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Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Corporate Ladder: Top executives named across sectors of Puerto Rico’s economy

This edition of Climbing the Corporate Ladder — this media outlet’s section dedicated to featuring executive appointments in Puerto Rico — highlights newcomers named to lead businesses across multiple economic sectors.

Brenda Torres

Amgen names 1st Puerto Rican woman VP of operations
Amgen Manufacturing Limited (AML) appointed industrial engineer Brenda Torres-Rivera as the new vice president of operations of the biomanufacturing company in Juncos. With this appointment, the executive becomes the first Puerto Rican woman to assume the position of in Puerto Rico, which employs more than 2,000 associates.

Torres-Rivera has more than 30 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, including 15 at Amgen. She is responsible for ensuring that AML produces and supplies biopharmaceutical drugs and products for Puerto Rico and worldwide patients, following its quality and business continuity culture.

Before her appointment, she was vice president of Manufacturing-Drug Product at AML. In this role, she led 1,500 associates, established a robust operational rigor, and developed her team to deliver new business capabilities. When she joined Amgen in 2006 as executive director of Supply Chain, she successfully launched its first Foreign Trade Zone while implementing innovative risk mitigation projects.

Four years later, her performance paved the way to her next assignment as Amgen executive director, plant manager. In this role, she led the inspection and packaging operations for the fill & finish facility and ensured patient supply while moving the organization to the next operational execution level. She also led efforts to design and implement a successful operation to serve the Japanese market needs.

In 2012, Torres Rivera served as executive director, U.S. Region Supply Chain. She holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico.

Kevane Grant Thorton appoints new audit partner
Certified Public Accounting firm Kevane Grant Thornton (KGT) announced the appointment of Jorge Eduardo Cañellas as Audit Partner.

Jorge E. Cañellas

Cañellas joins KGT’s practice with a solid professional track record in auditing and business consulting within the financial services, FinTEchs and the telecommunications industries of multinational public companies in Latin America and the United States.

The executive, slated to join the firm effective Dec. 14, brings more than 15 years of experience and training in managing specialized financial services matters and accounting consulting under IFRS and US GAAP, leading financial statement and internal control audits under PCAOB standards, and in the execution of capital markets transactions.

Jorge E. Cañellas is Certified Public Accountant licensed to practice in Puerto Rico and the State of New York. He earned a Master of Science in Accounting as well as an undergraduate degree from Boston College in Massachusetts.

He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).  Prior to his return to the island, Cañellas worked at EY Mexico and New York and as part of his professional expertise, the executive has advised multiple global public companies, such as commercial and investment banks, stock exchanges, payment processors, and telecommunication companies, among other business sectors. 

Francisco Castellanos

Birling Capital brings on new chief information officer
As parts of its expansion in Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland, Birling Capital announced the appointment of Francisco Castellanos-Acevedo as chief information officer, member of the executive committee, and Director of the technological transformation and data analytics practices.

Castellanos-Acevedo has a diverse experience in the computer science area. More than 20 years in the banking industry, 10 years of experience in family office operations and several years in the telecommunications industry. The experience and contacts that he brings from managing family office operations will be a key element for the expansion of Birling Capital’s services to these segments and for the development of the new LeadPivot platform.

Castellanos specializes in the integration of dissimilar systems, organizing them in related information repositories to streamline decision-making for management.

During his career, he has served clients in the areas of banking, food distribution, pharmaceuticals, government, telecommunications, and technology industries, among others.

Jorge Hidalgo

Hemisphere Media Group announces new GM at WAPA TV
Hemisphere Media Group Inc., which owns WAPA TV in Puerto Rico, announced that effective Dec. 31, the broadcast station will have a new General Manager in Jorge Hidalgo.

Hidalgo is a seasoned, Emmy award-winning executive with 40 years of experience in the U.S. Hispanic television industry. Hidalgo has been named among the most influential minorities in numerous U.S. publications such as Sports Illustrated, Hispanic Business, “Poder,” and the Hollywood Reporter.

