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INCAE Business School


Meet the leaders you are connected to

TEAM EFFORT means giving it your all

By giving annually to support INCAE’s world-class programs, faculty, research, infrastructure and scholarships, you will be doing your part to help us stay a top-tier school. 2

INCAE Alumni Magazine

INCAE Business School Contact: Sandra Granizo

Table of Contents



January 2012 04 06 08 09 10 12 13 14 16 30

 etter from the President L M  ichael Porter MBA Oath Club | Rankings Founders Circle F  rancisco de Sola and Walter Kissling Gam Women’s Leadership Center | CLACDS They trust in INCAE Meet Incae’s Board Incaista Profiles Illuminate Campaign Amigo Incaista Campaign


INCAE Alumni Magazine


INCAE Business School

INCAE Alumni Magazine Volume I | No. 1

Letter from the President

January 2012

President Arturo Condo Dean of the WKG Campus and Exec-Ed Roy Zúñiga Dean of the FdS Campus and Masters Degrees Guillermo Selva Associate Dean of Masters Programs Luis Sanz Director of Development and National Committees Coordinator Wendy Rodriguez Director of Alumni Relations Sandra Granizo

Editor | Writer Ana Coyne Assistant Writer| Graphic Design Alicia Zamora Sánchez Contributing Writers Dora Luz Romero

Graphic Designers Luis Pino Benjamín Zamora

Copy Editor | English Abbie Fields Additional Support Maria Berns

Copy Editor | Spanish María Berns Photographers Alicia Zamora Sánchez

Alexa Glo Belli

Bismark Picado

Alina Arguello

Juan Caliva

Additional photos provided by INCAISTAS and friends and

INCAE Alumni Magazine is published by INCAE Business School Montefresco Managua, Nicaragua +505 2248-9700 ©INCAE Business School


INCAE Alumni Magazine

Leaders in a Global and Connected World Dear Incaistas, This is the launch of the first edition of the INCAE Alumni Magazine, dedicated to our graduates--inspirational leaders, visionaries and entrepreneurs. Today, we are experiencing a period of extraordinary change in global business. Globalization and technology are changing societies and markets, bringing us difficult challenges as well as amazing opportunities. To embrace these with tenacity, the world will need, with even more urgency, inspired and trained leaders. INCAE, our Alma Mater, has a proven record of producing such leaders. Although INCAE’s roots are in Central America, its focus is on Latin America viewed through the prism of global thinking. Globalization and the impact it has on the region continues to be a priority for us. This issue highlights graduates working around the world, from the Philippines to Panama, in industries ranging from farming to fashion. You are 13,000 alumni working in more than 51 countries, impacting the lives of millions. Your stories are edifying and interesting, testament to the breath and diversity of your pursuits past graduation. This year, INCAE launches the Illuminate Campaign. Its purpose is to create an endowment which will help us continue attracting future leaders and guarantee both our sustained impact in the region as well as our toptier standing as one of the best business schools in the world. We hope you enjoy the magazine and Happy New Year!

Warm regards,

Arturo Condo President

“The Future of INCAE is Sustainability and ETHICS” Carlos Pellas

President Grupo Pellas INCAE Board of Directors

INCAE Alumni Magazine



Michael Porter Sharing Value

The Economist calls him-- “Business’s Greatest Living Guru”-- Over the past thirty years, his thinking has been at the forefront of business research. His work on strategy, particularly “The Competitive Advantage of Nations,” situated him at the top of his field. At a conference sponsored by INCAE, Estrategia & Negocios and FUNDES, held last October in Costa Rica, Michael Porter presented his latest knockout idea-Shared Value. Shared Value, Porters believes, creates a way for companies to pursue profits while also striving for the common good. He has supported INCAE for years. Next are excerpts from his interview. 6

INCAE Alumni Magazine


What differentiates INCAE?



its job every day, but also to make

The idea that a business school is

between business and society in a

investments in the right facilities,

more than just a management trade

way that HBS has not. This is one of

faculty and research programs that

school, but really a force in society, is

the reasons why I am here today and

you need to really lead in your field. So

what I think makes INCAE unique.

why I have worked with INCAE for

I’m delighted that INCAE is initiating



so many years. In certain ways it is

this process of putting together an

What reach does INCAE have?

ahead of our business school and we

endowment. The culture of giving is

It has an opportunity to attract students

want to learn from that.

not nearly as strong as in the USA

globally. It is not such a big school but

where we have been developing the

it is a school with an influence much

Is being based in a developing

process for a hundred years.

larger than its size.

country an advantage?

said, I think this is another way INCAE

Having a first hand and visible

can be a leader in Central America. I

How can INCAE incorporate shared

understanding of how to deal with

wish the institution well.

value into its teaching?

issues of health and poverty, safety

INCAE has the capacity, attitude

and security, gives INCAE perhaps

and leadership to be one of the

a better opportunity to innovate

most innovative schools in the world

curricula, thinking and management



concepts [compared to] a school

thinking. There is a new generation of

that’s in a wealthy community where

management concepts being invented

the problems seem far away.




now and I think INCAE is in a very good position to actually move faster

INCAE is embarking on its first

than my school, Harvard Business

ever endowment campaign. What

School (HBS).

are your thoughts on this? An endowment for an educational

What is your view on INCAE’s

institution is a fundamental part

commitment to society?

of the overall equation that allows






an organization not only just to do

INCAE Alumni Magazine



The MBA Oath Club

Among the Best in the World

support the sustainable development of society. Their

schools to make the prestigious, global

intention is to live the Oath, not just sign it.


