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Mighty young CEOs 40: Latin Trade presents 40 CEOs under age 40 to watch in 2009 and beyond.

CEOs grow up fast in Latin America. While many executives in the United States are facing their first major economic crisis this year, all of the LATIN TRADE Mighty Young CEOs have already gone through at least two major financial meltdowns.

The CEOs represent a broad cross section of regional societies. Mexican Patrick Slim and the other scions are trying to expand or preserve the family fortune. Recent arrivals, like Argentine Wenceslao Casares and the band of Up-and-Dot-comers, are looking to repeat their successes from the start of the millennium. Venezuelan Ric Fulop and the Techies are developing the next wave of innovations.

Junior Achievement awards and small- and mid-sized business support group Endeavor have ushered in a group of Entrepreneurs like Argentine Santiago Bilinkis, while large multinational and multilatina corporations are handing the reigns of power to Dutchman Kees Kruythoff and Brazilian Joao Castro Neves, among other youthful Corporate CEOs.

Finally, Colombian Shakira and a couple of outstanding individuals are using their efforts and even star power to built clout at Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Read on to meet the generation that refused to wait for the older generation to hand over power.

The Scions

Will the scions of the captains of Latin America's industry and finance in the LATIN TRADE 40 under 40 years old have the guts and savvy to navigate the current economic downturn and capitalize on the circumstances?

Marcelo Odebrecht (38)


Construtora Norberto Odebrecht

Shortly after 38-year-old Marcelo Oderbrecht took charge of the family construction business in 2002, the civil engineer took steps to decentralize decision-making and control by challenging executives in the far-flung multinational construction company to act as entrepreneurs. Benefitting from the tailwinds of the region's economic expansion since 2003, the strategy has delivered results. The backlog of work has more than tripled in the past five years to top US$18.3 billion; the company expanded into Africa and the Middle East and now operates in more than 20 countries. But the company that has built projects from Angola to Venezuela faces major financial fallout after damage was detected at a hydroelectric dam it built in Ecuador.

Alfredo Egydio Arruda Villela

Filho (38)

Executive President

Itausa--Investimentos Itau

With the death of patriarch Olavo Egydio Setubal last year, Villela Filho takes over as executive president of Itausa, a Brazilian holding company controlling Banco Itau; Duratex, a lumber and construction materials company; and Itautec, an information technology company. Together with his sister And Lucia, the Villelas control 23% of the voting shares of the holding Itausa. The 38-year-old engineer will eschew running the day-to-day operations of the holding group's enterprises. But he will have his hands full as the group oversees major expansions, such as the recent merger of Banco Itau and Unibanco to form the country's largest financial group with US$242 billion in assets.

Pedro Jereissati (30)

Member of the Executive Board, Managing Director

Jereissati Participacoes

Pedro Jereissati, 30, moved from the finance department to the head office in the family real estate and telecom business just as the political winds began favoring the Jereissati group. Brazilian regulators are likely to approve the company's bid to control two fixed-line telecommunications companies as Jereissati's joint venture Oi tries to take over Brasil Telecom. The company increased its stake in Oi, which it owns along with Andrade Gutierrez, a major Brazilian construction firm. Jereissati, who holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, helps run the telecom operations and manages shopping centers and commercial buildings.

Patrick Slim (39)

Chairman, America Movil

Director, corporate sales. Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex)

When Mexican mega-billionaire Carlos Slim turned over day-to-day operations of his telecommunications, retail and industrial empire to his children in 2004, his third son Patrick Slim was named chairman of America Movil, the cellular telephone operator. Armed with a degree in business administration from Universidad Anahuac, Patrick Slim serves as director of corporate sales at Telefonos de Mexico and sits on the boards of a number of the family enterprises. Still, his calling may be politics since he is the family's point man in efforts to boost the fortunes of the conservative Union Nacional Sinarquista, which has attempted to gain legal recognition as a full-fledged political party. Carlos Slim's other two sons also lead the family ventures. Carlos Jr. (41) is at the helm of Grupo Carso, while Marco Antonio (40) leads the financial group Inbursa. His daughter Maria Soumaya (37) is married to architect Fernando Romero (see separate listing in LT 40 under 40), another daughter Vanessa Paola (35) is married to Telmex executive Arturo Elias Ayub and youngest daughter Johanna Monique (31) is married to America Movil CEO Daniel Hajj.


