring. The technologies that IFS Labs is researching right now include wearables, augmented reality, voice controlled applications and drones. IFS Labs is part of IFS Research & Development.

Q: In terms of trends, in which industry do you see or expect to see increased demand for your solutions in future and why?

LO: As the world continues to face threats from terrorism, hacking etc., homeland security will continue to see increased investment to protect national IP and its citizens. Another industry on the rise is Field Service Management and Servitization. Industries such as Oil & Gas, Engineering, Construction companies and the rest that manage turnkey projects, are looking to extend revenue lines by servicing the life of an asset they built or manage.

Q: Finally, what motivates you as a person, and who has been your main inspiration in life and professionally?      

LO: My motivation in life has always been my family. Professionally I enjoy building strong relationships with customers and partners and celebrate their successes. My main inspiration in life has to be my parents – they are good people with strong values, they’re hardworking, honest and humble. Professionally I am proud to say that my team inspires me every day with their commitment, professionalism and customer focus working in some extremely tough business environments.


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