Alberto Almendres (Management Control 04/ SEP 06), CEO of SM Peru
SM is an educational business project committed to all of the Latin American countries where it is present (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Spain) and Peruvian education for the last 10 years. In 2010, Alberto Almendres was appointed Director of Finance and Operations at SM Peru and since then he continues promoting the SM project in Peru, and striving for Fundación SM to develop the greatest number of educational projects.
– Since 2010, you have been working at Grupo SM in Peru, first as Finance and Operations Manager, and now as CEO. What motivates you most about this project?
Founded in Spain 80 years ago by the Compañía de María by compiling teachers’ notes, SM is now a key player in Spanish and Latin American education and culture, in three main areas: editing school texts for elementary, primary and secondary education with high quality international content, children’s and young person’s literature and educational materials; creating digital educational platforms; and developing teacher training.
Fundación SM, the company owner, allocates the entirety of its profits to improve the quality of education and finance educational projects for the most disadvantaged children. Whenever we sell a school textbook or a children’s literature book in any part of Latin America, our aim is to provide education for poor children. In short, we want Peruvian children to have an education. Education is what drives us.
– Today, SM markets its products in over 60 countries. What are the pillars of your growth strategy?
They include the company hallmarks that we want to develop and the criteria that govern educational intervention. SM’s educational project is essential for the holistic development of students. Therefore, it responds to questions such as “What do we understand by the word educate?” and “What guidelines should we follow to accompany children in their process of discovering the world, themselves and others?” among others.
Our approach takes the form of publishing, adapted to the needs of each of the countries where we are present, combining paper materials with new digital formats. At SM, we know that a publishing house can offer much more to the educational world than a physical product, such as a textbook. In fact,providing quality content and services enables us to present a complete, versatile and flexible educational offer.
-What special characteristics are presented by the Peruvian market?
SM views the Peruvian market as one of the potential major focuses of development in Latin America, and as a global educational company, it invests in education as a key element for the holistic development of people, working every day to develop its educational project and present complete solutions for Peruvian education.
As a result, SM is a key player in the Peruvian education market with 500,000 copies of school texts and literature books sold for private schools and 3 million copies of school texts for public schools. We participate in and lead the main educational institutions in Peru: Peruvian Chamber of Books, National Council of Education, Peru 2021, Chamber of Commerce of Spain, Consortium of Catholic Schools, among others.
– You have extensive experience in companies of different sectors, sizes and types in countries such as Peru, Dominican Republic and Spain. What experiences have most influenced your career?
I have had experiences in my professional career that have enabled me to develop my managerial and personal skills with different organizational cultures, which in turn have taught me to adapt quickly to different countries. Every country has a special appeal and provides a challenge for any manager.The most important thing is to become one of the locals, assimilate and blend into the country.
In the Dominican Republic, I was an expert in baseball, since it is a national sport and brings you closer to the people. In Peru I am Peruvian; I identify with the country and I am just another citizen, celebrating the fact that the national football team has now reached the World Cup for the first time in 35 years.
– What prompted you to embark upon an international career?
In my opinion, you can’t call yourself a manager or executive without first having tried to work in other environments, cultures, etc. As Spaniards, we tend to not like leaving our comfort zone, our city, our family, and we are not that open-minded. For me, the most important thing is to have a “glocal” outlook; on the one hand, a global perspective of the world, and on the other hand, a local awareness in order to adapt to a market.
Markets differ from country to country and you are forced to open your mind, to be more permeable and understand others. Together, these elements will help a manager to acquire more vision, strategy and humanity.
– What is your role as President of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Peru?
To be the legal and institutional representative of the Chamber, in addition to convening and presiding over the regular and special sessions of the General Assembly, the Governing Board and the Executive Committee I also have to sign off on balance sheets and present the institution’s annual report, as well as supervise accounting and administrative management. Another function is to comply with and enforce the Statute and the resolutions of the Assembly and agreements of the Governing Board. And last but not least, I have to make institutional statements upon agreement of the Governing Board.
– What is your experience with volunteering? How does it contribute to your professional and personal activity?
My experience with volunteering is very rewarding, because it allows me to give something back to society. In all of the institutions and governing bodies where I have volunteered or participated, I have done so ad honorem, working for society and doing what I can for the good of others.I have been the Director in Peru 2021 (Peruvian CSR organization), I am the Treasury Director of the Peruvian Chamber of Books, and a Representative for Fundación SM in Peru.
– What new challenges do you have in the near future?
To continue promoting the SM project in Peru, and to strive for Fundación SM to develop the greatest number of educational projects in order to provide an opportunity for those who are most in need I am currently preparing a strategic plan for a school of special need children, and I am putting everything into providing them with what they need. This is one of the things that drives me the most: collaborating with others and being generous. I would love to teach the new students at the university, above all just to demonstrate how wonderful Latin America is.
-What memories do you have of ESADE?
I have very fond memories of ESADE. In 2004, I completed an Executive Education Programme in Management Control, and in 2006, I took the General Senior Executive Programme (SEP). This allowed me to learn from others, see problems from other points of view, admit other opinions and negotiate in order to convince. I also made good friends with whom I still maintain some contact. ESADE is present in SM since Eugenia Bieto, the CEO of ESADE, is a member of the Board of Fundación SM.