Alfredo Harp Calderoni (38)

Vice Chairman

Fundacion Alfredo Harp Helu

Alfredo Harp Calderoni, 38, cut his teeth on the floor of the Mexican stock exchange, working at his family's brokerage Acciones y Valores. From there he rose quickly to CEO of family-owned clothing retailer, Robert's, and then shifted back to finance as head of venture capital funds at Banco Nacional de Mexico (Banamex) before Citi bought the bank for US$12.5 billion from his father Alfredo Harp Helu, his partner Roberto Hernandez and other investors in 2001. Harp Calderoni has shown his eye for business by acquiring sports retailer and fitness concern Grupo Marti, tile-maker Interceramic and Santo Domingo Films, which produced Mexican hits like "Cansada de Besar Sapos" (Tired of Kissing Frogs.) He is also vice chairman of the not-for-profit Fundacion Alfredo Harp Helu.

Alejandro Santo Domingo Davila (31)

Managing Director

Quadrant Capital Advisors

Alejandro Santo Domingo, son of Colombia's richest man Julio Mario Santo Domingo, was catapulted into global business in 2005, when the South African beer giant, SABMiller, bought the family brewing business, Bavaria, for US$7.8 billion. Trained in investment banking with ex-JP Morgan M&A specialist Violy McCausland, Harvard graduate Santo Domingo led the sale of the family business to SABMiller. The 31-year-old heir sits on the board of SABMiller, as well as Colombia's largest industrial holding Valorem. The younger Santo Domingo also heads the New York-based investment firm, Quadrant Capital Advisors, with his cousin Carlos Alejandro Perez Davila. Family holdings also include Colombian television channel, Caracol TV, and Colombian daily, El Espectador.

Frank Geyer Abubakir (35)



Frank Geyer Abubakir, 35, has a golden opportunity to put Unipar on the path to a new era of prosperity. Just two months after the grandson of famed CEO Paulo Geyer took charge as chairman in April 2008, the Brazilian petrochemical giant began its most significant new initiative in decades. In a joint venture with the Brazilian state-run off company Petrobras, Unipar founded Quattor, which is the second-largest petrochemical company in South America and is controlled by Unipar through a 60% voting stake. The youthful chairman of Unipar, who won his grandfather's favor when he turned around the family brokerage Securitas at just age 23, must find financing to take part in a massive US$8.5 billion refinery and petrochemical complex in Rio de Janeiro. The boardroom--stacked with family members--is also lined with risks as the chairman must try to keep a truce in place among feuding relatives.


Mauricio Rolim Amaro (37)

Vice Chairman


Brazilian Mauricio Rolim Amaro, son of TAM airline founder Rolim Amaro, shares the entrepreneurial spirit of his late father, who transformed a bush-pilot service into an international airline. The 37-year-old executive has set up new ventures like a private jet service, TAM Jatos Executivos, and a low-cost airline. But he returned to the main airline and in April 2007, he and his sister Maria Claudia, 41, were named, respectively, vice chairman and chair of TAM airlines, which now has about a 50 % share in the Brazilian domestic market. Amaro has a degree in Business Administration and Aviation Administration from Broward Community College, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

--Mike Zellner (Miami), Ken Rapoza (Sao Paulo), Charles Newbery (Buenos Aires), Jorge Garreton (Santiago)


The Internet has opened the door for a host of young entrepreneurs to break out into international business.

Pablo Larguia (30)


Enjoy Entertainment

Like many Argentine entrepreneurs, Pablo Larguia, 30, started his business career young. At 16, Larguia won a Junior Achievement award for a company he launched with his brother that sold car windshield sunshades. Larguia went on to start a jobs Website, Bumeran. com, which he sold to the Spanish Internet company, Terra, for more than US$10 million in 2000. Larguia took the money and moved to Madrid to start the film and theater production company, Enjoy Entertainment, two years later. With headquarters in Madrid and local partners in Miami and Buenos Aires, Enjoy has produced blockbuster Spanish-language movies like "Lugares Comunes" ("Common Ground") and theater, such as "ART." The Argentine entrepreneur also bought half of Septimo Arte, a retail chain that rents and sells DVDs in Madrid, Barcelona and Lisbon.

