Interview with Jesús Vidal

We go further to be closer: Konecta’s CEO interview

Jesus Vidal is the CEO of Konecta, which he co-founded with Jose Maria Pacheco in 2001. Formerly a director at Santander Bank, he has led the company for over 20 years, growing it through a mix of organic growth and acquisitions. The integration with Comdata is Konecta’s largest ever acquisition, taking it beyond its traditional strongholds in Spain and Latam and growing its footprint in Europe especially. 

From this new perspective, leading a much larger company with operations in 24 countries and over 130,000 employees, Jesus Vidal explains the rationale, benefits and ambitions for the integration with Comdata, and where the business goes next.

The integration of Comdata is an important move in the company's history. What is the vision behind this move?

With this integration, we are aiming to achieve a global position in the CX BPO market. We are already leaders in Spain and Latin America, and through this acquisition, we are adding greatly to our presence in a range of markets, in Europe especially. 

As well as reinforcing our leadership in key markets like Colombia, Peru and Italy, we will strengthen our position in key markets such as France, Turkey and Eastern Europe, and be able to offer our clients new geographies and diverse capabilities and services. This represents a watershed moment for the business as we are now taking a clear leadership position beyond our historical settings (the Spanish-speaking world for Konecta, and Europe – primarily – for Comdata).

As a result, the deal will help us to scale, reaching €2bn in revenues and a presence in 24 countries, combined with a larger client base and diversified verticals, services and markets. This integration of the two companies is enabling us to accelerate the development of our portfolio of digital solutions and services, and to further build our capabilities to serve global clients, especially in the US. So, in summary, we are looking to create a more powerful platform by reinforcing our capabilities and our value on the market.

All of this is possible because Konecta and Comdata have very robust common foundations, including a relentless focus on operational excellence and client satisfaction; a strong and diversified portfolio of technologies (C-Suite, back office process & optimization and consulting at Comdata, and digital marketing and digital collections at Konecta); and an impressive track record of investing in analytics and AI capabilities. 

How would you assess the progress of the integration between the two groups? What characteristics would you highlight in Konecta’s markets?

So far, we have made very good progress wherever both companies have operations. We have mapped all the necessary integration processes and we have a good route to implementation in each relevant geography. Both companies have experienced management teams who are working well with each other, bringing together their diverse backgrounds, experiences and cultures in a highly effective way.

As I said, Konecta now has a presence in 24 countries and the first element to highlight is diversification. We see good growth opportunities in all our markets, for example, through our value proposition of the ‘Smart Sales Model’ of digital marketing, and through opportunities with ‘cross-border’ clients – for example, offering our services to existing clients in new markets, etc.

The benefit of this enhanced diversification is that we are present in different markets that can enrich each other. For example, we are now ideally placed to be able to transfer best practices between operations and expand our digital and service capabilities.

Both companies already have solid digital expertise and capabilities. How will this contribute to the success of the company?

We cannot understand our business or our value proposition without technology. Our operations are a powerful mix of technological and human capabilities, with a strong component of cutting-edge digital tools that, on the one hand, make our operations very efficient and, on the other, improve the quality of the services we provide to our clients.

And as I said in the first question, this integration with Comdata is enabling us to accelerate the development of that portfolio of digital solutions and services, and to further build our capabilities to serve global clients.

There’s a common understanding running across both Konecta and Comdata that digital capabilities are at the nexus of what we do. We integrate best-in-class and home-grown solutions to design fluid and seamless customer journeys that rely on digital, allowing our clients to provide outstanding customer experiences. We also embed digital and technology across our operations, so that we can operate the best quality at the best cost and at scale,

And as we plan the expansion of our digital expertise and capabilities, we also recognise the importance of our people! Along with our technology portfolio, we both have teams with a diverse set of skills, ranging from CX consulting, through to process optimisation, data science, data management, and more. These teams are all contributing to building digital solutions that match and exceed clients’ expectations and deliver excellence, and all of that will contribute to the future success of the business.

How have customers reacted to the integration of Comdata, and what do you think is Konecta's main competitive advantage?

Our customers have reacted very positively. They know our ability to integrate companies, and this new acquisition opens up very good opportunities for them to utilize our services in other geographies, replicating the successful model we currently have. In addition, we will be able to offer them Comdata's own capabilities, further enhancing the quality of the services we are currently providing.

Konecta's differentiating factor is the flexibility and capacity to adapt to each client and the agility to prepare, define and deliver services in response to their needs.  We achieve this by applying principles of operational excellence in our services, combining human talent and appropriate technologies in our operations, with a total focus on the client. The integration of Comdata will add to this competitive advantage.

How are ESG criteria and requirements included in your roadmap and business plan, and how do you think they contribute to a better strategy?

There are growing expectations from stakeholders in terms of ESG, but it’s important to emphasise that ESG principles have guided our business since the foundation of the company. They’ve always been part of our DNA and are deeply entrenched into our culture. So, of course, ESG criteria and requirements feature in our business plan.

From an Environmental point of view, we are strongly committed in 2023 to reducing our carbon footprint and will be announcing later this year a major achievement in relation to that. From a Social point of view – which in our case is possibly the most relevant principle given the number of employees we have – all the objectives set are done to improve the working environment and provide opportunities to people at risk of exclusion, promoting growth within our company. And from a Governance point of view, we ensure the security of all our operations through the systems implemented.

And finally, you’re a Spanish CEO at the helm of a global giant, with more than 130,000 people in 24 countries ... what is your main challenge?

One of Konecta's strengths has always been the stability of the management team. And in the case of the CEO, he has been the same since the creation of our company over two decades ago. So, my own real challenge and priority is to continue to move forward with the company, staying agile while giving stability to our employees, guaranteeing quality in our operations for our customers, and generating value for our shareholders. 

If I do that, along with my colleagues in the management team who are also at the helm of this global giant, I am absolutely optimistic and excited about what lies ahead.

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