Arturo Condo, President of INCAE claims to be

América Economía, the magazine with

“extremely satisfied and proud that the coming

the most clout in the Americas, has

generations have unanimously taken this oath.

listed INCAE at the top, six times in the

Starting today, we will have a written record of the

last ten years. “We have maintained,

values that INCAE’s graduates promote and their

for the most part, first place, some-

vision of their role in society.”

times second or third. No other school

The mission of the MBA Oath is simple: to promote the idea that all business leaders should strive and maintain the highest standards of integrity and service to society. This year, the MBA class of 2012 founded INCAE’s MBA Oath Club as a fundamental way to

INCAE Business School is today ranked among the best business schools in the world. The Financial Times rated it 77th, making it one of only three Latin American business

has demonstrated that consistency in excellence,” says Guillermo Selva, Dean of INCAE Business School.

This is a result, according to Selva, of “our rigorous teaching model, dating back nearly 50 years, where we have consistently maintained and reinforced the quality. The excellence of our eduFor more information go to:


INCAE Alumni Magazine

cation is indisputable.”

Founders’ Circle

Founders’ Circle

Leaders from all over the Americas built INCAE. At each decisive point, each critical moment, they brought suggestions and solutions to the multiple challenges the institution faced in its creation. They brought dreams and vision into what it could become. The Founders’ Circle was created as an initiative led by President Arturo Condo in 2008, with George Cabot Lodge as Chairman. Its main purpose is to give recognition, and thanks, where due.

INCAE Alumni Magazine



F ounde r s

Fo under s

Found e r s

Fou nder sF Founders’ Circle

Francisco De Sola Francisco de Sola was the first

fail. If he is not with you, you cannot

Central American to believe in


the dream, and avidly pursued the creation of a school to train managers and leaders.

He was

committed to creating prosperity in Central America and believed the region needed to act as a region. He trusted INCAE to pave the way. The following are excepts from two interviews with George Cabot Lodge (GCL), legendary Harvard Business School




President of INCAE’s Founders’ Circle,






alongside in


INCAE, and with Francisco RR de Sola (FS), President of FUSADES, the









understood the value in something like INCAE saw really early on that it could become something like what it is today. It’s basically a place for envisioning the future, ... a force for change.

The key people who

understood that, understood it early. GCL: It wasn’t easy. There were many times when we both thought the end had come. But he was very persistent. He was very determined. And he wouldn’t give up. And he was the founder of INCAE, without any doubt. FS:

The main contribution is that

Economic and Social Development,

it is much more than an educational

and son of the INCAE founder and

institution. It is a center for research

board member.

and thinking and planning for the


Don Chico was a very

distinguished man, with a wry sense of humor.

A profound thinker.

Reticent in speech. Deeply serious

future of the region.

where INCAE must head towards in the next fifty years-- a beacon for forging a better future for all of us.

and committed to the welfare of the


Central American countries. I was


told: “If he is with you, you cannot

institution is today.


INCAE Alumni Magazine

And that’s


would proud

have of


been the


F ounde r s

Fo unde r s

Founde r s

sFounde r Founders’ Circle

Walter Kissling Gam

President and CEO of H.B. Fuller,

Walter Kissling was one of the first Central Americans to lead a Fortune 500 company.

His person, and

seemingly innate business acumen,

were admired by many. He believed in education and actively supported the establishment of INCAE.


was co-founder of the National Committee in Costa Rica and succeeded the founder, Francisco de Sola, as President of the Board, from 1983 to 1999. In his honor, the Costa Rican campus was named Campus Walter Kissling Gam in February, 2002.

people along the way.

MK: He was a person with his feet planted on the ground, who could connect with people, all people, in a very human way. HS: Walter was a business man. He never, I think, finished college. He started out as a salesman selling paints, got his own company, built it up. And he read a tremendous amount, a self taught man. WK: I think it is precisely that he didn’t have the chance to study and still attained success which made

He is remembered as a visionary,

him realize the importance of having

who spent his later years advocating

a good education. He would always



say to us, ‘the only thing I can leave

Two of his sons,

you is your education.’ He saw it as


in Costa Rica. Walter and



(WK), of




Manfred Kissling (MK), VP & GM

a tool to get ahead and I imagine he saw INCAE as the way the entire region could get ahead.

of Concentrix Costa Rica, along with Harry Strachan (HS), founding

MK: I remember after Don Chico

partner of Mesoamerica remember

died, they were calling from INCAE.

the tenacity and excellence that

He had his plate full with all of his

characterized him.

business activities. But he followed

WK: He had a drive, an intellect and

his heart and committed time to

a set of values that were absolutely lucid. He did extraordinary things and in the process helped many

INCAE and that was one of the decisions




INCAE was part of his heart.

INCAE Alumni Magazine



CLACDS The Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS) is the main research center at INCAE Business School. It was established in 1996 to promote changes in public policies, business strategies and actions of civil society, that allow the region to achieve higher levels of competitiveness and sustainability

of development. The principle of sustainable development guides the work of CLACDS. Nowadays,




five strategic areas: strengthening the business climate to promote sustainable competitiveness, energy, economic inclusion, water resources and rural urban transition.

Women’s Leadership Center Susan Clancy sees a Latin America

the leadership potential of women.

of the entering MBA class. INCAE’s







Our internationally acclaimed MBA

commitment to academic excellence


program is the first to develop courses,

and strong connections within the

men to

She is the Director of

student organizations and networks

Latin America private and public

the Women’s Leadership Center,

specifically tailored to the needs of

sector have enabled the Center for




women leaders in Latin America.

Women’s Leadership to become a

became the only business school

In a global climate where female

bridge between scholarly findings,

in Latin America and one of the first

enrollment in business schools is on

professional best practices and the

globally to form a Center dedicated

the decline, we are the only business

transformation of gender diversity

exclusively to the advancement of

school in which women exceed 40%

policies and practices.




