As technology has become a synonym of success, every company craves to acquire and cope up with it. Mc Luhan is a consulting company that specializes in customer relationships which are designed to create the best experience based on AI technology. The company offers its services in markets such as banking, insurance, health, government management, retail, entertainment, mass consumption, telecommunications, and utilities. The company has experts in each business and for each product line.
One of the experts is Andrea Mandelbaum, CEO of Mc Luhan, who leads the company with her sterling marketing strategies and exceptional leadership qualities. She says “my efforts and objectives are centered on being a leader in technological innovation with an additional orientation on high capacity usage, which represents an unforgettable useful experience for the client.”
In 1994 Andrea stepped into her professional life after her graduation when she started working in statistics for a market research company. This was while pursuing a postgraduate degree in Business and Marketing. In 1996, she established the company, Mc Luhan. However, in 2000 she sold it to the WPP group and then worked in the company for three years. Later, in 2003, she re-established Mc Luhan under a concept orientated to customer relationship consultancy rooted in technology. In the last 10 years, she has become a specialized reference in the region on issues of artiﬁcial intelligence, consulted by the press, and giving conferences.
A Team of Experts
“My motto is always being a step forward in innovation and have a ﬂexible structure so we can adapt to changes quickly,” says Andrea. Per day, Andrea spends between two to three hours studying new technologies, usage per segmentation trends, and behavior in the face of technological tools. Also, she speaks a lot with the clients so they can tell her their problems and needs. She asserts “clients lay out their difﬁculties to us not knowing how to cope with them and ignoring if there is a technological tool or not to apply.”
After brainstorming and with the help of a multidisciplinary team of experts per ﬁeld, the team at Mc Luhan starts the design of the product that can solve the needs of the clients per sector and as per industry. She opines “I value teamwork, the fact of listening to each other, and the company internal and external community, as well as the professionals who can provide knowledge in both, always including them within the frame of professional respect and honesty.”
Inspiring Work Environment
Andrea opines “It seems to me that the most signiﬁcant trait is the fact that we work as women and we do not copy men´s models to reach for success.” She believes this is something that has evolved in the last years after the movements and initiatives of women empowerment. Twenty years ago, women who managed to make progress made it at the expense of scarifying their private lives. She adds, during her professional life, she has always been surrounded by men at the boards of directors; but, due to her personality, she never felt fear or insecure about not being at the same level as them.
70% of the workforce at Mc Luhan, since its inception, has always been comprised of women. And they have always been empowered as this feeling has been natural for them no matter if they were part of the company or not. It is in the company spirit. There is a great environment of collaboration and respect among all genres that constitute the company. The value resides in the people and not in their genre.
Always Ready to Face Challenges
The first obstacle Andrea faced was creating a company being too young, a woman, and having way too innovative ideas. However, she was tenacious, and she believed in the model. The 1996 Latin America was 5 years behind the rest of the continent when it came to the progress of technological services. So, she engaged to spread out her service. She explained what it was all about and clariﬁed the concept of a 360-degree view of the customer for service.
Political and economic conditions and changes in Latin America are not easy to surf, but Andrea believes it helped her on not only being creative with the services the company supplied but also on how it offered to the customers and how needs would arise for each market.
For each crisis, Mc Luhan and the team try to find support solutions rooted in technology for their clients. For example, under events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the company developed a service with immediate effect to tackle crisis caused by absence, suspension of activities, or evacuation of the customer service team. It also designed a virtual nurse who activates a care protocol and gives recommendations when it identifies and pre-diagnoses Coronavirus. This service made quite an impact as the company launched it when companies and governments were arranging their contingency plans. So, the company supplied a solution that others believed to be impossible.
For Andrea, women’s empowerment isn’t new. She has been using it to ﬁght since she was young. She has always sought to make an alliance with other women in her company. In fact, Andrea’s associate is a woman, and they have been carrying forward the whole company in perfect balance for years. Together, they foster talents in the company as well as in the clients. They have seen women who started from ground level and are now performing at important company positions. That gives Andrea deep satisfaction.
Recently, Andrea found herself in an initiative called Woman in AI (Ipsoft), in which she was invited to be the regional pioneer in charge to inspire new generations to participate in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). This is where Andrea can set the improvement standards and adapt them to Latin America because only a few women pursue degrees in STEM. So, she suggests hiring women from different disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, HR, marketing, etc. They can study and work within the AI (Artiﬁcial intelligence) environment because the faster they develop in the business, the better they will be positioned in the market. In a short period, every device will be deeply engaged with AI, and the ones better prepared would reach the best business positions.
However, Andrea believes “we should start from the beginnings. What did I want to allude to that? I say that very few little girls between six and twelve years old see themselves working in STEM since there are almost no models to follow.” So, she believes, it is important to produce education and motivation at a very early age so they can approach technology not only as users but also as developing tools that will follow their own preferences.
Insights on Meritocracy
On meritocracy, Andrea asserts, “I would like to explain its meaning ﬁrst. It is the power of merit, the power is understood as right. This right is given to the deserving individual. Still, if we want to decide who deserves it according to the individual efforts, all participants should be fixed at the same starting point. What usually takes place is that this point is not located at the same place for everyone, consequently, the ones launching from a different condition will spend more time to reach or probably, do not reach the expected at all.”
She further says “If companies analyze the value only relying on the individual capacity, we would be ignoring the surrounding conditions and situations such as genre, social and economic environment, culture, geographic place, just to mention some of them. In consequence, defining the parameters while considering the situation, environment, capacities, and efforts of the individual plays a key role if we want to settle when and where someone can reach the expected. We should use the meritocracy as a motivational strategy, but the starting point must be fixed before analyzing.”
Envisioning an Advanced Future
Andrea is now focusing on placing and enhancing Mc Luhan’s AI (Artiﬁcial intelligence) bots. The team is currently introducing a new line that allows clients to have unique experiences through AR (Augmented reality) + VR (Virtual reality) along with AI (Artiﬁcial intelligence). After COVID-19, lots of shopping habits will change, and the company will be there offering usage and purchase experiences so real that one would even feel being physically inside the store.
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