Entrepreneurs

Emilio Botín, President of Universia, exemplary businessman and patron

Emilio Botín, President of Universia, exemplary businessman and patron

Has died Emilio Botín. I am inclined to highlight, as a university student, an aspect not so highlighted by the media at the moment: your support and involvement with the university.

His loss represents a difficult impact for me to assimilate on a personal level. I had many privileges. To remember a few, who would support the University of Alicante being Rector and in a very difficult political situation; or to bet on the project of the Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library until making it what it is today; or what, trust me Universia for the first four years as CEO.

I have indelible images of him and extraordinarily fond memories, which would speak for themselves of his leadership skills, his social and political acumen, his sense of strategy, his executive intelligence, unwavering will and determination, contagious enthusiasm and audacity. their sense of commitment and high-mindedness, their camaraderie, their ability to listen (although not much for superfluous explanations), or the transmission of a security and support to their teams and trusted people to test tsunamis

At the presentation of the Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library 1999

The Santander Universities Division, a change in the banking (and university) culture

Barely a month and a half ago the President invited me to Rio meeting where Universia It brought together 1,200 rectors from fifty countries around the world. After more than fifteen years of investment in the universities, he announced a patronage of 700 million euros for higher education for the next four years. There are no similar precedents in Spain or Latin America, and even in any geographical area. There is not a Bank in the world that has one Division of the highest corporate rank dedicated to universities. He put the most relevant means inside and outside the Bank to build something like no other.

Emilio Botín, President of Universia, at the Meeting of Rectors of Rio

We are talking about a unprecedented historical change in banking and university culture of the Ibero-American world. Rectors like the much loved Gregorio Peces Barba, father of our Constitution, or Catalan nationalists like Cales Solá, Ibero-American leaders such as the rector of UNAM Juan Ramón de la FuenteThey sat on the Universia Councils or on the International Advisory Council next to the most relevant positions of the Bank. More of 100 rectors from all over the world are today part of the Universia Councils.

Bankers and academics breaking language barriers, talking about entrepreneurship, the university's contribution to business, university employment, MOOCs ...

Even the entity of the endowments American university students cannot be compared with the empathy he was able to promote Emilio Botín with the support and conviction of all presidents of the CRUE (Conference of the Rectors of Spanish Universities) between the university world and that of your company. And this is repeated in all the countries of Latin America.

He was genuinely interested in the projects of each university and supported them with enthusiasm and conviction. He used to make many of our problems his own. In his university speeches, he distilled his strong commitment to the university in substance and form. He had an exquisite treatment with the rectors. He did not hesitate to catch his plane and land in the middle of a dirt field (it still makes me stupid to remember it) to go to the University of Lleida and meet with its Rector. Emilio Botín he personally visited all the Spanish universities and almost all the Ibero-American ones one by one.

Personal involvement of the President with the Universities

His involvement with the Universities exceeded all expectations. Universia It is currently the most important network in the Hispanic world with more than 1,200 partner universities. The Santander Universities Division It has agreements with all the universities in the world. Including countries like China, Russia, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom (all universities).

Mobility grants, research projects, infrastructures ... Emilio Botín Not only did it revolutionize banking, it also revolutionized universities, creating concerns about their internationalization and competitiveness objectives. His ambition and enthusiasm have been a driving force, a catalyst for universities for more than 15 years. As I have said, it selected key people and teams at Banco de Santander for this task and responded with conviction, brilliance and sustainability to the universities, providing them with resources and potential that exceeded all our expectations.

The memories are many. Jose Antonio Villasante, a key person in this project - along with his team - to whom we university students will never thank enough for his work, he frequently reminds me of the meetings with the President in Castellana, every Sunday afternoon. He reviewed everything, urging me to "set up" Universia in ten countries in just two years, as the most natural thing; wondering if it made sense for Universia to be a university social network; or more recently, requiring me to explain MOOCs in a Council and, above all, reminding us in every detail of their commitment and involvement. Where most saw risks, he identified opportunities.

It was not publicly cut off even in Moncloa itself, urging hundreds of journalists to Bill gates already Jose Maria Aznar to execute an ambitious collaboration agreement, beyond political and media poses. For not remembering details of the entire American journey with complex political situations and changes in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia ... Nothing seemed difficult or impossible with him. His involvement and intelligence led to the achievement of truly ambitious and impossible goals.

He assumed the defense of the university autonomy almost like one more rector. It still moves me to remember how he claimed the presidency and conduct of the act of the General Meeting of shareholders of Universia in Santiago de Compostela being the Chairman of the Board, Manuel Fraga, at the presidential table. It is not an anecdotal topic. Although no one, I was the first, had an interest in highlighting it.

Due gratitude and admiration

Just yesterday he was at the UIMP in Santander and from his hotel room he could see his house. In the Smart University 2.0 course, the conclusions of Rio were repeatedly discussed. And I still have open on my table your invitation letter to attend a presentation in Boadilla yesterday afternoon, with the President of Yale University, on the occasion of the restoration of a painting by Velázquez supported, of course, by the Santander Universities. His loss has deeply grieved all the people who have worked near him. Many of them friends and former rectors that I have in the highest regard for their professionalism and human qualities.

This is a country that tends to be Cainite with people who have done great things. Time will place Emilio Botín as one of the greatest businessmen of this century in the world. Perhaps for once the recognition, the truth and the gratitude will make us freer and hopefully also more equable and intelligent. We never had the opportunity to express in life to Emilio Botín our appreciation and gratitude since he himself rejected any minimal gesture that symbolized it.

Universities owe the greatest gratitude to Emilio Botín. In my case I must also add a sincere admiration for everything he shared with me and I had the opportunity to learn from him.

Other recommended articles and video:

  • The legacy of Emilio Botín (article in El Universal de México by Juan Ramón de la Fuente, former rector of UNAM, Mexico
  • Video about the history of Banco Santander and the professional career of Emilio Botín at the head of the Santander bank (Televisión Española, Informe Semanal)

NE. This article was published and disseminated by the newspaper network of Editorial Prensa Ibérica (EPI) with the title: "The banker of the universities"


Video: Santanders Botin on Profitability,. Growth, Tech Regulation (September 2020).