Eugenio Garza Sada was born January 11, 1892. His childhood coincided with the initial stage of the industrialization process in México brought about by the presidency of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1910), whose policy of openness to foreign capital resulted in the introduction of cutting-edge technology.
Since childhood, following on his father’s example, he learned lessons that would later prove fundamental to his professional career. Early on he dealt with problems and risks. He became aware of patriotism, community service, honesty, modesty, disciple and rigor. His personality would later allow him to succeed in many different endeavors.
He studied primary school at the Colegio de San Juan, in Saltillo, Coahuila. He then went to Colegio Hidalgo, a school conducted by Marist Brothers in the city of Monterrey. Next, he attended the Western Academy, a military institution in the United States, country where he continued his university studies. He obtained his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from MIT in 1916.
His experiences while in the United States led him to acknowledge the importance of education in the development and industrialization process of a country; the connection between research and science, science and technology; and to recognize the impact that these had upon development, wellbeing and liberty. These ideas would shape his life project.
He began to work at the Cervecería Cuauhtémoc –a brewing company- in 1917. Fifty-six years later, at the time of his death in 1973, he was the President for Grupo Valores Industriales, S.A., (VISA) –a holding for various companies created around the brewing business.
From the out start, he had a very clear view of the concept of work: he saw the individual behind every machine, every table and every service window. He was close and polite to his collaborators and employees. The humble and austere attitude that characterized his youth would accompany him throughout his adult life.
In reference to him, it was once said: “for Eugenio, every task was important and worth all his capacity and effort as to render it perfect. He regarded all issues with intent and yielded all his experience and talent to every activity.”
He devoted great effort to the expansion of Monterrey, city for which he had a futuristic vision. He was a committed supporter of the private sector and entrepreneurial liberty. His leadership in Monterrey was undeniable and evident, in the industrial as well as the educational and social arenas.
In 1921, he married Consuelo Lagüera Zambrano and had 8 children. His wife and children would always be among his top priorities.
Even among his multiple activities as businessman and social leader, he dedicated time to his hobbies: gardening and music. His children have described him as a simple and humane individual, austere to clothe and frugal to feed.
A guerrilla group took Eugenio’s life the 17th of September of 1973.
Eugenio Garza Sada’s life, accomplishments and example represent a living testament for future generations.
His first job, in 1917, at Cervecería Cuauhtémoc was as assistant in the sales department. His father, Isaac Garza, and group of businessmen owned the company. With time, he would succeed to hold positions of greater responsibility and importance.
Early in his professional career, Eugenio recognized that México’ future lied in the path of development, and that this implied the betterment of people’s life and the union of a divided nation. Life in México during the 1920’s was harsh, but Eugenio proved himself courageous, efficient and creative when faced with problems; adverse situations represented a challenge from which he derived personal incentive. He consistently exhibited great will and capacity in critical situations.
It was his belief that work led man towards liberty and culture, and, thus, actively promoted employment. He found that human dignity was achieved through work and became, himself, a tireless and joyous hardworking man. This approach, in addition to his keen sense of social responsibility, rendered employment opportunities for many Mexicans.
“Do not give out riches, give out jobs. This will increase the population’s standard of living.”
More than a phrase, this became his personal creed and professional goal.
Throughout his professional career, his management skills and exceptional capacity to predict and implement long term plans became evident. He never gave up and found ways to create favorable conditions for his projects amidst adversity. His dedication and talent made difficult endeavors seem simple. Among those who knew him well, there are plenty of testimonies regarding his jovial approach towards work and life.
The use of internal communication means, back then, an innovative practice, is one of the earliest examples of his interest towards his employees. This would give way to the release of “El abanderado” and, soon after, to a magazine called “Trabajo y ahorro” which is published twice a month since 1918 and is home-delivered to all employees pertaining to the group. Eugenio used this communication tool with regularity to address messages to the workers and employees of the plants under his supervision.
In addition, Eugenio defined the Ideario Cuahtémoc –the organization’s ideology-years before the use of codes of ethics and mission statements became common business practice. The document contains 17 norms aimed at achieving optimum conditions for those working in his companies. One of the norms that stands out relates to enjoying work.
While leading the company, he founded Sociedad Cuauhtémoc y Famosa, a society encompassing workers, employees and management to provide a wide range of fringe benefits, among which health-related services and the exclusive use of a recreational center are worth highlighting.
Another pioneer initiative was the creation, in 1957, of Colonia Cuauhtémoc, a 40-acre housing compound that represented the initial stage of a housing program that Eugenio put in place for the workers of his companies. In so doing, Eugenio was ahead of his time realizing the importance of a health-care system, a housing program and other social programs that the Mexican government would later begin to address.
His keen sense of social responsibility led him to lend his support to the Hospicio León Ortigosa, a hospice that has for many years provided a home to orphan girls.
