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For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Colombia, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region...read more
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Colombia, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each list. The GC Powerlist: Colombia features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from those in-house lawyers about how they have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Colombia, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Colombia or global), please do get in touch at email@example.com.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
GC Powerlist: Colombia
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Regulation and Corporate Affairs Manager
British American Tobacco
Helena Alvarez Uribe
Head of Corporate and Legal Matters (Andean region)
Alejandro Amelines Guerrero
General Counsel and Secretary of the Board
Carbones San Fernando
Ana Maria Arbelaez
Sanofi Aventis de Colombia
Carolina Arciniegas Parga
Legal Affairs Manager
Director of Legal
Legal Manager- Legal Shared Services Team
AON Risk Solutions
Juan Pablo Barrera Ulloa
Legal Vice President
Decameron All-Inclusive Hotels & Resorts
Vice President Legal and Corporate Affairs
Rafael Bedoya Rivas
Alejandra Bonilla Lagos
Chief legal officer
Pacific Exploration and Production Corporation
Rodrigo Borda Olarte
Senior Legal and Compliance Counsel
Andrés Caldas Rico
Legal and Corporate Affairs Manager
Andrea Eugenia Camargo Niño
Director of International Legal Affairs
Diana Carolina Camargo Sanchez
Director of Legal, Logistics and Business
Abel Lopez Campo
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Centrales Eléctricas del Cauca
Ulises Canosa Suárez
General Secretary, Executive and Legal Affairs Vice President
Luis Felipe García Carvajal
Country Head of Legal Services
Jorge Luis Castro
Ciudad Limpia Bogotá
Juan Camilo Castro Salcedo
Johanna Alexandra Cifuentes García
Head of Legal Compliance (Colombia)
Lina Maria Cortes
Health Care Compliance Officer (Northern Latin America)
Johnson & Johnson
Senior Vice President and Counsel
Brookfield Asset Management
Juan Felipe Cruz
Legal Manager and Compliance Officer (Andean and Central America)
Legal Director (Colombia and Venezuela),
Philip Morris International
Juan Manuel Cuellar Cabrera
Legal and Corporate Affairs Director
CI Colombian Natural Resources
Jorge De Los Ríos
Elisa Murgas De Moreno
Vice President Legal Affairs and General Secretary
Maria Fernanda De Salvador
Luis Fernando Diaz
Regional General Counsel (Latin America and Caribbean)
Jorge Díaz Gómez
Virgilio Junior Diaz Mendoza
Senior Counsel (Colombia), General Counsel (Venezuela)
José Joaquín Díaz Perilla
Chief Legal Officer
Banco de Bogotá
Coordinator of Legal Affairs
Corporación financiera Colombiana
Legal Director(Latin America)
Ana Maria Echeverria Urquijo
Legal Vice President and General Counsel
Eduardo Rosado Fernández de Castro
General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Vice President
Luisa Fernández Mejía
Vice President of Corporate Affairs
Hector Garcia Corredor
Head of Legal and Compliance (Andean)
Rodolfo Mario Garcia Paredes
Corporate head of legal
Victor Andres Gómez Henao
Legal Process Manager
Ana María Gómez
Chief Compliance Officer (Latin America)
Jairo González Gómez
General Counsel and Secretary General
Camilo González Téllez
General Counsel and Compliance Officer
Cemex LatAm Holdings
Impala Terminals (Trafigura)
Director of Legal Operations (Chile and Colombia)
General Motors Financial
Pedro Fernando León González
Head of Legal and Compliance
Banco Santander de Negocios Colombia
Director of Corporate Affairs
Cenit Transporte Y Logistica De Hidrocarburos
Cesar Augusto Lozano
General Counsel (Latin America) and Compliance Officer
Compañía Española de Petróleos (Cepsa) Colombia
Vice President Legal
Felipe Marquez Robledo
Vice President Corporate Affairs and General Counsel Colombia
Jorge Martinez de Leon
General Secretary and Legal Representative
Country Counsel (Colombia and Panama)
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Jorge Mario Meneses
Regional Corporate Counsel LAC and Caribbean
José Millet García
Senior Legal Manager (Mexico and Northern Latin America),
Chief Legal Officer
Lina María Mosquera Gonzalez
Intellectual Property and Cybersecurity Counsel
Juan Luis Múnera
Vice President Legal and Institutional Affairs
Juan Pablo Ovalle Arana
Legal Counsel (Colombia)
Legal Vice President and General Secretary
Carlos Hernán Paz Mosquera
Legal Manager and General Secretary
Senior Officer Legal
Finance in Motion
Daniel Alfonso Perea
Vice President Corporate and Legal Affairs
David Quiroz Rendon
Johnson & Johnson
Juan Pablo Restrepo
Chief Counsel (Central America, Caribbean and Andean countries)
Ana Maria Revollo
Vice President - Legal and Compliance
Global Energy Development
Vice President, Legal and Secretary General
Miguel Ronderos Corredor
Associate General Counsel and Human Resources Director (Spanish Speaking Latin America)
Mauricio Rosillo Rojas
Vice President of Legal and Company Secretary
Nicolás Rozo Colomer
General Legal Counsel (Colombia)
Cerro Matoso / South 32 Mining
Bimbo De Colombia
Martha Elena Ruiz Diaz-Granados
Company Secretary and Legal Counsel
Head of Legal and General Secretary
Head of Legal (Andean regio)
Impala Terminals (Trafigura)
Adriana Sinisterra Plana
Vice President Business and Legal Affairs
Fox Networks Group Latin America
Regional Legal Director
Corporate legal manager
Pacific Exploration and Production Corporation
Hyundai Colombia Automotriz
Jorge Andrés Torres
British American Tobacco
Alirio Uribe Garcia
Director Legal and Compliance - Americas
Paola Andrea Valero Carrero
Ángel Alberto Velandia Rodriguez
Vice President, General Counsel and Company Secretary
Bolsa de Valores de Colombia
Fernando Victoria Peña
Legal and Compliance Director
Teleperformance Colombia Group
Emiliana Villa Mejia
Lawyer and General Secretary
General Counsel and Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer
Diana Margarita Vivas Munar
Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs
Empresa de Energia de Bogotá
Alvaro Josué Yáñez Alsina
Chief Legal Officer
Pacific Exploration & Production Corporation
Bridgestone De Colombia
For 18 years Mónica Acosta has worked in the British American Tobacco (BAT) Colombia legal team, occupying a number of senior positions. She is recognised for her wide-ranging expertise in a number of fields and for helping to ensure BAT operates a sustainable business in the region. In 2013 Acosta was appointed regulation and corporate affairs manager, helping the company to manage the risks arising from tighter regulations on tobacco sales and marketing activities in Colombia. In this role Acosta is also responsible for maintaining relationships with the Colombian government and other stakeholders in the control and licensing of tobacco products, and communicating these messages to the business. Prior to heading regulatory and corporate affairs, Acosta oversaw the integration of Productora Tabacalera de Colombia (Protabaco), the second largest cigarette company in Colombia with almost a third of all cigarette sales, acquired by BAT in 2011 for around $450m.
German consumer and industrial manufacturing giant Henkel is responsible for some of the world’s most recognisable homecare brands. With nearly 4,000 employees working at production facilities across Latin America, its regional operations create high levels of legal complexity in almost every practice area, from intellectual property (IP) to labour and employment. Helena Alvarez Uribe is chief legal officer for the Andean Region (covering Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador), one of the three sub-regions of Henkel in Latin America. In addition to handling all Henkel’s legal matters, from contracts, labour and employee disputes, litigation, M&A and managing external counsel, Alvarez Uribe contributes strategic guidance to the company as a member of the board of directors for Colombia and offers support to all functions and business units. Prior to joining Henkel, Alvarez Uribe worked in the commercial legal team at retail and supermarket chain Grandes Superficies de Colombia.
Alejandro Amelines Guerrero is a formidable lawyer with a career spanning over 11 years in both the public and private sector. After spending three years as a legal advisor at Notaria 12 del Circulo de Cali at the onset of his professional career, Amelines Guerrero moved to work in agricultural administration, initially as a lawyer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and then at the Colombian Institute of Rural Development. After gaining an indispensable knowledge and expertise in the public sector and impressing his colleagues with his pragmatic and analytical approach, Amelines Guerrero joined the utilities company Vatia as a senior in-house lawyer in 2012. After a year in the role, Amelines Guerrero was hired to work as general counsel and secretary of the board of an underground thermal coal technical operation, Carbones San Fernando. Working at a company that supplies both the international and domestic markets, over the past couple of years Amelines Guerrero has gained a reputation for his ability to negotiate and work on complex disputes and litigation. One source says: ‘Alejandro has made a fantastic contribution with his expert advice and counselling on all legal matters of the company, protecting the interests of the shareholders’.
Ana Maria Arbelaez joined Sanofi Aventis de Colombia (Sanofi) in 2012, just as the French-headquartered multinational was consolidating its place as the one of the region’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers following its acquisition of Colombian generics producer Genfar. The Latin American pharmaceuticals market continues to be driven by sales of generics, and a large part of Arbelaez’s job consists of finding ways to operate effectively in this market while protecting Sanofi’s valuable intellectual property. Arbelaez is also cited for her achievement in restructuring the legal team in line with the changing business strategy. Arbelaez’s team-building work has, according to one law firm partner, made her stand out as ‘one of the best legal managers in the region’ and underscored her ‘ability to get the most out of people and demonstrate that effective planning can add significant value to a team’. She began her career at the Bogotá offices of Baker & McKenzie before moving to the position of senior associate at Posse Herrera & Ruiz Abogados. Immediately prior to joining Sanofi she was general counsel at Distribuidora Nissan, the automobile manufacturer.
An ‘efficient and proactive’ legal professional, Carolina Arciniegas Parga has a reputation for her ability to effectively manage several areas of the law. An expert with 16 years of experience providing legal advice to banks, insurers and large multinationals in corporate commercial, finance and exchange related matters, she currently oversees legal affairs at GlaxoSmithKline in Colombia. Driven by an urge to help clients, Arciniegas Parga has gained a sterling reputation for executing key M&A and offerings in public bids, as well as management of local intellectual property matters. In addition, Arciniegas Parga frequently represents her company in administrative and judicial proceedings. Previously, she worked at one of South America’s leading law firms Brigard & Urrutia, where she most recently specialised in aircraft finance. Her first legal role was at law firm Gamba Barrera Arriaga & Asociados, where she provided legal advice on commercial and corporate matters for a year. Arciniegas Parga was educated on both sides of the Atlantic and holds qualifications in Law from Colegio Santa Francisca Romana and Universidad Javeriana, and a Diploma in Finance and Foreign Investment in Emerging Economies from Queen Mary University in London.
Jario Arias began his legal career in Colombia’s Superintendence of Banks (now known as Superintendence of Finance) in 1996, working initially in contracts and later on in the legal opinion and litigation areas. In 2001 he joined Banco Agrario, quickly rising through the ranks of the bank until he was recruited by Fondo de Garatías de Instituciones Financieras, a provider of export guarantees, as a senior lawyer in 2003. After working there for three years, Arias worked as in independent advisor structuring the merger between his previous employer the Superintendence of Banks and the Superintendence of Securities. Arias then worked in a number of in-house roles over the course of several years, holding roles at energy companies Bolsa Mercantil de Colombia and Emgesa, and a further year at skincare company Episol, before assuming his current role of legal director at Isagen. His relatively short career at Isagen is filled with highly impressive achievements, primarily in the field of organisational change. These changes focus primarily on the creation of a system to report, redistribute and implement litigation processes and another system to standardise due diligence processes for labour matters.
A young and driven lawyer, Julian Avilla works as a legal manager at the risk management business of the leading global provider of professional services AON Risk Solutions. Joining the company in February 2012, Avila has brought his unique strategic thinking and his organisational ideas to the legal department, thus earning the trust of senior employees in the company. During his time at AON Risk Solutions, Avila has contributed greatly to a noticeable increase in efficiency and speed of the legal function, leading to it becoming a becoming a trusted advisor to the business. ‘During my time in the role legal has become closer to the business,’ Avila says, ‘I have redesigned the team to provide legal support across the entire company. Also the team has become financially efficient and there has been an improvement in outcomes.’ Avilla has also received praise for his ability to negotiate with clients and has impressed with his work ethic and charisma. Previous roles for Avila include an insurance and reassurance associate position at Brigard & Urrutia, an international programme manager role a JLT Group and a legal director role at La Equidad Seguros.
Driven by the ‘constant search for schemes that generate value for the organisation,’ Decameron All-Inclusive Hotels & Resorts’ Juan Pablo Barrera Ulloa, uses his broad wealth of experience of legal service provision to deliver as the company’s legal vice president. A hotel chain with a strong international presence, which is ‘devoted to amusing, entertaining, de-stressing and brightening the lives of everyone who enjoys [their] services’, the company is also involved in tour and ground-handling operators and hotel management businesses. In his just over two years at Decameron All-Inclusive Hotels & Resorts, with a hard reporting line into the regional general director, Barrera Ulloa is responsible for a broad base of legal, regulatory and commercial matters. These include corporate, commercial and regulatory issues, competition law, consumer protection, dispute resolution, designing and implementing regulatory compliance programs, and advising on commercial and operational risks. Barrera Ulloa comments ‘it’s a challenge to attend the legal necessities of an organisation of more than 10,000 people and with a presence in various countries on the continent’. As a result of his experience of in-house positions at influential companies like Organizacion Corona, Ernst & Young and Anderson Legal, as well as private practice experience with leading Colombian law firm Prietocarrizosa, Barrera Ulloa continually seeks to brand his in-house teams with a results-focused style of practice that is characterised by attention to the client and strong adherence to high standards of legal advice more expected of private practice law firms.
Silvia Barrero serves as the current vice president for legal and corporate affairs at Coca Cola’s Latin America arm Coca-Cola FEMSA. A graduate from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Universidad de Los Andes, Barrero briefly worked at the law firm Philippi, Prietocarrizosa & Uría, whilst completing her degree in commercial law, before joining Avantel, a private Colombian telecommunications company in her first in-house role. After one year there, Barrero joined her current employer, where she has worked for the last 13 years. Apart from supporting all legal and corporate activities and successfully handling external communications, Barrero has been instrumental in her coordination of important social responsibility programs for Coca-Cola FEMSA that have had an immense positive impact on the reputation of the company in Colombia. Under Barrero’s leadership, legal and corporate affairs at the company have received positive reviews internally for high quality of service and she has been frequently praised for her ability to handle incidents and crisis situations on behalf of the company. In addition to her legal role at Coca-Cola FEMSA, Barrero provides advice on strategic projects for the organisation.