INCAE Alumni Magazine



Security | Skills | Capacity

Two large corporations explain why they trust INCAE graduates. Countless businesses in Central America employ INCAE graduates. But two corporations, Walmart and Grupo Pellas, employ them the most. Why? They claim that within their companies there is space only for the best, and they find these at INCAE. Fara Diaz, Human Resources Manager for Walmart Central America, says that knowing someone has graduated from INCAE gives them confidence. “ We know the prestige, the quality of teaching,” she says. Ricardo Bolaños, Corporate Director of Organizational Development and

They claim that within their companies there is space only for the best, and they find these at INCAE.

Productivity at Grupo Pellas, shares this opinion.

sub-directors, directors and vicepresidents, without exception.

What makes them different? How do employers see them? Diaz describes them as “global-thinking, with multicultural backgrounds, accustomed to working under pressure.” Bolaños sees them as “well prepared, well-rounded, with a global education and outlook.”

At Grupo Pellas, every executive is a graduate. “We are always on the lookout for the ‘top’ of the graduating class. Sometimes we hire stellar executives, even if we don’t know where to place them. We invent a position and say, just come with us,” says Bolaños.

Executive positions at these corporations are occupied mostly by INCAE graduates. At Walmart, for example, among the nearly thirty INCAE graduates who work there, all occupy executive positions as

So essential is the work of INCAE graduates at the Grupo Pellas that, according to Carlos Pellas, President of Grupo Pellas, without them “we would not have achieved the success we have.”

INCAE Alumni Magazine


Meet INCAE’s Board Members Brizio Biondi-Morra President, Avina Foundation

Roberto Artavia President, VIVA Trust MBA XIV 1982

Alejandro Poma Director, Poma Group CALI I 2006

Maria Eugenia Brizuela Director, Corporate Sustainability for HSBC in Latin America PAG XXXVII 1987 EMBA VI 1996

Xavier Argüello Carazo Central American Businessman | Entrepreneur


INCAE Alumni Magazine

Danilo Lacayo Board President, Unión FENOSA

Diego Herrera Partner, Galindo, Arias y López MBA XXVII 1995 CALI III 2010

The Board of Directors appoints the President and supervises his work, approves strategies, issues INCAE in its institutional life. They meet frequently. And they do it pro bono, with heart, with intelligence, because they believe in the institution and its impact in the Region.

Carlos Pellas President, Grupo Pellas

Arturo Condo President, INCAE Business School

Alberto Alemรกn CEO, Panama Canal Authority

Francisco RR de Sola President, H. De Sola

Juan Bautista Sacasa President, Banco de Finanzas

Danilo Siekavizza President, Codaca Group

MBA XXVI 1994 CALI I 2006

Not shown in photograph: INCAE Alumni Magazine 15 Francisco Arosemena | Siang Aguado de Seidner | Stephan Schmidheiny


INCAE Alumni Magazine

Diego Pulido Aragón

CEO of Banco Industrial in Guatemala.

MBA, 1973

Tanya Avellán

Recently named General Manager for Central America in Coca-Cola Femsa responsible for US $800 million of sales and more than 6,000 employees. MBA, 1994

Gilberto Perezalonso

Former Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance of Grupo Televisa, S.A.B. Mexico. MBA, 1974

Rodrigo Uribe

President of Cuesta Moras International group, Costa Rica.

MBA, 1975

Ricardo Sagrera

President of Grupo Hilasal, El Salvador. MBA 1971

Mariela García

General Manager of Ferreyros, named one of the most powerful CEOs in Latin America by América Economía magazine, Peru. EMBA, 1996

Vilma de Calderón

General Manager of LACTOSA, received the “Mujer Destacada 2010” award, El Salvador. EMBA, 1996

Mario Jaramillo

Elected Executive Secretary of the National Development Advisory Council by popular vote in Panama and is Ambassador of Panama in Washington, DC. MBA, 1977

INCAE Alumni Magazine


“INCAE is much more than a business school. Its work as a think tank has had invaluable benefits for the Region” Fernando Paiz, PAC Member

Lawrence Pratt Director of CLACDS

Wendy Rodriguez Director of Development

Luis Sanz, Professor and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship


INCAE Alumni Magazine

“I wanted to have a sense of the mission and the goal. Was it just another business school, or was there something about it? And I think it was first and foremost started by very bold people and as you know the god’s favor the bold.” Jennifer Fearon, Managing Partner, VentureLink Advisers LLC | PAC Member

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you would talk to USAID today, and they would regard INCAE as perhaps their most successful effort in Latin America over the last 50 years. George Cabot Lodge, President of Founders’ Circle and Harvard Professor Emeritus

“Everyone who believes in this Region’s potential is a friend of INCAE and must consider getting involved and supporting the institution.” Stanley Motta, PAC Member


INCAE Alumni Magazine

INCAE’s biggest strength is that it’s been present for almost 50 years. It has had an upward success and each year it adds something new to its general image. One of the most important things is that has transcended regional integration, broadening its links to other parts of the world.”