Gonzalo Arzuaga (36) & Matias de Tezanos (27)


When Gonzalo Arzuaga and Matias de Tezanos of Argentina partnered to launch Killer Startups, a technology site to submit startup ideas, they set out to create a blog to be the "king of all things startups." Arzuaga, 36, is one of the Internet pioneers in Argentina, having launched search engine Gauchonet in 1996, which became one of the most visited Websites before he sold it to Terra-Lycos in 1999. De Tezanos, 27, is one of the two principal founders of ClickDiario, a Hispanic online advertising network that grew to have a user base of 45 million per month before being acquired by Japanese Internet firm LiveDoor. The latest venture joins a crowded pool of TechCrunch, Mashable, GigaOm, Silicon Alley Insider, and ReadWriteWeb, among others, covering Web startups. KillerStartups is one of the ventures that the duo plans to build around domain "We would never kill this concept," Arzuaga said recently. "It's a stepping stone to build our network of business-related websites."


Wenceslao Casares (34) & Meyer Malka (37)

Co-Chief Executive Officer

Bling Nation

Argentine Wenceslao Casares, 34, (pictured above) will always be remembered as the dot-com entrepreneur who sealed the $560 million deal to sell to Banco Santander right before the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. Now, he and Venezuelan Meyer Malka, who ran Patagon's Venezuelan operations, are teaming up with Palo Alto, Calif-based Bling Nation, a mobile payments company for community banks in the United States. The new venture, launched in November 2008, seeks to convince banks to bypass the current global debit payment model and to replace it with a less costly local payment network. Customers will place stickers on their cell phones to create contactless payment cards for debit charges at local stores. The venture taps into both executives' experience. By dot-com standards, Casares has had a long history of Internet activity. He launched Argentina's first Internet service provider in 1994. After developing and selling Patagon, Casares, Malka and other investors founded the Brazilian retail bank Lemon Bank, and Meck, a private investment firm based in Santiago, Chile. Malka, 37, also has made his mark on the Internet, as part of the 1998 foundation of Classified Media Group (, Tuinmueble), an online classified ads business focused on Venezuela, Colombia and Central America. Classified Media Group emerged as a leader in each of its markets before being sold to eBay's partner in Latin America, MercadoLibre.


Alec Oxenford (38)

Co-founder and CEO

Alec Oxenford, 38, another first generation Argentine dot-com entrepreneur, got his MBA diploma from Harvard Business School before launching, an Internet auction website, in 1999. In 2005, as annual revenue at topped US$150 million, MercadoLibre. tom, an affiliate of eBay, purchased a stake in and bought the remaining operations in 2008. Oxenford jumped right back into the fray; in 2006, he co-founded, a free online classifieds business similar to Craigslist. With head offices in Buenos Aires and New York, the company has operations in more than 70 countries and 30 languages, Oxenford said he is not deterred by the current problems. The global slowdown will accelerate Web growth because there are no better or cheaper alternatives, he has said.

Marcos Galperin (36)

President/Chief Executive Officer


Another one of the Argentine dot-com entrepreneurs, Marcos Galperin is one of the co-founders of MercadoLibre, an auction Website that became eBay's exclusive partner in Latin America in September 2001. Galperin wrote the MercadoLibre business plan while still at Stanford Business School and used a drive to the airport to pitch the startup to a visiting investor. The 36-year-old executive led MercadoLibre to profitability in 2005; through an initial public stock offering in 2007; and handled the acquisition of competitor in two separate deals in 2005 and 2008. The online auction site continued to grow during fourth-quarter 2008 and posted full-year gross merchandise volume of US$524.7 million, a 14% increase, and full-year payment platform volume of US$256.9 million, a 62% increase.

Heberto Taracena Ble (36)


Heberto Taracena Ble, 36, quit his job as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. in Mexico City to start online real estate venture in 2000 after the dot-com bubble burst. At that time his father told him, "You're crazy." Taracena Ble and his partners persevered, swapping shares for advertising with Mexico's Televisa to survive. The business blossomed into Mexico's largest online real estate venture as the country's housing and mortgage market revived. Seven years after starting the business, Taracena Ble sold it to Time Warner for an undisclosed sum. Now Taracena Ble is looking to tap into the market of foreigners looking for a second home in Mexico. "As young families, Baby Boomers and retirees seek out hot spots ... Mexico's connection to cities in Canada, the U.S, Western Europe and Latin America makes the country a favorite choice for those looking to get away from it all," he said.


An emerging group of Latin American CEOs is using technology to build businesses on the cutting edge.

