Rolando Ortiz is a technology thought leader who has driven technology transformation efforts all over the world and for the likes of Procter & Gamble, Kellogg Company, Grupo Bimbo, and more. Throughout the successful tech changes that he helped to make in those companies, he’s noticed a common thread.
“What was more relevant was working together with the local teams, partnering with internal teams, or [with] local vendors, and that helped drive many changes whether they were ERP [enterprise resource planning] implementations, cloud adoptions, digital marketing, or business integrations,” he says. “Perhaps what’s most important to me is that it’s not up to an individual or a single person to drive a successful tech program. It’s actually the ability to build those productive and effective teams and partnerships.”
Today, Ortiz is the vice president of infrastructure and international IT at The Wendy’s Company, where he relies on his ability to build partnerships and his past experiences to aid the company’s global expansion through new franchisees and tech innovation.
When he first stepped into his role, he knew the tech challenges that came with opening in new markets and effective growth, and that Wendy’s would need to have a restaurant technology model that was replicable, fast, and frictionless.
“Technology plays an important role in how we do business everywhere,” Ortiz says. “We’re already present in over thirty markets outside the US. The challenge is how to continue investing in the tech stack we have in the markets, not only to keep up with the ongoing technology changes, but also to ensure we make the right investments that allow us to innovate.”
Some recent innovations Wendy’s announced include a US partnership to pilot an industry-first underground delivery system for mobile orders using an autonomous robot system that will deliver food from the kitchen to outdoor parking spots in seconds. The organization is also part of a collaboration to pilot an artificial intelligence solution, FreshAI, that has the potential to transform the company’s drive-through order experience with large language model (LLM) technology.
“We introduced some of the latest technology when it comes to AI,” Ortiz says. “We believe what we’re doing will be completely different from what others have in this space.”
When Ortiz thinks about these initiatives, he’s excited by the implications they’ll have on pushing the company forward. But he’s also proud of the work he and his colleagues have done to bring new technology changes to new locations. A shining example has been a restaurant model they developed in the UK.
“We were able to integrate digital delivery orders without anyone having to type into the point of sales system. We also introduced kiosk, which isn’t new for markets in the US and Canada but was a novelty for us in the UK in 2022,” he reflects. “Today, a significant amount of the business is done through kiosk technology, and some of the benefits we see include better order quality because the food being produced in the kitchen is the exact one the customer ordered. It’s more efficient because no one is intervening in that order once the customer places it. It allows our staff to do what they do best: delight our consumers with Wendy’s great food.”
Ortiz had his mind set on a career in tech by the end of his senior year in high school. He had a chance to work on a research paper at one of the largest data centers in Mexico just a few blocks away from his house. There, something clicked.
“I had the opportunity to learn firsthand and to see people working on different aspects of the data center. It showed me how the combination of people and equipment could process such large volumes of data,” he recalls. “It had a profound impression on me, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do from that point on: work with others and work with technology.”
Ortiz been doing that ever since, working with others to automate processes in markets, integrate new businesses in merger projects, drive business strategy, and more over a span of decades. Those years also taught him valuable leadership lessons.
“My leadership philosophy is I don’t know what I don’t know,” he says. “I’m open to learning from others, whether it’s team members or tech partners. I always tell my team to be themselves, discuss ideas, and to disagree respectfully. Even though I have preferences, I expect them to [tell] me there’s a better way.”
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