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Women's Economic Empowerment in Colombia: Lessons from the Top

Americas Society / Council of the Americas

June 12, 2013


AS/COA's Women's Hemispheric Network held its first roundtable on women’s economic empowerment in Colombia, convening leading women in business and public service to share their success stories and draw lessons for a rising generation of young professionals at the local and regional level. Colombia has the highest percentage of women in leadership positions in Latin America: they account for 38 percent of top management positions, 50 percent of mid-level positions, and 75 percent of entry-level positions. They are leading the ranks in government, banking, retailing, mining, and energy. The experiences of these remarkable leaders and their views on the importance of mentoring and networking aimed to encourage entry- and mid-level women to make the leap to leadership positions within their own fields and, ultimately, to reach their goals.

Learn more about AS/COA’s Women’s Hemispheric Network.

Save the Date! The second interactive workshop, "Mentoring in Latin America: Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders," will take place in New York on October 11, 2013 (invitation only).

Upcoming Events: Americas Society/Council of the Americas will present the Hemispheric Women’s Network in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in an August 23 roundtable scheduled to be held in collaboration with Endeavor Argentina. Upcoming dates for events in Mexico City and São Paulo will be announced as well.

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Press Inquiries
: Please contact Adriana La Rotta at or 1-212-277-8384.

María Elvira Arango

Journalist and Anchor, Caracol Television

María Elvira Arango is a journalist and news anchor for Caracol Television. Before returning to television in April 2013, Ms. Arango was the director of two magazines – Donjuan and Bocas – in the editorial department of the newspaper El Tiempo. She also used to serve as a correspondent journalist in Miami and London for Viva FM and La FM. Previously, Ms. Arango was the director and news anchor for Sabado Nuestro, as well as working as a news anchor for several news programs such as CM&, 24 horas and RCN.

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Maria Consuelo Araujo

CEO, Gran Colombia Gold Corporation

Maria Consuelo Araujo has been chief executive officer of Gran Colombia Gold Corporation since August of 2010. Previously, Ms. Araujo served as the minister of foreign affairs of Colombia from 2006 to 2007, after having served as the country’s minister of culture for four years. She was also director of postgraduate studies at the Universidad Externado of Colombia. Ms.

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Pilar Calderón

Director, Revista Diners

Pilar Calderón is director of Revista Diners. Before joining Revista Diners in 2011, Ms. Calderón was deputy director of the newspaper La Estrella and a strategic communications consultant in Panama. She began her career in journalism as press chief for politician Luis Carlos Galán, whom she accompanied during two presidential campaigns. Later, Ms. Calderón worked as the press secretary for President César Gaviria’s administration.

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Sylvia Escovar

President, Organización Terpel

Sylvia Escovar is the president of Organización Terpel. Before assuming this position, she was vice president of Corporate Group for 10 years, where she was responsible for both financial and strategic/commercial areas. Previously, Ms. Escovar worked in the public sector, holding various positions including financial vice president of Grupo Bancolombia, main economist for the Colombian Resident Mission of the World Bank, and head of the External Credit Division in the National Planning Department.

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Luz Mary Guerrero Hernández

Co-founder and President, Servientrega

Luz Mary Guerrero Hernández is co-founder and president of Servientrega. She is also manager of Efecty, Timón, Global Management, Totalseguros and Red Interactiva. Ms. Guerrero is part of the strategic council of the organization, heading projects focused on globalization, innovation, productivity, competition and modernization that direct different companies in the short, medium and long term. She has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and the University of Rosario Entrepreneur of the Year award. Ms.

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Adele Gulfo

Regional President of Latin America, Pfizer’s Emerging Markets Business Unit

Adele Gulfo is regional president of Latin America in Pfizer’s Emerging Markets Business Unit. In this capacity, she leads a team of over 2,000 colleagues operating across more than 23 countries. Previously, Ms. Gulfo served as president and general manager of U.S. Primary Care Business Unit at Pfizer. Prior to joining Pfizer, she was vice president of Business Development, Innovation and Design for Launch at Astra-Zeneca and, among others, senior director of Cardiovascular Marketing at Warner-Lambert.

