Karen Scarpetta, the Colombian woman who leads 75% of WeWork’s Business in Latin America

The executive’s expectation is to occupy more than 75% of the region by 2022, while focusing on the recovery of traffic and on solutions that allow workers to work from different locations.

More than a year ago, Colombian Karen Scarpetta took on new responsibilities at US real estate company WeWork: leading the business in South America in full recovery from the pandemic.

However, her time at the company spanned several years. She was responsible for expanding and consolidating the brand in Latin America as Country Director for Colombia in 2017; In 2021, it will focus on countries in the center and south of the region, such as Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica, and now Mexico has also taken over.

Today, she is responsible for a team of over 500 people in the five markets in the region where she is present, which represent 75% of business in Latin America.

“Just a few months ago, I assumed the role of All Latin America (…) These last five years have given me the opportunity to follow the evolution of this business in which change is undoubtedly imminent”, said the CEO in a conversation with DFSUD.com.

“This is one of the things that excites and connects me the most: how to be the change manager; not just how we live it, but how we allow ourselves to be innovative, disruptive and outside the box through it.” He explained.

This, he said, is evidenced by the arrival of the pandemic, which not only changed people’s tastes and demands, but also the way they behave, but the very essence of WeWork allowed them to “deal with very complex moments – different challenges for each market.”

New job

In the operation he leads, there are more than 100,000 members who work from their websites for companies like Google, IBM, Discovery Channel and unicorns like Kavak and Habi. Its focus is on traffic recovery and solutions that allow workers to work from different locations.

In a year with no circulation restrictions due to the health crisis, the CEO — also a surf enthusiast — hinted that he hopes to end up with an occupancy of more than 75%, after a 2021 marked by vacancy. “And yes, I think that’s a good average number to be able to talk about all markets,” he said.

This reflects that its core business remains below pre-pandemic levels, which the company seeks to offset with flexibility.

“The most important thing is the growth of our digital products that are not part of the fixed profession; opportunities for traffic and contribution in terms of the various partnerships and services that we can offer outside our offices”, he explained.

Occupancy, he noted, “is a very important factor, but it’s not our only product and it doesn’t define us. So by 2023, certainly what we’re looking for is more people in any of our markets to become WeWork members. ”

The goal is for all users to be able to access any of its sites, amidst the evolution of the business to a hybrid model.

Challenges Until 2023

After overcoming the challenge of a vacant position, with the return – albeit slow – to face-to-face work, the CEO noted that the trend is the arrival of new digital technologies. “This must also be done – specifically – with Chile – with the tourist and economic reactivation for the next season”, since telecommuting will transfer employees to work from any destination during the austral summer.

“75% of Chileans work at least one day a week in places that are not necessarily their homes, and only 55% of people who participated in a study considered the number of days off in the country appropriate. So the important thing is how we can adjust this possibility to give you more options through the new products that we have been launching throughout this year, ”he said.

Thus, the WeWork Access Permit will be both a challenge and a solution to the business dynamics of 2023; This will make it possible to restore operational levels, in addition to “giving great dynamism to the recovery of the areas where we are inserted with our buildings”.

This is the experience they witnessed in Catalinas, Argentina, “where around the Ingeniero Guty building we are witnessing the return of dynamism from other nearby companies”.

The same for Mexico City, the largest market in which they operate and where the company invested aggressively during the year to add new members.

“Therefore, the challenge is not only to maintain this trend, but to continue to grow and to be able to greatly enhance opportunities, and create different partnerships with us”, he underlined.

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