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Editorial & Column
Persons Of The Year
By FRANCISCO JAVIER CIMADEVILLA
December 18, 2003
Santander BanCorp President & CEO Jose R. Gonzalez and Government Development Bank (GDB) President Antonio Faria have a lot in common.
Theyre both bankers, of course, with long, successful careers spanning 20 and 30 years, respectively.
They both have been presidents of the GDB, arguably one of the most powerful positions in government. Gonzalez served in 1986, when he was 31making him the youngest GDB president to datewhile Faria was just appointed to the post.
They both hold and have held other leadership posts. Gonzalez is the current president of the Puerto Rico Bankers Association. Faria earlier served as commissioner of financial institutions. They have a similar leadership style. They are gentle, mild-mannered, soft-spoken managers who lead effectively by example.
As if all that werent enough, Gonzalez and Faria were the architects of the two most significant turnarounds weve seen in business and in government this year.
And it is primarily for that reason that they deserve recognition as CARIBBEAN BUSINESS Person of the Year 2003, Private Sector and Public Sector, respectively.
Gonzalez stepped in to head Santander BanCorp (aka Grupo Santander Puerto Rico) at a crucial moment for the financial institution.
Much of the organization was in a tailspin after the retirement in 2000 of Santander icon Benito Cantalapiedra. In two years, the local affiliate of the Spanish banking giant had gone through as many chief executive officers, one from Spain and one from Colombia.
Profitability had collapsed and the customer base had started to erode, with customers fleeing to other banks in Puerto Rico. Santander had lost its premier ranking in several banking categories. And its stock had taken a big hit.
The turnaround began in earnest when Gonzalez was tapped in 2002 to become the first Puerto Rico-born president & CEO of Santander BanCorp, after serving a year as vice president & chief financial officer. Although some of the banks businesses had started to show signs of recovery before Gonzalez took the helm, it was he who lit a spark throughout the institution.
Meanwhile, Farias recent appointment as GDB president comes in the wake of excellent performances in his prior two government jobs and as a longtime banker.
After his successful tenure as the first commissioner of financial institutions in the Calderon administration, Faria was tapped by the governor to head the beleaguered Economic Development Bank (EDB).
In little more than a year, he spearheaded an incredible transformation. When he assumed the presidency in June 2002, the agency was suffering from low morale, a cumbersome loan process, and a loan delinquency rate of 45%.
By May 2003, the EDB had more than doubled its loan production from $40 million to over $100 million, increased loan disbursements from $25 million to $60 million, and lowered the loan delinquency rate from 45% to 19%.
For their remarkable achievements in 2003, as well as for their long, successful, and distinguished careers in banking, CARIBBEAN BUSINESS is proud to salute Jose R. Gonzalez and Antonio Faria as Person of the Year 2003, Private Sector and Public Sector.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.