Geraldine Mlynarz (35)



Geraldine Mlynarz was finishing her thesis on the use of molecular detection techniques for infectious diseases in salmon, instead of humans, when she saw a business opportunity. Together with her professor, Ana Maria Sardino, the 35-year-old executive launched the business that quickly took the salmon industry by storm. A key breakthrough was that the new process offered faster detection times (as fast as 24 hours). Mlynarz turned her attention to exporting the technique to other salmon-producing countries--Scotland and Norway--and to adapting the technique for the pork and poultry industries. Meanwhile, Diagnotec also designed a genetic program to assist in salmon breeding selection.

Pedro Suchodolski (31)



Pedro Suchodolski was hired as employee No. 7 at Sao Paulo-based Voitel, a telecommunications service provider. The now 31-year-old executive started out as a business development manager and held that role for three years until the dot-com bubble burst in 2001 and most of Voitel's U.S. venture capital dried up. Undeterred, Suchodolski created a business plan that caught the eye of Brazilian and American investors at the offshore fund Combratel and was soon boosted to Voitel CEO. Since taking charge in 2003, Pedro has achieved 30% annual sales growth with a strategy aimed at the expanding demand for voice-over-Internet-protocol services. The company now has 90 employees and 2,700 customers. "Our ultimate goal is to establish Voitel as the benchmark within the region," Suchodolski says, adding that the 2008 credit crisis carries a double-edge effect: while older clients are unwilling to try new products, newer clients see VOIP as a cost saver.

Luiz Chacon (33)


SuperBAC Protecao Ambiental

After 33-year-old Luiz Chacon started the biotech company SuperBAC Protecao Ambiental 13 years ago, the young entrepreneur spent the first eight years researching and developing environmentally safe solutions for residue treatment. When the Silo Paulo-based company's first product--a bacterial substitute for chemical treatment of effluents--hit the market three years ago, it caught the attention of Unilever-owned JohnsonDiversey, a commercial cleaning supply maker. Chacon didn't want SuperBAC to be tied to the fortunes of JohnsonDiversey so he quickly gathered other partners to develop new products for different market segments. Its agro-division, AgroBAC, offers organic fertilizers as an alternative to chemical fertilizers at a comparable price. SuperBAC's other new division, PetrolBAC, is moving forward with partner AlpinaBriggs, Brazil's largest environmental safety manager for the oil and gas industry. PetrolBAC has developed a replacement to fossil fuel solvents used to clean oil-soaked equipment and has signed deals with Volkswagen, Fiat and Audi.


Ric Fulop (32)



Venezuelan Ric Fulop, 32, launched his first company 16 years ago and he's never looked back From broadband services to importing computer hardware and software for Venezuelan supermarkets, the enterprising engineer has kept up his pace. Fulop now has his heart set on battery technology for electric cars with his start up A123, which has raised US$250 million from Sequoia Capital, GE and the U.S. Army fund OnPoint, among others. A123's rechargeable battery technology is slowly gaining acceptance for use in everything from appliances to airplanes. The company was a contender for a contract with General Motors, which is making its first mass-market electric car, the Volt. But South Korea's LG beat out A123 in January 2009. Still, Fulop expects A123 to win future contracts from GM and other automakers as the new Obama administration has promised billions for alternative energy vehicles.


The next generation of business leaders blazes a path to profits through innovation and marketing.

Marilia Rocca (34)

Managing Partner

Solo Corp.

Marilia Rocca, 34, is blazing a trail of firsts in Brazil. in the late 1990s, she was one of the Wal-Mart's first female managers in Brazil. She co-founded Fundacao Brava, a family foundation focused on transferring management tools to the public sector and NGOs in Brazil to boost their effectiveness. She also helped found and served as the managing director of the entrepreneur support group Endeavor Brasil. So it was only natural that she would found and manage Solo Corp., a Sao Paulo-based venture capital group seeking to invest in small- and mid-size businesses. "In 99% of the cases, the [companies] knocking on investors' doors are of no interest," she said. "Companies that want money have to be organized and have strong management practices."

Constantino De Oliveira Jr. (38)

Chief Executive Officer


When Constantino de Oliveira Jr. (now 38 years old) started low-cost, low-fare Brazilian airline Gol in January 2001, the market already had two dominant players--TAM and Varig. As Gol took off, competitor Varig lost altitude. Finally, de Oliveira took over ailing Varig in a cash and stock deal valued at about US$275 million in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the trouble started. Fuel costs skyrocketed, key executives like longtime CFO Richard Lark defected, and Jet Blue founder David Neeleman started Brazilian airline Azul to compete in the low-cost segment. In 2009, de Oliveira expects to regain altitude in part due to miscues at his competitors. TAM, for example, bought futures to lock in fuel prices at US$106 per barrel for the first six months of 2009. Given that 40% of Gol's passengers are non-business travelers who tend to be the first to cut travel, de Oliveira is working to shore up Varig's frequent flier program, Smiles.

