#111: Pilar Madrigal Director of Investment Advisory at Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE)

Pilar Madrigal is the Head of Investment Advisory, at the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE). She joined CINDE in 1998 and during her 20-year career at CINDE, she has been instrumental in leading the organization’s international promotion efforts. In her current role, she is responsible for developing strategies, activities and programs to promote foreign direct investment into Costa Rica as well as overseeing the long-term growth of the companies already established in the country.

Prior to joining CINDE, Pilar was appointed as Third Secretary to the United Nations, It was during that period that Costa Rica held both the Presidency of the Group of the 77 (G-77) and of the United Nations Security Council.

Pilar studied marketing at the Universidad Internacional de las Américas.

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Connect with the Guest:

Pilar Madrigal: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Restoring activities and trends in manufacturing and supply chains
  • Talent and how to develop the right skills to cater to the companies needs
  • Sustainability and how Costa Rica is 99% operating on renewable energy (key point for companies investing)
  • Trade dynamics across USA, Europe, LATAM and Asia

Show notes:

  • [3:02] One of the key directions of CINDE is to affect manufacturing and you are close to the US and to some big markets where they can put manufacturing outside of Costa Rica. Maybe share some thoughts around it.
  • [4:36] Now, in our case, most of our exports go to the United States, it’s about 4% to 6% of our exports go to the United States. We’ve been that nearshore partner to this region for many years through our 15 trade agreements that have been kind of the secret of why the companies have chosen Costa Rica to be the hub for manufacturing and exporting for the region.
  • [5:30] Do you see a certain increasing demand around skilled professionals or executives that can drive some of these activities? 
  • [6:33] The key here is to find the right people and bring the right managing directors or managers, maybe from the headquarters of the company, just to be sure that they can apply and set all the policies and procedures for the different investments that usually the companies are doing now.
  • [7:18] From a governmental perspective, I assume you have a couple of programs or from an education student, curriculum collaboration with the companies, maybe you can share a little bit your thoughts on this point as well.
  • [7:44] I think the secret of our success is that we have no market. And so, we spent 15% of our GDP on education. And that I think has been the secret of our success.
  • [9:45] Our main export today is medical devices. That’s our main expertise in terms of goods and it’s a highly regulated industry and it needs a very sophisticated type of labor.
  • [10:33] We work with the companies and we try to understand what are their needs today, what will be their needs in a year and two years, and then we look for international universities to come and either do certification programs between 3 or 15 weeks of specific training for a specific type of skill that is needed.
  • [12:00] Have you seen, specifically, manufacturing moved out of China or Asia into Costa Rica? 
  • [13:42] In general, what are you seeing in the US headquarter amongst these? What do you think they are thinking about? What are they most worried about and what’s keeping them up at night when it comes to their global operations and maybe reshaping?
  • [14:29] We are in the midst of Industry 4.0, every single product is being redefined. Every solution is a lot more of a client-centric solution. So I think there’s a lot in their minds and there is definitely that all reimagination of them, both from manufacturing from a service from a digitalization point of view.
  • [18:02] Most MNCs have an agenda around strong sustainability. So, maybe tell us a little bit of it.
  • [19:25] In Costa Rica, we have 6% of the world’s biodiversity and 52% of our territory covered by forests and we have a commitment to helping companies achieve that sustainability path.
  • [21:51] CINDE was ranked the world’s top institution in attracting foreign direct investment by the International Trade Center. What’s the secret sauce of success and what are some of the key things that you think you’ve done well that you’ve managed to achieve?
  • [23:19] Being the No. 1 Investment Promotion Agency is the result of establishing the right partnership with companies.
  • [24:12] There’s a lot of talent that might want to come back to Costa Rica, maybe you can also have some words of advice for people looking to relocate?

Related Episodes:

#108: Hussein Wehbe Chief Executive Officer of fetchr

#109: Andreu Marco, Global Supply Chain Executive

#110: Bruno Sidler Chief Operating Officer Of Lonrho & Board Member At Bertschi, E2Log, Global Airlift

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LEX GREENSILL​

Chief Executive Officer, Greensill​

Lex is the co-founder and CEO of Greensill, and a Senior Advisor and Crown Representative to Her Majesty’s Government on Supply Chain Finance. He was awarded the CBE for Services to the British Economy in Queen Elizabeth II’s 2017 Birthday Honours.

Lex previously established the global SCF business at Morgan Stanley, and led the EMEA SCF business at Citi.

Lex holds an MBA from Manchester Business School, and is a Solicitor of the Supreme Courts of England and Wales, and Queensland.