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Institutional reforms, investments in education and an increase in international trade have helped drive Brazil's economy to new heights, said keynote speaker Sergio Werlang, executive vice president of Itau Bank.

2012 Latin America Business Conference

Stepping up to the world arena

The 2012 Latin America Business Conference highlights the growth of one of the world’s most dynamic regions

By Daniel P. Smith

5/1/2012 - Latin America is here.

And it’s here to stay.

Driven by economic and political stability, new waves of entrepreneurship and international expansion by local companies, Latin America is no longer an also-ran, but a robust piece of the global economy.

At the 2012 Kellogg Latin America Business Conference on April 21, Kellogg students, business leaders and entrepreneurs explored the challenges and opportunities posed by the region’s evolution under the theme “Stepping Up to the World Arena.”

Brazil: Past, present and future

Morning keynote speaker Sergio Werlang focused on Brazil’s development over the last 10 to15 years. Werlang is former director of the Brazilian Central Bank and current executive vice president of Itau Bank.

Werlang cited a number of growth drivers that have propelled the South American nation to new economic heights, including:

  • Institutional reforms, such as new bankruptcy codes and civil tribunals
  • Poverty reduction and middle-class growth
  • Investments in education
  • Increasing international trade
  • Consistent fiscal discipline from leadership
  • Well-capitalized Brazilian banks coupled with increased consumer penetration into the banking system
“As a result, we’ve had a recurrent primary surplus over the last 10 years, and eight consecutive years of reaching our inflation target,” Werlang said.

Overriding focus on business development

Other speakers offered a variety of perspectives on business development in the surging Latin America region. The conference featured:

  • A panel discussion on private equity and venture capital industry challenges in Latin America
  • A roundtable exploring current entrepreneurship trends in the region
  • An afternoon keynote from BlackRock’s Daniel Gamba ’97, who shared his recent experiences in leading the financial firm’s Latin America expansion
  • A closing panel discussion relaying the recent internationalization strategies implemented by Latin American companies, including those of Gamba and Alfonso Marquez ’96, the CEO of AquaChile

Kellogg’s Latin American ties

Kellogg Dean Sally Blount '92, who recently co-chaired the World Economic Forum on Latin America, began the day’s proceedings by welcoming about 150 attendees to the conference and highlighting Kellogg’s involvement with the evolving region.

Kellogg currently enrolls about 80 Latin American students in its full-time program at the Evanston campus, while the school’s six-year-old Miami campus has bolstered Kellogg’s Latin America ties. To further deepen Kellogg’s roots in the region, Blount noted that Kellogg will soon open an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“We are deeply committed [to the region] in ways that are very tangible,” Blount said.

Further Reading 

2011 Latin America Business Conference 

Kellogg's Miami campus continues to expand

Pete Pizarro '94 helps Kellogg expand global footprint in Latin America