Aspaen is a Colombian non-profit organisation founded in 1964 as a project to promote education in Colombia. It currently operates over the country with 21 institutions in eight cities throughout the country. Rafael Bedoya Rivas has been at the helm of the organisation’s legal department as legal coordinator since 2005. Since then, he has continually developed his own role and the role of the organisation’s legal department with the aim of awakening the legal awareness of all 21 educational institutions under Aspaen’s umbrella. Bedoya Rivas has been instrumental in creating the company’s current procedures for handling external inquiries and defining internal legal frameworks for decisions taken across Aspean. Consequently, all institutions within the organisation are now equipped with the tools to make informed and swift decisions. With the assistance of Aspaen´s go-to external legal advisors, Pinilla Gonzalez & Prieto, and the cooperation of Colombia’s general attorney, Bedoya Rivas has been able to effectively combat state interference on parental and school autonomy to choose a course of education. This has at times been contentious, especially in light of Colombia’s intervention on schools’ internal policies on topics such as gender identity, sexuality and religion. A large part of Bedoya Rivas’ success at Aspaen is owed to the fact that his own beliefs align well with the organisation’s philosophy to help parents become the primary educators of their children. He comments, ‘both the importance of education to our country´s development and the critical role of schools and preschools in the training of children and families, who are part of our educational community, is clear. It is important to achieve these objectives, mainly to ensure the respect for our legal system and for the rights of those involved in educational processes’.
With a career providing legal advice to oil and gas companies that spans 15 years, including 8 years at Pacific Exploration and Production Corporation (PEPC), Alejandra Bonilla Lagos is one of the leading extractives counsel in the region. In her time at PEPC, Bonilla Lagos has helped the company grow into a one of the dominant players in the industry. In early 2010, PEPC was the largest independent oil company operating in South America and was the fastest growing private company in Colombia. In 2011 it was responsible for 41% of the total growth in Colombia’s oil production. Bonilla Lagos has also advised on company-changing strategic decisions undertaken by the PEPC. In mid-2015 the company changed its name from Pacific Rubiales to Pacific Exploration and Production, signaling a tactical decision to move away from its Rubiales field and have a broader focus on Latin American operations. Of this achievement, Bonilla Lagos say her contribution was, ‘Successfully negotiating oil and gas contracts with the Venezuelan government so that the company could keep valuable assets and its presence in a country with important hydrocarbon reserves’. The biggest challenge facing Bonilla Lagos and PEPC now is the current fluctuations of oil prices, a situation they appear to be weathering well. Facing global unpredictability in the hydrocarbons market, PEPC’s legal team made a pre-emptive decision to renegotiate and restructure much of its senior debt (bank debts and bonds), seek new investors, and interact with shareholders and regulatory authorities. Consequently, they are now on the verge of successfully finalizing a complex and demanding negotiations process, which will likely see PEPC continue to play a strong part in the Colombian oil and gas industry for a long time to come.
Throughout his career Rodrigo Borda Olarte has shown a passion for excellence, personal development and management of high performance teams. Working as senior counsel and compliance at the global pharmaceutical company Bayer, Borda Olarte has been a true asset to the company’s Colombian business over the past couple of years. Among a variety of notable improvements to the legal function, Borda Olarte stands out with his development and implementation of several policies, procedures and practices designed to ensure compliance with the corporate compliance policy and local laws. In addition, Borda Olarte has made his mark on the company with the implementation of a distribution scheme and collateral agreements for Bayer in Colombia and implementation of a new litigation strategy in the Bayer Corporate Science portfolio recovery, resulting in a demonstrable, positive impact of roughly $4m. Having a noticeable ability to effectively transfer his technical knowledge to non-lawyers, Borda Olarte has promoted internal client satisfaction in his company.
With over two thirds of the Colombia’s energy demands now met by hydroelectric power, hydro- and thermal-power operator Emgesa has carved out a place as the country’s second largest generator of electricity. Emgesa, which is owned by Italian-headquartered global energy group Enel, operates some of the most technologically complex and legally challenging facilities in the country, with regulatory and environmental questions at the forefront of its operations. Andrés Caldas Rico has been part of Emgesa’s legal team since 1998, covering all legal matters for the company, including corporate, litigation, regulatory and labour. Since 2006 he has acted as general counsel to both Emegesa and indirect Enel Group subsidiary Codensa, and serves as general secretary to the parent group in Colombia. Caldas Rico has previously served as legal director at building supplies company Ladrillera Santafé and as adviser to the director general of the Office of Public Credit for the Ministry of Finance.
Natalia Camacho is a talented legal professional with over nine years of experience in corporate law and M&A work. Currently legal manager at Altra Investments, an investment business focusing on the Andean Region, Camacho has developed an impressive capacity to reconcile the interests of her employer’s client base, which includes leading European and American institutional investors, with the nature of Altra's transactions, which consists of acquiring small and medium family-held businesses in high growth industries in Colombia and Peru. ‘Altra's track record of being able to carry out complex deals to the highest standards is a testament to Natalia's abilities’, a private practice source comments. Prior to joining Altra in 2009, Camacho served as an associate at the multi service law firm Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta, where she participated in M&A transactions, project financings, and corporate legal advisory work and on other transactions across several industries. At the start of her career, Camacho worked for international law firm Baker & McKenzie. Camacho is an alumna of Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, where she received her JD, holds a specialisation in commercial law from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, and a LLM with honours from Tulane University.
Andrea Eugenia Camargo Niño joined Colombian construction and infrastructure development company Odinsa in early 2015. In a relatively short period of time she has helped to execute a number of strategically important and complicated international financings for the company. According to two senior nominators who have worked alongside her, Camargo Niño ‘demonstrates an extraordinary knowledge and understanding of international infrastructure transactions and international financings, including project financings’ and has ‘played a very important role in the growth and expansion of Grupo Odinsa's interests along Latin American and Central American countries’. She is recognised for her central role in structuring and closing many of the company’s recent cross-border transactions, including the acquisition of a 50% stake in Quiport – the operator of Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Ecuador’s busiest airport – a deal that involved outside counsel from at least eight different jurisdictions. Camagro received the greatest number of recommendations of anyone featured in this year’s Powerlist. She is known as ‘an excellent motivator able to strengthen the interaction of team members and encourage collaborative work’. Many praised her personal qualities and ability to manage relationships both across the company and with counterparties. One nominator spoke of her as ‘a lawyer who builds solutions rather than creating or deepening problems’ while another noted her ability to translate ‘information from the CFO and CEO into legal documentation and [communicate it] to her team and external counsel’. She is, in short, ‘an outstanding lawyer’, and ‘a star’ who Odinsa is ‘lucky to have on its legal team’.
Diana Carolina Camargo Sanchez joined Colombian wholesale distributor and retailer of fuels Biomax Biocombustibles (Biomax) in 2010 and has occupied a senior legal position since 2012. Biomax operates a network of more than 700 fuel stations across Colombia, serves over 150 industrial clients and, through its subsidiary Biomax Operador Logístico, markets and sells oil and petroleum products internationally. Camargo Sanchez’s wide-ranging role sees her provide legal support to the supply and operations division of the business, developing and negotiating contracts for the industrial and retail divisions, overseeing leasing and financing activities, maintaining relationships with government entities, managing external counsel and contributing to high-impact acquisitions and new construction. Camargo Sanchez was previously a hydrocarbons attorney at the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Abel Lopez Campo has been general counsel and corporate secretary at VivaColombia, the first and only low-cost airline in Colombia for nearly five years. Joining the company just two years after its inception, Lopez Campo has been instrumental in implementing all necessary aspects required for successful legal, governmental, regulatory and corporate affairs work, leading to a highly successful start-up of the business. To facilitate the successful operation of a low cost airline business model, Lopez Campo is expected to proactively adapt and evolve his legal strategy, allowing his company to maintain its position of pioneer and leader in the ever changing airlines industry, whilst achieving the best possible results for all stakeholders. Prior to joining VivaColombia, Lopez Campo worked for nearly 12 years in the food and beverages sector, initially as a legal advisor and later on as head of legal and operations. In the later position, Lopez Campo provided advice on key transactions, advising established and new businesses on formation or optimisation of business structures and development of projects. In the first 18 years of his career, Lopez Campo worked in a number of positions both in-house and in private practice, with 10 years spent at Avianca Cargo (formerly known as Tampa Cargo), a cargo airline that transports flowers from Latin America to Miami as well as general cargo throughout the Americas. Lopez Campo is described as a ‘genuine and true professional’ and is praised for his vision, sharp legal approach and strong expertise in the airlines and air cargo sector.
Andrea Campo heads the legal department of one of Colombia’s largest electrical companies, Centrales Eléctricas del Cauca’s (CEDELCA). In her four years at CEDELCA, she has overseen profound changes to the legal department’s function by changing its image and elevating its status within the company. From its previously function of defending, enforcing and supervising company level contracts, the legal department now has a more proactive influence, actively providing legal advice on all areas of CEDELCA’s business strategy. Campo’s visionary leadership has helped her succeed even against popular thinking. Just years ago, she was vocal against CEDELCA’s plans to partake in the popular movement of Colombian companies forming labour syndicates. Since then, many companies which adopted labour syndicalism have crashed or run into heavy financial troubles. It’s with this conviction that Campo leads the two in-house lawyers and one secretary in her team. Her focus is now on changing the litigious Colombian climate that makes it very easy for claimants to sue and win against electric companies, irrespective of their own culpabilities and negligence. Already, Campo’s efforts for a greater professional image for her legal department are proving successful, as CEDELCA has become less of an attractive target for claimants trying to bring dubious actions. Further, this unique business model has had a wider positive impact on how Colombian courts interact with the country’s energy sector. After various high-profile cases and many other legal interactions, courts have started to rule differently, and in favor of energy companies in a more consistent manner.
Armed with a decorated career of nearly 30 years of providing effective and reliable advice, Ulises Canosa Suárez of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Colombia (BBVA Colombia) has regularly demonstrated his aptitude for leadership. In his position as general secretary and executive and legal affairs vice president of the Colombian arm of the Spanish banking group, he dispenses this effective and reliable advice by command of an exhaustive team of 89 in-house lawyers divided into areas such as legal, compliance, consumer defense and insurance. Under the leadership of Canosa Suárez, the legal function has ‘become a key ally to the business via support with innovation, opportunity, precision, clarity, facility, efficiency and safety’. This has happened against considerable challenges when trying to adapt the company’s legal services to the changing needs of the modern world, ‘where the technology and the digital environment are revolutionising the way of mitigating against legislation, regulatory authorities and the judiciary, three areas which have not evolved with the same dynamism’. Now, BBVA Colombia’s legal services utilise diverse technological tools, including Google applications, which greatly expedite their responses to frequently asked questions from the business. The bank’s legal services are now constantly reviewed, within BBVA Colombia’s new legal framework, in a way that certifies that legal services remain accessible to internal and external customers. Canosa Suárez’s reorganisation of BBVA Colombia’s legal services structure has ensured that it now provides an efficient and opportune advisory function that can ensure good development of the organisation’s activities, taking advantage of contemporary legal innovations. His solutions effectively protect the group’s interests and guarantees satisfactory coverage of legal risk at the same time. One secret to Canosa Suárez’s success is his people-first mentality which has seen him implement internal policies designed to realise a healthy work-life balance. ‘Allowing the employees to work in a pleasant environment that contributes to their individual and professional growth in turn allows them to be part of a solid and motivated team, which is great for BBVA Colombia’.
Luis Felipe García Carvajal specialises in international and insurance law, with extensive experience in negotiating, reviewing and drafting contracts. Currently general counsel for Colombia and Ecuador at one of the world’s leading providers of end-to-end supply chain solutions, Panalpina, García Carvajal praises himself for forming a highly versatile legal function that is able to adapt to changing circumstances and provide high quality advice across several regions. Serving as a legal representative of the company, García Carvajal is also a member of the board, which allows him to add his input on important strategic decisions made by Panalpina in Latin America. Apart from his impressive work in authorising, preparing and reviewing important contracts, García Carvajal has improved compliance processes within the business, ensuring validity of authorisations, a step that is necessary for the proper functioning of the company's policies. García Carvajal’s former roles include two in-house positions, lawyer at Avianca Cargo and contracts coordinator at Protección Industrial. He began his legal career at law firm Borda & Restrepo.
Legal director at the Bogotá arm of the Colombia-based waste management business Ciudad Limpia Bogotá, Jorge Luis Castro has undertaken a successful overhaul of the legal function, restructuring the legal department with efficient procedures and legal documents. Castro was imperative in implementing his own long-term vision, which centres on an organised database and the compilation of the latest Colombian laws, decrees and jurisprudence in one easy-to-access place. As well as his organisational achievements in successfully rebuilding the legal department, Castro has made his mark on Ciudad Limpia with his litigation work. Last year, under Castro’s guidance, the legal team won an arbitration victory against the municipality of Bogotá relating to the inexistence of a previous obligation that enforced the transfer of vehicles to the municipality. Credit has also been given to Castro and his team for their efforts to fight off attempts by the last two mayors of Bogotá to exclude Ciudad Limpia from rendering the solid waste public utility in the city. The mayors were unsuccessful in their venture due to carefully constructed legal arguments and high levels of technical knowledge and expertise showcased by Castro. Previous roles for Castro include a 10 year stint (2000-2010) at law firm Brigard Urrutia Lawyers in the infrastructure and public utilities team, a one year stint as legal counsel at the General Audit of the Republic, four years at thw Water and Waste Regulatory Commission (1995-1999) as legal advisor and two years (1993-1995) at the Economic Development Ministry an as in-house attorney. Castro’s first role was with the legal department of Bank of Bogotá.
