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Climbing the Corporate Ladder

New execs named to positions in consulting, auto, nonprofits in Puerto Rico

This edition of Climbing the Corporate Ladder includes executive appointments across several industries, namely consulting, auto, nonprofits and the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce.

Fernando Battle

Ankura appoints 1st LatAm chairman
Ankura Consulting, a global expert services and advisory firm, today announced the appointment of Fernando Batlle as the Firm’s first chairman of its Latin America and Caribbean (LatAm) region.

Batlle’s new position underscores Ankura’s commitment to strengthening its presence in the region and to offering an expansive suite of solutions for clients across the world.

“We’re thrilled to have an experienced executive like Fernando lead our growing LATAM team. This is a critically important region to many of our clients, and Fernando’s addition bolsters our ability to support them in the market,” said Ankura’s CEO Kevin Lavin.

“Fernando brings broad industry expertise complemented by a deep connection to and knowledge of the regional landscape, and truly embodies the collaborative culture at Ankura,” he said.

Prior to his appointment as LatAm Chairman, Batlle served as a senior managing director at Ankura and helped establish the Firm’s position in the turnaround and restructuring market. He holds three decades of leadership and executive experience in both the private and public sector, with a proven track record of executing turnarounds and growing businesses at high profile financial institutions.

Batlle has provided strategic and financial advisory for the government of Puerto Rico throughout the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. He has held senior leadership positions in commercial and investment banking, securities brokerage, asset management, and public finance. His multiple areas of expertise encompass financial services, energy, capital markets, public-private partnerships, implementation of performance improvement and major transformation initiatives and debt restructuring.

He has extensive experience advising governments, state-owned entities, and businesses on strategic and financial matters from development of comprehensive financial plans to economic strategy, debt management strategy, and governance.

“I look forward to growing our team and presence in Latin America and the Caribbean so that we are optimally positioned to address the complex business and financial issues our current and prospective clients face in the region,” said Batlle.

“I’m honored to assume this new position and to advance the Firm’s commitment to developing innovative solutions and driving impactful results for our clients’ continued success around the world,” he said.

Batlle holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS from Northeastern University.

Sebastián Casanova

Lincoln names new director for Mexico, PR, Central America, Caribbean
Reaffirming the brand’s commitment to evolution and constant transformation to create new and better customer-focused strategies, Lincoln appoints Sebastián Casanova as its new director for Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America and the Caribbean, starting a new stage of leadership at the regional level.

“Sebastián is a professional with great experience and I am sure that he will lead our brand successfully, strengthening the path that we have traced over the years and reinforcing our regional strategy towards constant evolution,” said Michael Sprague, director of Lincoln North America.

Under his vision, Casanova will continue to strengthen the brand’s positioning in the luxury car market, implementing different strategies aligned with the product portfolio electrification plan for 2030, where the customer experience continues to be the priority.

“It’s essential to understand our consumers and the automotive market needs to connect them with our global strategy. I’m proud and excited to lead Lincoln in this region, which has evolved as a warm and human brand,” said Casanova.

“I’m committed to strengthening our objectives to provide our customers with care and attention in every detail, increasing our vehicles on board experience satisfaction towards a new era,” he said.

Casanova has an Industrial Engineer degree from the Universidad Anáhuac. He also completed a master’s degree in Business Management at Tulane University in New Orleans, as well as an executive master’s degree in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.

With a professional experience of more than 16 years, Casanova began his career within Ford as quality, accessories and vehicle customization analyst, During its career, he developed a great knowledge in sales, marketing, customer service and engineering´s areas, until he became Ford of Mexico´s National Sales Manager,

Also, he was post-sales, marketing and sales manager, and SUV portfolio´s product manager that included Escape, Explorer and Expedition.

In 2018, he was transferred to Dearborn, Michigan to Ford headquarters, collaborating in the Consumer Experience area under Elena Ford´s leadership. As well, he was global Ford and Lincoln Dealer Training Manager, with special emphasis on emerging countries and Latin America, focused on the FordPass and Lincoln Way systems.

