President, Inter-American Development Bank

When he launched his bid to become president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Alberto Moreno consulted his friend and former Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. He told Fischer he was concerned that he wasn't an economist, but had graduated with an MBA. "That's perfect," replied Fischer. To fit in with a tribe of economists by taking part in their discussions, though sophisticated, wouldn't help solve the problems of running a development bank. "If you get involved in that, you'll never get out of it," he said.

Moreno, elected for the first time in 2005, has demonstrated his managerial skills. He focused on being a manager and coach, and surrounded himself with people with such capabilities. "That is fundamental," he said in an interview with Latin Trade. "I spend half of the time talking with people."

Moreno described his team as "educated people, smarter than I am." He also drew up a small but effective list of practices that enabled him to run the IDB better. You have to put together a team, delegate, learn to listen, respect disagreement, and promote and not distract, he said.

Intelligent, decisive, clear, straightforward, and deeply pragmatic, Moreno gets to the heart of issues at lightning speed and implements actions just as fast. Maybe these attributions contributed to his being reelected twice, with his present term ending in 2020.

He is proud of having doubled the size of the bank, and of having concentrated the new resources on the poorest 25% of the region.

He highlights the financing of projects of nutrition, maternal and child health, and of conditional cash transfers, such as those for parents who send their children to school or to be vaccinated, which have pulled millions out of poverty. Also important is his contribution to creating strong institutions. "Without them, there is no development," he said.

Moreno brought new talent and technologies to the IDB. His strategy prepared the agency to better confront competition, which in the future he sees coming from private banks and not just other multilaterals. "JP Morgan is setting up a development bank," he noted.

Moreno has strengthened the IDB's relationship with the private sector in order to bring it closer to the problem of development, to reduce poverty, and to help vulnerable groups. That's why he created the Multilateral Investment Fund and IDB Invest. The biggest error of the private sector in the region has been its failure to assume the challenges of development, he said. "It's not enough that the economies grow if there isn't prosperity among the people."

Social responsibility programs aren't enough to resolve that, and today's companies must try harder than ever, Moreno said. At the same time, the worst error of governments has been their failure to understand the potential of public-private agreements to accelerate investment. "There should be officials who understand that without hobbling it with regulation," he said. "They should attract private interests and offer them legal safeguards."

Under his leadership, the bank has set an agenda for building infrastructure, adopting technology, and introducing digital connectivity. "Latin America and the Caribbean missed out on the Industrial Revolution," Moreno said. "They cannot miss the digital revolution."

He also involved the bank in such crucial issues as climate change and the inclusion of women and the disabled. "We have 8% of the world's land and 43% of its biodiversity," he said. Physically and mentally disabled people comprise about 10% of Latin America's population.

Moreno has built up an incomparable trust between his institution and national governments. He understands how Latin American bureaucracies work and offers them financial services and, above all, the leading-edge knowledge that has been accumulated by the bank. Also, his experience as ambassador of Colombia to the White House means he knows the ins and outs of high politics in the United States, the bank's partner and host country. He's aware that Washington speaks with many voices and understands and handles this like few other Latin Americans.

At the age of 66, Moreno declines to talk about plans for his future. He has repeatedly denied that he wants to be resident of Colombia. He has a passion for horses, is a keen tennis player, and an occasional cyclist. That may stand him in good stead to head the International Olympic Committee, of which he is already a director. For the time being, he insists that he just wants to finish his current term successfully.

Judging by results, he's well on the way to achieving that.



CEO, Votorantim

Joao Miranda is leading the transformation at Votorantim S.A., one of Brazil's largest conglomerates with major stakes in cement, zinc, aluminum, energy, steel, and banking.

Since becoming CEO in 2014, he has presided over strategic changes and achievements, most importantly, a corporate restructuring and, more recently, the reduction of debt ratios.

The restructuring was largely prompted by the effects recession in Brazil and a challenging international environment had on the group. Votorantim, however, is no stranger to change, said Miranda.

"During its history, the company has transformed itself several times and has demonstrated a great capacity to adapt and thrive," he told Latin Trade.

Reorganization has led to stronger governance and autonomy for the companies that make up the conglomerate, while the holding acts more like a portfolio investor.

The investment portfolio has been significantly recomposed under Miranda's watch. This includes the widening of the energy business (including the acquisition of Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo CESP- and ventures in windfarms), and, more recently, the sales of Brazilian long-steel Votorantim Siderurgia to ArcelorMittal and pulp-producer Fibria to Brazil's Suzano Pulp and Paper.

Miranda has also reduced the conglomerate's debt to EBITDA ratio from more than 3.0 times in 2015 to 1.9 times at end-2018. Furthermore, proceeds from Fibria's sale were used to pay off more debt, cutting the ratio to 1.56 times by June 2019.

Revenue and profitability have risen under Miranda's tenure, helped in part by a relative improvement in Brazil's economy.

In 2018, Votorantim posted consolidated net revenue of R31.9 billion ($7.7 billion at end-2018 exchange rates), 19% more than the previous year; EBITDA of R6.9 billion ($1.7 billion), 47% higher than in 2017; and a 141% increase in net income to R1.9 billion ($458 million).

Miranda's achievements show how the Ermirio de Moraes family, which owns Votorantim, made the right choice when they appointed him CEO. It was a calculated decision; he had shown his worth since joining the company as CFO in 2009 after a career in international banking at Citibank.

He has a degree in economics from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Rio de Janeiro and an MBA from Universidade do Rio de...

To continue reading