For the sixth episode of the new podcast series IN BETWEEN presented by Tech Sabado and Newsbytes.PH, long-time tech exec Ronnie Latinazo recalled his career from working for IBM to becoming the sole country manager for EMC in the Philippines before the Dell acquisition.
Latinazo is currently the country general manager for the Philippines at Dell Technologies, a company that is an amalgamation of eight technology companies — Dell, EMC, Pivotal, Boomi, RSA, Secureworks, Virtustream, and VMware.
With over 30 years of sales leadership experience in the technology industry — including software, hardware and services — he is responsible for running and developing the overall business of Dell Technologies in the Philippines.
Latinazo finished high school in Ateneo de Manila University and proceeded to take up psychology at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
“My initial plan was to become a pre-med student in UP. After one semester, my interest changed. I wanted something more analytical and involved more logic. I decided that I had to shift,” he remembers.
He eventually switched gears and graduated cum laude for his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 1985.
“That landed me in an economics track, which of course, is far different from medicine. Luckily, I ended up joining SGV (SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co) in the management services side. I was a technical staff doing research,” he says.
In his stay with the SGV professional services firm, Latinazo was in charge of executive summary briefings, monthly publications, and preparing data. SGV, in its conception, was as a one-man accounting firm and branched out its scope of practice to audit, tax, and consulting services in the ’90s.
“Back then, data collection was manual. I go to the agencies, cut out newspaper clippings, put them in digital format, organize them, then make copies. Technology was crude back in the day,” he says.
His two-year stint in SGV made him aim for a higher managerial position. Similar to the route of his peers in the company, Latinazo pursued an MBA program in UP Diliman on a full-time basis after he finished his contract.
While taking his Master’s degree, Latinazo was hired as a marketing trainee for tech IBM. He ended up not finishing his MBA to focus on his career at Big Blue, which started to flourish at that time.
“When I saw the ad ‘marketing trainee’, I thought it was really a marketing role. In IBM, that’s actually a route — the roadmap — that is either a pre-sales or a sales role. I only found that out when I was already undergoing training,” he recalls.
Eventually, Latinazo headed the telco solutions department in IBM. “They gave me technical roles because they thought I was a technical guy,” he recounts.
After a some major customer wins at IBM, storage firm EMC came knocking at the door to invite him to join its team. In the ’90s, EMC was one of the most successful stocks on Wall Street, closely following Dell. The company focused on the data storage and data management business.
“Initially, I said no even after so many discussions. I’ve always been in the industry side – banking, telco, and EMC was a product company. It was a storage company. I felt that it was too limiting. But they were persistent,” he says of his decision to accept the post as country manager of EMC Philippines.
Since the company was expanding its business in the region, Latinazo led the inception of EMC’s foray in the country. He remarked at how there were many risks in introducing the product to the Philippine market, but he was backed by a reputable brand.
“It was a good challenge. It was an opportunity for me to essentially start up a new company. I haven’t experienced that; I’ve always worked for a company that’s established. Although they’re all market leaders, EMC was a market leader in its own right. It was the leader in the storage space,” he says.
On October of 2015, Dell announced its intent to acquire EMC for a deal valued at $67 billion – which is still considered as the largest acquisition in the history of the technology sector. The merger was completed on September of 2016. Having led EMC Philippines from its formation until its acquisition, Latinazo became the company’s first and last country manager.
“In 2017, operationally, the two companies came together. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to head the combined teams in the Philippines. They gave me that role. My challenge back then was how do I gel the two teams from different cultures and different backgrounds,” he says.
“I’m very proud of the team I built. They keep me from worrying because I can rely on them. One secret is if you are able to build a very good team, then your work becomes much much easier,” he concludes.