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Luz María Jaramillo

Country Managing Partner, Ernst & Young

Luz María Jaramillo is the country managing partner for Ernst & Young in Colombia, where she was named a member of the South America Sub Area Board of Directors in 2011. Prior to joining Ernst & Young in 2000, she worked for 22 years in another firm, where she served as director of taxes for Colombia.

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Maria Emma Mejía

President, Board of Directors, Fundación Pies Descalzos

Maria Emma Mejía is president of the Board of the Directors of Fundación Pies Descalzos. Shakira recruited Ms. Mejía to be the Foundation’s cirector and to help expand its mission throughout Colombia. Ms. Mejía has dedicated her career to public service and society’s most vulnerable people. She met Shakira when she was the minister of education and they began working together. In 1999, she acted as peace negotiator in the peace process with the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces). Ms.

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Edmer Tovar Martínez

Assistant Editor, Economía y Negocios Portafolio

Edmer Tovar Martínez  is assistant editor of the journal Economía y Negocios Portafolio and theme editor of Economics and Business of El Tiempo Casa Editorial. Additionally, he is an economic analyst for ET Weather Channel and host of the business and economics television program, PortafolioTV. He specializes in economic issues including financial, business, foreign trade, agriculture, energy, social security, science and technology innovation, and corporate responsibility. He is also a Master’s professor of Economy at the Universidad Nacional.

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Susan Segal

President and CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

Susan Segal was elected president and CEO of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in August 2003 after working in the private sector with Latin America and other emerging markets for over 30 years. A passionate supporter of Latin America, she joined the organizations to implement a new strategic plan to renew and return the Society and Council to their historic position. Prior to her current position, she was a founding partner of her own investment and advisory group focused primarily on Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic sector.

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Margarita Zavala

Former First Lady of Mexico

Margarita Zavala is the former first lady of Mexico. During the tenure of her husband President Felipe Calderón from 2006 to 2012, she chaired the Citizen Advisory Board of the Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), led the Estrategia Nacional para una Nueva Vida, and worked on the issues of protecting unaccompanied migrant children and migrant women. Previously, Zavala was a federal congresswoman from 2003 to 2006, where she was named deputy coordinator of Social Policy of the PAN Parliamentary Group.

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La Presidenta y CEO de AS/COA habló sobre la Red Hemisférica de Mujeres y de las estadísticas sobre las mujeres en juntas directivas y en los mercados emergentes. ...

Video: Margarita Zavala - Women's Economic Empowerment in Colombia: Lessons from the Top

August 08, 2013

The former first lady of Mexico spoke during AS/COA's roundtable on women's economic empowerment in Colombia....

Baje la agenda en español.

7:30 a 8:00 a.m.                      Registration

8:00 a 8:15 a.m.                      Welcoming Remarks

  • Susan Segal, President & CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
  • Edmer Tovar Martínez, Editor, Portafolio

8:15 a 8:30 a.m.                      Keynote Remarks

  • Margarita Zavala, Former First Lady of México

  8:30 a 10:00 a.m.                    Views from Colombia: My Journey to the Top

  • María Consuelo Araujo, President, Gran Colombia Gold
  • Sylvia Escovar, President, Organización Terpel
  • Luz Mary Guerrero, Co-Founder, Servientrega
  • Luz María Jaramillo, Country Managing Partner, Colombia, Ernst & Young
  • Moderador: María Elvira Arango, Journalist, Caracol Televisión

10:00 a 10:30 a.m.                   Coffee Break and Networking Session

10:30 a 11:45 a.m.                   International Experiences: How I Became a Leader

  • Adele Gulfo, Regional President for Latin America, Pfizer Inc.
  • Patricia Menéndez-Cambó, Chair, Global Practice, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Susan Segal, President & CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
  • Moderador: Pilar Calderón, Director, Revista Diners

11:45 a.m. a 12:00 p.m.           Closing Remarks

  • María Emma Mejía,  President of the Board of Directors, Fundación Pies Descalzos