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School of Business Alumnus Appointed as Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture

September 12, 2013
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Ruben Dario Lizarralde (MSPM ’99), pictured with then Interim Dean Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacassa (left) and UM President Donna E. Shalala, during an alumni reception organized by Lizaarralde in Colombia in March 2011.

Another alumnus from the School of Business has taken a top governmental leadership position in Latin America. Ruben Dario Lizarralde (MSPM ’99) was named Colombia’s minister of agriculture by President Juan Manuel Santos on September 11. In announcing the appointment, the president called Lizarralde a great manager and great leader, noting that he was the architect of a successful model for collaboration between businesses and farmers. Prior to his appointment, Lizarralde served as CEO of the palm and rubber company Indupalma for more than 15 years where he led a significant transformation.

Lizarralde’s appointment comes at a critical time, as he will be responsible for leading the implementation of the most ambitious reform of Colombia’s agricultural sector in the last 50 years, according to Joseph Gantitsky, director of the UM Center for International Business Education and Research. According to El Tiempo, Colombia's leading newspaper, immediately after assuming his new responsibilities, Lizarralde and President Santos issued five decrees including the creation of a new unit responsible for rural development, and the elimination of tariffs for all inputs to the agricultural sector, both firsts in Colombia's history.

Lizarralde joins a roster of School of Business alumni currently serving or having served in key Latin American governmental positions. Porifirio “Pepe” Lobo (BBA ’70) has been the president of Honduras since 2010; Mercedes Araoz (MA ’91) served as Peru’s first female minister of finance from 2009 to 2010, after serving as the country’s minister of foreign commerce and tourism from 2006 to December 2009; Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace (MBA ’80) served as minister of tourism and aviation for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas from 2008 to 2012; and Álvaro E. Tomas (MSPM ’08) served as the Panamanian ambassador to Spain from 2009 to 2011.

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