Juan Camilo Castro Salcedo currently oversees a legal team of 25 employees across Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in his role as legal director at AT&T. Described by peers as an ‘exceptional professional’ who is fully aligned with the objectives and global vision of his corporation, Castro Salcedo is praised for his work ethic and high sense of responsibility. In his current role, Castro Salcedo has been able to optimise resources, identifying the most critical and strategically significant tasks and allocating local resources to achieve the most favourable outcome for the company. In addition, he has contributed to the standardisation of processes between Colombia, Peru and Ecuador and has worked out a formula to negotiate property rights across the three countries, thus reducing contingency of $10m annually in a supported payment of approximately $2.5m. Prior to joining AT&T in July 2015, Castro Salcedo was employed for three years by 3M as a legal advisor, where he had the chance to work closely with the business in order to promote and grow government deals. He shined by setting up a complete process within the company for attending public tenders and protecting the organisation during the process, an achievement that contributed significantly to a 20% growth in income for the company in the region. Between 2007 and 2011, Castro Salcedo worked at IBM Colombia and led all legal matters for the company in the country, overseeing a group of external and internal lawyers on a wide array of issues. Castro Salcedo’s first role after finishing his legal studies was as a lawyer at Computec in Colombia. In these first stages of his career Castro Salcedo instantly made a positive impression on his colleagues, with peers from that role praising him for showing strong legal knowledge and commitment to see problems through to the end. He is described as an accurate and effective lawyer, who is also a ‘natural leader’. As well as his legal education completed at Universidad del Rosario and Universidad de Los Andes, Castro Salcedo also holds an MBA from IE Business School in Madrid that complements his experience and knowledge of business management.
In the mountainous and isolated Antioquia region of Colombia, Roche’s Genentech unit is trying to unlock a scientific mystery and cure a disease affecting around 15 million people worldwide. When Johanna Alexandra Cifuentes García joined Roche Colombia in April 2015 as legal and compliance head, the company was just beginning clinical trials on one of its most intriguing – and, from a compliance perspective, challenging – projects in recent years. An extended family whose several thousand members have a high genetic susceptibility to Alzheimer’s are providing a unique test case for a pioneering drug treatment and genetic therapy that may help identify and treat the neurodegenerative disease. The legal questions raised by this study will be complex, but with a wide experience of handling complex in-house work in both the banking and pharmaceutical sectors, Cifuentes García is well placed to handle it. Cifuentes García started her career as a civil lawyer at the Institute of Urban Development before moving to Banco de Bogotá. She has also held the position of legal director at diversified financials holding company Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores and served as compliance officer at GSK for nearly three years before moving to Roche.
Lina Maria Cortes has had a highly successful career conducting impressive legal and compliance work both in-house and in private practice. Appointed as health care compliance officer for Johnson & Johnson’s Northern Latin America region in May 2015, Cortes has overseen great improvements to speed and efficiency of work for the medical devices and pharmaceutical company. Cortes formerly worked as legal director and compliance officer at the Colombia office of the major international health care company, Fresenius Medical. Her four-year stint in that role resulted in a revamp of the working methods within the department, achieving notable efficiencies. Cortes has also been crucial in obtaining the status of a ‘permanent special free trade zone’ for the subsidiary Fresenius Medical Care Servicio Renal, an important step in achieving the company’s strategic vision in Latin America. Prior to moving in-house in 2010, Cortes worked at the top-notch Colombian law firms Posse, Herrera & Ruiz Abogados and Brigard & Urrutia.
An experienced lawyer with a highly impressive track record in transactional law, Andrés Crump has helped Brookfield Asset Management through some very high profile, infrastructure-related transactions, not only in Colombia but also in Chile and Brazil. These include acquisitions and divestitures, acquisition financing, and public tender offers. These transactions not only involve complex issues of local Colombian, Chilean or Brazilian law, but in many cases have required the application of very sophisticated concepts of Spanish and New York law. Crump’s support has allowed the global asset management company to attempt an increasing number of deals with well-calculated risk security. Crump’s grasp of these issues has been highly impressive: ‘I know very few GCs who are able to pull this off’, one source shares. Prior to joining Brookfield Asset Management as senior vice president and counsel over six years ago, Crump worked briefly as general manager at Grupo Valorem. At the onset of his career, Crump worked at the law firms Brigard & Urrutia and Lloreda Camacho & Co.
Based in Cali, Juan Felipe Cruz oversees the legal and compliance department that supports global health and hygiene business (formerly Reckitt Benckiser), in 10 countries across Central America and the Andean region. Upon joining RB in January 2013 there was no legal department in the region, so Cruz had to establish the function, drafting and executing the characterisations of all internal legal policies of the company for contracts, labour, protection, compliance, antitrust law and anti-bribery policies. As well as successfully coordinating outside counsel, Cruz has also been instrumental in forming and implementing RB’s own litigation strategy in the region. Having made strategic alliances with other departments, Cruz has come to be recognised as a vital element of the business and its partner on many important issues. Having spent his entire career in-house, Cruz has established a reputation of forming close, ‘symbiotic relationships’ with the core of each of the companies that he has worked in, leading to many tangible commercial benefits.
Nicolás Cuadros joined Philip Morris in 2011 as legal manager of its Colombian affiliate Coltabaco. Later that year, Colombia implemented some of the strictest tobacco control laws in the world, with a full ban on product advertising and promotion introduced alongside a number of other measures. Cuadros’ response to these regulations has won him widespread praise from nominators, who praised his ability to devise and oversee rapid shifts in strategic direction while maintaining open lines of communication between the business and regulators. Cuadros began his in-house career as legal executive at Coca-Cola FEMSA (Colombia), so has a wealth of experience from the fast-moving consumer goods industry. In 2009 he moved to Coca-Cola’s Mexico-based corporate affairs department where he oversaw regulatory affairs, social responsibility, government relations and communication across nine Latin American countries.
Juan Manuel Cuellar Cabrera boasts a rich, decade-long legal career in the Colombian energy sector. After brief spells as a private practice lawyer at Duran, Acero & Osorio Abogados and academic secretary of the mediation centre at Universidad de los Andes, Cuellar Cabrera took on his first in-house role as a legal adviser at Hocol, an oil and gas business. Cuellar Cabrera instantly made a positive impression on his peers with his management of important litigation, support of negotiations and the acquisition of new assets in Latin America, leading to a quick promotion within the company. In 2008 Cuellar Cabrera became a legal adviser to the vice presidency of refining and petro-chemistry at Ecopetrol. This role incorporated the provision of legal advice to the contractual structure of the upgrading of the Barrancabermeja Refinery and equipped Cuellar Cabrera with relevant practical expertise to move forward in his career. After a year-and-a-half, Cuellar Cabrera started work at Emerald Energy, where he impressed with the implementation of legal structures across the entire pipeline and made notable contributions to strengthen the reputation of the company. Ensuring the social and political feasibility of Emerald’s operations and projects at all stages, Cuellar Cabrera managed key relationships and the appropriate implementation of strategies of communication, social responsibility and sustainability. Cuellar Cabrera eventually joined Bioenergy last year, overseeing the legal and corporate affairs of the company, and setting the strategic direction and management of litigation. Cuellar Cabrera is also asked to leverage his previous experience to lead the communication strategy behind the company’s social responsibility programme.
A globally educated lawyer with a strong educational background that incorporates degrees from Universidad del Rosario, Universidad Externado de Colombia and Fordham University, Mauricio Cuesta also boasts over 14 years of business experience in law firms and corporations in Colombia and abroad. An expert in M&A transactions, Cuesta’s legal career zigzagged between in-house and private practice several times and is characterised by passion, excellence, professional development and the formation of solid business relationships. Starting out as a junior lawyer at a boutique law firm specialising in intellectual property (IP) and family-owned businesses, Cuesta quickly gained recognition for his contribution to IP work and important business transactions. In January 2002 Cuesta was recruited by the US international conglomerate Kraft Foods because of his experience in IP and knowledge of corporate transactions. During his two years at Kraft, Cuesta closed business deals across Latin America, Europe and Asia and contributed actively to the negotiation and acquisition of new technology for the company. Moving again to private practice in 2007, Cuesta spent the next two years of his career at Bogotá-based firm Brigard & Urrutia, with a focus on M&A and financing for infrastructure projects. Between 2009 and 2011, Cuesta served as a legal vice president at Team Foods, a Colombian food production company with operations in Colombia, Mexico and Chile. As member of the senior executive team, Cuesta structured the legal department to support the business in the three jurisdictions and designed the strategy to protect the intellectual property of the business. This experience, along with a further four years as an attorney with the corporate and M&A group of Posse Herrera & Ruiz Abogados, gave Cuesta the grounding in both operational expertise and knowledge of transactions to work as general counsel at CI Colombian Natural Resources, a mining and hydrocarbons company.
Jorge De Los Ríos is a legal professional with strong expertise in commercial law, competition law, consumer protection and intellectual property. Currently he oversees the legal function at Unilever, which incorporates 16 employees in nine different countries. During his one-year tenure as general counsel and business integrity officer for Colombia and the Andean region for Unilever, De Los Ríos has undertaken a successful restructuring of the legal department cutting some positions in order to have a lighter and more efficient structure and entering into special agreements with firms instead. By outsourcing operational and standardised work, the legal team is now able to concentrate on more strategically focused work for the business. For this reason, De Los Ríos is praised for making his legal team more integrated with the rest of the business: ‘I demand to have a team that assumes a more strategic and “close to the business” approach’, he says. ’The counsel are also accountable for the business results and therefore need to understand the business needs and goals’. In particular De Los Ríos’s tenure at Unilever is characterised by his efforts to formulate a legal strategy against a disruptive competitor. He explains: ‘This case was a landmark case in Colombia and for Unilever worldwide. Unilever reversed a decreasing trend of market share in one of our main products in a very short period of time’. Prior to his current role as general counsel at Unilever, De Los Ríos led the Antitrust & Competition practice at law firm Posse Herrera Ruiz (PHR) in Colombia. Whilst at PHR De Los Ríos participated in some of the most well-known and relevant merger cases such as: Cencosud/Carrefour, Recalcine/Lafrancol, Toyota de Colombia/Distoyota as well as notable cartel investigations. On top of the antitrust practice, he was also involved in privacy and digital legal advice, supporting initiatives for Facebook, Apple and Davivienda among other relevant clients. Prior to his experience at PHR, De Los Ríos worked as legal manager for Philip Morris International, where he worked for six years (2006-2012) and was responsible for legal matters in Colombia, while also leading antitrust matters for Latin America. Before that, he worked in some of the most well-known firms in Colombia such as Esguerra Asociados (2003-2006), Cavelier Abogados (2000-2001) and Gómez Pinzón Zuleta (1997-2000).
Avianca Holdings, a subsidiary of Synergy Group, is currently the second largest airline holding in Latin America by revenue and fleet size, serving more than 100 destinations in 26 countries. Elisa Murgas De Moreno joined Avianca in 1986 and was appointed general secretary in 2000. Murgas De Moreno, a former lawyer at the Colombian Ministry of Welfare and Social Protection, is known as one of the most powerful general counsel in Colombia. Over three decades with Avianca she has been involved in a series of high-level strategic initiatives and commands widespread respect for her contribution to Avianca’s growth. The airline operator has caught the attention of international bidders recently, with major US and Chinese airlines among those reported to be interested in a tie-up.
As the legal manager of the oil exploration company, Emerald Energy, Maria Fernanda De Salvador, along with her team, handles all the exploration and production contracts to assure that the short, medium and long term goals of Emerald are met. Before assuming her current position, De Salvador held a number of roles and responsibilities within Emerald's legal department, including time spent as senior lawyer and deputy legal manager. When she joined the company, the legal department was a reactionary function that supported other teams across the business and was contacted on a matter-by-matter basis. As a result of De Salvador’s direct involvement, Emerald's legal department has become a key asset to help materialise the company's goals and challenges, participating in all stages of the operations and decision making process; a method that incorporates project execution and management according to applicable laws and regulations. In addition, under De Salvador’s direction the legal department has been able to establish and improve a ‘Law Risk Guard Mechanism’ that prevents and minimises legal risk, strengthening the department’s capacity to protect the rights of Emerald Energy. Along with colleagues from other divisions, De Salvador has helped establish a work culture that is driven by the mantra of ‘preventing risk today, means minimising remedies in the future’. Among a variety of achievements in her career, De Salvador is frequently praised for her participation in the negotiation of three different exploration and production blocks with the National Hydrocarbons Agency and four agreements with private partners, directly contributing to a rise in the company's assets and financial results. De Salvador is also credited for her involvement in solving complex litigation and potential disputes that have minimised losses for the company in a period of oil price crisis, environmental and social issues. A major source of pride for De Salvador is the formation of a highly coherent team of professionals, being ‘very proud of leading an exceptional team of professionals that are efficient, effective, goal oriented and who understand the key role that an in-house counsel has in the strategy and daily operation of Emerald. They are always looking for alternative solutions to help make profitable, safe and responsible projects’.
Diaz joined German multinational software corporation SAP in 2007 as general counsel for Spanish-speaking Latin America and has since assumed responsibility for the Caribbean. His rise to prominence as one of Colombia’s leading corporate counsel is, in the words of one nominator, a result of his ‘ability to work seamlessly as part of the business team and to make sure that new ideas do not die in the planning phase – [Diaz] really understands the sector, which helps him to add insight to everything the company does in the region’. Another noted that Diaz’s ‘deep understanding of technology and IT sets him apart from many other corporate counsel’. Prior to joining SAP, Diaz had worked as contract manager at IT equipment and services company EDS (now a part of Hewlett-Packard) and in the contracts and negotiations team at IBM.
Jorge Díaz Gómez is responsible for the legal and regulatory activities and decisions of Azteca Comunicaciones in Colombia. Having been named legal manager two years ago, Díaz Gómez reshuffled his legal team, forming clearly established legal functions for each area, with responsibility for contracting, regulation and insurance. In particular, Díaz Gómez has impressed with the successful development of contractual activities related to the stages of installation and operation of infrastructure projects developed for the government, and the successful defence of the interests of the company related to the buildout of such projects processes. In addition, Díaz Gómez’s work on forging a relationship with the government in the defence of company interests has been fundamental to the strategic growth of the company. Díaz Gómez and his team have adapted the legal structure and functions through each of the growth stages of Azteca, which was created in late 2011. In just a few years the company has been able to successfully develop major projects of infrastructure deployment and start the operation and provision of telecommunications services. Between 2008 and 2012 he was employed as a lawyer in the telecommunications department of Telefónica Móviles Colombia. Among several notable achievements in this role, Díaz Gómez distinguished himself with legal advice in a spectrum auction process, in which Telefónica Móviles turned an assignee of spectrum and legal support in the process of implementation of mobile number portability.