Liza García-Vélez

Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce names 1st female exec. director
Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce has named Liza García-Vélez as the first woman to occupy the Executive Director post at the 109-year-old institution, its President Luis Gierbolini announced.

“As President of the organization, I presented to the Board of Directors the appointment of García Vélez, who for seven months has served as Director of Legal and Legislative Affairs. I’m pleased that the directors, after an evaluation on her merits, unanimously approved the appointment of the new executive director of the CofC,” said Gierbolini.

The executive director is an attorney since 2008. Born in the town of Hatillo, she has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the School of Public Communication of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.

She received her Juris Doctor from the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico. She has a master’s degree in Communication with a specialty in Public Relations from Sacred Heart University. She presented her master’s project “Legal aspects in the use of social networks” at the European Business School Forum in Navarra, Spain.

“I thank the President and each of the directors of the CofC’s Board of Directors for the trust placed in me to direct the efforts of this historic institution from a commercial perspective, to advocate for causes that promote economic development and promote a business culture in Puerto Rico,” said García-Vélez.

Ángel Pérez

Ángel L. Pérez joins CINCO Engineering’s board
CINCO Engineering, a Puerto Rico-based web technologies provider for the Life Sciences industry, announced that Ángel L. Pérez, former vice president of RockSolid Technologies, has joined its Board of Directors effective Sept. 1, 2021.

This as part of CINCO’s strategy to support their recently acquired deal with a top 10 Biotechnology company in North America, the company stated.

“Angel has already been a part of CINCO as a mentor for a few years while serving as Board member of Grupo Guayacan, one of the first entrepreneurial programs we participated in. His experience with business development in the software as a service industry is significant and we always envisioned him joining us in an official capacity at some moment,” said Ruben Morales, CINCO’s CEO.

“When he retired from Rock Solid after 20 years as vice president with several acquisitions and a successful exit under his belt around the same time we closed our most important deal to date, we knew the time was right. This was the opportunity we were waiting for,” he said.

CINCO is a software company which focuses on delivering web technology solutions to Life Science Manufacturing companies. This industry has been very present in Puerto Rico for over 50 years so being located here served as a great advantage for customer validation.

CINCO’s first product is a Quality Risk Management software that helps Life Sciences companies protect their patients by managing the risks on their manufacturing processes.

After three years in development and two pilot implementations, CINCO’s has been entrusted with handling the risk management for new equipment at the new site of a top 10 Biotechnology company.

“Angel’s experience with business development and growth strategies will be key in the success of this and upcoming opportunities” said Reggy Agosto, co-founder and Board Member of CINCO.

Additionally, this opportunity will allow CINCO to create several new jobs in Puerto Rico over the next five years, mostly in software engineering and risk management consulting. It represents CINCO’s first export opportunity to the United States of both software products and services.

The announcement was made after Pérez was voted in at a CINCO’s Board of Directors meeting.

“There’s no better investor than a client,” said Pérez. “My goal is to help CINCO be a customer focused company first and also to make the right strategic alliances that will help the company grow profitably.”

Raúl Escudero

Escudero Named Managing Director of HJ Sims Puerto Rico
HJ Sims, an independent and privately held wealth management, investment banking and institutional services firm founded in 1935, is pleased to announce that Senior Vice President/Financial Advisor Raúl J. Escudero has been named managing director of the HJ Sims Puerto Rico office.

An experienced leader with 40+ years of professional and industry expertise, Escudero, a member of the HJ Sims Puerto Rico team since 2018, now leads the San Juan office specializing in financial planning strategies for high-net-worth clients. The firm, based in Connecticut, has been operating in Puerto Rico since 2013.

“It is an honor to lead the extraordinary team of professionals at HJ Sims Puerto Rico,” said Escudero from the firm´s offices in Metro Office Park, Guaynabo.

“Sims has a long tradition of loyalty, teamwork and expertise meant to enrich our clients’ lives, communities and businesses. From wealth management to investment banking, trading to institutional services, we aim to become Puerto Rico´s leading financial investment firm with tailored services and a deep understanding of our clients’ evolving needs,” he added.