His relation to education
Eugenio was a staunch promoter of education. He held the firm belief that the development of talent would lead México to advance as a country. Through the Sociedad Cuauhtémoc y Famosa he channeled important resources destined to deliver courses and, especially, to grant scholarships for the children of workers in the affiliated companies.
Twenty six years into his work at Cervecería Cuauhtémoc, Eugenio considered the education of Mexican technicians a pressing matter, and embarked in his most ambitious project yet: the Tecnológico de Monterrey, under the auspices of Enseñanza e Investigación Superior, A.C. For such purpose, he organized a group of local businessmen to create an institution with the objective of providing a holistic education - not only high standard professional qualifications- to men and women. This institution, which he began to conceive as early as 1917 according to some accounts, began to operate in 1943, in a house in downtown Monterrey, with 350 students and a few professors.
Eugenio dedicated a great amount of time to this institution and was President of the Board of Directors of the Tecnológico from 1943 until the time of his death.
Eugenio’s legacy lives on. His interest in human development through education and work as well as the improvement of the living and cultural conditions of his fellow countrymen are palpable in a number of his projects. The resulting benefits continue to multiply since he was able to transmit his life values to many people.
His transcendence as an outstanding individual, businessman and humanitarian is undeniable and imperishable.
The Eugenio Garza Sada Ideology
To talk about Eugenio Garza Sada is to talk about a tireless worker, a man of few words but very precise expression. He characterized himself not only as a successful businessman but also as an active promoter of community development, and for doing so with humility and great human quality. He focused in developing those around him, making no distinctions.
Eugenio defined the Ideario Cuahtémoc –also known as the Eugenio Garza Sada Ideology- years before the use of codes of ethics and mission statements became common business practice. The document contains 17 norms and personal ideas, and it was distributed among his colleagues with the petition that it be made visible in their offices. The Ideology to this day remains a life example for new generations.
|I. Recognize the merits of others.|
|Recognize others for their role in the success of the company and point it out in a spontaneous, timely and public fashion. Failing to give credit or self-attributing the merits of those working under one’s own supervision disennobles, extinguishes trust, and affects an executive’s capacity to perform as expected. |
|II. Control your temper.|
|When confronted with any problem or situation, and regardless of the provocations one must withstand, reason and mediate in a peaceful and reasonable manner. He who fails to control his own impulse and reactions is not suited to act as a business manager. The true executive abdicates its right to become irate.|
|III. Never make fun.|
|Of neither anyone nor anything. Avoid jokes that are hurtful or have double meaning. Consider that a wound inflicted by sarcasm never heals.|
|IV. Be polite.|
|Not necessarily formal, but polite with everyone so that they may feel comfortable when being in your company.|
|V. Be tolerant.|
|Of the differences that will be present when individuals of other races, colors, manners, education and idiosyncrasy come together.|
|VI. Be punctual.|
|He who cannot keep his appointments will soon become a burden. |
|VII. If one is vain, hide vanity.|
|As the most intimate secret. An executive should not be arrogant or self-compliant. In the failure of many great men, how true it is that “pride antecedes the fall”. When one begins to consider employees as being clumsy, and clients as petty or obstinate one is not walking down an enabling path.|
|VIII. Be honest.|
|Assure only after careful reflection; promise when you can comply. Half-truths may hide mistakes, but only for a short while. Lying has a boomerang effect.|
|IX. Let other express themselves.|
|Listen attentively, especially to those working with you, to discover the source of a problem, even if this implies listening patiently for an hour. A competent manager facilitates rather than dominates a conversation.|
|X. Be concise.|
|Express yourself with clarity and completeness, especially when issuing instructions. A good dictionary will always come in handy.|
|XI. Cleanse your vocabulary.|
|Eliminate interjections. Slang and foul language may contribute to misinterpretations and hidden connotations. To express a forceful and convincing argument, great parliamentarians do not resort to offensiveness.|
|XII Enjoy work.|
|It is legitimate to pursue hobbies and interests outside of work, but if working past your schedule or coming into the office on Saturday in a particular situation constitutes a sacrifice, you need to take an extended rest period and look for another company to work in.|
|XIII. Recognize the value of manual labor.|
|Its productivity makes managerial positions possible and ensures the future of both.|
|XIV. Keep the company’s interest in mind.|
|It is a good tactic. Loyalty to the company renders personal benefit.|
|XV. Consider analysis above inspiration or intuition.|
|Analysis should antecede action.|
|XVI. Dedication towards work.|
|Approach work as you would a vocation. This benefits the individual person, the company and society as a whole. |
|XVII. Be humble.|
|Understand that material possessions, social standing and connections, or company position and titles do not define a person’s value. True value lies in a task accomplished, in work well done, and in the knowledge and the spirit needed to obtain them. Our attitude and the manner in which we conduct ourselves at work should reflect this.|
SOURCE: Information obtained from the Eugenio Garza Sada Prize web site and the FEMSA Cuahtémoc Ideology information document.
Última actualización: 27/02/2014