Virgilio Junior Diaz Mendoza started his legal career as honorary legal assistant at the Superior Court of the Bogotá Judicial District Labor Court. In December 2004, Diaz Mendoza made his move in-house and joined Siemens Colombia to work initially as junior legal counsel and subsequently as regional human resource coordinator. In 2008 Diaz Mendoza moved back to the public sector to work as a lawyer in the contracting group of the Bogotá City Secretary of Government. After a little over a year in the role, Diaz Mendoza returned to Siemens to work as legal counsel. He is responsible for the legal function in Venezuela and works as senior lawyer responsible for several business functions in Colombia. Before taking over key responsibilities for legal at Siemens in Colombia, Diaz Mendoza’s ‘front office’ colleagues working for the Process Industries & Drives (PD), Digital Factory (DF) and Mobility (MO) divisions had a distant relationship with the lawyers. ‘When I started to work with business colleagues back in 2010 I noticed this situation and I considered that it was bad for managing the legal risks of the business and also for the quality of the legal service. Therefore, I made the personal decision of acting as a true business partner by showing a real interest in learning and knowing about the business and the technology and being actively involved in different kind of business and commercial meetings’. As a result of Diaz Mendoza’s work, the company has fewer disputes with its clients and suppliers and spends less on external advisors than in the past.
With operations dating back to 1870, Banco de Bogotá is the oldest commercial bank in Colombia. The bank’s reputation for stability is echoed throughout its operations and particularly in its legal team, which has been led by chief legal officer José Joaquín Díaz Perilla since 1974. Díaz Perilla has held various positions at Banco de Bogotá since 1967 and is among the longest-serving senior executives in the region. A figure who commands enormous respect among the Latin American banking community, Díaz Perilla oversees all legal matters related to the activities of the bank, which operates around 650 branches throughout Colombia. He is a member of the board of directors at Banco de Bogotá and its two subsidiary entities, Sociedad Fiduciaria Bogotá (Fidubogotá) and Almacenes Generales de Deposito (Almaviva). He has previously served as a professor in commercial and banking law at Del Rosario University, University of los Andes and the Universidad Externado de Colombia.
Sharon Diazgranados, legal affairs coordinator at Corporación financiera Colombiana (Corficolombiana), a Colombian private equity firm, is widely praised for her thoroughness. ‘She will undertake each and every assignment with the objective of fully understanding each and every relevant legal concept, regardless of how complex. She pushes her advisors to deliver the best work possible’, according to one source. A young and ambitious lawyer, Diazgranados has quickly moved up the career ladder. Starting out at the small Bogotá-based law firm Ustáriz & Abogados in 2008, Diazgranados was soon hired by Colombia’s largest merchant bank Corficolombiana as a staff attorney. Diazgranados’ contribution to the bank was quickly recognised, leading to her promotion to her current position of coordinator of legal affairs. Supporting the bank across the full spectrum of its portfolio of services, Diazgranados’ impressive legal expertise allows for swift execution of complex financings, reorganisations and M&A transactions.
A legal management executive with 14 years of experience in commercial law, Mónica Durán has spent the last seven years in the hydrocarbon industry developing start-up companies, leading corporate governance implementation plans and conducting comprehensive legal management of companies in their pre-operational and early operational stages. Currently functioning as legal director of Yara, a global fertiliser company, Durán oversees the legal function of the company in the entire Latin America region, with the exception of Brazil, and is in charge of a legal team of six employees. The operation of Yara in Latin America is the product of an acquisition of a holding group. Starting in her role a year ago, Durán has established the legal function in this new entity, building a successful team and setting up all processes and procedures covering 10 countries. She structured the legal team separating the roles of lawyers according to the business lines present in the company: Industrial, Crop Nutrition and Upstream. Prior to joining Yara, Durán worked at Pacific Infrastructure Ventures (2013-2015) as head of the legal department. Among a plethora of impressive achievements and noteworthy projects, Durán’s involvement on two major projects stands out: namely ‘Puerto Bahia’, a large scale port for the export and import of hydrocarbons in the Cartagena Bay, and ‘Olecar’, a 130 km pipeline connecting Puerto Bahia with the national network of pipelines and the Cartagena Refinery, with the estimated cost of both projects reaching $1bn. Between 2008 and 2013, Durán worked as legal coordinator at Oleoducto de los Llanos Orientales, an organisation established to construct the Rubiales-Monterrey pipeline in Colombia. There she led the project finance legal structure of the 235 km pipeline connecting Campo Rubiales to the Monterrey Station owned by Ecopetrol and the Pipeline Ocensa in Campo Cusiana. Prior to that Durán worked in a variety of positions, including legal coordinator as senior lawyer at Meta Petroleum (2007-2008), associate at Santos Munevar & Jaramillo (2001-2007) and junior lawyer at Rodriguez-Azuero (2000-2001).
Bogotá-headquartered Inter-American Coal is one of the leading integrated entities in the Latin American coal mining, trading and distribution market. General counsel Ana Maria Echeverria Urquijo leads a team of seven (including four lawyers) and provides legal advice and strategic counsel on all legal matters affecting the companies of the group in Colombia, Venezuela and Panama. Recent challenges have come in the form of an increasingly tough regional and international regulatory landscape and dealing with the commercial consequences arising from the closure of the Colombia-Venezuela border in 2015. According to Echeverria Urquijo, her most impressive achievement was negotiating and assisting with the resettlement of a small town to protect the interests of its inhabitants while allowing the company to commence operations in a concession area near the settlement. Before joining Inter-American in 2012 she was administrative and compliance manager at the Nicaragua offices of non-profit impact investor Global Partnerships. She has held senior positions with the Colombian National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute Invima, open-pit coal mining company Carbones del Cerrejón and sustainable energy investment developer Carbocol.
Eduardo Rosado Fernández de Castro’s legal career spans over two decades. He started out as an independent lawyer in 1990, joining Cementos del Caribe, now known as Cementos Argos, as an in-house lawyer. After seven years at the company, Fernández de Castro joined his current employer Promigas, and working as general counsel until 2013, when he was promoted to general counsel and corporate affairs vice president. Currently in charge of a team of 30 employees, Fernández de Castro has significantly improved the legal function over the years, implementing performance metrics as a strategy for cost effectiveness, undertaking training of non-legal staff to do routine tasks, reorientation of highly repetitive tasks to a self-serve model and establishing a business-oriented approach within the legal department that takes into account the company strategy. However, one of the highlights of Fernández de Castro’s career has been above average performance of the legal department in internal surveys about client service and work climate conducted by the company. In addition, Fernández de Castro has been integral to the facilitation of the Promigas’ growth plan by working with the Colombian regulators to define a company’s vested right. This approach favoured new investments in strategic assets, and allowed Promigas to continue on its chosen path. Apart from his role at the company, Fernández de Castro is interested in pro bono work and has promoted the first corporate collaboration agreement with Colombia´s Pro Bono Foundation, allowing the company’s lawyers assist those who lack the means to pay for legal representation. Fernández de Castro was also made a “Mentor” by Endeavor, an organisation that creates support systems for high-impact entrepreneurs and has worked as a professor for the past 12 years in postgraduate programs in recognised Colombian universities.
A lawyer well known for her methodological and disciplined approach to work, Luisa Fernández Mejía has worked at the helm of the corporate affairs function at the metals and mining company Drummond for over three years. At the onset of her professional career, after graduating with an LLM from Duke University in 1987, Fernandez went to work in the Los Angeles based law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson for a year, and then spent two years as a legal advisor to the President of Colombia. Fernández Mejía then worked briefly as an advisor to the General Superintendent of Ports and Superintendent of Exchange Control, and between 1993 and 1996 served as an assistant to Judge Carlos Esteban Jaramillo H. S. in the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court. In 1999, Fernández Mejía joined Colombian law firm Estudios Palacios Lleras and worked there for 14 years, combining the role with the duties of a professor in administration at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Fernández Mejía has worked at Drummond for three years and currently specialises in administrative law, proceedings before public authorities, litigation, infrastructure and ports.
Bayer’s head of legal and compliance for the Andean region, Hector Garcia Corredor, has been instrumental in helping the German pharmaceutical company to build a robust presence in the Venezuelan market. In 2011, he established Bayer’s first Venezuelan in-house function at its Caracas hub before moving to Colombia in 2015 to serve as regional head counsel. He is responsible for coordinating legal activities across Bayer’s Andean operations and harmonising regulatory approaches in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Garcia Corredor also leads Bayer’s regional compliance committee and provides legal representation in Colombia. Prior to moving in-house Garcia Corredor spent nine years at leading Venezuelan firm Hoet, Pelaez, Castillo & Duque.
With 16 years as the corporate head of legal at Ecopetrol, one of the four main petroleum producers in Latin America, Rodolfo Mario Garcia Paredes’ legal advice has seen the company through some of the most important events in its history. Notably, he was tremendously active in the legal support of the company strategy to internationalise Ecopetrol. He participated in the acquisition of blocks in Peru, Brazil and the United States, in the establishment of foreign subsidiaries of the company, and the acquisition of oil companies in Colombia and abroad. Highlights of his work include the 2003 restructuring (designed to allow Ecopetrol to compete in the global hydrocarbons industry), and his stellar work capitalising on the subsequent 2006 decree that allowed the company much needed access to private investments. In 2011, he helped Ecopetrol overcome a transactional challenge associated with the $1.75bn acquisition of BP Exploration Company Colombia, which required a legal team of 25 people on due diligence matters alone. An international lawyer who also worked on the deal commented that ‘he’s very careful, very thoughtful. Throughout all the pressures he is very reasoned and calm. He’s a good listener, careful in his thinking and someone who works through problems collaboratively. Frankly, he’s a pleasure to work with’. Garcia Paredes’ extensive knowledge of the oil and gas industry has led to lecturing positions at the law schools of both the University of Rosario and Externado University of Colombia, where he primarily taught the legal realities of oil procurement. Commenting on Ecopetrol, Garcia Paredes said, ‘with our number of lawyers it’s not unlike a law firm, and as the biggest company in the country, and with our expansion overseas, the work one undertakes is very interesting from a juridical point of view. Personally, I also have the sense that I am working for the good of the country’.
Victor Andres Gómez Henao joined insurer La Previsora as legal process manager in June 2016 at a time when the Colombian state-owned insurer was preparing for a significant change in ownership. Shortly before he joined, Colombia’s director of public credit, Milena Lopez, announced that the government intends to sell La Previsora within a year as part of its privatisation and revenue raising programme. Gómez Henao is the ideal candidate to help lead the organisation through this period of turbulence, having previous experience of helping navigate senior staff through a company’s change of ownership in the insurance sector. He was head of legal at Colpatria Seguros when, in 2013, French insurer Axa acquired a 51% stake in the company from its Colombian parent entity Grupo Mercantil Colpatria. According to one senior private practice lawyer, Gómez Henao keeps those around him focused during a difficult period and is ‘among the best guys to have in a room when things get difficult, besides which, he is a phenomenal lawyer’.
Over the course of her in-house legal career which spans over two decades, Ana María Gómez has been in charge of legal functions at some of the largest and most successful consumer goods companies in Colombia and internationally. A well-rounded and highly organised professional, Gómez has been praised for her approach to complex compliance issues at her current employer, Kimberly-Clark. Able to understand the needs of her company, Gómez has generated unique solutions to non-standard issues, whilst successfully managing expectations in her current role of chief compliance officer and previous role of chief legal officer. Having held responsibilities for countries in the Andean region at Kimberly-Clark, Gómez is well accustomed to working on complicated international matters. She previously worked for over two years as an in-house lawyer at the world’s leading premium drinks company Diageo and before that served for five years as legal counsel with responsibilities for Colombia and Ecuador at PepsiCo. At Pepsi, Gómez played a leading role in creating the company’s internal legal department in the region and has been a key player and business partner in several commercial negotiations. Gómez’s first role in the fast-moving consumer goods sector was with British American Tobacco between 2003 and 2005. She began her legal career in broadcast media at the large Colombian national television network, Caracol Televisión, where she served for nine years as a legal director.
With dozens of brands available in over 60 countries, food processing and distribution conglomerate Grupo Nutresa is one of Colombia’s largest and best-known companies. General counsel and secretary general Jairo González Gómez joined the company in 2007 and has helped it grow both by overseeing a number of prominent acquisitions and informing its long-term strategy. In addition to serving as a core part of Nutresa’s management committee, González Gómez has built up a team of lawyers that is highly respected both within the company and by peers in the region as a whole. Highlights from his distinguished time as Nutresa’s general counsel include working on the acquisition of Tresmontes Lucchetti, Chile’s second largest food manufacturing company, in 2013 and helping to negotiate an agreement with Mexican multi-brand restaurant operator Alsea to open Starbucks Coffee outlets in Colombia. Prior to moving in-house, González Gómez was founder and director of the law firm Gonzalez Gomez Abogados. He is also a member of the panel of arbitrators of the Conciliation, Arbitration, and Amicable Settlement Center of the Medellín Chamber of Commerce.
‘Being the general counsel of a company like Cemex’, according to one nominator, ‘is not an easy proposition. [The role] combines a great volume of relatively mundane matters together with incredibly complex transactional and dispute resolution issues. A very special type of general counsel is required to handle this successfully’. The challenge of balancing these competing priorities is one which Camilo González Téllez passes ‘with flying colours’. González Téllez has a dual role at Cemex, operating as both general counsel and compliance officer at Cemex LatAm Holdings and vice president for legal affairs at Cemex Colombia, the country’s second largest supplier of building materials. In his wider, regional role González Téllez is responsible for coordinating the legal and regulatory aspects of Cemex’s activities in seven locations across the continent (Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Brazil).
Carlos Herrera’s general counsel role at the major Colombian telecommunications company ETB represents the culmination of 18 years of experience at the pinnacle of high profile government, regulatory and corporate affairs work in the Information and communication technology (ICT) sector. Having joined the company in January 2016, Herrera had previously provided independent consultancy to ICT businesses in areas such as internet governance and regulation of telecommunication services and data protection. Between 2011 and 2015, Herrera worked at private practice firm Herrera & Asociados in a similar capacity, providing advice on regulation and compliance of telecommunication businesses. Herrera’s first in-house legal role was with Telex Colombia, the only fixed-line telecommunication system provider in Mexico, where he was responsible for the oversight of five legal and regulatory divisions: litigation, interconnection, television regulation, contracts and corporate and telecommunication regulation. There Herrera came to be recognised for his work on the provision of legal services surrounding new and disruptive technologies such as cloud computing, big data and HD television, as well as designing a legal strategy to consolidate the company’s operations in Colombia. The first half of Herrera’s career was with the Colombian Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, where he held a number of prominent positions such as general director and commissioner (2002-2006), marketing department manager (1999-2002) and head of the regulation and competition office (1997-1999). Across these roles, Herrera distinguished himself by creating new and revolutionary policy that has been vital in moving the Colombian telecommunications industry forward.
