HBS To Highlight Latin Markets

Conference will feature panels on emerging fields in Latin American Business

One of the world’s fastest growing markets will take center stage this Saturday as Harvard Business School hosts its 10th annual Latin American Conference.

The conference, hosted by the Club Latinoamericano at the Business School, will feature eight panel discussions with elite Latin American business leaders. The panels will focus on Latin America’s presence in fields like energy, real estate, and private equity, while also addressing the current macroeconomic status of the region.

Alejandro Rocha, an MBA candidate and one of two co-chairs for the conference, cited a number of reasons for hosting the event, including a feeling that many investors were following the crowd and investing in Asian countries while bypassing investment opportunities in Latin America.

“We want to incentivize direct investment into Latin America,” Rocha said. “The Business School is well respected worldwide and, as a result, we have the resources to bring great people from the region to speak about the many impressive investment opportunities available in the region.”

Rocha also cited a desire to stop a brain drain that led the best minds of Latin America to come to the United States and other developed nations.

“Harvard, MIT, and other schools across the United States have Latin American students who are working on their bachelor and professional degrees,” Rocha said, “and since so many of them are unaware of what is available to them in Latin America, we want to help these top brains learn about the opportunities that exist there.”

The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), one of the conference sponsors, helped to recruit speakers, according to Veronica R. Martini, DRCLAS development and external relations officer. In addition, Merilee Grindle, DRCLAS director, will be moderating one of the keynote sessions in the afternoon.

“The mission of the Center is to promote democracy in Latin America,” Martini said. “Conferences like this, where HBS and the Center are working together on the future of the region, are of great relevance to us, and they are a great way to provide knowledge to students and to the community as a whole.”

The keynote speakers, whose speeches will be split up throughout the day, will include Martin M. Werner, the head of Goldman Sachs Latin America and former undersecretary of finance and public credit in the Mexican Treasury; former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari; and former Honduran President Ricardo M. Joest.

The conference, in which nearly 700 individuals have requested a spot, still has spots open for the general public.

“We hope that audience members will gain a fresh understanding of where things stand in Latin America in terms of where the region is headed,” Martini said. “I think the draw of the conference is that participants will gain this knowledge from practitioners who know Latin America intimately.”

—Staff writer Prateek Kumar can be reached at kumar@fas.harvard.edu.