We are trying to get more people to know about INCAE because it is a wonderful organization, it is a wonderful school. We have to spread the word about it, especially in the US. Caroline Raclin, PAC Member

"Not all bright minds have the means to pay for university. An endowment gives a chance for someone to access something as good as INCAE." Manfred Kissling, VP & GM of Concentrix Costa Rica

Whenever you do a legacy, whenever you give something, the idea is you want something to happen after you are gone. You want to have left something that has made the world better as a result of you having walked on the planet. I don’t see any better way to do that than to support education. Steve Aronson, Founder Cafe Britt Donor of the Cafe Britt Professorship of Agribusiness Strategy

"Definitely, INCAE gave me the tools to dive into the business world. I have had several businesses. The tools were critical, without a doubt." Walter Kissling, Founder and President of Navsat

INCAE Alumni Magazine


Roberto Artavia President of INCAE 1999 - 2007

Sandra Granizo Director Alumni Relations

Susan Clancy Director Women’s Leadership Center and Associate Professor

“ I see an INCAE in 50 years as a cradle leaders and at the global level, focused on Latin America, but really connected to the world, really bridging sectors, really creating models that do not exist and that we need, desperately. ”

INCAE Alumni Magazine


ERNESTO CASTEGNARO President and CEO of BAC International Bank |MBA VIII, 1976 | COSTA RICA




2011 22

INCAE Alumni Magazine

Ernesto Castegnaro is the President and CEO of BAC International Bank--one of the largest banks in Central America. He was selected in 2011 as the most distinguished graduate of INCAE. This honor is given to a graduate for his or her professional achievements and personal qualities that not only represent values of leadership, ethics and social responsibility, but also the overall mission of INCAE.

When he began his career he managed a small operation in Costa Rica with less than 1,000 customers. Today, he manages a lucrative regional bank with more than two million customers. All but two of the top management positions of this enterprise are held by INCAE graduates. In 2009, he joined the silen phase of the illuminate campaign, making a significant donation to support the institution.

INCAE Alumni Magazine


María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila INCAE’s Distinguished Graduate 2009

“We must commit ourselves to becoming integral leaders who find solutions to Latin America’s problems; to walk the path of sustainable development investing our entire potential in doing so; to practice our profession ethically and with social and environmental responsibility; and to honor each other by constantly striving to honor the commitments we have made.” INCAE Alumni Magazine


Defining leadership her own way

Director of Corporate Sustainability for HSBC in Latin America. EMBA VI, 1996 | EL SALVADOR

María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila, known as Mayu, stands on her own in the conference room, the sole woman among a group of executives. This is a situation she has experienced before. At this particular meeting, an executive comes in late and asks her for a cup of coffee. “With milk”, he adds. She smiles, gets him the café con leche and sits down at the table with him. “When we all introduced ourselves,” she laughs as she recalls, “the poor man slunk down in his chair.” What the man failed to realize when he asked the only woman in the room to serve him is that she is considered Central America’s most admired businesswoman, with a litany of firsts to her name. The first woman president of a private bank in El Salvador. The first woman in her country’s history to become Minister of Foreign Affairs, even recognized by Pope John Paul II himself.


INCAE Alumni Magazine

“I always tell that anecdote,” relates Avila. She understands what a slow, deliberate process it has been to rip through the male dominated mindset. If it was a struggle, she seems unfazed by it and instead, has simply forged ahead, minding her business. As she walks through the corridors of INCAE, before a talk she is giving to a group of fellow lawyers, she smiles generously and with ease. When she speaks, she is positive, encouraging, down to earth and seems completely confident to be shouldering her current responsibility. She is the Director of Corporate Sustainability for HSBC in Latin America. Not only has she spent years on the front lines of the gender battlefield in business; now she is a leader in the environmental sphere as well. Avila’s




great-grandfather were all lawyers.

nature. Her work at HSBC mixes Corporate Social Responsibility with Sustainable Development.

It seemed that her genes had secured her a place in the world of law, and not in the world of business. She remembers as a girl, how she would draw up pretend legal documents. On yellow-lined legal paper, she would “scrawl letters between the lines and draw in the seal. I always knew I would have a professional life outside of a family life,” she notes, “although family was important to me as well.” The years passed and just as she had imagined, she went to law school. She got her law degree from the University Dr. José Matías Delgado, graduating with honors. That title sashayed her into the fourth generation of lawyers in her family. At home and in her society, female lawyers were not common. “The women who studied law could be counted on the fingers of one hand,” she said. She decided to leave the confines of the legal world and go into business, but first she went back to school. Today she is actively involved with her Alma Mater, and currently is on INCAE’s Board of Directors. In 2009, she was the first woman ever to receive INCAE’s most distinguished graduate award, for her many successes including receiving the Palma de Oro, a prominent, private sector recognition of lifetime achievement. She also commits time to many other social causes. It is no wonder that her bread and butter work is associated with a cause--the environment. She says she has an innate appreciation of the beauty and vulnerability of

HSBC initiatives include the Climate Partnership in Brazil, which sends HSBC employees to collect data used for calculating the effects of climate change, and planting 700 trees in Costa Rica to help offset the banks’ carbon footprint.

On the front lines of the gender battlefield in business … and the environmental struggle, as well

One of the most important and difficult things to do, Avila explains, is to change people’s habits. She recounts the story of how HSBC decided to implement a recycling initiative in the office. They placed brightly colored bins with clear recycling labels, but few employees participated. Only after management decided to remove the trash cans from each work area did the recycling bins actually fill-up. Change in the gender struggle for equality, like the race to save the planet, are protracted affairs. The idea of trying to “transcend,” she acknowledges, is part of the INCAE legacy. “To give back. To serve, serve to the greatest extent that we can and to the best of our abilities. In the end, this is what’s important,” she says. True to Mayu Avila’s graceful style, she wants to reiterate that her achievements are not hers alone. They belong to all of those around her. To those who have, in one way or another, contributed to her enrichment. To her parents and the way they raised her; to the institutions and the way they educated her. At meetings, she says, she does not choose to sit at the head of a conference table, but in the middle. She labels her leadership style: inclusive.