Fernando Junguito performs a key role in leading some of the most impressive transportation projects in Colombia and overseas, in Impala Terminals a global logistics provider that is part of Trafigura, one the world’s largest commodities and logistics groups. He is praised for having provided risk analysis and practical solutions to the business in ‘complex environments’, ensuring successful results for the company and guaranteeing best practice in legal, regulatory and compliance matters. With a management role in the company, Junguito is responsible for all legal aspects of the projects that he is assigned. Currently Junguito oversees a group of lawyers from external law firms who work on the day to day business matters of a specific project and is also in close cooperation with 10 administrative level directors, who report directly to him. During his time at the company, Junguito has provided a more cost efficient process to comply with the requirements of the different licenses to operate, based on permanent regulatory reviews, rapid identification of legal risks and immediate response in case they are identified, and strategies to approach and discuss different matters with the governmental entities. Over the years Junguito has evolved into a lawyer who is said to be a permanent and proactive actor in the decision making process of the company, who has helped shape the direction of the company, allowing management to take decisions in the most rapid and efficient manner. Last year, Junguito made a vital contribution to a 400 km railway project in the southwest of Colombia, to transport coal and other hydrocarbons. With a modification implemented by the government, the project was not viable, due to the increased costs imposed by the new regulations. ‘After several discussions with the environmental authorities, we demonstrated that the new regulations only applied if the project required new areas and tracks, which was not our case because we were only adapting the current tracks and facilities for the products we were willing to transport’, Junguito explains. ‘This position was approved by the authority and the project could continue’. Prior to joining his current employer in 2014, Junguito’s career alternated between private practice and government positions, with roles held at Ministry of Mines and Energy, Gran Tierra Energy, Yañez & Abogados Asociados, The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Ministry of Interior and Justice.
Carlos Laguado is a proven specialist in multinational merger and acquisitions, product capital markets and corporate finance. Capable of leading teams comprised of different cultures and nationalities, Laguado is recognised for his ability to partner with the most influential professionals of multinational organisations in order to create value and improve business and legal processes. Currently overseeing the legal operations function at General Motors Financial for Chile and Colombia, Laguado provides advice across the full spectrum of legal services, including corporate law corporate governance, international litigation and M&A transactions. Laguado previously served as corporate legal manager at the leading Colombian insurance company Seguros Bolivar, as a counsel and vice president at the utilities business Camara de Comercio de Bogotá and a legal executive at the Colombian operations of QBE Insurance.
As legal manager of one of Colombia’s most influential investment banks and broker-dealer firms and a subsidiary of the top three Colombian bank Davivienda, Carolina Largacha has been heavily involved in some of the most important IPO transactions in the country’s private equity market. As a lawyer at one of Colombia's largest fund administrators, Carolina has played an important role in forging the private equity industry in the region, impressing with her ability to combine a solid legal and commercial knowledge. Largacha is described as a lawyer who places high value in the advice of outside counsel, while maintaining a close grasp of the legal issues that arise in capital market financing deals. Praised by a source for being a lawyer who is ‘not only smart, but also likeable and persuasive’, Largacha is well known for her practical and pragmatic approach to problems, ensuring that the best solutions are always achieved.
Pedro Fernando León González joined Santander three years ago during a period of turbulence for its Colombian operations. In 2012 Santander ended 15 years in the local market by selling its Colombian banking units to CorpBanca of Chile. The move that was read by many as a sign that the group intended to withdraw from the country. However, one year later Santander established a new subsidiary enterprise bank specifically catering to Colombian corporate clients seeking to expand their operations overseas. With a wealth of experience in banking licensing and complex regulatory matters, León González was recruited to help oversee Santander’s re-entry into the Colombian market. Prior to joining the group he was legal director at Banco de Occidente, one of Colombia’s largest full-service banks. He has previously served as director of legal affairs at Santander Investment Trust Colombia.
Cristina Lloreda is the commercially savvy general counsel of holding company Sanford Management, where she handles the legal needs of a 15-company portfolio. Since her 2013 appointment, Lloreda has been responsible for building and managing an internal legal department with significant commercial exposure. Having begun her career at Colombian law firm Brigard & Urrutia, and subsequently working at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York, Lloreda has developed a skill for advising on complex commercial practices. Her first transition to in-house counsel came in 2009, at Citibank (Colombia), where she joined as a senior attorney and rapidly became identified as ‘high potential’ within the company; a title given to just 11 other staff members drawn from a pool of 3,000. As part of Citibank’s investment banking team in Bogotá, Lloreda was integral in bringing the first exchange traded fund (ETF) to the Colombia’s financial market, a significant milestone for the local stock exchange, and one built upon two years of close collaboration with Colombian regulators. Admirers speak highly of her quality: ‘She has a strong temperament, is studious and well-prepared, and expects the same from her external counsel. Fundamentally she’s a “doer” because she delivers’, one nominating lawyer said. Finally, according to a former private practice colleague, ‘she’s extremely capable, a real lawyer’s lawyer, and it’s no wonder her responsibilities today reach beyond the juridical and into strategic matters’.
Adriana Londoño is director of corporate affairs at Cenit Transporte Y Logistica De Hidrocarburos, a specialist in the transportation of hydrocarbons in Colombia. Throughout her career she has built a stellar reputation for her strong people skills and ability to oversee operational change, both of which have been essential during the growth of the oil industry in Colombia. Joining the organisation shortly after its creation three and a half years ago, Londoño was part of the team that established Cenit and played a pivotal role in creating the legal function at the company. Londoño instantly made an impression on her colleagues with her leadership and sound judgement, as well as her ability to rapidly decide on key legal and government affairs matters using in-depth analysis. As Cenit is an affiliate of Colombia’s largest oil company, Ecopetrol, Londoño had to show strong resolve when dealing with its initial dependence on the parent company. ‘I had to push back on our owner, Ecopetrol, in many instances’, Londoño explains. On one occasion, Londoño had to make a sound and strong legal case to her owner and functional vice president against Ecopetrol settling with a contractor. ‘I helped build a strong case and argued my position with all necessary support and details. My case was accepted, saving Cenit millions of dollars’. In particular, Londoño’s time at Cenit is characterised by her successful management of issues not related to traditional legal work, in areas such as regulation, governance and risk. ‘Working on such issues was highly rewarding, as it helps you understand the complete operations of the company and acquire different kinds of skills’. Londoño currently oversees a team of seven people in the legal department and serves as a ‘right hand person’ to the CEO in many strategic, ethical and governance matters. In addition, she is also the secretary of Cenit’s board, managing the agenda and potential issues to be discussed. Prior to joining Cenit from Ecopetrol, Londoño worked for seven years at some of Colombia’s most significant law firms, namely Brigard & Urrutia, Baker & McKenzie and Zuleta Legal Partners.
Spanish multinational oil and gas company Compañía Española de Petróleos (Cepsa) began its operations in Colombia in the early 2000s. Shortly after Cepsa’s entry into the market, President Uribe implemented reforms that liberalised the country’s hydrocarbons sector and opened up new opportunities for less established players. Cepsa’s growth since that time has been rapid. The company now has 18 exploration and production contracts in Colombia and is a growing presence in petroleum infrastructure in the country. Cesar Augusto Lozano serves as Cepsa’s head of legal for Latina America, managing a team of eight people based in Colombia and Peru. With extensive expertise in environmental risk management, corporate law, arbitration, compliance and commercial contracts, Lozano is among the leading Latin America counsel in the energy sector. In addition to advising Cepsa on all legal matters, Lozano acts as media spokesperson on the company’s activities.
Alejandro Madero advises on treasury, securities and financial markets transaction risks at Citi Colombia and its subsidiary broker dealer arm Citivalores. Madero’s extensive experience in structuring a range of financial products has earned him recognition as one of Colombia’s leading financial services corporate counsel. He typically helps to structure securities and derivatives transactions and advises on the national and international regulatory requirements of Citi’s Colombian activities. Madero has worked for Citi since 2011, during which time he spent a year as a visiting attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York. He previously worked in-house at Lloyds, the international bank.
In his role as vice president for corporate affairs and general counsel at the Colombian operations of global gold mining company AngloGold Ashanti, Felipe Marquez Robledo oversees a large legal team of 150 employees. Since moving to his present employer from Coca-Cola FEMSA in 2012, Marquez Robledo has impressed with the efficacy of his transition to his new sector and the ease with which he learned the specifics of the mining sector. He joined AngloGold Ashanti during a difficult period in the Colombian market and had to liaise closely with the Colombian government and mining authorities. Upon joining the company, Marquez Robledo instantly reorganised the legal department and shifted its direction to focus on discussing strategic issues and participating in decision making; transforming the legal department from the position of a ‘fixer’ that provides a ‘reactive response’ to the company into a result-oriented ‘business advisor’. Perhaps the highlight of Marquez Robledo’s career has been obtaining an environmental license for large scale mining project in Gramalote, which was the first to be granted to a large scale mining project in Colombia in more than three decades. Marquez Robledo has also received praise for driving the socio-political strategy in La Colosa project and managing various litigious issues that have risen.
With 27 years of professional experience in the telecommunications industry in Colombia, Jorge Martinez de Leon is one of the most well established and recognised lawyers in the sector. In addition to serving as the general secretary and legal representative of Caracol Televisión, a major Colombian private natural television network since 1994, Martinez de Leon also participates in several professional media and telecommunications associations, including ASOMEDIOS (Media Colombian Association), EGEDA (Management of Audiovisual Producers’ Rights in Colombia) Colombia and AIR (International association of broadcasters) among others. An expert in regulation and copyright legislation, Martinez de Leon has worked hard towards bringing open and free HD television to the Colombian market. Recently Martinez de Leon has resolved a dispute with the Colombian radio network Caracol Radio, owned by conglomerate Grupo Prisa, regarding the broadcasting of Colombia’s national and U23 football matches.
A commercial lawyer with a vast experience of providing legal advice in Colombia, Manuel Mejia is a proven expert in the support and coordination of corporate law, consumer law, M&A transactions and litigation. Mejia has operated as country counsel with responsibility for Colombia and Panama at Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) since the company’s inception. HPE is a multinational information technology company focused on businesses, formed in 2015 following the reorganisation of the wider Hewlett Packard (HP) company. Mejia has forged a successful career in the IT sector, previously serving as a legal counsel at HP in Colombia for over 13 years. Widely praised by his internal colleagues for his team work and organisational capabilities, Mejia has been highly influential at both HP and HPE, contributing immensely with his work on complex commercial litigation and the negotiation of key contracts.
A specialist in contract and commercial law, with extensive experience in handling corporate legal aspects and the implementation of corporate compliance policy, Jorge Mario Meneses serves as regional corporate counsel for Guy Carpenter, a subsidiary of global professional services firm Marsh & McLennan that specialises in the reinsurance market. Handling company legal affairs in Latin America and Caribbean, Meneses draws upon his rich experience in the professional services field to assist Guy Carpenter on complex cases, while also coordinating the activities of external lawyers. Prior to assuming this position 10 months ago, Meneses worked as a legal risk manager and secretary general at Marsh & McLennan’s operation in Colombia. During his five year spell in the role, Meneses played a key role in ensuring full compliance with the applicable company regulations and adapting regulatory changes within the business, thus preventing the materialisation of risks. Prior to joining Marsh & McLennan, Meneses spent seven years as corporate director and compliance officer at Liberty Seguros Colombia, a large Colombian insurance operation owned by Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. In that role, Meneses distinguished himself with both his work ensuring compliance with policies established by the parent company, as well as his work on the review and drafting of important contracts and the formulation of legal concepts.
José Millet García is a highly experienced, multicultural and trilingual lawyer with over a decade of experience of managing legal processes at the highest level. He is currently senior legal manager responsible for Northern Latin America and Mexico at the multinational data storage, information security and cloud computing business EMC, and has transformed the legal department over the past two years. As a result, the department is now present in all business activities of the company and has a seat on all client negotiations, giving daily advice to sales teams to close the deals with the legal support and risk management of each transaction. Due to Millet García’s efforts, the company is able to better anticipate risks that it faces, due to the introduction of a special due diligence and review process for sales, operations, hiring, termination and employee relations. The roll-out of compliance training by Millet García in all sales teams has had a significant impact on the larger business and its direction, whilst improving risk anticipation and adding stronger structures has been instrumental in allowing EMC to generate new revenues. In addition, Millet García’s involvement in a ‘big data’ project ‘Centro De Excelencia en Big Data y Data Analytics’ in Colombia has opened new space and opportunities for the sales team. These impressive organisational achievements are not only characteristic of his role at EMC, but apply to the entirety of his legal career, which includes leadership roles at Nextel and Sky de Mexico. Millet García is credited for having structured high performance legal teams that operate on the principles of ethic and trust. ‘I always give empowerment to my team to promote the best legal practices’, Millet García says.
Tatiana Montealegre has a uniquely complimentary assortment of public and private sector experience. Her seven years spent as an independent lawyer, advising financial institutions on corporate restructuring, coupled with her three years working within public financial institutions have helped her thrive in her current role as legal manager at Parque Arauco’s Colombian presence, Colombian Arauco Investments (CAI). Montealegre typically supports the structuring and development of new projects, and oversees the clauses which are included in CAI’s shareholder agreement. She takes special pride in CAI’s legal department, the establishment of which coincided with her 2009 appointment at the company. ‘In 2009 when I joined the company, the legal department was created in Colombia. I organised support for all areas of the Colombian division, including real estate, engineering, sales, marketing and human resources’. She describes closing negotiations with the Antioqueño Group as the biggest career challenge she has faced to date, for the numerous and nuanced unforeseen difficulties it presented herself and her team. However, she is grateful for the experience because it has imbued her with greater confidence to execute similar negotiations with great effect. Consequently, Montealegre is able to comfortably incorporate and juggle a wide array of responsibilities into her legal function. These now include supporting project structuring, property acquisition, instructing construction companies and other specialties for the construction of shopping malls, processing and obtaining licenses for the development of the constructed malls, and eventually negotiating contracts with merchants for commercial leasing of premises in Parque Arauco’s commercial properties.
