Ricardo Ferreira de Sousa COUNTRY HEAD Brazil, LATAM and North America

About your experience and background

Could you share with us a little bit about your career path before joining the Grupo ADI?

I began my career in the Textile industry at the age of 15, after being selected in an admission process to the technical course in which I was enrolled. That’s when my career began. I left my hometown, Rio de Janeiro, and moved to Santa Catarina. I completed two university degrees: one in Chemistry, and the other in Physics. I later graduated with a degree in Textile Engineering and earned an MBA in Business Management from the Fundacao Dom Cabral (FDC) business school. My professional growth within large industries dictated my pace of work and development

What aspects of your previous experience do you think will be most valuable to your new role in the Grupo ADI?

I’ve become an executive with solid professional experience going back more than 30 years, standing responsible for the business as well as the development and implementation of various projects, programs, policies and commercial management, working in national and multinational companies in the Textile and Chemical sectors. I’ve held management positions in areas such as Manufacturing, Maintenance, Purchasing, Quality, Sales, Costs and Engineering, and I’ve overseen the performance and development of teams, people, and negotiations with customers and suppliers.

I’ve also held positions such as Executive Director, Director of Operations, Director of Sales, Statutory Director and I’ve been a Legal Representative of large Corporate Groups. I’ve worked in Sales & Marketing Management for Latin America, with excellent results in improving performance, productivity and profitability. In addition, I’ve had the experience of living for a few years in another country, which has significantly bolstered my professional and personal development.

Have you previously worked in the Latin American market? If so, what challenges and opportunities did you identify?

Over time, the Textile industry in Latin America has become a powerhouse. Historically, the Latin countries have been recognized for their textile work, due to constant domestic demand, economic growth, and purchasing power. Development has also been driven by investments in innovation and technology by companies and international fairs, all of which contributes to stable development based on research, debates and modern solutions.

According to Textiles Pan Americano, some countries in the region stand out in certain segments. For example, Peru is the largest exporter of garments in South America due to its high-quality raw materials, such as Pima cotton and its llama alpaca wools. Brazil, meanwhile, is recognized for its artificial and natural fibers, and exerts great international influence by participating in large economic blocks.

 Strategy and vision for Latin America

To help adapt to new developments and innovation, it is necessary to stay up to date on market trends. In the short term, one of the main strategies is to promote the responsiveness and optimization of processes to avoid wasting time and material, as well as to identify constant improvements to grow as a work team.

In the medium and long term some goals related to macro-trends for the coming years include:

–  Sustainability
–  Technological intensification
–  Production migration
–  The improvement of human resources
–  Durable partnerships
–  Internationalization and formation of R&D policy networks
–  The assimilation of intangible values
–  Expanding our experience with the SPC Logistic Group and global chain

All this, bearing in mind that everything mentioned hinges on customers’ real needs and a focus on them, gaining recognition of the Grupo ADI brand worldwide.

Innovation and market trends

To ensure success with regards to these trends, it’s necessary to invest in solutions that promote modernity, productivity, profitability and automation. In this way, the chemical industry (Grupo ADI) in the Americas will be able to meet the new demands of consumers affected by the pandemic, the economic crisis and the specificities of each region, thus standing out in the sector.

Although the forecasts are optimistic, the market has become increasingly competitive, making it difficult for companies, in general, to obtain large portions of the market. This is mainly because the sectors are moderately fragmented.

The shift in retail fashion in Latin America, however, has contributed to the market’s growth.

The Caribbean and Latin America are emerging as burgeoning powers driven by internal and domestic demand, economic development and changes in the population’s purchasing power.

In addition, there is a growing possibility of investment in countries in the AMERICAS, such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay.  Brazil is the fourth-largest market in personal hygiene, perfumery and cosmetics, and represents 6.2% of global consumption in the sector.

So, we have quite a task ahead of us. The key is that the Grupo ADI covers several segments and not just textiles, which sets us apart, focusing, together with our customers, on smart solutions that generate added value for both parties.

Well, there will be new challenges out there yet to be discovered (laughs). But, the step to take now is to keep up with market developments and trends to stay up to date. This will make us pioneers in investors in new technological solutions, so that the Grupo ADI stands out on the competitive national and international markets.

