Juan Hernandez, UST Global

Juan Hernandez

Improving Lives
with Technology

Editors’ Note

Juan Hernandez completed his B.A. at the age of 19 at Lawrence University and his Doctorate at 25 at Texas Christian University. After teaching at various universities and consulting for international corporations, he founded a Research Center at the University of Texas at Dallas and advised the UT Chancellor on programs for all UT universities in the Texas system. In 1996, Hernandez, who had never participated in politics, invited Vicente Fox (then Governor of the state of Guanajuato) to speak at UT and meet George W. Bush (then Governor of Texas). This historic meeting marked U.S.-Mexico relations. After the Fox visit, Hernandez began receiving calls from people he had never met, like Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, and Felipe Calderon. When Fox and Bush decided to run for presidents of their countries, both sought advice from Hernandez. Fox invited him to be his “gatekeeper” and close confidant. Bush’s campaign sought his advice on gaining the Hispanic vote. Hernandez brought advisers to Fox such as Dick Morris and Rob Allyn, taking Fox to victory over a party that had been in power for 71 years. He helped Bush turn out Hispanic votes in historic proportions. After the Fox and Bush victories, he created U.S.-Mexico programs benefiting small business on both sides of the border, and became the closest link between President Fox and President Bush and one of the most effective promoters of the U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Prosperity.

How is the Latin American market performing for UST Global, and is there strong opportunity today for growth and investment in that area?

UST has been very successful and will continue to be very successful because they can see what many have not. Call it the miracle of India, where India has been able to raise up to 30 percent of their nation into middle class with IT services; or call it the California spirit of IT and technology, which came from people working in IT.

This is something new and it’s not just limited to India – it’s new to our world as well. I think a lot of people are just starting to discover how important this change is. We are truly in a different era and UST, with different companies, puts us at the forefront, and Mexican President Vicente Fox caught onto it early.

As an example, if UST and Vicente Fox have their way, Mexico could, over the next few years, become the country that exports the most IT in the world second only to India. Vicente Fox would then have changed the nation of Mexico for the second time.

When you have seen firsthand what UST has been able to do, is technology really the answer? Is its impact well understood?

I don’t know if it’s well understood but, when you come into the nation of Mexico with the idea of training 30,000 engineers and hiring 10,000 of them, it’s hard not to get excited when you first hear the dream, and then see it develop into reality. However, the proof of it lies in that it has already been done in India.

India has been able
to raise up to 30 percent
of their nation into middle class
with IT services.

I’ve just been to India this year to see what UST has done there and it’s great watching the 14,000 young engineers – guys and girls – with the t-shirts that say “UST.” It is a thrill to see their excitement for the company and what it can provide for their families.

Do you need buy-in directly from the top for this program to be successful?

It does take leadership from those such as Sajan Pillai, Vicente Fox, or President Solis from Costa Rica, who has decided to work with UST for IP and technology. Solis has made the message very clear that he wishes his nation to go on that path of creating opportunities and improving lives with technology.

Then after showing the way, it becomes contagious.

Are there other countries in Latin America that offer strong opportunity to expand the program?

Panama has much going for it and it’s very different from Costa Rica. Costa Rica should become a laboratory for UST – a place for so many educated kids. Many companies like Intel are there hiring young people who are just very excited about innovation.

IT and UST will be able to take Panama to another level. We just had a major event there with the American chambers of commerce from all of Latin America. The main speaker was Vicente Fox as a witness, giving his testimony on IT in Mexico.

How has the work of UST impacted you personally?

I have participated in many political campaigns, where I try to help candidates find the winning message. I’ll do studies and polls to find out what people want to hear, and then have our candidates use this information.

Once they start governing, they want to make their promises come true. I had been to many meetings where people would say, there is no shortcut to education. It will take decades to create a middle class in one more country.

A company like UST says, there are shortcuts, and through technology, people can govern better. We presented three projects to President Solis that we hope he will adopt in his first 100 days. We hope he will, through IT, go even beyond what he dreamt he could do for the people of Costa Rica.

Then there is the social side, which is exciting because it brings credibility to a company like UST. I participate with Step IT Up America. The passion behind it is the belief that anyone who has a desire to do better, anyone who has a desire to improve his or her life and the lives of others, can reach that goal through IT. So UST sets the table for minority women that may have been given up on, and says, we will educate you and we will hire you, and you will have a very good salary and be a blessing to your whole family and community.

Making dreams come true for a society and, in particular, those that society may have forgotten, is a wonderful accomplishment.