With over 10 years of experience in intellectual property and corporate law as both an in-house counsel and private practice lawyer, Lina María Mosquera Gonzalez is in the perfect position to oversee IP and cybersecurity legal work at one of the most well-recognised IT brands in the world, Microsoft. Mosquera Gonzalez is able to utilise her strong interpersonal skills, expert knowledge and customer focus to proactively add value to Microsoft and drive the legal function forward. Mosquera Gonzalez is known for expanding Microsoft’s program to attack piracy in regions that were previously overlooked by the company and that were crucial from an economic perspective. Partially due to Mosquera Gonzalez’s efforts, Microsoft is changing the culture of cities like Barranquilla and Medellin and helping to create respect for intellectual property rights. Apart from that, Mosquera Gonzalez has been instrumental in developing successful litigation strategies with a team of outside counsel and planning and managing budgets for the legal department. Her first role was in-house with biotechnology business Biogen, where she provided ongoing advice to all business areas and focused on IP asset protection, cybersecurity, privacy law, and legal compliance. She then joined the IP law firm Olarteraisbeck & Asociados to counsel businesses on all intellectual property-related matters, and after that worked briefly as director of business legal affairs at the Association of Colombian Music Publishers. In 2010 Mosquera Gonzalez studied intellectual property law at New York University, whilst completing an associate internship at Chanel. Upon her return to Colombia she held several roles in-house and in private practice, focusing on IP law before joining her current employer in March 2014.
After briefly working part-time as an assistant professor and private practice lawyer at firms Arrubla, Devis, Tamayo and Brigard & Urrutia Abogados, Juan Luis Múnera joined Bancolombia in October 1998 in his first in-house role. Working primarily on cross-border transactions for the bank, Múnera impressed with his ability to deal with international lawyers in New York and to resolve complex compliance issues. In addition, Múnera was instrumental to the bank with his work on M&A transactions with other financial institutions in Colombia. Múnera went on to join cement company Cementos Argos in 2005 and has held a number of positions within the legal department since. Múnera, who became general counsel of the company in 2012, is also responsible for the communications, audit, risk, compliance, institutional affairs and government affairs. Overseeing a team of around 15 in-house lawyers, Múnera has achieved a much closer integration of his employees with the rest of the company. Part of his contributions, says Múnera, has been to ensure ‘the company lawyers are taken into account from the initial stages of transactions. We have a very close and fluent relationship with the different areas of the company now, which allows us to better understand the needs of the business and make the best possible decisions in a timely fashion’. At the onset of his career at Cementos Argos, Múnera worked on a complex merger between eight cement companies in Colombia, resulting in the company becoming the largest cement producer in the country. Over the years, Múnera has directly contributed to the growth of the company, having worked on the largest Colombian investment in the US with $2.5bn in acquisitions and having supported the company’s expansion efforts in the Caribbean, Central America and the northern part of South America.
As the Colombian head of legal at one of the world’s largest companies, it would be inaccurate to describe Juan Pablo Ovalle Arana as a “rising star”. Nonetheless, Ovalle Arana’s relatively young age has led many to tip him as a future legal leader in Latin America. Since 2011 Ovalle Arana has been leading the legal department of IBM Colombia, where his wide-ranging commercial and legal expertise has won him many plaudits. Ovalle Arana has worked on a number of significant deals, including IBM’s first public contract with the Colombian government. Ovalle Arana says his biggest contribution has been to help facilitate a ‘simplified way of doing business’ by working with engineers and commercial partners to ensure legal processes are faster and better suited to commercial needs. Prior to joining IBM, he spent five years as counsel at the Colombian offices of Chinese multinational telecoms equipment and services company Huawei Technologies.
Ingrid Pahl is an award-winning legal vice president and general secretary of Banco Itaú, the largest bank in Latin America and seventh largest in the world by assets. With more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector, Pahl was influential in expediting Banco Itaú’s entrance into Colombia by obtaining an operating licence for the company after lengthy procedural requirements had been set by the Colombian financial regulatory authority. Pahl names this as a career highlight, pointing to the very short period of time between Banco Itaú’s obtainment of an operating licence and establishing itself as the recognisable financial brand it is in Colombia today. Unlike her previous positions at Citibank Colombia and HSBC Colombia, where she worked in small teams, Pahl’s current position requires her to mostly instruct outside counsel in order to achieve her legal objectives for the company. Still, her heavily integrated relationship with Banco Itaú’s CEO, board directors and shareholders help her to maximise the effectiveness of her instructions. A source notes, ‘I've worked with [Pahl] - from the other side of the table - on a couple of complex, acquisition finance transactions, and she has always been a pleasure to work with. Her approach is common-sense and pragmatic and she always seeks to find solutions that will help her clients achieve their business objectives’.
An exceptional legal professional with a broad knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, Tito Parra has spent the last 22 years working as an in-house counsel at Abbott Laboratories. Currently serving as the legal manager for Colombia, Para has contributed to the simplification of the legal function, leading to improvements in speed and efficiency. Parra has provided crucial legal support for Abbott over the years and has navigated difficult situations with a high level of integrity and professionalism. In particular he has been praised for his ability to make decisions that bring benefits to his company. One source says: ‘Tito Parra has strong negotiating skills. He has the ability to balance commercial needs of the business with legal risks. He truly involves the legal issues and helps to find a solution’. Widely praised for his expertise in public law, administrative law, health law and intellectual property, Parra has shown an unrivalled dedication to his employer and the pharmaceutical industry.
Since 2011 Carlos Hernán Paz Mosquera has been a senior figure in the legal team at business services and business process outsourcing (BPO) provider Eficacia, the sixth largest employer in Colombia. Along with a team of 13 lawyers, Paz Mosquera is responsible for designing and structuring all internal legal processes and providing consultancy to services to various clients. Under Paz Mosquera’s direction, Eficacia’s legal team has been remodelled to meet globally-recognised ISO 9001 quality management standards and is certified by the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC). This has been accompanied by the introduction of a number of performance indicators and key metrics. In addition to serving as the company’s most senior legal representative, Paz Mosquera acts as general secretary and is responsible for shareholder affairs and compliance. He sits as a member of the executive committee and as a permanent guest of the board of directors. Prior to joining Eficacia, Paz Mosquera held a number of roles including senior counsel for major multinationals in the food sector (for example Cadbury and Kraft Foods), was a lawyer in the tax and legal division of Deloitte, and a professor of law at the prestigious Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali. He is also a senior member of the National Association of Colombia (ANDI), a non-profit organisation which aims to promote economic competition and the principles of free enterprise throughout the country.
Working as senior legal officer at one of the world leaders in impact investing, Finance in Motion, Alejandra Pazos is a sole in-house counsel working in the company office in Bogotá and reports to the legal director based at the company headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. The position that Pazos currently holds represents the first time the company ventured into having a member of the legal team working off-site in one of the company’s regional offices. ‘Before this, the legal team had been located exclusively out of Frankfurt’, Pazos says, ‘my involvement in the company has opened up the legal team for the first time to some of the challenges of globalisation, including working around the time differences and finding spaces to bond as a team and share ideas despite the physical distance’. Supporting the company in an early stage of its development, Pazos is a key component of its expansion plans in Latin America and contributes immensely to the successful closure of transactions, with her ‘flavour’ of the market and understanding the extent to which international practice is not applicable to Latin America. Formerly while working at Bancolombia as an in-house legal counsel, Pazos was involved in all stages of transactions, even from the initial client prospection and commercial contacts. She has successfully represented Bancolombia in a complex $250m syndicated loan transaction which involved the coordination of more than a dozen facility documents governed by five different jurisdictions. ‘Given the depth of the market in Colombia, this was one of the larger transactions that particular year’, Pazos points out, ‘it was the first time that the client, a multinational company which originated in Colombia, decided to trust a Colombian player to arrange and lead the syndicate of banks to refinance its entire debt and the team as a whole was able to deliver’. Pazos, also previously worked as an associate at Cárdenas & Cárdenas Abogados and as coordinator of the graduate programme in international law at Universidad de los Andes.
Daniel Alfonso Perea has been part of Terpel’s legal team for over a decade and has served as its vice president for corporate and legal affairs since 2008. Perea has a wide remit, managing legal and strategic matters across the Americas for the Bogotá-based producer and distributor of petroleum products. Perea has helped plan and execute over $500m worth of deals in his time with Terpel, which now operates a network of around 2,000 service stations and supplies industrial chemicals throughout the region, helping it to become a leading force in the Latin American market. A specialist in commercial and administrative law, Perea is also responsible for managing Terpel’s regulatory and public affairs, strategic communications, reputational management and environmental sustainability initiatives. Prior to joining Terpel he was manager of legal affairs at pharma company GSK Colombia.
For publishing company Publicar, strategy is an essential ingredient in weathering the storm of industry-changing consumption habits, and a key aspect of implementing that strategy is Andres Perez’s dynamic relationship with the company’s CEO and board of directors. As consumer demand grows for publishers to move from print to digital methods of information delivery, Perez’s legal influence on business strategy has helped steer Publicar into an enviable position where the company has maintained its traditional print advertising while growing into one of the largest producers of digital services and multimedia advertising in Latin America. According to Perez, ‘the cultural change that was necessary meant transforming the company’s legal activity from a reactive perspective to a proactive one, and to accomplish that the legal department needed to become a suitable tool for generating value. Our pursuit of both of these aims necessitated cultural change of major proportions’. To date, Perez has added value to Publicar in a number of areas. He has proven himself to be crucial in Publicar’s acquisitions of companies in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia, and the company’s recent divestment in Brazil. In addition, he has generated savings worth $40m in renegotiations of accrued costs. Also according to Perez, the company’s current strategy has transformed Publicar for the better in a very comprehensive manner, and all elements possess business-relevant legal implications, which regularly allow the legal team many opportunities to help reshape the company and its activity going forward.
Johnson & Johnson’s legal director for the entire North Latin America region, David Quiroz Rendon is widely praised by peers and clients alike. Described by his colleagues as a ‘great professional’ with a ‘comprehensive vision’, Quiroz Rendon is characterised by his honesty, proactivity and an in-depth understanding of the businesses he supports. Quiroz Rendon has substantial experience working in-house and has successfully overseen legal teams in the dynamic consumer goods, healthcare and medical devices industries. Currently overseeing a team that provides support to Johnson & Johnson in the north of Latin America, Quiroz Rendon focuses on helping his clients find new opportunities by providing legal advice of the highest quality, is responsible for protecting the assets and reputation of the company and proactively works towards strategic objectives. He combines his role with the duties of a lecturer at Universidad del Rosario and is currently in the process of writing a book on comparative consumer protection law in Latin America. Previously Quiroz Rendon worked for over 11 years at Unilever in a number of roles in both Colombia and Venezuela, overseeing legal functions in various countries across Central America and the Andean Region.
As well as building a comprehensive in-house legal team at confectionery, food, and beverage conglomerate Mondelēz International, Juan Pablo Restrepo has optimised the external counsel service model for Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean countries. He reduced the number of firms that the company uses across these regions from 61 to just a single supplier. ‘This aggressive consolidation is allowing us to create scale, obtain better tariffs, simplify invoicing system and harmonise legal strategy in the entire region’, Restrepo clarifies. The transformation of the company in the region by shutting down 75% of their plants and revamping the remaining 25% has had a major impact on Mondelēz’s strategic path. Likewise, the company has transformed its business model by exiting 10 non-core markets while giving them to master distributors and at the same time heavily investing in their five core markets. In addition to the legal support needed to oversee this change management, Restrepo proposed and was able to open the Cuban market for the company by obtaining all necessary permits before the different US government bodies. Thanks to Restrepo’s legal initiative, the company has a very robust and promising business presence on the once isolated island. Overall, the transformation of the regions has converted Mondelēz into a $1bn venture in the regions that Restrepo covers. Previous roles prior to Mondelēz included a stint at GlaxoSmithKline, and time spent in various law firms, the Federal Communications Commission and AT&T Latin America.
With over 15 years of legal and managerial experience at the highest level, Ana Maria Revollo is perfectly suited to take charge of all legal and compliance matters at the Colombian petroleum exploration and production company, Global Energy Development. Revollo was described by a colleague as an ‘expert in all legal matters of oil and gas exploration’, having made a noticeable impact on the company during her first year within the role, impressing with leadership, initiative and ability to successfully meet all her deadlines and goals. Before joining Global Energy Development, Revollo worked briefly in two different roles: as a director of corporate area in a private practice firm Rodriguez-Azuero Abogados, and corporate legal manager at Integral de Servicios Tecnicos. Between 2008 and 2013 Revollo worked at Global Energy Development’s subsidiary, Colombia Energy Development, as general counsel and legal representative where she had responsibility for all legal and compliance matters in Colombia and Cayman Islands, supporting the legal aspects of the day to day operational activities of the drilling and production departments as well as overseeing the contractual and environmental process. She received wide praise by her colleagues from this role for her negotiation and problem solving skills, leadership skills and talent, with colleagues describing her as a ‘take-charge’ person who is able to present innovative suggestions and ideas and articulate her thoughts and opinions regarding issues facing the company. Revollo did not spend her entire legal career in the energy sector, before 2008 she spent some time in in-house legal roles in other sectors, as well, such as telecommunications, food and beverages and financial services.
Fernando Rodas is legal vice president and secretary general at Grupo Suramericana (Grupo Sura), a leading Colombian insurer and one of the top 10 largest companies in the country. A well respected in-house professional in Colombia, Rodas has a rich educational background with a master of law in commercial and corporate law from the London School of Economics, a specialist degree in administrative law from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana and a degree in humanities from University of Antioquia. Rodas complements his legal education with studies completed in business management at INALDE Business School, providing him with the unique commercial aptitude necessary to lead the legal function at Sura. In his rich professional career Rodas has participated in the creation of several companies including Susalud, Suratep and has participated in notable legal cases. Rodas has spent 25 years of his career studying and practicing in the field of insurance and reinsurance and has been involved with a great number of acquisitions, divestitures, mergers and company inceptions, as well as with investment projects and financial restructuring with national, international banks and the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank. Rodas previously served as lawyer and legal manager at Sura and Valores Bancolombia. He has also taught risk insurance and international contracts at the Pontifical University Bolivariana, EAFIT, Antioquia, CES, University of Medellin and San Buenaventura University. Prior to that Rodas worked as secretary general of the University of Medellin.
