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Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Execs named to high-ranking local, U.S-based positions

This edition of Climbing the Corporate Ladder highlights executive appointments in Puerto Rico and the recognition of local talent abroad.

Deepak Lamba-Nieves

Puerto Rican researcher recruited to U.S.-based think tank  
Deepak Lamba-Nieves will become the director of Infrastructure Justice at the prestigious think tank PolicyLink. After leading the research department at the Center for a New Economy (CNE) and holding the Churchill G. Carey Jr. Chair in Economic Development Research at the organization, Lamba-Nieves “will explore new professional horizons that are a source of great pride for our organization and for Puerto Rico,” said Miguel A. Soto-Class, president of the San Juan-based think tank.

About his new role, researcher Lamba-Nieves explained that “as Director of Infrastructure Justice, I will shape the overall vision and direction of PolicyLink’s Infrastructure and Transportation Equity program. This division will focus on promoting innovative policies and practices at the federal, state, and local levels that advance the health and socioeconomic well-being of low-income communities and historically marginalized communities of color in the United States and its territories.”

PolicyLink is a research and action organization, with offices in Oakland, California, and New York, that promotes racial and economic equity. Their work focuses on promoting economic inclusion, fostering the growth of opportunity-rich communities, and building a just society.

About his trajectory at CNE Lamba-Nieves said “since joining CNE in 2002, I have had the privilege of helping build and lead the organization’s research division, a role that has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. Working alongside some of the brightest minds in Puerto Rico and the world, including Nobel Prize winners, has been an unparalleled experience.”

“My colleagues at CNE have consistently inspired me with their unwavering commitment to Puerto Rico and intellectual prowess. As I embark on this new chapter in my professional journey, I carry with me an abundance of gratitude for the remarkable opportunities that CNE has provided,” he said. “I am committed to making Puerto Rico and CNE proud as I venture into new horizons.”

Meanwhile, Soto-Class said that communication and collaboration with Deepak will remain close from think tank to think tank.

“His recruitment gives me enormous pride for the professional achievement it represents, although, my feelings are mixed due to the loss it entails for the institution. This is an extremely important position which is not only a great opportunity for Deepak, but also for Puerto Rico.”

Lamba-Nieves will maintain his residence in Puerto Rico.

Miguel Díaz

Victoria Pandal

New appointments at The Royal Sonesta San Juan
Raúl Bustamante, general manager of The Royal Sonesta San Juan in Isla Verde, announced the appointment of three new directors to his executive committee — Miguel Díaz, director of Food and Beverages; Victoria Pandal, director of Finance, and Carolina Padin, director of the Rooms Division.

Díaz is a veteran with more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Since September 2021 and until his new appointment, Díaz held the position of Food and Beverage assistant at The Royal Sonesta San Juan.

Carolina Padin

Before joining The Royal Sonesta San Juan, Díaz was Director of Banquets and Food and Beverage Manager at The Betsy Hotel in Miami. Additionally, for the past two years he has been supporting the special events of the chain’s other lodges in the United States.

Meanwhile, Pandal came to The Royal Sonesta San Juan with vast experience in finance. She recently served as finance assistant at Bluhost LLC, where she helped implement actions to maximize the profitability of four Hyatt brand hotels in Puerto Rico, totaling more than 500 rooms. Prior to her return to Puerto Rico, she worked with important United States auditing companies in Mexico and New York. Additionally, Pandal served as Finance Manager at the Caribe Hilton for a period of one year.

To round out the trio of young local talents, Padin enters her new position with the experience acquired at the Caribe Hilton and Condado Plaza hotels, where she served as Events Manager at the Caribe Hilton from October 2019 to February 2023, and as Guest Service Manager at Condado Plaza Hilton from March 2017 to September 2019. Her first months at The Royal Sonesta San Juan were spent as Director of Guest Service.

Ivelisse Torres

Puerto Rico inspector general named to US board
The inspector general of Puerto Rico, Ivelisse Torres, was elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Association of Inspectors General (AIG), becoming the first inspector general of a Spanish-speaking office to assume a position in said board.

The AIG is a specialized organization that brings together professionals and entities that perform the functions of inspector general with the objective of promoting excellence, establishing and promoting quality standards, promoting professional development to adopt the inspector general model.

Torres’ appointment will be effective as of Jan. 1, 2024, for a term of three years. The inspector general also managed to approve the professional certification as inspector general and the admission of the Office of the Inspector General of Puerto Rico, as an organization, to the specialized group.

“Puerto Rico’s inclusion in this group will be of great benefit to the island, which is recognized by other inspectors general at the national level. Since I was sworn in as inspector general, we have sought to create important alliances with other jurisdictions to continue with our function of pre-intervention and examinations of government entities to ensure that we promote the continuity of preventive functions and healthy public administration,” said Torres.

The inspector general’s professional career includes having held several positions at the government level, and obtaining professional certifications in auditing and fraud, among others.

Rafael Graulau

New country manager named at Isbel
Isbel, a technology company based in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay, continues to advance on its path to consolidate its presence in the Caribbean after acquiring Envision, a Puerto Rican company specialized in technological solutions.

To do this, they opted to name a local leader, Rafael Graulau, who assumes his role as country manager with the commitment to lead the transformation and growth of the company.

Graulau stands out for his achievements in business growth and his experience in managing technological areas. In his previous role as Chief Information Officer at the Puerto Rico Department of Health, he led the implementation of cloud services and strengthened cybersecurity. Additionally, he led IT outsourcing activities at the telecommunications operator Telefónica in Puerto Rico, managing to increase operating margins, highlighting his ability to direct and optimize large-scale technological operations.

Crant CEO selected among ‘25 Most Innovative People in the Americas’
Álvaro Meléndez, co-founder and CEO of Crant, a company dedicated to the creative application of artificial intelligence, has been recognized by PRovoke Media as one of the top 25 innovative communicators in North America for 2023.

The 2023 results of PRovoke Media’s global Innovator 25 edition identify and acknowledge individuals who have, in some way, contributed to elevating and evolving levels of engagement and influence. The Innovator 25 is already established as a significant barometer of innovation in marketing and communications.

Álvaro Meléndez

As part of the evaluation process, PRovoke Media recognizes those who have taken risks to disrupt outdated business practices, combined masterful creativity with surprising impact, elevated social purpose to new heights, achieved real advances in behavior and results change, or contributed to changing hiring practices and cultures to achieve greater diversity, among other aspects.

This path of innovation has led Meléndez to create transformative tools for the continuous progress of the industry, such as the DEI Barometer, a technology designed to empower brands to discover insights and make informed decisions regarding DEI dimensions using artificial intelligence (AI).

He also developed Ink Lantern, an AI platform that aims to enhance brand love and the relationships we have with them. Ink Lantern, which will be available in Puerto Rico during the last quarter of the year, stands out for its ability to analyze a brand’s relevance compared to its competitors, providing automated insights that facilitate differentiation strategies and strengthening brand love.

“Innovation is the clash of ideas that become something new and lead to a leap forward in how we solve a problem. In that sense, AI goes beyond being a tool. It brings about a substantial change in the parameters with which the industry works for the benefit of brand positioning. AI allows us to see things from a different perspective, interpreting relationships as emotional bonds, not just rational connections,” said Meléndez.

The Innovator 25 are selected by the editorial team of PRovoke Media. The selection is based on the nomination process but also on research and editorial meetings conducted by the team. They highlight aspects related to the idea for which the nominee is recognized, how they strategically executed the idea, and the impact of the idea and its long-term implications.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 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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