The Central American Group: We’re fortunate to have Cristian Fernandez with us today. He’s the general director of a company called Lean Consulting. They’re located. And Christian, correct me if I’m mistaken, but I’m going to say San Jose, Costa Rica. The topic of our discussion today is project management in Costa Rica.
Christian, thanks for being with us today. Can you give us a little bit of background information on yourself and your company?
Cristian Fernandez: Sure. Okay, well, I’m a civil engineer by profession. I am the general director and founder of Lean Consulting, a Costa Rica firm that does project management. I’ve been working in project management for the last 16 or 17 years. That has been the background of my career path. I mostly specialize in life sciences and medical device facilities. Since I got started with project management in Costa Rica, I’ve been focused on those types of building construction, from the development of their planning phases to the construction phase.
The Central American Group: That’s very important because, as our listeners may or may not know, Costa Rica is the second largest exporter of medical devices in Latin America after Mexico. That being said, can you tell us some of your clients and some of the projects that you’ve done for them in the life sciences sector in Costa Rica?
Cristian Fernandez: Yes. Well, maybe I can give you the two types of clients. First, under the auspices of Lean Consulting, we have been working in the market for five years. We have worked for very important firms or companies such as Bayer, the pharmaceutical division, and a very large German group called Freudenburg Medical. We have also been working with Boston Scientific, Baxter Edwards, Life Sciences, and Creganna Medical. Currently, we’re working for a very large medical device corporation which is still confidential. We cannot mention their name yet, but it is one of the top ten major companies. So, it’s a significant client and investment going into Costa Rica. The other hat on my background experience before I founded Lean Consulting. As I mentioned in the beginning, I have a career path of around 16 or 17 years working in this type of industry. I was the project manager in Costa Rica for companies such as Abbott, Vascular, Medtronic, Phillips, Smith and Nephew.
The Central American Group: Well, that’s a very impressive slate of clients that you just communicated to us above and beyond project management in Costa Rica. Do you offer other services to your customers, and how do you add value to your efforts beyond project management?
Cristian Fernandez: Yes. Okay. This type of industry is very sophisticated, and clients require very complex services. We have understood this for many years, and we tried to apply some custom or tailor-made services for each client. We don’t limit ourselves only to project management in Costa Rica. We also try to figure out what are the true necessities of each client. For example, we provide services for design management, which is very common in the early phases of each project. It’s like some project management but more focused on the design phase, developing all the drawings. Also, there are other technical services, such as contracts and claim management. This is a fusion between the legal component of the contract and the agreement. It entails how they are structured and how they are applied during the process of construction. We also do claims management, which is more from the perspective of the changes in the agreement. Project management in Costa Rica is very dynamic. Because of this, we need to address a very specific service focused on the control and documentation of all the changes associated with the project. So those are very specific services that some clients have been requesting in the last few years.
We have been making a significant effort to promote those services because we believe they truly benefit the investors. This is the case because they come to Costa Rica looking for some serious support for their projects. Sometimes the services that other companies offer are more standardized. They limit themselves to project management in Costa Rica. We like to understand what the client truly needs in terms of their support and address those needs.
The Central American Group: Cristian, you’ve told us that you’ve been in this activity with respect to the life sciences sector for the last 16 or 17 years. Well, that creates an environment, obviously, where you’re not only able to hopefully explain to us the evolution of the life sciences sector in Costa Rica but also explain to us what you see going forward.
Cristian Fernandez: Okay, yes, it’s a very interesting question. In my humble opinion, what we have seen over these last two decades of the industry and the market around the life sciences sector is that it’s very interesting for our country. A lot of firms have been interested in starting their operations or expanding operations here in Costa Rica because of the very good conditions of the governmental tax incentives, very good labor, and the very technical and developed manpower that is found here. We have seen that this is also a very resilient and stable sector. We have seen that in the last 20 years, two major economic crises have happened. One of these was in 2008, and the second one was in 2020 due to the pandemic issue that had a worldwide impact. From our perspective, we witnessed that this sector was very stable because it was not significantly affected by those crises. The investment remained the same even in 2020. It was a surprise for us that we even saw growth in our company because of major companies’ trust in the country. That comes from several factors. It’s not only tax incentives, as I mentioned.
It’s also because of the professionalism that these companies find here. This is not only because of our stable market and the conditions the government has created. It is also reflected in the labor force. The professionals that you can find in Costa Rica are very capable from the perspective of engineering labor in all its forms. We also have all the required administrative personnel and all the different components different firms need. These include construction companies, designers, and everything around project management in Costa Rica. The country offers a very high-end or very capable type of professional. That gives a lot of trust to these big companies that come here looking to take on big challenges and looking for sophisticated services. And I think that’s the reason why it has been so stable in the last two decades.