Santiago Cosio Pando (35)


Grupo Pando

Santiago Cosio Pando, 35, had worked in just about all of the family businesses (Las Brisas hotels, towel-maker La Josefina, bull fighting ring La Plaza Mexico) before landing the top spot at the family winery Santo Tomas in 2001. Literally working from the ground up, Cosio Pando analyzed everything about the business to understand its essence. He slowly rebuilt the business to improve the product, packaging and distribution. From Santo Tomas, he moved on to head the entire food and beverage holding group and work on reviving its canned fish business Calmex and chocolate-maker La Suiza. Emboldened by his success, the young executive is now acquiring businesses--sardine packager Planta Yavaros from Grupo Herdez--and introducing innovative products, like tequila-filled chocolates.


Andres Freire (36)

Co-founder, Chairman & CEO


Andres "Andy" Freire, 36, and Santiago Bilinkis (see next entry) started office supplies company Officenet in 1997. Going from zero to US$80 million in sales and almost 1,000 employees in a five-year span, the duo revolutionized the office supplies industry in Argentina and spread to the rest of South America with efficient supply chain management and online purchasing. Initially backed by local angel investors, Officenet was first acquired by Brazilian Amazon dot-com clone Submarino for US$31 million in cash and stock in February 2000. The next year, CEO Freire led the company through the twin crises of the dot-com bubble bust abroad and the corralito at home in Argentina. A key strategy was to shift sales online with the help of Submarino's e-commerce platform--the merger later became one of two Harvard business cases written about the company. Freire left Officenet in 2002 to become a business guru as co-founder and CEO of consultancy Axialent, an "expert entrepreneur" on CNN en Espanol, and a member of the faculty of both the MBA and Executive Leadership Program at University of Notre Dame.

Santiago Bilinkis (38)

Co-Founder & CEO


Santiago Bilinkis, 38, and Andres "Andy" Freire started office supplies company Officenet in 1997. As Officenet went from being an Argentine company to a multilatina, with operations in multiple countries in Latin America, Bilinkis became chief financial officer and then CEO in 2002 after Freire left. At the helm, Bilinkis took Officenet to the next level with the sale of the company to U.S. office supplies giant Staples in 2004 for an undisclosed sum. While Bilinkis continues to lead Officenet forward, he has dabbled in other start-ups such as game development studio Wanako Games, beer-maker Otro Mundo and digital ad agency Latin 3. He also serves on the board of the not-for-profit Endeavor, an organization that supports entrepreneurs.


Jose Fernando Romero Havaux (37)

Founder and Director

Laboratory of Architecture

Jose Fernando Romero Havaux was working in the architectural firm of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, when as head project leader he designed the winning proposal for the concert hall Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal. Romero, who studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, started his independent architectural practice Laboratorio de la Ciudad de Mexico in 1999. The Mexican architect, who is married to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's daughter Maria Soumaya, has received numerous commissions to work on a wide range of multiple-use, cultural, commercial and residential projects. He most recently founded Laboratory of Architecture, which also has offices in Los Angeles.

Pablo Gonzalez Cid (35)


Cafe Punta del Cielo

Mexico is the world's fifth largest coffee producer, but it does not have a strong coffee-drinking culture. That is, not until, Pablo Gonzalez Cid, 35, began Cafe Punta del Cielo in 1999 to compete with the ever-growing influence of imported concepts like Starbucks in Mexico. Gonzalez Cid developed a two-pronged attack: wholesale distribution through hotels and restaurants to build buzz and provide cash flow for product development of new products. As this channel grew, it would later include retailers such as Wal-Mart. The company also goes to market via its own Cafe Punta del Cielo coffee shops. Gonzalez Cid expects slower growth this year, yet the 85-store chain will not stop innovating, having recently launched its products in Europe and its own coffee pots.