INCAE Alumni Magazine


From Jounalist to Businessman Director of Corporate Affairs, Walmart in Central America and Mexico MBA XXXIII, 1999 | Costa Rica

Sitting at his desk writing for the newspaper La Republica of Costa Rica in 1991, Aquileo Sanchez probably never imagined that some day he would be part of a new generation of Latin Americans revolutionizing the way business is done in the region. “I am a person who likes having knowledge and information,” says Sanchez, “and I am interested in environmental, social and economic issues.” After graduating and continuing to work as a journalist until 2003, (Sanchez needed to repay the scholarship Grupo Nacion had given him to pursue his degree), he went “to a half-way point, in between business administration and fullfledged journalism, when I started to manage the magazine business for Grupo Nacion.” Training people to lead groups was a major objective for Roberto Artavia, former President of INCAE and professor, who inspired Sanchez. Later on, Sanchez put that ability to lead into practice, working as Corporate Manager for Supermercados Unidos Corporation, responsible for “all that involved communication, government relations, as well as corporate social responsibility” in the integration process, when that company joined Walmart. Sanchez describes INCAE graduates as having vision that is both multicultural and


INCAE Alumni Magazine

multidisciplinary, valuing ​​teamwork and accustomed to long working hours. He believes that the benefits of learning and experiencing INCAE’s multiculturalism have been “crucial, because here I have to lead five teams in five countries in Central America.”

value chain. We are not using intermediaries to supply the stores, but go directly to the farmer. The farmer receives a much better price than if he sells through an intermediary and we buy at a better price,” says Sanchez.

He argues that the key word at INCAE is sustainability. “I think today, any company of high repute that wants recognition for cultivating their social license to operate and show growth, needs to include a strong component of sustainability.”

Tierra Fertil is a model that others can learn from

And these words resounded once Sanchez was appointed Director of Corporate Affairs for Walmart in Mexico and Central America and began working on the design and implementation of the concept of Tierra Fertil, a development model for small farmers that facilitates their transition from subsistence producers to entrepreneurs owning small, medium even large businesses. It provides collateral for financing and fair market conditions for producers, allowing them to own facilities, machinery and farms, which in turn creates more jobs. “Essentially,




Beyond the economic, social and environmental benefits, in the end what is important are human beings. As synthesized by the words of Professor Guillermo Edelberg: “One thing that is key is that it comes down to people.” Sanchez always remembers this, and it is one of the things he likes most about his work. In order to make Tierra Fertil a model that others can learn from, INCAE has been documenting and communicating its methodology and results so that other countries, such as China and India, can benefit from the training and production policies that worked in Central America.

Conscious Bananas Ana Lucia Alonzo has always been passionate about having a positive environmental impact combined with industrial profitability. Currently Director
 of Product Supply Planning NA for Chiquita Brands 
International, Alonzo has led numerous strategies to evaluate the design of production and optimal resource management in products such as bananas, salads and healthy snacks. Director
 Product Supply Planning NA Chiquita Brands 
International MBA XXXIX, 2002 | CINCINNATI

The key is integrating sustainability and industrial profitability

Alonzo has been very active in supporting and developing activities related to the company’s environmental performance, in a joint initiative with MIT-CTL measuring the carbon footprint of banana production. Producing and moving bananas uses a lot of energy. This project is aimed at measuring the carbon footprint of the supply chain

that moves bananas from the trees to consumer’s doors. According to Alonzo, it is necessary to understand the culture of the organization. “The company depends on the supply chain, so logically the processes of production must be sustainable,” she says. For this, Chiquita made ​​strategic alliances with various environmental organizations, including the EPA. “Normally one hears of sustainability as a concept far removed from business, that it is theoretical, unreachable,” stated Alonzo, “but there are several cases of companies that have succeeded in establishing synergy.” According to Alonzo, the key is integrating sustainability and industrial profitability.

INCAE Alumni Magazine


Selective Exclusive and

Claudia Szerer’s designs Designer | EMBA IX, 1999 | PANAMA

Her passion and profession as the

who will wear the design so that I

highly sought-after designer she is

can oversee everything, even the

today came to Claudia Szerer by

most minute detail. I want to bring

way of a gift.

She was studying

out the most in a woman and make

Art History in Boston when a friend

sure her ensemble is perfect,” she

gave her a journal with linen-white


pages. She started to draw. Figures

The cost of this type of perfection

appeared on the sheets. “I started to dress them,” she remembers, and decided to add Theatrical Costume Design to her major.

ranges from 3,000-10,000 Euros, making those who wear Szerer’s designs a select clientele indeed. Only three of each design are

After finishing her studies, she

fashioned and sold. “Today’s woman

went to Paris to work with Christian

wants a dress that is unique,” she

Lacroix in the design house of Jean



Currently she lives in Panama,

She then moved to New

York to work with Gene Ewing Bis and started gaining recognition of her own in the fashion capitals of the world.



These are words used to describe Szerer’s





cities from Paris to Panama. “I like working directly with the woman


MBA at INCAE in 1999.

“It was

my husband’s suggestion. He cut the ad out of the newspaper,” she

Only three of each design are fashioned and sold Exclusive.

where she completed an Executive

INCAE Alumni Magazine

recalls. Her studies proved useful, since “all the know-how I acquired helped to bolster my career.” Claudia spends her days working at what she loves most. After 3 pm, she dedicates time to her family. Today, she knows she is living her dream. If asked to choose again, she believes design would be her destiny.

Location Location, Location Senior Vice President of Real Estate, PriceSmart Inc. MBA XXXIII, 1999 | MIAMI

There are days for Rodrigo Calvo that he finds difficult. On his mind are the possibilities. Is the site he chose the correct one? In his work, there is no margin for error. He is the Senior Vice President of Real Estate at PriceSmart, Inc., in charge of determining the perfect site for each store. “When you are in any retail activity, doesn’t matter if you sell phones or hamburgers, real estate is the tip of your strategy,” he says.