Described as a ‘diligent individual’, ‘great leader and team worker’, Miguel Ronderos Corredor is a real asset to the software company Spring Global with his strong expertise in cross-border transactions and commercial contracts. In his four years working at Spring Global, initially as legal counsel for Latin America and more recently as an associate general counsel and human resources director responsible for Latin America, Ronderos Corredor has primarily focused on international business law Software-as-a-Service (SAS) and value-added-service in telecommunications, internet and advanced technologies sectors and has excelled in these areas. Based in Bogotá, Ronderos Corredor reports directly to the CEO and provides counsel to the senior management team on a wide array of legal issues, ranging from employment and labour, compliance and risk management to M&A work and corporate business functions across several countries in Latin America, including Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Venezuela. In the last three years, Ronderos Corredor has impressed with his ability to solve complex legal challenges and find creative solutions: he has been praised for his ability to close deals while proactively adding value to corporate operations through innovative approaches to advice. Previous roles in Ronderos Corredor’s career include a senior attorney position at the professional services firm ASTAF Colombia, attorney role at law firm Corredor y Asociados and law clerk position at the Superior Court of the District of Bogotá.
Mauricio Rosillo Rojas has served as vice president of legal and company secretary at Bancolombia since 2008. Managing the legal operations at Colombia’s largest commercial bank, which operates in retail leasing, trusts, brokerage, investment, pensions, and insurance, is a formidable challenge that calls for expertise in a number of highly complex legal and commercial issues. According to one source Rosillo Rojas has a ‘unique combination of experience and knowledge that is hard to find in any company’. Among his many prior engagements, Rosillo Rojas has served as secretary general of Fedeleasing – the Colombian federation of leasing companies – the director of financial regulation at the Colombian Ministry of Finance, supervisor of the securities market of the Colombian Stock Exchange, held a number of presidencies and commercial directorships and academic positions at leading Colombian universities.
Weatherford is one of the leading providers of technology and services to the oil and gas industry, helping to maximise the recovery of hydrocarbon deposits in more than 100 countries. Nicolás Rozo Colomer oversees legal operations at Weatherford’s Colombian operations and plays an important part in its regional business development strategy. With extensive expertise of oil exploration and production work gained from spells at Colombian hydrocarbon company Hocol and the Colombian division of Compañía Española de Petróleos (CEPSA), he is one of the standout counsel in the Latin American energy sector. He joined Weatherford in 2014 after a short period working as legal counsel to the Colombian government’s department for social prosperity.
General counsel of Cerro Matoso, a large Colombian ferronickel mine owned by South 32 Mining (formerly BHP Billiton), Nicolas Rubio has made a significant impact on the legal function during his six and a half years in the role. He has made the legal department an integral part of senior management of the company whilst simultaneously achieving a degree independence, allowing Rubio to provide ‘proactive’, rather than ‘reactive’ advice. Rubio also integrated the Colombian legal department into the group’s legal department, thus making it part of a worldwide group of lawyers with a global vision of the issues at hand. On a more practical side, Rubio has implemented the anticorruption policies of former owners BHP Billiton into Cerro Matoso, has standardised contracts and has implemented a strict cost control of external advisers using fixed fees and periodical reviews of timesheets. Apart from these operational improvements, Rubio has completed the renegotiation with the Colombian government of the mining lease under which Cerro Matoso operates, without which the operation would have stopped immediately within a year and international litigation would have ensued. This allowed the company to focus on the operation with legal stability until at least 2029, and possibly 2044. This renegotiated contact has become a standard for the renegotiation of large-scale mining contracts in Colombia.
A highly analytical and creative lawyer with excellent interpersonal skills and a constant drive to learn and work with others, Silvia Rueda has extensive experience in consumer and foreign exchange law. As head of the legal function of Bimbo Colombia, the Colombian arm of the Mexican multinational bakery product manufacturing company, Silvia Rueda operates as the sole lawyer and oversees an extensive network of external lawyers in order to protect the company. She is responsible for all legal aspects of the business, with the exception of those related to taxes and labor. Pursuing legal cultural development and improvement on risk management control, Rueda has developed a contracts drafting policy, which has been utilised throughout the company. Rueda joined her current employer, four years ago, from Mecánicos Asociados (MASA), a leader in the provision of comprehensive asset management services for the oil industry. Prior to that Rueda worked in private practice with three Colombian firms: Lloreda Camacho & Co, Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá and Aseguradora el Libertador. Rueda found her move in-house to be highly rewarding, but challenging: ‘It was somewhat difficult to move from a law firm where you have to manage specific topics to an in-house department, where you handle a wide range of legal subjects regarding every branch of law, and being a facilitator for the business working for simplicity that minimises risk’, Rueda says.
Martha Elena Ruiz Diaz-Granados is company secretary and legal counsel at Movistar, Telefónica’s Colombian operating entity. During her time with the company, Ruiz Diaz-Granados has helped maintain stability and consistency through a series of jarring changes of ownership. In 2000, Ruiz Diaz-Granados was senior counsel at financially distressed Colombian mobile operator Celumóvil when it was purchased by BellSouth as part of the US company’s ambitious Latin American expansion. Four years later, BellSouth sold its Latin American assets to Telefónica, bringing the Spanish operator into the Colombian market for the first time under its Movistar brand. A subsequent merger between Telefónica and the state-owned telecoms operator Colombia Telecom (Coltel) saw further change and complexity introduced into the company’s operations. Throughout this challenging period, Ruiz Diaz-Granados has helped those around her keep a cool head and has contributed to the success of the company. In the words of one senior partner, Ruiz Diaz-Granados ‘has been able to thrive within her organisation, despite constant and momentous change. She has achieved this thanks to her ability to adapt and add value, regardless of the challenging environment’.
Gustavo Sáchica oversees all legal work related to MetLife’s 400,000 policy holders in Colombia. Sáchica joined MetLife in 2015, two years after the global insurer had entered the Colombian market with the acquisition of ALICO (American Life Insurance Company). In addition to addressing technical questions arising from the claims of policyholders, Sáchica is responsible for liaising with the Colombian financial regulator, Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia (SFC), advising business units across the company on potential regulatory and compliance issues and ensuring its products are saleable in the Colombian market. A specialist in insurance law, Sáchica began his career at the Colombian arm of Australian-headquartered global insurer QBE, where he was named as both a “future leader” in its Leadership Academy Programme and among the company’s top 10 emerging markets leaders.
For more than a decade, Antonio Salazar has managed DHL’s legal activities across the Andean region. He is direct head of the legal department for DHL Global Forwarding in Colombia and Ecuador and monitors various DHL group entities in Venezuela and Peru. His wide-ranging and challenging position sees him cover a range of issues including commercial negotiations, corporate secretarial duties, managing external counsel, compliance training and monitoring customer complaints handling. Salazar is a well-respected figure in the Latin American legal community and was widely praised for his ability to contribute strategic guidance and keep a level head while dealing with highly-demanding situations.
Impala Terminals is a global logistics provider that focuses on emerging markets and operates as a part of the Trafigura Group, one of the world’s leading trading companies. Mariana Sanchez is instrumental to the successful operation of the Colombian business by overseeing legal processes for the company in the position of legal director. Over the past few years at the company, Sanchez has gained an outstanding reputation internally both for the quality of her legal work and ability to successfully organise an efficient legal function. She has established herself as an excellent lawyer, with an innate ability to polish all legal processes within the function to perfection, whilst managing the relationships with contractors and external law firms. Prior to joining Impala Terminals in January 2013, Sanchez’s career focused on natural resources. Between 2008 and 2013 she worked as a private practice lawyer at law firms Norton Rose Fulbright, Lewin & Wills Attorneys at Law and Posse Herrera & Ruiz Abogados. At the onset of her career she spent seven years at Petrocolombia.
An attorney admitted to practice in Colombia, New York and England with an abundance of experience in transactions, corporate law, contracts and compliance, Adriana Sinisterra Plana currently oversees Fox Networks’ legal department for the entire Latin American region with the exclusion of Brazil and Mexico. When Sinisterra Plana first moved to Bogotá to join Fox Networks in 2009, there were no in-house lawyers working in Colombia, so she had to establish a legal function that could provide legal assistance across Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and the Caribbean. Over the years Sinisterra Plana impressed with both her compliance work in Latin America and her negotiation skills on important content agreements with mobile operators across the region. Actively adding new responsibilities to her portfolio, Sinisterra Plana currently supports all commercial and operating departments with legal issues related to commercial, production and service provider negotiations across several countries. Prior to joining Fox Networks in Colombia, Sinisterra Plana worked in Miami, Florida in both in-house and private practice roles. She is praised by peers for her ‘emotional intelligence’ and work ethic and her ability to effectively coordinate the efforts of multiple stakeholders.
Patricia Sousa is head legal counsel for both the pharmaceuticals and retail divisions of Pfizer in Latin America. For more than 10 years she has guided the company’s regional activities and is a well-respected member of the in-house community. One senior private practice partner named Sousa ‘among the best corporate counsel’ he had worked with and praised her ‘ability to crystalise incredibly complex, messy issues into something that can be followed through by business’. Sousa has a wide-ranging role that covers managing M&A and restructurings, implementing training and policy throughout the region, and acting as compliance liaison officer. She began her in-house career as legal coordinator at Flota Mercante Grancolombiana (Grupo TMM) and was formerly senior associate at Figueroa Sierra & Asociados.
Patricia Sawyer is a senior lawyer with 29 years of experience working with international energy companies in Colombia and Venezuela. Over the course of her legal career she has had substantial exposure to corporate, oil and gas related matters from a legal and commercial perspective, applying the knowledge to her companies’ benefit. Joining Canadian energy company Pacific Exploration and Production Corporation, when it was still known as Pacific Rubiales, in 2008 as a legal corporate manager, Sawyer established the legal department, forming a cohesive unit that is now comprised of a large group of highly qualified lawyers that actively support the strategic direction of the company. In addition, Sawyer is responsible for the creation of a regulatory compliance department in Colombia that can respond to local authorities and liaises with the company’s overall compliance department in Canada. Sawyer received special recognition for her contribution when Pacific became the first foreign oil company to be listed on Brazil’s stock exchange. ‘In general one of my biggest achievements has been obtaining international credibility, recognition and reputation as a key lawyer in the international oil industry’, says Sawyer. ‘I have ensured that Colombian law is complied with, but have a clear understanding of each company and management needs, culture and their challenges’. Before joining Pacific, Sawyer spent her entire legal career working in in-house legal roles at various international oil companies in Colombia and Venezuela, namely Operaciones de Producción y Explotación Nacionales, Texas Petroleum Company, Lasmo Oil Colombia and Hocol.
As legal director of the Colombian branch of one of the world’s most recognisable transnational companies, Hyundai, Katherine Silva is kept very busy. Her areas of competence include corporate issues like antitrust, trademark registration, contractual disputes, regulatory affairs and conflict resolution. Unsurprisingly, she encounters many challenges: ‘Changes in market conditions, and the lack of contractual obligations on contractors, has made the exercise of my profession a challenge,’ she says. However she is thankful as these challenges allow her to be ‘constantly learning’, have ‘direct and continuous contact with the economic activity of the company’ and allow her to ‘affect company decisions in a manner that meets Hyundai’s corporate responsibility’. Owing to the expertise of Silva, and her experienced team of four, the legal team has a broad scope of influence within Hyundai Colombia Automotriz. Silva has had a significant impact on the way that the company operates. She established control and audit elements for all economic aspects and contractual obligations in order to ensure mutual fulfillment of obligations by both the company and its contractors. Secondly, her team has engaged the CEO to redefine company policy in relation to direct contact of the legal area of the company, in order to ensure management decisions are made in a coordinated and timely manner. Lastly, she incorporated ‘Legal monitoring committees’ in order to control and monitor all legal matters related to the company and possible related parties.
A bilingual lawyer that specialises in financial and contract law, Monica Tocarruncho has over 10 years of experience providing legal advice on corporate and insurance matters. Described by her peers as an ‘extraordinary lawyer’, she is well regarded in Colombia’s in-house market for her result-oriented approach to the implementation of regulatory change, restructurings and M&A transactions, as well as her great adaptability, leadership qualities and engaging personality. At the start of her career, Tocarruncho articled for a short period of time at Instituto Colombiano de Ahorro y Vivienda ICAV (the Colombian Institute of Savings and Housing), whilst completing her specialisation in financial law and contract law at her alma mater. She joined the Colombian arm of the global insurance company RSA in 2005 and spent the next three years there working as a legal area coordinator. Apart from her immense contribution to business development initiatives and successful handling of important litigation, arbitration and drafting work, Tocarruncho made her mark on the department with her improvements to the operational pipeline of the business. Toacrruncho developed and created a tool for judicial process control, which allows external lawyers to update information and responsibilities online, and generate reports in Excel with the most important information to present cases to the regulator. To broaden her horizons, Tocarruncho then worked briefly as a paralegal in London, before moving back to RSA to work as a legal manager in Colombia, overseeing the team responsible for the management of contracts, litigation and implementation of new policies. In addition to this role, Tocarruncho also served as a secretary to the board of RSA Dutch Caribbean, based in Curazao. Quickly gaining recognition among her colleagues for the results she generated, she became the general counsel of RSA Colombia in 2012. In 2015, Tocarruncho played an integral role in the year’s most important insurance transaction in Colombia, the sale of RSA’s entire Latin American unit to the Colombian holding Grupo Sura.
Although Colombia remains one of Latin America’s largest cigarette markets, the country is increasingly seeing the type of legal challenges that have become common in Europe and the US. Jorge Andrés Torres, legal manager for British American Tobacco in Colombia, is praised for his skilled handling of these difficulties and for his ability to contribute high-level strategic advice to the company at crucial times. British American Tobacco and close competitors Philip Morris jostle for market share in Colombia, and Torres has been at the helm in helping to keep British American Tobacco a vibrant competitor in this tight market. As well as defending and raising needed legal challenges, he has also contributed to a number of transformational deals that allow the company to grow. He has previously worked as general counsel and compliance manager at LG Electronics Colombia, legal counsel at Bayer Colombia and as a tax and legal associate at Deloitte.
Alirio Uribe Garcia is an award winning in-house counsel with a depth of experience in the engineering and manufacturing sector. At the onset of Uribe Garcia’s legal career, he briefly worked in the labour chamber of the Superior Court of Cundinamarca and as a private practice lawyer at Rueda Mantilla Abogados Asociados. Between 2007 and 2012 Uribe Garcia was employed as an external legal advisor to the Colombian fashion company, Napoli Venta Directa. Joining Mecánicos Asociados, a Colombia-based provider of services to the oil and gas sector, owned by Stork, in 2008 as an in-house lawyer, Uribe Garcia rapidly demonstrated his success at handling the complexity of corporate labour matters. After winning the ‘Employment - Individual of the Year’ award for Latin America at the ‘Latin American Counsel Awards 2012’, organised by the International Law Office, Uribe Garcia was promoted to legal team leader at the company and was subsequently appointed director of legal and compliance for the Americas region at Stork.
