A trip between the private and the public
By Marcos Prieto
At a certain point many entrepreneurs decide to change the course of their professional career. In the case of a Colombian named Carlos de Hart we might even exaggerate and claim that entrepreneurship is part of his constitution, acquired over the generations of a family replete with such go-getters. “While it’s true that even as a child I knew I wanted to be a businessman, this was also a clear, conscious decision to dedicate the first years if my career to learning about different sectors and acquiring important professional experience before becoming an entrepreneur and businessman full time,” he says.
At a notably early age, De Hart was present in the banking sector, business consultancy, trade associations, company organizations and even the Colombian government, as Deputy Minister of Business Development at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism from 2010 to 2013. Multiple occupations that didn’t dampen his entrepreneurial spirit or his desire to create companies –“some of them successful and other less so”– along with strategic partners. De Hart stresses “humility” as the most important quality “for making successful decisions when you’re very young.” At present he continues to apply this virtue in the group of companies that he leads, with an aim to achieving “a higher level of development and competitiveness.”
He recognizes that his stint in the Colombian government was one of the most valuable professional and personal experiences of his life, although it was also a sacrifice because of the demands of a public office of those characteristics. “From my perspective as a businessman, there were many good things about it. For example, a better understanding of how the State works, and specific knowledge of the different sectors and how they are related among themselves and with the government and the world. It was also possible to identify interesting markets and businesses, and especially important for learning how to evaluate and use my free time better.”
De Hart is a staunch defender of the private sector as the “backbone of any market economy,” and feels that governments should work with companies to create “a clear, long-term vision of the economic model.” He also feels that aid to small and medium-sized companies “should be aimed at supporting and encouraging management of these firms rather than just giving them subsidies or gifts.”
The career of this Colombian businessman has been marked by his service and commitment to others: he feels that business and social responsibility “complement each other to form a virtuous circle.” De Hart says he has found “the landing strip after those outside travels for apprenticeship”, and now considers the future as “a long, difficult road full of new lessons.”