The Central American Group: Given the panorama of the life sciences sector you just described, what is your company’s and project management’s vision in Costa Rica for the medium to longer term?
Cristian Fernandez: Well, we have seen that the forecast appears to continue with some growth each year. The country is still looking to develop more and better conditions for investment. Regarding our perspective, we are a small firm, and we want to remain that way. Our company has just ten engineers, and we don’t expect it to become a very large firm. We are more focused on becoming great instead of big. What I mean about that is we always have in our vision to develop long-term relationships with our clients. For example, in the case of Bayer, we have been working with them for the last four years. In the case of Freudenberg Medical, we have been working with them for three years and with Boston Scientific for another four years. We truly understand their needs. We want to gain trust and develop long-term relationships. So that’s our vision for project management in Costa Rica. We like to give a very good service and rely on stability more than becoming big and focusing on our clients and not purely on sales and revenues.
The Central American Group: So, you’re describing that you like to offer boutique services to your customers. Are there any other differences that are very marked between you and the companies against which you compete?
Cristian Fernandez: Yes, I will mention a couple of them. The most significant one for us is that we specialize in this sector, in the life sciences sector. Several good or very good companies in the market provide project management services in Costa Rica. However, they are more diversified. They attend to residential, commercial, governmental buildings or facilities, or whatever. But since the beginning, the vision of Lean Consulting was to focus on a more specific sector: life sciences and industrial buildings. That’s our background. With our team and our engineers, we are all aligned with that mindset. So that’s our focus. That’s what we really understand, and we really know how to do it. So that’s why we decided to become specialists in providing project management services in Costa Rica in the life sciences market. As you know, when you become a specialist in something, you typically do better than the ones that try to do many things simultaneously. Our company is called Lean Consulting, and that is the reason. I am a true believer in the lean philosophy, including lean construction, lean manufacturing, et cetera. We truly believe in focusing on value and avoiding any waste.
We like to give the best possible service to our clients. So that’s what we try to do. We can adapt easily. We are very flexible. As you mentioned, we are a kind of boutique firm because we like to provide very specific services according to tailor-made solutions that our clients require. Those are the main differentiators of our company.
The Central American Group: You mentioned several international companies. I would imagine that in addition to that, you service the domestic market as well because most of the listeners that we get are international listeners. What value add is there for them through your company’s project management services in Costa Rica?
Cristian Fernandez: We have been working on this type of process for several years. I understand the complete cycle of when a company wants to start doing business in Costa Rica. We understand what needs to happen in each of the phases. We can take the company’s hands, guide them, and advise them on what they must do in each phase. That’s what I have been doing in the past, in my former job, before starting Lean Consulting. That’s something that I am trying to also offer to our clients. All of the advisory processes along the cycle of project management services in Costa Rica because we understand that they are coming to our country with a limited vision of what’s happening here. They don’t understand the regulations, the laws, the market, the prices, and what’s common. They need to know where good vendors are, et cetera. We understand how that works, and that’s why we like to be the partner of those clients through the entire process of project management services in Costa Rica.
The Central American Group: That’s a good overview that you’ve given us. Typically, when folks listen to these podcasts, the information that they get leads them to formulate further questions. That being the case, we like to ask the companies that we talk to number one to tell us if they have a website and what the address is. And number two, let the audience know how to reach our guests with their questions.
Cristian Fernandez: Sure. For instant responses, I would recommend sending us an email. It’s the easier way to communicate. We have an email address for that purpose it’s email@example.com. In that case, any questions, and I truly say this, any questions with no commitment, we can answer regarding what you need. That’s something that I always like to say to our potential clients for project management services in Costa Rica. There’s no commitment, and you just let me know where I can help you. I truly want to help you. If there’s something we can support you with our services in the future, that will be awesome. But now, if you have concerns about whom you can contact for something or if you are looking for some business park or something, just let us know. We can be your first point of contact if you require. We’re very transparent with the information that we can give you. So send us an email to the address that I mentioned
The Central American Group: I’m going to guess, given what your email address is, your website is www.leanlcr.com. Is that correct?
Cristian Fernandez: Yes, it is.
The Central American Group: Okay, thank you for speaking with us today about project management services in Costa Rica. It’s been informative and interesting.
Cristian Fernandez: Thank you for your time. It was a very big pleasure for us to have this conversation.