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Part architectural spectacle, part tourist attraction, and part government-sponsored stage for forums and meetings that seed progress on key economic and diplomatic fronts, World Expos have been taking place since the 1850s. Colombia native Juan Pablo Cavelier (MBA 1990) “fell in love” with the format when he served as his country’s pavilion director during the Shanghai Expo, in 2009. The experience led to his leadership role as commissioner general for Colombia at Expo Milano 2015.

This year’s Milan gathering runs through October and includes entries from 145 countries. Referring to the Expo’s theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” Cavelier emphasizes his country’s agriculture-friendly geography and climate. “Because of our location near the equator and varied elevations, we grow diverse crops all year long,” he says. “In fact, the UN has placed Colombia in the top seven countries with the highest potential to increase the world’s agricultural production.”

Roughly 4,000 visitors walk through Colombia’s pavilion each day, experiencing high-tech simulations of its five different climate zones. In addition to boosting Colombia’s image as a potential investment and vacation destination, the pavilion was also the setting for the announcement, in June, of a British Embassy–sponsored satellite project that will enhance data images of crop conditions in remote areas of Colombia, potentially improving both production and the security of farmers.

Cavelier says this kind of forward-looking investment is just what the country’s presence in Milan is designed to elicit. “The perception has been that Colombia is a dangerous country,” he notes, “but we are turning the page. We’re getting ready to play a huge role in feeding the estimated 9 billion people that will populate our planet by 2050.”

(Published August 2015)

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1990, Section G

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