Does the value of education really need to be pitched on a college campus?
Yes, when the person doing the pitch is Gustavo A. Cisneros, chairman, Cisneros Group of Companies—one of the largest privately held media, entertainment, telecommunications and consumer products organizations in the world. And yes, again, when he speaks about education in the context of addressing poverty and as an example of corporate social responsibility.
In a Wertheim Lecture titled “The Role Private Enterprise Can Play in Alleviating Poverty in Our Hemisphere,” Cisneros explained that his foundation “focuses most of its work on improving the quality of teaching and learning in the thousands of schools served by our programs, while recognizing they are not the sole solution to such gigantic and complex problems.” He also emphasized that he wanted to “reveal them as examples of a successful corporate social responsibility strategy at work and an illustration of the private sector’s ability to make a significant contribution to economic development.”
Cisneros’s words and deeds resonate.
“It was interesting to hear from a very successful business leader in Latin America regarding the company’s support of social programs in the region,” said Jose M. Aldrich, area managing partner Latin America – Tax, KPMG LLP, who sits on the College of Business Administration’s Dean’s Council. “Education is critical to continued development in the region. Every business needs to find the proper balance between financial success and social commitment to the community. Cisneros and the Cisneros Group set the standard by which all businesses should measure their contribution to the development of the region.”
His comments also inspired Gloria Romero Roses (BBA ’92), Nexus_Consulting, LLC, a member of the Dean’s Alumni Council.
“When asked why he invests so heavily in the public education system, despite the differences in ideology or the allegations of corruption, he matter-of-factly acknowledged these differences while reiterating that his is a partnership mandated by a higher calling to lift the economic opportunities of a country and its people,” she said. “The wisdom he shared has made me question all who would stand in judgment and choose not to invest as partners—whose interest are they really serving and to what end?”
The lecture, which drew 187 students, faculty, staff and community partners, took place on February 3, 2010 in the college’s Special Events Center. The Herbert A. Wertheim Lecture Series has brought distinguished speakers and experts in business leadership and entrepreneurship to Florida International University (FIU) since 1993.