We last spoke with Rodrigo Becerra Mizuno, Chief Digital Officer and Chief Information Officer at XXI-Banorte, when he was still CIO and Corporate VP of PEMEX.
Having joined XXI-Banorte in 2019, Mizuno says that he was looking for an opportunity to put his considerable technical experience in the public and private sectors to new use. “At the start of my career technology was still seen as a ’back-office function’,” he explains. However, as digital transformation continues to redraw the landscape of so many industries, the world of finance has naturally undergone some changes of its own and amongst these Mizuno saw the chance to make a positive impact. “It's a highly regulated environment, so there are parameters that we need to follow whilst also factoring in engagement. In my opinion, we have to present a customer experience similar to retail and it's been a lot of fun doing that.”
Holding a BA from Boston University (1994 to 1998) in Economics, an MBA from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (2004 to 2006) and attending several courses at Harvard, Mizuno possesses a strong skill set combining technology, finance and business acumen.
His credentials as a tech expert are attested by his previous tenure as an executive at Microsoft, a valuable experience which he says continues to influence his vision and leadership at XXI-Banorte. “I heard a very famous quote from Bill Gates: ‘We need banking. We don't need banks anymore’. What that means to me is that the idea of financial services or banking has changed after a long time of remaining static.” As regulatory restrictions become more flexible as old operating paradigms are reevaluated because of technological innovation, Mizuno is confident that the future of finance will belong to those who are willing to shape it themselves. “You make the role, the role doesn't make you,” he emphasises. In line with this thinking, Mizuno has refocused XXI-Banorte’s IT department from its previously “reactive” state to a far more strategic and ROI (return on investment) focused entity. This, in turn, has made the entire company much more agile, which became invaluable when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Mexico and introduced the now all-too-familiar operational challenges of social distancing. “We were able to digitalise and enable practically everybody to work from home in less than 48 hours,” states Mizuno.
When it comes to digital transformation, an often overlooked aspect can be the accompanying cultural shift which it entails. Despite this, Mizuno makes it clear that a well-developed workplace culture remains one of XXI-Banorte’s primary concerns. Indeed, with the company maintaining its status as one of the country’s most beloved financial institutions, some might question how XXI-Banorte can maintain its competitive edge. For Mizuno, it comes down to a simple formula of quality, care and staying true to the organisation’s proudly Mexican roots: “Providing a great service and making sure that you differentiate as a Mexican company that it cares not only for the business but also the citizens of Mexico is important,” he says.
Looking ahead to 2021, Mizuno can proudly say that it won’t be a year of ‘unfinished business’; COVID-19 has not dented the bank’s resolve to transform into a truly 21st century operation. In fact, the pandemic may have been the catalyst for change that IT has been waiting for.