Before joining Hemisphere, Hidalgo led the industry-leading sports division at Telemundo and the network news division where he held the title of executive vice president for 16 years.

Hidalgo was recognized by the Suncoast Emmy Awards and bestowed the Silver Circle Award in 2012 for his distinguished and significant contributions to both the TV industry and the Hispanic/Latino community. Throughout his career, he has been awarded three regional Emmy awards, five national Emmy awards, a co-recipient of an Edward R Murrow award. 

Since 2018, Hidalgo, WAPA’s new leader, has overseen certain of Hemisphere’s strategic investments, focusing on its Latin American businesses and serving as a liaison to Canal 1, a leading national broadcast network in Colombia, jointly owned by Hemisphere and local Colombian partners. Prior to this role, Hidalgo was a consultant for Hemisphere and an integral member of the team that secured the broadcast license to Canal 1.

Hidalgo started his career at Univision Network, taking on numerous roles in the company and eventually overseeing every aspect of the Network’s sports division as the department’s director.

Vicente Suárez

V. Suárez & Co. names new president
V. Suárez & Co. confirmed the arrival of Vicente Suárez-Matienzo as its new president, following a promotion from his former position as senior vice president of sales.

He has been with the company for more than 28 years and has also served at Stroh’s Brewing Company and Seagram’s Beverage Corporation. Suárez-Matienzo has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from St. Joseph University in Philadelphia and a master’s degree in the same area of study from the InterAmerican University.

In addition, he is certified by the Harvard University GMP Business Program.

Oneida Pérez

EDGE Legal appoints senior counsel
EDGE Legal announced it has incorporated Oneida Pérez Acosta, former general legal counsel for Caribbean Property Group, to its legal team as senior counsel. Her legal track record focuses on complex financial transactions, especially in the areas of corporate law, property and real estate, bankruptcies, and foreclosure.

Pérez Acosta served as general counsel for Caribbean Property Group, a private equity investment company at CPG Island Servicing, based in San Juan, focused on acquiring discounted debt, as well overseeing the management of asset management and strategies for the resolution of several discounted debt transactions, with a total principal balance owed of more than $2 trillion.

Previously, she served as internal legal counsel for Blackpoint Management, LLC, an affiliate of Blackpoint Partners, a New York-based private equity investment and property management firm for which she provided legal advice on contract review and negotiation, as well as transactional and regulatory matters, authorizations, foreclosures, and bankruptcies.

She also advised on legal matters generated by her commercial transactions, mainly the acquisition of commercial real estate portfolios, with a primary focus on value enhancement through repositioning and intense asset management.

Pérez Acosta also practiced for 18 years in the banking industry in Puerto Rico, where she advised on consumer credit collection, foreclosures, bankruptcies and mortgage defaults at Banco Popular de Puerto Rico and the former Doral Bank.

She began her legal career as a bankruptcy attorney in the Office of the Chapter 13 Trustee of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

Milagros Muñiz

Advocate Health Advisors names manager
Advocate Health Advisors has named Milagros Muñiz-Amill as manager of its San Juan office. In this role, Muñiz will be responsible for recruiting, training and supporting insurance agents throughout the San Juan region.

Muñiz will help established agents grow their Medicare business and work with national insurance carriers that offer Medicare Advantage plans.

Advocate Health Advisors agents are Medicare experts who serve as trusted advisors for those who are Medicare eligible and specialize in helping those turning 65. The company has agents in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and all 50 states.

Prior to joining Advocate Health Advisors, Muñiz was director of telemarketing at Plan de Salud Menonita (PIMA). She has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, is fully bilingual and is a trained holistic nutritionist.

Muñiz holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill., and studied Digital Marketing from Marta Emerson. She is involved in the community helping cancer patients at Madrinas y Padrinos.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.
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