Last Saturday while most students were eating lunch, just a few yards away from Corcoran Commons in the Heights Room, CEO of Citigroup Latin America Francisco Aristeguieta was delivering a keynote speech to the Latin American Business Club (LABC) of Boston College.
An organization with a focus on exposing Latin American students on campus to various business and internship opportunities, LABC hosted its inaugural Latin American Leadership Conference, which featured several talks from corporate innovators and a panel discussion from notable Latin American business leaders.
“In accordance with our mission, this conference aims to expose students to the endless financial and business opportunities that exist in the emerging markets of Latin America,” read the conference’s introductory letter, which was distributed to attendees. “Moreover, it is our desire to promote greater awareness of social and political issues currently facing the Latin American region.”
The event was co-hosted by five other BC organizations, including the BC chapter of Enactus, an entrepreneurial club; the Organization of Latin American Affairs; Boston College Entrepreneur Society (BCES); Heights Capital, a campus-based securities trading group; and the AHANA Management Academy.
Led by an executive team comprised of 15 members and headed by co-presidents Ana Julia Gill, A&S ’15, and Federico Pineda, CSOM ’15, LABC also maintains an open discussion on the political and governmental climate of Latin America with respect to business and socioeconomic events.
Beginning with opening remarks at 9:30 a.m. and preceded by an introduction from Associate Dean of the Carroll School of Management Richard Keeley and subsequently Gill, the conference commenced the first panel discussion on the subjects of business and entrepreneurship.
The panel was led by Chairman and CEO of Casa Noble Tequila Jose Hermosillo, Chilean business leader and former Harvard Kennedy School Fellow Mario Valdivia, and Director of Enterprise Development at Coporacion Andiana de Fomento Daniel Spechar. With a main focus on applying individual leadership to a corporate setting, the panel addressed topics ranging from entrepreneurial style to leadership within the Latin American business community.
Following the first panel was the keynote address delivered by Aristeguieta, who oversees the operations of Citi in Latin America-a branch of Citigroup spanning 23 countries, encompassing approximately 30,000 employees, and generating 16 percent of the Global Net Income of Citigroup.
The conference’s second panel took a politically focused approach and covered an extensive set of issues ranging social responsibility to international relations.
The panel consisted of Carols Garcia-Perez, the director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting; Leopoldo Martinez, a Venezuelan lawyer and current managing director at LMN consulting; and Director of PetroMagdalena Energy Corporation Nelson Ortiz-all discussed the entrepreneurial identity and governmental actions both in Latin America and in the U.S.
The conference’s lineup of notable speakers concluded with the second keynote speaker Maria Emma Mejia Velez, a Colombian journalist and current president of Pies Descalzos Foundation-a Colombian charity for poor and impoverished children.
“Budgeting was an essential part of the event planning,” said Sarah Padial, LABC Social Action director and A&S ’16. “Our treasurer, Ibrahim Velutini, had to organize a budget that included the transportation, catering, [and] marketing equipment, among other things.”
“The cabinet and e-board of LABC have been planning the event since October,” she said. “The majority of our efforts were concentrated on getting amazing speakers for the conference and luckily, we did.”