What about Chile?

Chile is situated along the western seaboard of South America. It extends approximately 4,300 km from its boundary with Peru to the tip of South America at Cape Horn, a point only about 640 km north of Antarctica. A long, narrow country, it has an average width of only about 180 km, with a minimum of 15 km near Puerto Natales. Chile has been one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies over the past decade. However, the unemployment rate rose slightly, from 5.7 percent in July 2013 to 5.8 percent in January 2016. But thanks to ambitious structural reforms, Chile has maintained its status as a Latin American reference of progress whose creative public policies have become international models of good governance. We wanted to form our own conclusions and flew to its capital Santiago de Chile to talk with the General Manager of Sika Chile, Francisco Jimenez.


1. What are your personal secrets for managing a team?

It is difficult to try to reduce them to a recipe, but in general I would say that it is important to establish clear and focused objectives, be prepared to drop those tasks that do not add value, be able to assume a reasonable share of risk when making decisions and, especially, be ready to ask for help or simply accept when a problem cannot be solved. This is all part of leading and managing an organization. Similarly, feedback and an assessment of what and how we are doing is important and necessary to create an environment of confidence.

Leadership requires constant resharpening, refocusing, never really being satisfied. At the same time, anyone in a leadership role should not even try to guess at the answers, but should always reach out to customers in a systematic search for those answers. I encourage maintaining a passionate and motivated attitude.


2. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about working at Sika Chile?

First of all, having a brand recognized in the market, having the resources and support to develop initiatives and propose improvements, being in a friendly but challenging work environment, and finally the possibility to develop both personally and professionally. Sika is acknowledged as an organization that rises to challenges, especially among people in the construction business.


3. Chile has been one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies over the past decade. But the overall economic picture remained fairly gloomy heading into 2017, with growth lackluster and the economy operating considerably below potential. What is your personal outlook?

Countries go through different stages of growth, but the really important thing is the ability to correct and improve. In this sense, our country has demonstrated that is able to recover from adversity, as evidenced by the earthquake in 2010, as well as to survive different economic cycles. Nevertheless, to meet growing needs and succeed in a turbulent and exiting environment we must focus on our mission, demonstrate accountability, and achieve results.


4. And the construction market? Where exactly does Chile profit from Sika?

Our country has achieved a strong level of professionalism in the construction
industry and requires solutions that are increasingly more durable and environmentally friendly. Major projects in the mining, energy, construction,  roads and healthcare sectors have provided Chile with a very solid infrastructure.

In the housing segment, the challenge is to incorporate more demanding standards of earthquake safety, as well as to make new materials more durable, lightweight and economic, which opens great opportunities to a company such as ours. All this calls for practical solutions and technical knowledge.


5. What infrastructure vision do you have for the country in terms of making people’s life easier in the future?

Our infrastructure still requires additional investment, especially in improving road and port connectivity in Chile’s extremities, incorporating sustainability concepts, exploiting natural conditions to develop non-conventional energy sources (wind, radiation, tides, etc.) and stewarding water, an increasingly scarce resource.


6. What are the immediate goals for Sika Chile?

First of all, our task is to defend our market leadership. Competition is becoming
stronger and the arrival of new entrants makes it more challenging. On the
other hand, our more immediate objective is entering new markets with work underway to build an acrylics plant and to grow the mortar business. To this end, we are looking for alternatives in the development of products and channels, allowing us to expand our product range and coverage, while maintaining an attractive level of profitability.

Our second objective is to generate and fast-track more effective alternatives for potential acquisitions that will allow us to expand our base of operations both
in terms of volume and geographical reach. Finally, we must consolidate and expand our presence in the North to increase our penetration and make better use of our resources at the Antofagasta site.


7. Diverse landscapes unfurl over a 4300 km stretch while the country
averages just 175 km wide - a land of extremes, versatility and beauty. Does this come close to what Chile is about?


Not necessarily. Although Chile is recognized as a long and narrow strip of land, it boasts an enviable ocean, more than 5,000 km of coastline, and a mountain range which in addition to being beautiful and challenging is rich in natural resources.

On the other hand, a decades-long connection and relationship with Asia is transforming Chile into a gateway to Latin America.


8. What is it that you personally enjoy the most about life in Chile?

I think being able to reach the mountains and the ocean within just 2 hours is a privilege. And Chile’s diversity of landscapes, cultures, climates and customs make it a very special country.


9. What are your aspirations for your country looking forward?

Our path of development so far has required a lot of stamina and drive, but we must now move on to the next stage, where human resources are very important. In this sense, the challenge is huge, because we have to broaden our base of support staff with new and different skills, improve our productivity, achieve more ambitious goals as a country and at the same time maintain what we have built.

The question is what do we have to do today to accomplish results. Planning is not an event, it is a continuous process of strengthening what really works and avoiding what does not, it means taking risks and decisions in full awareness of their potential effect, setting objectives, appraising performance and results through systematic feedback, and making ongoing adjustments as conditions change.

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