Praised by her peers for her high level of professionalism, Paola Andrea Valero Carrero is a formidable legal expert with substantial expertise in corporate law, dispute resolution and transactional matters. Following her graduation from Universidad Externado de Colombia with a degree in commercial law in 2004, Valero Carrero joined the law firm Nuñez Africano Abogados. A highly ambitious young lawyer and quick learner, Valero Carrero joined the French multinational electrical equipment business Schneider Electric as a legal manager for the Andean zone only four years after graduation. Upon joining the company, Valero Carrero quickly established a reputation for her excellent management skills, focus on results and aptitude for complex legal analysis and formulation of concepts. As a result, she became head of the legal department responsible for the support of Schneider Electric’s entire Latin American business, with the exception of Brazil. Valero Carrero has been integral to optimisation of internal procedures within the legal department and has been praised for her work on significant strategic intellectual property actions and M&A deals. Since August 2014, Valero Carrero has served as legal director for the entire South America region.
Formerly a private practice lawyer with nine years of experience at a “big four” firm and various law firms, Laura Vejarano is credited by her peers for her strong entrepreneurial spirit. ‘Ambitious and dynamic’, Vejarano has been vital to the rapid growth and development of Terranum Group since joining the Colombian real estate business in October 2011 as general counsel. The ever changing nature of her company and industry requires Vejarano to constantly adapt her approach. She says: ‘As our business has been constantly changing, we have been able to adjust our practice as a team constantly. For example, last year I became head of corporate affairs, becoming in charge of communications and public affairs matters’. This diversification of role shows the respect and trust that she has earned from her colleagues. Putting legal matters into the decision-making map when it comes to making investments or making business plans is one of the highlights of Vejarano’s career. When she joined Terranum there was no legal department, so Vejarano created it from scratch and placed legal at the center of the company’s operations. Vejarano is praised for bringing through the right people, assembling a highly motivated team and designing a very effective practice. ‘Terranum Group is a healthy organisation legally speaking, with virtually no litigation and/or administrative investigations. We have been subject to two legal due diligence in the past five years from sophisticated international investors with no material or critical findings’, Verjano clarifies as demonstration of the expertise that now exists in-house. Vejarano holds a law degree from Pontificia Unversidad Javeriana and an LLM from Colombia University School of Law.
Ángel Alberto Velandia Rodríguez is general counsel and company secretary at Bolsa de Valores de Colombia (BVC), the stock exchange of Colombia. Velandia Rodriguez joined BVC in 2006 and was instrumental in designing and implementing one of the biggest changes in its history, the Mercado Integrado Latinoamericano (MILA) – an attempt to integrate regional stock exchanges to help promote economic ties as part of the Pacific Alliance. Velandia Rodriguez played a prominent role in advocating for MILA to regulators and corporate interest groups and was one of the senior figures involved in brokering the 2009 agreement to unify the Peruvian, Chilean and Colombian exchanges, allowing investors to operate in all three markets without additional paperwork. The Mexican exchange also joined MILA at a later stage, making it one of the most significant recent economic projects in the region. Prior to joining BVC, Velandia Rodriguez was chief lawyer at the Instituto de Fomento Industrial (IFI), the state financial instrument responsible for promoting industrial production and access to credit for Colombian businesses. He has also served as legal director at Bancoldex, an IFI-affiliated state-owned bank that acts in support of Colombia’s foreign trade aims.
Fernando Victoria Peña has been legal and compliance director at Teleperformance Colombia Group, the Colombian arm of the global outsourcing company, since August 2010. Over the past six years, he has sought to ensure legal certainty of Teleperformance’s operations, creating control processes and timely approval procedures for acts and contracts. Victoria Peña has also added value to Teleperformance Colombia by updating and strengthening the legal documents, incorporating existing provisions in accordance with local laws, and adapting each contract to the interests of the company. In addition, Victoria Peña created the compliance department with an aim to establish mechanisms to protect corporate reputation and interests of its shareholders. Victoria Peña receives praise from his colleagues at the company for his effort to restructure the legal function and is applauded for his ‘analytical capacity’ and ability to find alternative solutions. Over the course of his career, Victoria Peña has been very successful at restructuring legal operations, achieving a rate of claims that is less than 1%, and creating contemporary compliance processes. ‘These compliance programs have been a model for important processes such as data and financial protection, and we are in the process of diagnosis and implementation in other subsidiaries of the company,’ Victoria Peña says. Previously Victoria Peña was employed by the Colombian television network RCN TV-Caracol TV and worked as private practice lawyer at Schembri & Peña Asesores.
Airplan is a Colombian manager and operator of six major airports in North Central Colombia. At the helm of the company’s legal department is general secretary Emiliana Villa Mejia, who has 13 years of providing legal advice, 11 years of which were spent heading and directing legal services. The approach that Villa Mejia has developed over this time is centered on obtaining the best balance of risk and reward for the company, because she does not wish the legal team to be perceived as an unnecessary obstacle to potential growth. She has endeavoured to deliver advice which not only enables her companies to pursue their commercial ambitions, but also introduces new commercial opportunities. Villa Mejia is known for her willingness to develop talent internally, having no problem expending energy to inspire people to achieve team objectives and enjoy their work with conviction. Villa Meija’s notable influence on Airplan’s legal department has ensured a favourable perception from peers and customers alike. The legal department is now seen as a building space, with room for creativity intended to discover methods of advancing ideas and projects without neglecting the rigor and adherence to legal precepts that should govern Airplan’s actions. Villa Mejia says, ‘my participation in the board, my relationship with management and shareholders, and my knowledge of the company, its customers, its challenges, its weaknesses and strengths since day one, have allowed me to have a significant and profound closeness with all business events. For this closeness and the pleasure it gives me to relate to others, I have implemented a work culture based on service and conscientious working’.
A well-educated and highly experienced lawyer, Alex Visbal combines his duties of general counsel and chief compliance and ethics officer at Fortune 500 industrial supply company Grainger Colombia with a role in academia, working as a professor in international business law and international custom law at Universidad del Norte. In his role at Grainger, Visbal oversees legal and compliance matters in line with regional and global strategy formed by the senior management of the parent company based in Chicago, Illinois. A commercially minded lawyer, Visbal has been able to build a strong relationship with senior management, which has led to the legal function being viewed as a partner to the business rather than a roadblock. Visbal is now asked to propose a business plan on legal and compliance matters in line with the regional and global strategy of the parent company. The main highlights of Visbal’s career relate to avoiding sanctions against his company, improving business acumen and successfully conducting negotiations to obtain commercial forecasts. Prior to joining Grainger in 2011, Visbal worked in health care, initially as an in-house attorney at health insurance business Nueva EPS and then as legal coordinator at one of the most significant health companies in Colombia, Salud Total. Visbal understands well the benefits of commercial focus among in-house lawyers and provides invaluable advice to his peers: ‘General counsel need to think first as entrepreneurs and businessmen and later as attorneys, but always protecting the business and govern by ethics’.
Empresa de Energía de Bogotá (EEB), the second largest electricity transmission and utilities provider in Colombia and one of the largest companies in country, is often held up as a model of good corporate governance in Latin America. As part of EEB’s leadership team, head of legal and regulatory affairs Diana Margarita Vivas Munar has been an important part of the company’s success. With a distinguished record of driving change at both public and private bodies, she was widely praised as an effective communicator and legal strategist. EEB operates an ever expanding Latin American presence, calling on Vivas Munar to assist with its new market entry strategy. Recent initiatives have included entering the Brazilian electricity market, helping to modernise electricity transmission infrastructure in Guatemala through its subsidiary Transportadora de Energía de Centroamérica S.A (TRESCA), and growing its presence in Peru, where EEB is joint owner, along with Colombian energy concern Interconexión Eléctrica (ISA), of more than 60% of the electricity transmission infrastructure. In addition to her wide-ranging mandate at EEB, Vivas Munar has been an independent consultant in constitutional and public law and has assisted in the reorganisation of public entities and multilateral agencies. She has previously served as secretary general to the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit; director of the Public Administration Renewal Program, and technical secretary to legal reform on public procurement.
Alvaro Josué Yáñez Alsina was appointed by Pacific Exploration & Production, the Canadian petroleum company, in Colombia to design the unification of existing contractual processes. Upon joining the company Yáñez Alsina had to merge legal teams from six different companies, which had been recently acquired by Pacific; eventually leading to the creation of one single, compact, cooperative legal team. This process included redefinition of roles, contractual models, policies and processes for several companies within three different jurisdictions. After the implementation of the reorganisation, the companies achieved a higher level of efficiency on projects, as well as an enhanced assurance for transactions. As legal advisors at Pacific participate side-by-side with the technical and ‘front office’ functions, Yáñez Alsina and his team of 15 professionals has an opportunity to play an active role in the definition of the strategies defined by the company for different projects. ‘That way, even when we are acting as a support area, we are considered a very valuable asset for the core business, by adding our expertise and views at a very early stage of each project’, Yáñez Alsina says. Prior to moving in-house Yáñez Alsina spent just over eight years in private practice with law firms Yáñez & Asociados and Arrieta Mantilla & Asociados. When asked about his greatest professional achievements to date, Yáñez Alsina recalls his work to renegotiate certain contracts with the Colombian petroleum authorities while working for Pacific. He says: ‘Such renegotiation was critical, due to the particular situation of the industry and the international petroleum prices crisis. We were able to complete the transaction within a very short period of time, with excellent results for the company’. Apart from his legal education, Yáñez Alsina completed the Management Program For Lawyers at Yale University, which has significantly widened his commercial understanding.
Over her five year tenure as legal manager for the Colombian part of international tyre and rubber company Bridgestone, Diana Yepes has undertaken an overhaul of the legal function that resulted in 60% reduction in legal costs. In addition, as a result of her work the department has seen a 60% increase of customer guarantees and implementation of contracts with customers and suppliers in 90% of cases. Apart from improving the legal function, Yepes has had a crucial influence on the entire company by assessing the critical points that affect the non-recovery of the portfolio and implementing measures and protection letters to reduce risk. Yepes has been instrumental to her company with her analysis of legal risks in different areas and has contributed immensely with her work to implement legal solutions to neutralise them. The implementation of a carbon neutral footprint project for Bridgestone in Colombia has also been another significant achievement for Yepes, resulting in the company’s transformation to a carbon neutrality in a relatively short timeframe. Prior to joining Bridgestone in 2011, Yepes held legal positions at Innova Quality, Banco AV Villas and the Bogotá High Court.
If we look back at the recent past and towards the short- and medium-term future, it is difficult to imagine more interesting times for Colombia from a political, economic and business perspective.
Colombia has come a long way in establishing itself as a credible, fast-growing and resilient economy, which is now producing world-class companies that are capable of competing at a regional and global level. Security is improving by the day; a large scale infrastructure program is finally coming together; and the government and the largest remaining guerrilla group have reached an agreement on the terms of a cease fire and handover of weapons. By the time you read this, a definitive peace agreement will probably have been reached.
At the same time, we cannot ignore that Colombia is facing important challenges. Some global in nature, such as the downturn in the price of commodities, the volatility of exchange and interest rates and a weak equities market. Some self-inflicted, such as a severely uncompetitive tax regime, a dysfunctional judiciary, legal instability and a polarised political leadership.
The legal profession is in a unique position to help Colombia build upon these strengths and overcome these challenges.
To start off, we need to stay positive at all times, even in the face of dire predictions by the prophets of doom. Thinking that Colombia has a bright future is not only good for business: it is probably true.
Investment should increase in the foreseeable future for a number of reasons. Colombia compares well to the region in terms of GDP growth and demographics; the exchange rate of the Colombian peso vis-à-vis the US dollar has made Colombian targets more affordable and exports should be competitive once again. Additionally, although lower commodities prices and compliance scandals have put some regional players in distress, these same factors have prompted a spike in deal making.
The government has committed to submitting a tax reform bill to congress during the second half of the year, aimed at restoring competitiveness without sacrificing revenue, by lowering rates and expanding the base. This means that, as a general rule, a business that is paying its taxes properly today should benefit from a noticeable reduction in its future tax burden. This is a great opportunity but many loopholes and privileges will need to be eliminated for it to work. We are obligated to make positive contributions to the debate with the greater good of the country in mind, for example, by facilitating the removal of such loopholes and privileges.
Now that a number of 4G toll road concessions have achieved financial closing, the implementation of the infrastructure program should generate the countercyclical effect much touted by the government. We need to ensure not only that the projects are completed in time and within budget but, most importantly, that the upgrade in infrastructure actually makes the country more competitive by way of a reduction in transportation costs.
The overall context of peace negotiations and an eventual end to conflict offers many opportunities for us to meet our responsibilities. To mention just a few:
- We can play a role in building peace, by helping educate the Colombian public on the features of the peace agreements, once they are made public. This does not mean trying to influence the outcome of the vote, whereby we will approve or reject the agreements. It means getting people involved and making them realise that what we have to decide is not whether the agreements are perfect, (they most certainly will not be), but whether they are good enough for us to turn the page in our long history of violence.
- In the meantime, we will need to work very hard to foster respect for the outcome of the process, whatever it may be. Otherwise, the peace agreement will sadly become yet another source of tension among Colombians.
- We will also play a role in maintaining peace by helping create the conditions required for displaced people and demobilised combatants to make an honest living. We can do our bit to ensure that acceptable minimum working standards are always observed, and to instil best business practices. The fact that entire areas of the country will finally be open to legitimate businesses is a golden opportunity to attack corruption at its core, and our organisations should be prepared to act as role models in this respect.
- Our role in building a long-lasting peace can be equally important by fostering many of the values that inspire our organisations, such as tolerance, meritocracy, diversity, accountability and social responsibility.
At Baker & McKenzie we believe that the best clients are those with which there is a good fit in terms of our culture, ethos and aims. This fit is what allows us to work well and succeed together.
At this point in time, in the current juncture of Colombia’s history, we cannot limit ourselves to working together in the provision of legal services only. The opportunities and challenges that I’ve referred to above give us the chance, and the obligation, to do something far more important that goes beyond the purely legal function.
We like to believe that we are different in the way that we think, work and behave. We have an instinctively global perspective. Diversity is in our DNA. We are committed to developing our members as far and as fast as their talents and drive will take them. We endeavour to be practical and pragmatic. Ideas and innovation are expected. Pro bono and community service are at the top of our agenda.
If this sounds familiar, it means that we can join forces and make a difference for our country in these most interesting of times.
Jaime Trujillo Caicedo
Baker & McKenzie
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