Caviar Affair, Winter 2012 / Holiday 2013
Caviar Affair, Winter 2012 / Holiday 2013
The UN goodwill ambassador behind Corporación América looks back on a lifetime of investments. By Sylvia Tirakian
It is a rainy Saturday morning, and the President of Corporación América Eduardo Eurnekian gives a rare interview in his Greenwich, Conn., home. Considering all the time Eurnekian spends traveling around the world working on his diversified projects, his home has a warm and lived-in feel and is tastefully decorated.
He breezes into the room looking fresh and youthful donned in a blue shirt, beige khaki pants and neon green rubber wristband.
There are so many questions to ask. His company is a worldwide leader in infrastructure, agriculture, energy, trade retail, technology and banking. Businessmen want to know how he chooses his projects, as he has a reputation for bold, risky moves.
“Today, businesses develop very quickly, you must keep up with technology,” he starts after a thoughtful pause. “You must have sense and feel what is being developed. Businesses do not stand still as we were accustomed 50 to 100 years ago. The technology along with behavior of people will tell lead you to your decision.”
I ask what advice he would give for future generations especially on being fearless.
He smiles and continues, “I do not agree with many of the things that young people are doing today but I believe they will succeed. Their methods are different and it might bring them to a wrong thing but eventually they will succeed because they want:
A better world, better human world, a better organized world.”
What about removing fear?
He takes a moment, and with a hint of concern in his eyes, explains, “They are removing fear as we speak, and they are fighting for their liberty and democracy in different parts of the world to replace a ‘village’ with a governed village with guidelines that will be valuable to everyone.”
Eurnekian, who was recently recognized by Nobel Prize winners for his work in promoting peace as well as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, then offers his philosophy of investing in developing countries as a way of promoting peace.
“In risky countries, there is a vicious cycle. Investors don’t invest because the country is not safe and it makes the investment risky,” he says. “We should cut that cycle, I learned in Armenia. I said to myself, ‘we need to invest in these countries.’ If not, the young people will leave the country due to economical oppression, which makes people unhappy. Today, everyone should be happy. We should all have work, we should all have hope – mankind cannot be without hope. We should break this cycle and promote investments in developing countries and even countries with inner conflict. I learned first-hand in Armenia how important these investments are.”
Since we were talking about young generations, I asked him what one experience brought him into manhood. He told a story of his high school graduation, and a whimsical moment he shared with his father: “I told my father how happy I was that I received my degree,” he starts, “and he said ‘very good son, what are you intending to do the next few months?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, maybe look around see what I want to do for the future.’”
His father asked if he would continue his studies, and the younger Eurnekian said “maybe, maybe not.” His dad then said that in the meantime that he would work in the family textile factory. “My career started with cleaning floors,” he laughed and looked amused as he shared the story; it seemed like it was still a vivid moment in his mind that changed his life. “It was at that time that I decided to be an entrepreneur,” he finished.
Corporación América’s agriculture sector produces wine in high capacity in the Mendoza region of Argentina along with other countries such as Armenia. Eurnekian says that the wine growing regions of Armenia show promise since good quality grapes can be grown there. It’s thought that Syrah originated from the area. Combine that with the family’s expertise in Argentina, and the Eurasian nation’s good climate and soil produces good wines. “We are very happy with our investments there, we are also showing the farmers modern technology in farming which increase productivity in producing grapes both in quality and quantity,” he enthuses.
Corporación América also recently setup the Central Bi Oceanic Corridor consortium for the construction of a tunnel that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans between Chile and Argentina.
I ask him, if the project will have a global impact.
“It will impact locally which also means globally,” he describes. “Locally because Americas is divided into Atlantic and Pacific. We have that enormous link that connects Atlantic to Pacific.
During centuries the world trade was developed in Atlantic, mainly in the side of US and Europe, that was main development economically in the world, after the second world war at the second part of the century, the agreement between US and China allowed China to develop significantly of course followed by Japan. The later developments and increased demands for technology, which makes the potential of the business today bigger in Pacific market. In that regard to Latin America, we have the mountains as barrier. While we have great railroad system that is built covering 1,500 kilometers but it is lacking the 50 kilometers tunnel that will link physically Atlantic and Pacific.
Once it is connected, all of the commerce production in southern part of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina will all have easy access to Pacific port to North East Asia. In that way it will change the economy in Latin America.”
Lastly, I ask him if he has ever been in love.
“Everyday!” he exclaims. “Can’t you not possibly be in love if you are doing different things everyday at my age? Having new projects, new ideas, talking to different people, learning about new concepts. At my age, you do this because you are in love with life. This I believe is much more important than being in love with a person. Of course it is important to be in love with a person, it is affection. Not be in love with yourself but be in love with things you do. This is the push you need for success. If you are not in love with things you do, you are not pushing all your imagination.”
I interject and ask: “Are you talking about passion?”
“Passion. I understand passion. But it is not passion. Passion sometimes goes with love but passion can disappear just like this,” he says, snapping his fingers. “But love can keep you on track with its continuity.”