“Having a given product or service, the variables that makes the difference is where you locate your units. It is very exciting work to be in.” Pricemart is the largest operator of membership warehouse clubs in Central America, South America and the Caribbean with over one million cardholders. But PriceSmart started and grew, one store at a time, and “you end up developing a very unique skill … which gave us the ability to grow in a different way,” says Calvo. Similar in some respects to stores like Costco, they are different in that they are smaller, charge lower fees and sell merchandise tailored to locals. This approach secured a nitch market. Now, the company is expanding extensively in South America, with the recent opening of its first store in Colombia and several others in the works. Real estate has proved the perfect place for Calvo. His training as a civil engineer helped him “visualize how to develop the land,” he says, which he combines with his knowledge of finance. “It allows me to interface with all areas of the company,” Calvo said, making it a seemingly good match for his skill set and talents.

INCAE Alumni Magazine


Following a coffee swirl North Mesoamerica, Partner and Managing Director MBA XXIV, 1992 | MIAMI

priority. He was doing well enough

You are the one who makes the decisions. Do you have the guts to make it or not? At the end of the day no matter how rich or poor, or how healthy or how unhealthy you are, you are the result of the decisions you make.

without one. But after that cup of coffee, he and his wife Ana decided to “quemar las naves,” a Uruguayan way of saying

give everything

up, hope and go. “I had never in my life even visited Costa Rica,” Stanham recalls, “and we ended up in Central America when you had

It was just a regular day and John

remembers, followed by a chat and

Noriega being knocked out of power

Stanham was running an errand,

cup of coffee “and my life suddenly

in Panama and the Sandinistas

part of his job as a brand manager

shifted in another direction.” At his

in Nicaragua.

at Unilever. It was 1989, and he was

friend’s office, “there was a recruiter

savings, left our home, jobs, families

a young Uruguayan professional

for INCAE.

I had no clue what

and went to live in place surrounded

coming out of a meeting, when he

INCAE was.

I thought it was in

decided to visit a friend in downtown


Montevideo. “It was a snap decision,” Stanham


INCAE Alumni Magazine

We used all our

by war.” That moment is what Stanham

Stanham had thought about getting

refers to as “the fork in the road” of

an MBA, though it wasn’t a pressing

his life. His decision propelled him

out of South America and Uruguay,

what tools to use, and where to find

the tides are turning.

a country entrenched in tradition,


John Stanham now spends much

where change came at turtle speed. It introduced him to Central America, a region exploding with energy and possibilities after years of strife. That




landed him in Miami, where he is currently a partner and Managing Director for Mesoamerica. According to Stanham, knowledge is not what he received in exchange for the debt incurred in obtaining his degree. What he received could be better labeled judgment.


deserves the credit. Before I went there, my mind was like walking into my garage. It was a total mess,” he says. “When I finished at INCAE, the garage was in order.

I knew

But the side benefit of his MBA was becoming part of the INCAISTA network. And

“First the connections.




I came into contact with came opportunities.”


of his time looking for opportunities for his Central American clients to build positions in the US. “Some of what the US is going through now is similar to the Latin American crisis. In the 80s and much of the 90s, the region went through one cycle of

It was through his MBA that Stanham

adjustment after another.

met Harry Strachan, who had

painful and seemed to never end.”

been a professor, Academic Dean and also President of INCAE.


1993, Strachan returned to Central America with the desire to open an office for Bain & Company, the global strategy consulting firm. He offered Stanham--whose academic record had been stellar--a job. Today, markets are realigning and

It was

“In the US, the private sector is going through a massive, real adjustment. No new hires, squeezed margins, loaded with debt.

Now Latin

Americans have the cash and are fit. It is a great opportunity to buy companies,




positions, out of equity and in need of fresh blood,” says Stanham.

What makes a businessperson successful? The vision. The drive. But above all, it is the decisions. At the end of the day, you are not defined by how much money you have or which family you come from or where you studied-- but rather by the decisions you make. Don’t blame INCAE, or your mom or your dad. You are the one who makes the decisions. Do you have the guts to make it or not? At the end of the day no matter how rich or poor, or how healthy or how unhealthy you are, you are the result of the decisions you make. What’s tough about your job? You don’t decide for your clients. You are their advisor. Seeing clients make the wrong decision no matter how hard you try to convince them otherwise, they still make the wrong choice. What is your favorite book? Integrity by Henry Cloud. I have read it over ten times. You always find something new. If you weren’t a consultant, what would you do? I would teach math to kids. I did that in my early days at university. What is most forgotten in the everyday busyness of life? It is forgetting what one is here for. Everyone has some sort of purpose in life. This is very personal and you spend your life figuring out your contribution. How are you going make those around you better people? It is not only about paying the bills at the end of the month, but about helping those around you to grow.

INCAE Alumni Magazine



Waters Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations | MBA XIX, 2005 | GENEVA

Rising to the challenge swims through Sylvia Poll’s veins. By the time she reached her early twenties, she had ripped through 290 swimming records, garnering 90 trophies and 614 medals, including a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the first ever Olympic medal for Costa Rica.

But at 24, she knew this illustrious

was very different from the person

to the United Nations and other

career had come to its end and

that went in,” she says.


something had to change. “I always

graduating, she went to work for

Geneva. She also carries a special

wanted to get an education, have

INCAE as the Regional Manager

mandate to search for opportunities

a job and be independent,” she

for Executive Programs.


that use sports as a tool for

says. So she closed the door on

taught me how to analyze, research,

promoting peace and development.

swimming, and opened a new one,

make decisions and be a leader.