The Latin American market is investing a lot in knowledge production applied to textile, clothing and chemical production chains, with companies  launching sustainable and biodegradable ingredients, investing in technology, digitization, and artificial intelligence. And consumers, due to the pandemic, are increasingly investing in “clean beauty.”

In addition, we must strive for direct relationships with customers, always listening to their wishes. This integration between physical store, e-commerce, website, mobile and marketplace channels needs to be fully unified with integrated, real-time actions. Empathy is changing the mainstream and generating initiatives and creativity for the “main character”: the Consumer.

With innovative projects, and new chemical and biotechnological processes, we must always be seeking to take advantage of local and renewable raw materials. In addition to complete infrastructure, we have teams of qualified professionals working in areas such as biotechnology, process engineering, chemical synthesis and fibers, and other projects based on more sustainable production. The search for products originating from renewable raw materials is a trend in the global industry. And, of course, all the above, together with the constant training of our entire work team, is essential to manage the needs of both parties, together with our customers.

Collaboration and corporate culture

Talent management is a challenge that inspires me, as employees appreciate aspects that go beyond financial remuneration. Workers’ culture, organization, and experience are critical to a more diverse and intergenerational professional environment. I have seen, since I arrived at the Grupo ADI, that this is one of its main cornerstones, and I mean to strengthen it in every possible way so that, more and more, all employees LOVE what they’re doing in their day to day and, consequently, the company they work for. Everything that is done with love is lasting.

We must understand how to continue to grow in terms of market share, (and here I emphasize cultural differences), a traditional goal that is becoming more complex in the midst of a slow economy.

In this same scenario, added to the inflation present at the international level, the improvement of operations, increases in productivity and cost reductions have become imperatives for companies. The rapid disruption in recent years has led to profound changes in which business strategy and transformation have been reconsidered. Therefore, there is a need to think and act differently in each region.

Expectations and future vision

Businesses in the Americas face a weak economy and political uncertainties, both locally and internationally. Three years after the start of the pandemic, companies feel better prepared to face the market’s ups and downs. Our main challenges are to: continue with the digital transformation, keep growing, achieve operational improvements, boost our productivity, and reduce costs. In this regard, technology and development emerge as great enablers so that we can achieve our objectives and remain relevant on the market, always with our main focus on the CUSTOMER.
Positive attitudes, planning and clear goals are important, as to realize a dream it is vital to have a good plan, as this helps to take the next steps.

My goal will be to expand actions for competitiveness in the chemical market, make improvements to our entire production chain, plan strategic actions in the short, medium and long terms; recover and develop competitive raw materials, optimize logistics, generate adequate infrastructure, train our commercial/technical workers, and bolster strategic alliances and with potential customers, becoming more and more strategic partners.

Personal message

I assure you that the secret is not in the functions I choose to perform, but rather performing everything I choose with dedication and a spirit of joy. I hope to continue like this in everything I do here.

My main objective is to contribute to continue burnishing the Grupo ADI ‘s image and reaping the fruits of a project started more than 25 years ago by our President and Founder, Jordi Simó, through which market knowledge, the structure, the qualification of processes, operational efficiency, the professionalization of the team, and the solidity of the Grupo ADI have all been improved.
Expand your skills! Knowledge is power. Therefore, strive to understand the processes in other areas. Learn new things, take courses, help people from other teams with specific demands and always be willing to acquire new knowledge. In this way we can discover skills that we didn’t even imagine we had.

My second reflection would be to focus. The sooner we discover what makes us happy, the faster we will define our purposes. After that, you just need to map out a plan and keep your focus so you don’t abandon your goals or forget them.

Tend to your career! At the Grupo ADI we value our people’s effort and dedication. Therefore, we want them to actively participate in decision-making and to cooperate on each of our projects. After all, together we move forward better.

The only certainty we have in life is CHANGE, so let’s tackle it as a challenge in pursuit of a better and more motivating future.

Finally, take care of yourself, your relationship with God, and your family. I’m sure that in this way we will enjoy great success through TEAMWORK.