Insights and Opinions: Look South For Tech Talent

Story by Mauricio Antunez


Mauricio Antunez is president of Axen U.S, a firm which provides IT outsourcing and technical talent in Monterrey, Mexico, argues that the Silicon Hills ought to be looking to our neighbors to the South, instead of towards Silicon Valley, for talent.

In Austin, we are proud to have an abundance of business leaders striving to create opportunities, provide jobs, and bring valuable growth to our city. However, It has become apparent that there is a shortage at a critical stage of growth for "Silicon Hills" -- the engineers, coders, programmers who bring to life the dreams of entrepreneurs. Though California has been presented as the best option for many growing businesses, the answer may lie much closer to home.

Why do we keep looking to Mountain View where we are competing to find, recruit, steal, convince this tech talent to consider Austin, fighting against enormous salaries, signing bonuses to the tune of $50,000, and against companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga?

Recently, I was given the chance to be part of a panel at the Austin Technology Council CEO Summit entitled "Outsourcing 2.0 Europe & Mexico" along with Executives from Homeaway, Silicon Labs, Spredfast, & Frankfurt RheinMain Corp. where these issues came up. There was also another panel specifically about this topic entitled "Why I Moved My Company to California" which has heated the debate. Why are we fighting an uphill battle when a better answer lies just to our south?

The answer isn't Mountain View, its Mexico.

And in Mexico, these tech specialists are Available, Accessible and Affordable.

Tech talent is Available because the country has put a deliberate focus on training technology skilled workers as they saw their previous focus on manufacturing shift to Asia. For years, the Mexican government has been offering many incentives, subsidies, and educational opportunities that have led to supply we simply don't have in the US right now.

A short drive from Austin, just 6 hours south, is the famed Monterrey Institute of Technology, with 90,000 students. Its Masters of Science in Information Technology gets rave reviews, including 4th for graduate studies in computer science, according to US News and World Report (in its joint degree with Carnegie Mellon University). Monterrey Tech is regularly graduating talented IT professionals, and similar to the University of Texas here in Austin, a whole technology ecosystem has grown around the University, literally hundreds of tech companies. Monterrey is chock full of tech talent. Available!

And this talent, whether Monterrey, or elsewhere in Mexico, is Accessible. This is near-shoring, and lets businesses build an extended team -- when and as they need -- working in our same time zone or even on-site.

Equally important, the tech talent available in Mexico is Affordable. For the same job you can hire entry level engineers here in Austin, there are graduate-level engineers, at half the cost, and great quality.

While I am a Texan now, I am from Mexico, so I am admittedly a bit biased. However, in my work with Austin companies, and following the recent discussions, I felt the need to remind this tech community about these resources.

My company is a 15-year-old Monterrey-based technology company, AXEN, with our U.S. headquarters in Austin.

AXEN has great employee retention, but we are even more proud of our record on client retention. This is but one example of the tech specialists available right in our own backyard. Austin companies struggling to find that missing middle, those critical tech specialists needed to bring products and services to life, I urge you to consider the available, accessible, affordable talent in Mexico. Let's quit recycling talent, and hiring away from each other. Let's quit looking west to California. Rather, take a look at what Mexico can offer us, to come in for just those specific needs that build the products and solutions to create the companies that will employ all the talent we have in our own workforce.

Mauricio Antunez is president of Axen U.S. (, and is located in Austin. With more than 18 years of experience in the IT industry, Mauricio Antunez is responsible for developing and growing AXEN as a nearshore IT consulting leader in the U.S. Mauricio shares a different point of view on the tech talent shortage being experienced in central Texas and the solution that may be right under our noses.


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