“I have always said that as you are

obtaining a college degree, holding

My training gave me the confidence

given more opportunity, the greater

several jobs in communications and

to confront challenges and find new

your responsibility to give back and

with some experience under her

opportunities. I know what I learned

help your country.”

belt, decided to further her training

will continue to take me to ever more

and enrolled at INCAE.

interesting places and challenges.”

“The MBA was a big challenge and


I enjoyed it immensely. The person


that came out of that experience



INCAE Alumni Magazine

she Poll,

is Deputy of


Ambassador Permanent Costa




Banking on a Future Senior Vice President. CITIGOLD International, CITIgroup | MBA V, 1973 | MIAMI

Because of my MBA, I had the confidence

Carmen Benard had worked four years as a loan officer at Citibank when her boss offered to help finance her education at a nascent managerial school on Managua’s South Highway. Finishing her studies had been a desire she’d quelled, when years earlier, marriage and motherhood had interrupted her pursuits at Tulane University’s Newcomb College. Now in the second half of her 20s, she grabbed the opportunity and never looked back. There were 52 students who graduated in 1973 and she placed second. Fifty of the other students were men. This no-nonsense, straight-talking woman lapped up the training she received at INCAE, and she credits her professional success and personal confidence, in large part, to her education. For thirty of her

professional years, she has worked for Citibank and as an Investment Consultant. Currently, she is Senior Vice President at CITIGOLD International, CITIgroup in Miami. The route to arriving where she is now was circuitous. After graduating from INCAE, she worked as a family planning researcher for Harvard Professor Dave Korten. “Doctors were giving turn-of-the-century advice to women,” she remembers. “’Have as many children as God wills’.” After finishing this “eye opening, shocking” experience, she took a job with the famed, now defunct, Dreyfus



rehabilitating it after it was flattened by the 1972 earthquake.


was spiraling towards chaos and war. In the early 1980s, she took refuge in Costa Rica where she landed a managerial job at a paper company. But with her mother in Miami, and two of her children already American citizens, she felt the pull northward, and she returned to Citibank as a bank officer. “When the branch opened an investment department, I requested a transfer here,” Benard says, her arms sweeping the office space. She now manages people’s money and takes great pleasure in her work. “I was the only one who transferred, because no one else felt confident enough. It was only a commission job, which means, no more salary. But because of my MBA, I had the confidence.”

managed 80 employees for several years. But “then Dreyfus wanted to expand and open new branches. I didn’t agree, thought it was crazy, so I left and started my own business.” Via Venetto was a wholesale and retail children’s apparel business that was doing well, but Nicaragua

INCAE Alumni Magazine


Questions / Answers: Carmen Benard What makes a businessperson

With the case study method, you

than a car. It isn’t a luxurious boat.


encounter a new situation every time.

We go out there, on the water, on the

Passion. You have to love doing new

And with the group study method, you

weekends to read, feel the breeze.

things all the time.

yourselves have to solve the problem. INCAE teaches you this: to define

How to you sum yourself up? I am an optimistic person.

I like

to laugh. I am lucky to be where I am. When you see the opportunity you must be able to seize it. Take risks.

Sometimes they don’t turn

out well. I have opened and closed two businesses, and have other successful ones. You have to accept

the problem. Once you figure out the problem, the most important thing is to then think of the ideal situation. You study different alternatives. Look at

Is there a particular talent you wish you had? Rather than being a businesswoman, I would have loved to be a nightclub singer.

the problem from different angles. The

Any other thoughts you would like

most important thing is that the group

to share?

always knows more than one person.

I have five grandchildren. Three of

This has helped me throughout my

them are already college students.


I am encouraging all of them to get

What do you do to relax? What about your INCAE experience

a business related career.

We have a boat here in Miami and,

definitely love my grandchildren to go

was most helpful?

frankly, that was the best decision

to INCAE and would even pay for it

I was successful because of my MBA.

I’ve made. I would rather own a boat

myself, now that I am able to.

the risk that it might not work out.


INCAE Alumni Magazine

an MBA, whether or not they go into I would

The Urroz Tradition Humberto Urroz | Manager and Partner at a technology company |MBA IX, 1977 | PANAMA January Urroz | Finance Analyst at Inversiones Bahia | MBA XLI, 2003 | PANAMA Maria Soledad Urroz | Business Analyst at Kimberly Clark | MBA LIII, 2009 | PANAMA

When Humberto Urroz’s first daughter was born, he knew what he had to do. He went to the bank and opened a savings account in January’s name. He wanted to ensure that when his girl grew up, she would have the chance to study at the institution he had in mind for her. As a young man, he had passed through the corridors of INCAE in the 1970s and believed that the training he received utterly transformed him. “It totally changed my life. It challenged the way I use to learn. It prepared me for the unpredictable, to make decisions that nobody else could make for me,” says Urroz. He dreamed of giving these tools to his daughter. There was only one problem. Although she had known all her life that her father had planned and pursued this idea, January had no desire to go to business school. But her father wouldn’t give up and January registered in the twoyear MBA program. Now she

acknowledges, her father beaming at her side, that “if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would! At INCAE, one keeps learning.”

If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would!

For January’s sister, Maria Soledad, INCAE didn’t figure into her initial plans either. But she ended up following in her father’s and sister’s footsteps. “I loved the classes and the professors. One didn’t know where so much wisdom came from,” she said.

Humberto Urroz has had a successful career in finance, and is currently the Manager and Partner at a technology company. January is a Finance Analyst at Inversiones Bahia and Maria Soledad is a Business Analyst at Kimberly Clark.

