President Emerson Automation Solutions, Latin America
After a 40-year career with Emerson, a global leader in engineering, technology and automation, Leonardo Rodriguez, president of Emerson Automation Solutions, Latin America, takes a long, hard look back at the route the multinational followed in making Latin America one of its most promising as well as challenging regions.
Leo Rodriguez recalls how, as a boy, he used to talk about his future with his father. He and his brother had only two options: one was to study engineering, the other medicine. His parents moved the family from Cuba to the United States in the '60s. "There wasn't a lot of democracy in my house," he said with a grin. "They made of my brother a surgeon and of me, an engineer."
The decision presented the young Leo with a major challenge in his life, right from a date that he will never forget December 1,1975. That was his first day with Rosemount, a technology company that was acquired five months later by Emerson.
Leo--as he is known by his colleagues--has held about a dozen senior posts. The climax of his career came in 2002, when he was appointed President of Emerson Automation Solutions, Latin America, a region that generated 6%--more than $870 million--of the company's global sales last year.
Experience from the 40 years of his career has convinced Rodriguez that technology is the ideal vehicle with which to transform, in a positive sense, countries, companies, and also people. Despite the economic and political changes that have posed challenges for his management of the region, he has been able to make Latin America one of the company's most promising emerging markets.
In an interview with Latin Trade, Rodriguez shares his vision of the region's context and challenges. He also reflects on the qualities that must be required of future leaders, in recalling his own mentors and reviewing the periods that have defined his leadership of Emerson.
How do you sum up the last 15 years of your leadership of Emerson?
I've experienced an evolution in the sense that, in order to be a leader, you have to be somebody who is strong and holds unwaivering confidence in the region. This is a region that can be seen as small in relative terms, but that's not really the case. In order to operate in Latin America, you have to have a deep understanding of very profound geopolitical and macroeconomic situations that don't have anything to do with business and foreign...