Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Speaks at Yale SOM

Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe made his first visit to Yale University on November 7 when he spoke at an event sponsored by Yale SOM's Latino Leadership Association student club.

Uribe, who served as president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010, discussed his administration's efforts to deal with the country's challenging social and economic issues, including poverty, chronic political tensions, and domestic terrorism. He also described his efforts to encourage cooperation between the public and private sectors. Uribe said that his presidential policies promoted social cohesion, security, and the encouragement of private investment that would lead to a more prosperous and stable economy.

Uribe also outlined his belief that the United States and Latin American countries should forge alliances to fight the illegal narcotics trafficking that fuels terrorist activity. "It needs to be a joint action," he said. He added that such a multinational alliance could also address global issues of food security and climate change.

Students asked Uribe questions on issues including his motivation for entering politics, his thoughts on the policies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and how he balanced moral imperatives when making complex policy decisions. Asked about the relationship between national security and economic growth in Colombia, Uribe said that security was critical to encouraging private sector investment. "It was very important to create confidence in communities, confidence in the investors, and good relationships between them," he said.

Uribe's visit kicked off this year's Latino Leadership Association (LLA) Speaker Series, a club initiative to bring influential Latin American leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors to SOM to discuss leadership and management.

The audience gave Uribe a standing ovation at the completion of his talk. "Some of our students described the opportunity to hear and meet personally with President Uribe as one of the highlights in their MBA experience so far," said LLA co-leader Adalina Rodriguez '13.

"President Uribe highlighted some key opportunities and challenges for Latin America going forward," said co-leader Juan Gonzalez '13. "He encouraged Yale SOM leaders to work and invest in Latin America and support the growth of the region."

Fellow co-leader Juan Athie '13 said that Uribe's talk illustrated the fact that, today, there is no difference between managers and leaders. "Every leader needs to be a good manager to get the job done, and every manager needs to be a leader to have sustainable long-term success," Athie said.