Sebastian Pinera: the remarkable career of the President of Chile and winner of the BRAVO Leader of the Year Award 2012.

Author:Gutierrez, Santiago

The man: Sebastian Pinera Echenique. The job: President of Chile.


It would be hard to find a more interesting post in Latin America than Pinera's. He leads a country which not only has the sixth largest economy in the region, but also the most competitive. In addition, Chile is likely to be the first in Latin America to join the ranks of the developed nations--the government aims to eliminate poverty by 2014.

"The presidency is every Chilean politician's dream job but, for 63-year-old Sebastian Pinera, the achievement is not at all unusual. This native of Santiago is used to achieving his goals in life.

He could have been a great academic economist. He was top of his business engineering class at Chile's Catholic University. From there he went on to win a scholarship from the Fulbright Foundation that took him to Harvard. There he published a paper about the history of slavery in the United States in the Journal of Economic History. In just three years he finished a PhD in Economics--a feat in itself--having presented his thesis on education in Latin America.

President Pinera confessed in an interview that he regrets having finished his formal studies so quickly.

He continued his professional career having been hired by Richard Musgrave, the economist who at the time was advising several governments in the region on public spending. He became an adviser himself to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, where he studied poverty in the region, while at the same time lecturing at the Adolfo Ibanez and Catholic universities.

But Pinera left economics for business, where he proved to be a great innovator, overcoming all types of obstacles. With the $50,000 he earned for working with Musgrave he founded a real estate company. However, after going broke during the 1982 Mexican crisis, Pinera managed to launch new construction projects and worked with the financial assessment company Infinco, where he had been a shareholder since 1978.

As he built up his construction portfolio so, in 1997, he became a partner in Constructora Aconcagua. In 2008 he took over the assets of Constructora Fourcade.

During his time in Infinco, Pinera developed the Bancard credit card business in Chile, as well as partnering with the Talca and Concepcion banks. With these he held a small percentage of shares, which gradually grew.

In 1994, Pinera bought a 16 percent stake in...

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