Karina Von Baer (36)



Karina Von Baer, 36, has been seeking to improve agricultural production in southern Chile since leaving her job at seed-maker Saprosem at the start of the decade. In 2002, she launched a company to standardize storage of wheat. Next up was Oleotop in 2004, a rapeseed oil producer for the salmon industry. The company seeks to replace the fish oil and meal with the rapeseed oil to provide an alternative crop for local farmers. "It's an US$8 million project, but it provides a lot of work to people in the region," said Von Baer, who has convinced government-investment fund Fundacion Chile, venture capital fund Transoceanica and her former employer Saprosem to back the venture. Von Baer was named 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year in Chile by accounting firm Ernst & Young.


Javier Donoso (39)

Founder and CEO


At the age of 23 in 1993, Javier Donoso founded the gourmet, canned seafood company Geomar. He left Santiago's comfort and moved 550 kilometers south to the economically depressed town of Coronel. With a staff of 20 female workers, a quaint canning plant, and a single one-year US$1 million contract to sell razor clams to Taiwan, Donoso led Geomar into becoming a major provider of premium canned sea food to niche gourmet markets in Asia, North America and Europe. "To ensure top quality we purchase fresh healthy seafood from inshore fishers and divers, our buyers meet them at the foot of the boat as they arrive to port," he says. Donoso expects sales to continue to grow in 2009 to US$12 million, up $2 million from 2008.

Joesley Mendonca Batista (38)

Executive President


When Joesley Mendonca Batista took over from his father Jose Batista Sobrinho as CEO of JBS-Friboi in 2006, the meat packing company had just begun its internationalization strategy with the purchase of Swift Argentina a year earlier. Mendonca Batista, now 38, forged ahead to transform JBS into the world's largest beef company with the purchase of the global operations of Swift for US$225 million in cash and almost US$1.2 billion in assumed debt. "The problem is not the high debt, but the low revenue," Joesley Mendonca Batista has said. To bolster the company's revenue, the 38-year-old executive is looking to renew U.S. beef sales in Japan and South Korea as the "mad cow" ban is lifted and expand Brazilian beef sales to the U.S. with the end of hoof-and-mouth restrictions. After JBS's initial public offering in 2007, Mendonca Batista continued to bolster the global operations with agreements to purchase U.S. companies National Beef Packing and Smithfield Beef Group and Australia's Tasman Group for a total of US$1.3 billion in cash and stock.

Billy & Fernando Rovzar (31, 28)


Lemon Films

When brothers Billy (31) and Fernando (28) Rovzar read the screenplay "Matando Cabos" ("Killing Cabos"), they dropped out of school in 2003 and rushed back to Mexico to make the killer mob comedy. Having invested almost $2.5 million to make the movie, their production company Lemon Films recovered US$6.3 million from box office receipts and sales of 30,000 DVDs. In 2006, the brothers were back at it again with "Kilometro 31," the story of twin sisters' interaction with a supernatural highway. The young film producers have found a winning formula for fund raising by offering a 20% to 30% share of profits on a portfolio of three to five movies. "If one loses money, the profit from the others can compensate," Fernando said.

Corporates The Latin Trade 40 under 40 climb the corporate ladder two rungs at a time.

Kees Kruythoff (39)


Unilever do Brasil

Kees Kruythoff, 39, has been on the fast track at Unilever, the food, home and personal care products maker. In less than 15 years at the company, he has already done stints in South Africa, China and he recently arrived in Brazil to head the Unilever operations in the South American country, which are the third-largest after its holdings in the United States and Britain. The Dutch executive takes over the approximately US$4 billion subsidiary after having supercharged Unilever's food business in South Africa where new product launches and marketing strategies spurred on sales growth to a rate four times faster than historic rates. But the Brazil post is certain to have its challenges. Kruythoff inherits some troubled food brands, including Kibon ice cream, Knorr soup products, Arisco cooking oil and Hellmann's mayonnaise--all of which have been losing market share in Brazil.

Pablo Magalhaes (37)

CEO, Brazil

Officenet Staples

Argentine Pablo Magalhaes, 37, was working his way up the corporate ladder at UPS, where he worked for 15 years, when Officenet Staples convinced the U.S. express carrier's executive team in Brazil to jump ship. Magalhaes hit the ground running, achieving Officenet's first-ever month of profitability in October 2008. Thanks to Staples' global presence, Officenet has been able to bargain with its suppliers, like International Paper, 3M and Hewlett Packard, for better pricing. Sales grew 50% in 2008 over 2007. The company now wants Magalhaes to think big. "I was hired to grow our presence in Brazil through M&A and to grow outside of Brazil and Argentina," Magalhaes said, adding that the company is planning to establish an online or physical operation in a new South American country in 2009.