The Urroz family is home to five Incaistas: the patriarch, Don Humberto, two of his three daughters and two of his sons-in-law. “The only one I failed to persuade was my second daughter,” he sighs, “but I was able to convince her husband!”

Just as her father prepared for the day that his daughter would go to INCAE, January has the same dream for her  children-that one day, they too might be Incaistas and continue the Urroz tradition.

INCAE Alumni Magazine


Doing social good

CFO and COO Miami Lighthouse MBA XX, 1988 | MIAMI

There is satisfaction in helping people In his day to day, Ed Largaespada wears several business hats; one is styled for an entrepreneur, while the other one he wears when he’s doing social good. In both cases, he relies on sound business skills as he implements strategic principles in his work. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Miami Lighthouse, Florida’s oldest and largest private agency dedicated to serving the


INCAE Alumni Magazine

Good business skills

blind and visually impaired with a variety of programs, including Braille, technology literacy, life skills training and even, music. The Miami Lighthouse is recognized as a leader in its field, recognized with a 4-star rating--the highest possible--which indicates consistent execution of its mission in a fiscally responsible way. However, keeping the organization afloat takes business acumen. “Many non-profits have stumbled and even come up short during this economic crisis. Those running them are not always aware of the business side,” says Largaespada. “You want to serve your mission but you have to do it in a financially responsible way.” A consultant “advised us to be more flexible,” he recounts, so the organization got involved in eye health care. Each year, Miami Lighthouse conducts a statewide program serving 10,000 needy children, with a contract from the Florida Department of Health

and other funding sources. “It is probably the most important source of income for the organization,” says Largaespada. His CFO and COO “hats” have him doing budgeting tasks one hour, then switching to contract negotiation the next. “I am a problem solver,” he says, “and that goes back to INCAE,” crediting his Alma Mater for some of the skills honed while he got his MBA. Largaespada throws open the doors to the music studio in Miami Lighthouse that he helped create, and a room full of visually impaired musicians jamming joyfully, appear. “Miami Lighthouse is a challenge and there is satisfaction in helping people,” he says. Aside from his day job, he is also an entrepreneur. He recently bought the brand name Teeka Tan with its distribution network, which he subcontracts and produces in Mexico while simultaneously overseeing his two Dairy Queen franchises.

Pineapple Pull Pineapples and other fruit have sent Carlos Barquero roaming the world. Starting in Central America, he was sent to Africa and later to Asia. He now works in the Philippines where the benefits of know-how gained from decades of working on the isthmus are being reaped.

What can I do tomorrow to make sure we improve and maintain profitability in the company He studied agriculture in Honduras and began his career “in the field, packing bananas. This was useful. When you train people, you have to start with the basics. It helped me learn about the business from below.” After several promotions,

he decided he needed to hone his skills. Even before finishing at INCAE, he had three job offers. In 1985, he was working at Chiquita Brands International when management wanted to diversify the programs in Central America. “I accepted the challenge. I started from scratch. I was the CEO and the only employee,” he recalls. Soon he was managing a firm with 2,300 employees. “We exported pineapples, melons, mangos and papayas to Europe and Japan, which became a very profitable business,” he says.

Chief Operating Officer, Lapanday Foods Corporation | MBA XII, 1981 |The Philippines

He doesn’t have a recipe for success but thinks discipline, wisdom and prioritizing are key. Every night before heading home, Barquero takes twenty minutes to plan. “I think to myself, what can I do tomorrow to make sure we improve and maintain profitability in the company. That way I know exactly what I need to do first thing in the morning.” When he retires, he wants to be a teacher. “I want to pass on my knowledge after forty years in the banana business.”

Barquero is currently the COO at a company that produces and markets bananas and pineapples. “We sell around 200 million dollars of fruit per year in 18 different countries,” he said.

INCAE Alumni Magazine



The campaign for the future This year, INCAE launches the public phase of the Illuminate Campaign to secure resources in the following four areas: student scholarships, research funding, impact programs and infrastructure with the purpose of consolidating the future impact of the institution in the region.

INCAE has proved its commitment to the region and we know that only high quality education can ensure a sustainable development. Anyone associated with INCAE should be very proud and want to make sure the institution continues. So we are in front of a great opportunity to make the difference. We need more entrepreneurs to have this same commitment, with the same passion and love. Carlos Pellas President Grupo Pellas | INCAE Board of Directors

The Illuminate Campaign is important for INCAE because it is going to create an endowment. The first ever for INCAE and this is critical. Critical for operations, for the growth and prosperity of the school, for its ability to be nimble and attract top tier talent. Personally my support of INCAE is two fold. I am getting the word out. I am securing capital. I will do what I can to help. I want to be a part of INCAE. Jennifer Fearon Managing Partner, VentureLink Advisers LLC, NYC | Presidential Advisory Council Member

An endowment helps the faculty and the board focus on long-term investment plans that don’t have a short term payback. It can be a vital, as well, during difficult times. Harry Strachan MESOAMERICA, Founding Partner | Former INCAE President

For more information: Wendy RodrĂ­guez | Director of Development and National Committees Coordinator INCAE Business School | Email: | Phone: (505) 2248-9820 38

INCAE Alumni Magazine

Amigo Incaísta Campaign The Amigo Incaista Campaign asks INCAE graduates to donate annually with the purpose of raising funds specifically for scholarships for new MBA candidates. This campaign originally began as “Project 1000” with the objective

of having 1000 graduates donate. Now that this marker has been surpassed, the name changed to Amigo Incaista Campaign with the aim of having 1000 graduates donate annually. We would appreciate your support to help us achieve this goal”.

To help now, go to and donate! INCAE Alumni Magazine




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