“The secret is to have clear goals and work towards them with determination”

Gabriel Vallejo López was born in the department of Caldas (Colombia). In this part of the world, most of the population earns its living from coffee growing and other kinds of agriculture. This is not a region of great riches. He said that he dreamed of another Colombia, one in which education was the rail that guided the engine of progress. After finishing his degree and post-graduate studies in Human Resources and Marketing, he decided to complete his education by taking an MBA at the IE. The current President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, considered that there was nobody better qualified to take on the role of the country’s Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

What was your dream when you were a student?

I always had in mind that I was going to serve, to work for people, to help in setting objectives. I have focused my career on serving people and on how to meet their needs.

Have you accomplished that dream?

Definitely. Working in a public position is the result of that goal: to serve the people of my country.

Why did you choose IE for your education?

It is certainly one of the world’s great business schools, and being a graduate of that institution is an honor and a source of pride. Its academic quality, together with the global outlook that it brings to its technical programs, gives its students a competitive advantage in terms of knowledge.  Something else I liked was the relationship created there among people from different industries.

Did you acquire values or knowledge at IE that you consider were important for reaching your current position?

I acquired many tools and learned much while doing my MBA. Prioritizing people-oriented management was one thing, and the many tools I acquired for appropriate company management was another.

You have achieved the position of government minister; what are the main changes you would like to make in Colombia?

In Colombia we have a very important commitment to education. This is one of the foundations of working life. The others are peace and fairness. From this point of view, we at the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development are working to draw up a National Plan for Environmental Education that will provide the country with an essential tool when it comes to responsible consumption and conserving the country’s resources.

You know that currently many countries are affected by the global crisis, or simply by a historic lack of resources, with few opportunities for the large majority. What advice would you give to young students who have their future in front of them?

Each of us has an important commitment to the country and the society we come from. If there are difficulties and obstacles, the commitment will be greater and the effort too. Of course, studying hard is very important.

The secret of success lies in…

Having clear goals and working towards them with determination, discipline and above all, with all your heart and passion, without forgetting humility.