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Tech company founder takes opportunities back to Colombia


By David Steinkraus, Negocios Now

When Monica Hernandez turned 15, she received what she wanted most — not a big quinceañera party but a computer. It showed her future and how much her family valued education.

In Medellín, Colombia, education was challenging in the 1990s. Narcotics cartels dominated the country. Medellín is different today. It is a creative center, and Hernandez now uses the city as the Latin American hub for her technology company MAS Global Consulting. 

MAS Global helps clients handle the rapid changes of the digital age. That means creating or adapting software with agile development teams, modernizing and digitizing business tools, setting up cloud services, and exploiting data. 

Not just a business

“I called this company MAS because I wanted this to be more than a business,” she said. “I’m going to provide superior software engineering and technology services to companies in the U.S., but I’m going to build a bridge to talent in Latin America so I can give opportunities to others just like someone gave me an opportunity.” 

She said clients benefit because they can access lower-cost, top-quality people in the same time zone. She said communities in Colombia benefit because people have access to high-quality jobs, and underserved people benefit because her MAS Future Foundation provides free technical education for women in Colombia and Latin America. That includes a scholarship named after her company at Universidad EAFIT in Medellín, the private college from which Hernandez graduated with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. It started with the presence of that computer.

“I grew up in a humble part of Medellín,” she said. “To me, being 15, in a family from a low-income neighborhood, getting a computer was a big deal. So instead of a big celebration, that’s what I wanted as a present,” she said. She still had the quinceañera party, but it was a small celebration at home. 

“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of role models. I didn’t know software engineers, doctors, lawyers, or business owners,” she said. She watched her mother run a home-based sewing business and, from her mother, learned resiliency, hard work, and the need for education. She was the first in her family to graduate from college, and the university helped her find an internship in Dallas. 

She started working in the United States, earned a master’s degree in computer science and engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and eventually became a consulting technical manager for Oracle, an extensive data, cloud, and business applications company. Then she had her daughter Camilla and gained a new insight: “When I became a mom, I realized how hard it is for women to get ahead.” 

She said she left Oracle and started MAS Global, and her husband, Walter Morales quit his chemist job at Pepsico to care for their children and help her. She said he found office space, handled invoices, and managed international operations so she could be with clients.  

A different city

In those intervening years, Medellín changed. 

“The last decade or so, the government has invested so much in technology and innovation that Medellín today is known for technology, like the Silicon Valley of Latin America,” she said. She said a great deal of young talent is eager to learn, innovate, and be resourceful. 

The World Economic Forum established one of its centers for the fourth industrial revolution in Medellín. In February, the European Network of Companies (part of a European Union organization to help businesses expand) announced it was partnering with Impact Hub Medellín to have representation in the city. 

Hernandez is also helping other companies in the United States. Recently, she joined the board of MasPanadas, a Latino-woman-owned food start-up in Maryland, on behalf of Angeles Investors in Chicago. 

MAS Global has expanded its Latin American presence to Argentina and Mexico. April 25 was the 10th anniversary of MAS Global’s founding, and in the last five years, it was on Inc. magazine’s list of the most successful companies in America. When Hernandez spoke with Negocios Now she was at her U.S. headquarters in Tampa and about to leave for Colombia to celebrate the anniversary with her team members. 

Her dedication to helping others in Latin America is a moral act and has proven attractive to clients. “So, in the end, I believe that doing the right thing is also good for business.”

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