“The fall in Puerto Rico’s bonds, accompanied by events, such as natural disasters and now the COVID19 pandemic, have forced local investors to restructure their portfolios and consider the importance of diversification in their portfolios. Factors such as tax exemption and fear of Federal tax Returns have taken a back seat, opening the way to modern theories of diversification and security. HJ Sims helps provide clients with strategies and alternatives, which provide them with confidence about their financial future,” Escudero said.

Born in San Juan, Escudero has a Bachelor of Science in business management from Fairfield University in Connecticut, and a Juris Doctor degree from InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico Law School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His extensive professional experience encompasses leadership positions in the legal and public sectors, having served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Puerto Rico, and Assistant District Attorney specializing in federal civil rights legislation. Escudero also held the roles of Director of European Operations for the Economic Administration of Puerto Rico in Madrid and Deputy Administrator for the Economic Development Administration with offices in New York. He also served as Special Aid to the Honorable Carlos Romero Barceló, Governor of Puerto Rico.

Since launching his financial services career, Escudero has served in numerous distinguished roles for well-respected financial organizations including Merrill Lynch, PaineWebber, and Santander Securities, where he was distinguished as a Senior Chairman’s Club Member for 12 consecutive years, until joining HJ Sims in February 2018. His unique professional experience gives him an inimitable approach in servicing high-net-worth clients´ financial planning needs.

At HJ Sims, Escudero, along with a team of outstanding professionals, is committed to guiding clients through the ever-changing Puerto Rico and international financial landscape, and to leading the firms´ growing presence on the island.

Charlie Kingston

Wyndham Grand Río Mar names new GM
Wyndham Grand Río Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort has announced the appointment of new General Manager Charlie Kingston.

The appointment announcement comes as Nils Stolzlechner, the current general manager of Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort, announced his Aug. 31st retirement.  

Kingston brings more than 25 years of hospitality industry experience to his new position. During his career he has held numerous leadership roles at well-known resorts and convention hotels like The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, FL and Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate.

In 2014 he joined the Wyndham family as Hotel Manager at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek where he quickly assumed the role of general manager. In 2017, Kingston was named general manager of Wyndham Resort International Drive Orlando. Under his leadership, the resort has experienced its most successful years on a variety of metrics.

Kingston earned a Bachelor of Arts from St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vt. Additionally, he is a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and has a Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.

Ford appoints new director of Puerto Rico, Central America, and the Caribbean
Ford of Mexico today announces Rosángela Guerra as the new Director of Puerto Rico, Central America and the Caribbean, effective October 1 of the current year.

Rosángela Guerra

After four years as Lincoln director, Guerra will now be responsible for continuing strengthening Ford’s contribution towards a new era for the company and the automotive industry towards electrification.

“I’m proud to have the opportunity to lead such an important market for the company,” said Guerra. “I’m excited to join this operation and contribute to the region´s positioning by offering greater global exposure by offering great experiences to our customers, becoming challenging competitors, modernizing, taking care of each other and always being disruptive.”

Guerra began her career 22 years ago at Ford at the Chihuahua Engine Plant, which allowed her to learn about one of the most important areas in the automotive industry: production.

Additionally, she has worked in areas such as sales, marketing, and customer service, positions that she held not only in Mexico, but also in the United States. Thanks to her commitment and leadership, she has consolidated important results for the company for different business areas, standing out in her latest positions as director of Lincoln Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America and the Caribbean, Dealer Development and Consumer Experience manager, as well as manager for Product Strategy and Marketing for Service and Auto Parts at Ford de México.

“Today I want to thank Rosángela for all the work done at Lincoln, her transcendental leadership and commitment to the brand´s transformation and evolution by implementing different strategies and new tools to provide consumers with an unbeatable experience,” said Michael Sprague, director of Lincoln North America.

“It is a pleasure for me to be able to pass the baton from a region as growing as Puerto Rico, Central America and the Caribbean to someone like Rosángela, who has distinguished herself throughout her entire career as a professional committed to the success of everything. that she undertakes, achieving great operations results,” said Luz Elena del Castillo, CEO of Ford of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America and the Caribbean.

Guerra has a Bachelor of International Business degree from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey and a master’s degree in Marketing from the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla.

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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