Ruben Lopez Barrera (38)

CEO, Grupo Aeroportuario

Centro Norte

Empresas ICA

Since 2003, Ruben Lopez Barrera has led Mexican Empresas ICA's incursion into airport management. Empresas Ica, a construction company, formed the Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte in a joint venure with France's Aeroports de Paris Management. The joint venture operates and manages 13 international airports in the north and central regions of Mexico, including the airports of Monterrey, Mexico's third largest metropolitan area, and tourist destinations Acapulco, Mazatlan, and Zihuatanejo. Lopez Barrera led the company through its international initial public offering of the remaining government shares. While total passenger traffic started falling at the end of 2008, Lopz Barrera has sought continued expansion through a joint venture with Spain's NH Hoteles to develop a hotel and retail area in the Mexico City Airport.

Roberto Junguito Pombo (39)



Colombian Boberto Junguito Pombo, 39, was a key member of the restructuring team at Colombia's Avianca after it entered bankruptcy in March 2003. In 2005, the young executive got his chance at running an airline when Panama's Copa Airlines acquired Avianca competitor AeroRepublica. Since taking the helm, Junguito Pombo has devoted efforts to standardizing the airline's fleet, acquiring Embraer planes to match the parent company, Copa, to save money on maintenance. He added 10 new planes to lower operating costs. He also aligned the Colombian airlines routes with those of Copa partner Continental Airlines. Under Junguito Pombo's leadership, operating revenue has doubled and profits have remained in the black since 2006.

Darys Estrella Mordan (38)


Dominican Securities Exchange

Dominican Darys Estrella Mordan, 38, was a vice president at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street, when she was offered the job of CEO of the Dominican Securities Exchange. In April 2007, she took the plunge and returned to her native country. Established in 1988, the exchange does not have any listed stocks, but under Estrella Mordan's leadership, trading volume of bonds, commercial paper and other debt instruments have soared to almost US$1.2 billion in 2008, up more than 150% compared to 2007. The young executive has been working to establish a Central Depository to facilitate trading. In 2008, the World Economic Forum named Estrella Mordan as one of the organization's Young Global Leaders.

Non-government organizations Social entrepreneurs apply business and investment techniques to make a difference.

Rodrigo Hubner Mendes (34)

Founder and CEO

Instituto Rodrigo Mendes

Rodrigo Hubner Mendes, 34, began to paint when he was 19 years old, after an accident left him quadriplegic. Art was so important to his rehabilitation that he founded the Instituto (previously called the Associacao Rodrigo Mendes) in 1994 to offer art programs to people with handicaps. The program was such a success that Mendes broadened it to include all students, whether or not they had physical disabilities, and sought to help them earn income. The most recent phase of Mendes' project involves instructing teachers how to implement the institute's program and expanding its activities nationwide.

Rodrigo Villar Esquivel (32)


New Ventures Mexico

Rodrigo Villar Esquivel did the rounds with big companies--Dow Chemical, Mexican conglomerate Desc and accounting firm Ernst & Young--before he left the corporate world to direct the New Ventures fund to finance sustainable development projects in Mexico. The New Ventures program of U.S. environmental think-tank World Resources Institute promotes sustainable growth by investing capital in businesses that deliver social and environmental benefits in emerging markets. Villar Esquivel has increased the program's annual operating budget ten-fold to US$700,000 and supported 30 companies in raising more than US$26 million. "We don't want people to invest out of pity, but rather because they are convinced it's a sound business," he has said, indicating that investment returns have been as high as 40%.


Shakira (32)


Fundacion Pies Descalzos/Barefoot Foundation

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Bipoll, better known as Shakira, is a Colombian singer-songwriter who emerged as a Latin pop star in the mid-1990s and went global with the release of her English-language-crossover hit album Laundry Service. In 1995, Shakira founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation--named after her breakthrough Spanish-language album Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet)--to open schools for poor children in Colombia. The foundation has helped more than 5,000 students with education and meals. Shakira, whose foundation has raised more US$15 million, is now looking to build its sixth Foundation school in the Corregimiento La Playa neighborhood of Barranquilla.
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Author:Zellner, Mike; Rapoza, Ken; Newbery, Charles; Garreton, Jorge
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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