Opinion: Letter from the CEO to operations in Colombia

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Jim Nix/Creative Commons

To: General Manager – Colombian Operations

Subject: Colombian elections

Dear Edward:

Our company has been operating overseas for over 100 years and today we are present in over 90 countries around the world. Much has been learned and I would like to share some of these lessons with you and your leadership team, for the benefit of our operation in Colombia, given the recent changes in the country’s political landscape with the election results.

We are not in the realm of politics. Our mission is to serve our customers with our service portfolio, ensuring reliable operation for them, our employees, our suppliers and our business partners. We are deeply committed to contributing to a stable and predictable environment.

Let’s be clear: we will continue to do business in Colombia, now and many years after the end of the new government’s mandate.

We believe that, in order to do this, our organization should not be involved in Colombian politics.

This company has built its success on a rational leadership style and processes. Smart management teams ensure they operate based on ethical practices, objective analysis and sound risk assessment. We will continue to support evidence-based decisions and projects. There must be no room in our Colombian leadership for political prejudice or apocalyptic delusions.

As a company, we have served our customers – and their communities – under all kinds of regimes, across the full political spectrum, from right to center to left. We serve. We’re waiting impatiently. We adjust our strategies to reality, but we don’t judge reality. We ensure that our services are useful to communities, clients and strategic allies of all ideologies. And then we move on.

It is not our job to have an opinion on government policy, but to deliver a promise of value diligently and profitably.

And that, Eduardo, is your job now. You will lead a strong team through uncertainty, with integrity, long-term vision and rationality. Times like these will find you surrounded by very resentful individuals, politically biased advisers, scary clients, and anxious associates. You and your team must rise to the challenge of navigating these uncharted waters. You must remain committed to our long-term vision, to sound management of our local operations and to contribute as a responsible corporate citizen.

Colombia chose a left-wing government – moderate or hard-line – in fair elections and, as a guest, we respect that choice and seek ways to adjust our relationship, to help the country prosper through our contribution unique.

We will adjust our operation, our plans and our expectations according to unambiguously foreseeable developments and not on the basis of speculation.

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

I would suggest that careful consideration be given to how we communicate and relate productively with new government officials.

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

I would like to share with you a piece of meaningful advice offered by Stoicism. This philosophy teaches the development of self-control and courage as a means of overcoming irrational and destructive emotions; he points out that becoming a clear and impartial thinker enables one to understand universal reason (logos).

Face reality as it is, not as you would like it to be.

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

Some businesses will not be able to prosper or survive in the next few years. The new government will not be the cause of their demise, but rather of their leadership team’s inability to adapt to an ever-changing world. The next few years will be difficult for any government, in any country, regardless of its ideology. All will face a global recession, high inflation, a protracted trade crisis, and the far-reaching effects of the Ukrainian war. The new world order affects all our operations, and perhaps, in a proportion exceeding that of a change of government.

These are moments that prove who we are and what we are made of as leaders and as individuals. We have been privileged to rely on great leaders to guide our operations successfully in changing circumstances. Now it’s your turn to join this group. This company has complete confidence in your character and ability to prove your worth and continue to grow as a senior executive.

We expect you to succeed and will offer you all the support you may need.

Best regards,

Jim

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

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