Opinion: Letter from the CEO to Colombia Operations

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Jim Nix/Creative Commons

To: Managing Director – Colombian Operations

Re: Colombian elections

Dear Eduardo:

Our corporation has operated overseas for over 100 years, and we have a presence today in more than 90 countries worldwide. Much has been learned and I would like to share a few of these lessons with you and your management team, for the benefit of our Colombian operation, considering the recent changes to the country’s political landscape with the election results.

We are not in the business of politics. We are in the business of serving customers with our portfolio of services, ensuring a reliable operation for them, our employees, suppliers, and business partners. We are deeply committed to contributing to a stable and predictable environment.

Let me be clear: we will continue to do business in Colombia, now and many years after the incoming government ends its term.

We believe that, to do so, our organization should not be involved in the politics of Colombia.

This corporation has based its success in rational leadership style and processes. Intelligent management teams are careful to perform based on ethical practices, objective analysis, and a solid risk assessment. We will continue to support fact-based decisions and projects. There is to be no space in our Colombian leadership for political biases or apocalyptic delusions.

As a corporation, we have served our customers – and their communities – under all kinds of regimes, within the full political spectrum, from right, to center and left. We serve. We look forward. We adjust our strategies to reality, but we do not judge reality. We make sure that our services are of value to communities, customers, and strategic allies of all ideologies. And then, we move on.

It is not our duty to share our opinion on government policy, but rather to deliver a promise of value diligently and profitably.

And that, Eduardo, is your job now. You will steer a solid team through uncertainty, with integrity, long term focus and rationality. Times like these will find you surrounded by very rancorous individuals, politically skewed advisors, frightful customers, and anxious associates. You and your team must rise to the challenge of navigating through these unchartered waters. You must hold steady to the commitment with our long-term vision, to a rational management of our local operation and to contributing as a responsible corporate citizen.

Colombia has chosen a leftist government – moderate or hard – in a fair election and, as a guest, we respect this choice and seek ways to adjust our dealings, to help the country to prosper with our unique contribution.

We will adjust our operation, our plans, and our expectations in accordance with unambiguously foreseeable developments, and not based on speculation.

We would like to ask from your team an adjusted 2022-2026 Business Plan that will reflect the logical effects of the reasonably expected changes in the Colombian business environment. This plan should identify opportunities for our business units in the projects of the new government. We will welcome clear strategic definitions that will allow for ongoing profitability and growth of our business.

I would suggest that special attention be given to how we will communicate and build productive ties with the new government officials.

You and your team are facing challenging times, but they are not new for our operation. We have faced similar situations in Latin America, and we continue to operate in all countries of the region (except Venezuela), despite the rough changes that we have all faced more often than Colombia has. We will pull through, and you and your team will lead this effort.

I would like to share with you a piece of meaningful guidance offered by stoicism. This philosophy teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming irrational and destructive emotions; it stresses that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason (logos).

Face reality as it is, and not as you wish it should be.

As a stoic leader, remember to focus only on the things you can control and that influence your life and our business, and you do not be affected by other variables out of your control.

Some companies will not be able to prosper or survive these next few years. The new government will not be the cause of their demise, but rather, their management team’s incapacity to adjust in an ever-changing world. The next years will be tough for any government, in any country, whichever their ideology. All will be facing global recession, high inflation, an extended trade crisis and the broad effects of the Ukrainian war. The new world order is affecting all our operations, and perhaps, in a proportion to exceed that of a government change.

These are times that prove who we are and what we are made of as leaders and as individuals. We have had the privilege of counting on great leaders to guide our operations successfully through shifting circumstances. It is now your turn to join this group. This corporation has complete faith in your character and competence to prove your value and continue to grow as a senior manager.

We expect you to succeed, and will offer every support you may need.

Best regards,

Jim

About the author: Jorge Ortiz is a lawyer and MBA. He is a consultant to management.