These 4 years were an important part of my life and, I think, of my children's life, since they always have expressed good memories of this period. Especially my son. For me, it was a major challenge: to develop a market and a product, and to structure a successful marketing/sales network with a different and new idea to that market, at that time.
It was a cold, gray morning. Spring in BsAs is our fall; the city falls deeply into the southern latitudes. It is a beautiful, sprawling city of some 12 Million inhabitants spreading inland from the borders of the Rio Plata, one of the largest in
South America; the long avenue along the river, called “Costanera” traditionally harboring a long succession of restaurants and now also stores, tourist attractions and apartment complexes.
Our family had lived in BsAs now for some two and a half years, after a brief one year stint in
. The purpose of my being brought to BsAs had been to establish a retirement insurance company for a group of, initially, around 14 banks. There was a major market for this in Santiago, Chile South America. Most countries were now following the early lead from ’s govt. giving the working class an option to invest in a private retirement plan, putting aside the public plan which was, in most countries, bankrupt. This created a knowledge vacuum in some of these countries, since the local executives who, at that time knew of this type of insurance, its structuring, the needed marketing and subsequent sales management was limited, and quickly gobbled up by the existing consortiums. Therefore, for the newcomers, it was imperative to “import” someone who had some of these experiences. This worked to my advantage; my stay in Chile had been far from positive; that may be a post for another opportunity. Chile
One morning in early 1987, an Argentinean friend whom I had met in one of the many seminars I had presented along the way, came to visit my office in Santiago, Chile, where I had been for about one year. He was an independent insurance broker in BsAs and also had his hands into the ownership of a couple of companies.
-“Hey Rafa… How are you doing my friend?”
-“Want the honest truth?” I answered… then added: -“I need to get out of here before I kill someone”.
He knew me and knew I was not prone to exaggerate matters on topics like these. He got up, went to the door and closed it, returning to his seat.
-“What goes?” he asked.
In an abbreviated version, all that had happened in the short 11 months I had been there was put on the table. At the time of his visit, I was in a catch-22 situation: could not resign, because then all repatriating expenses for a family of 5 would be borne by me… the regional VP would not terminate me, because he would then have to explain to the HO why this had happened, and when all were known, it would not look very good for him.
He said: -“You know… those of us in the business who know you and know your VP, were taking bets on how long he would be able to have someone who had the capacity of overshadowing him, as his second in command …”
-“Well”, I answered… -“Let me know who wins the bet”.
He smiled and said:
-“More importantly, is what we can do about it”… -“I am the consultant for a group of bankers in the process of putting together a retirement company in BsAs…” then, after a minute or so, he asked: -“Would you consider going in as the GM of the company?”
-“When would we start?” was my answer.
-“Give me 3 days, and you will receive an invitation to meet with the board”.
Good to his word, on Friday morning a big manila envelope was received. My "personal" secretary (chosen personally by the VP, therefore not trustworthy to my interests) wanted to open it, but it was sealed and marked "Personal, only to be opened by addressee"; she was frustrated in her efforts to peek at the contents. In it, there were a round trip ticket to BsAs, leaving Friday late afternoon (it is only a one hour flight) and returning on Sunday late morning, a schedule for the meeting on Saturday morning and dinner that night, a hotel reservation and last, but not least, $400 for personal expenses.
Enough for today... The original thoughts for this entry were quite different. However, when the time came to sit and write, this came into my head and, of the other topic... nothing at all. So,
it is. Buenos Aires
Be Well... Be Back