Foreign trade and strategic domestic investments are vital issues in South America as the region looks to compete in global markets with powerful competitors, including China, Russia, and the U.S. One of the key positions in Argentina’s finance industry is held by Pablo M. García, who earned his Master’s in International Commerce and Policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government in 2008 before assuming the presidency of Argentina’s Bank of Investment and Foreign Trade, known as BICE.
In this question-and-answer session we learn the enormity of García’s job, the importance of his mission, and the professor who inspired him to come to the Schar School.
Schar School: You have a bachelor’s degree and a previous master’s degree from Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires. What made you want a second master’s degree from a university in the U.S.?
Pablo García: I wanted to continue my training through a more applied program which focused on the area of international economy and regional integration—topics on which I worked in my country. In that sense the international commerce and policy program [at the Schar School] turned out to be a perfect fit for what I was looking for.
I came to this program in a fortuitous way. In 2004, I had won a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State for an International Visitor Program related to the [Free Trade Agreements] and Regional Economic Integration. In that program, [Schar School] Professor Jeremy Mayer gave us an excellent lecture on the structure of the American government and its foreign policy. At that time I said, I want to study where this man teaches! I chose the Master’s in International Commerce and Policy program not only because it covered the areas of my interest, but also because of its applied and interdisciplinary nature. Definitely I was not wrong in the selection.
SS: What is the scope of your position with BICE? What are your responsibilities and how many people work for you?
PG: I’m in charge of the whole operation. BICE´s mission is to offer medium- and long-term financing earmarked for productive investment and foreign trade focused on small-to-medium enterprises, SMEs, and regional development. In its role as a development bank, it supplements the markets by extending the terms, including new credit applicants and structuring the financing of the actual investment.
To fulfill its role, it bases its actions on two main goals: Boosting SMEs financing, and creating a long-term credit market. Following these guidelines, BICE has a vast portfolio of products targeting the productive sector, both directly and indirectly. We are a company of 630 employees with offices throughout the country.
I am responsible for the overall direction and administration of programs, products, and services provided by the bank, including the bank’s financial performance, credit quality, business development, regulatory compliance, and risk management. Other responsibilities include representing the bank in the media and speaking at conferences on behalf of the bank. And since BICE is a public bank, I´m also in charge of reporting to President Mauricio Macri and his Cabinet members.
SS: How did the Master’s in International Commerce and Policy degree help you to get to where you are, and do you still apply what you learned at the Schar School to your everyday duties?
PG: The degree was key in the development of my professional career. Prior to joining BICE, I was lead specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) specializing in international economics. I was in charge of the IDB's regional hub on foreign trade and investment issues for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. From there I led the design and execution of several projects related to export promotion, investment attraction, and trade-in-services, all subjects where I applied all the knowledge that I acquired through the international commerce and policy program.
In development economics it´s very important to have an interdisciplinary approach, and that´s the base of the international commerce and policy program. It provides practical tools for real problems with an interdisciplinary approach.
Nowadays in an upper management position, I not only apply the technical knowledge learned in the Master’s in International Commerce and Policy program, but also the entire network of contacts that I acquired at George Mason University is being extremely useful for my daily work.