Features

Julio Pozo – San Miguel Industrias PET South America

Communicating the importance of collaboration and recycling

Sweaty palms, dry throats and racing heartbeats—that’s what most children and adults experience when they tackle public speaking. Julio Pozo, however, only experienced a thrill of excitement every time he stepped onto the stage at his small public school in Lima, Peru, to participate in debates or make speeches.

He tells Vanguard that his mother recognized the talents his overworked and underpaid schoolteachers overlooked. She nurtured his excellent memory and oratory skills, helping him cultivate his passion for communication—a path that eventually led him to apply to a very prestigious university.

“We lived humbly and with scarce resources, so public education was the only avenue I could explore, but I didn’t let that stop me,” recalls Pozo, who entered university at 16 and graduated at 22.

Julio Pozo | Legal and Compliance Manager | San Miguel Industrias PET South America

Julio Pozo | Legal and Compliance Manager | San Miguel Industrias PET South America

Degree in hand, he pondered his next steps but knew he didn’t want to become a judge. So, he started working at Sudamericana de Fibras South America, which exclusively produces in Peru the only DRYTEX dry spun fiber in the Americas. The work helped him pay for his master´s studies and inspired him to become an in-house counsel.

“Now, I’m using my communication skills to connect the legal teams with others across companies—and negotiate agreements for considerable sums of money and even agreements with labor organizations,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons I joined San Miguel Industrias.”

In March 2014, he became the legal manager of the rigid packaging manufacturer that distributes plastic bottles and caps across the Andean Region, Central America and the Caribbean. He’s particularly proud to be helping the company lead the way in recycling and sustainability efforts, which include a commitment to use over 20 percent recycled material and, by the end of 2023, annually gather over 34,000 tons of waste material.

“I am very dedicated to SMI and its mission,” Pozo says. “I feel like it’s my company and I’m always ready to help the directors and executives navigate and solve any issues that may arise.”

Recycling the old for a golden future

SMI, headquartered in Lima, Peru, operates in 14 countries across Latin America. According to Pozo, it has been focused on creating a circular economy for nearly a decade—and pioneering recycling efforts in the region.

SMI opened its first recycling operation in Peru in 2015. Two years later, it launched a second bottle-to-bottle—making new bottles from old ones—recycling plant in Colombia. In 2019, working under the Coca-Cola Company’s “A World Without Waste” program in Peru, SMI launched the first bottle made completely from 100 percent recycled bottles.

“This was a wonderful accomplishment not just in South America but also the industry,” Pozo says.

In 2021, the company also received a $380 million Sustainability-Linked Bond, the first of its kind by a Peruvian issuer. Some of those bond funds are going towards advancing the company’s goal of building and running recycling plants in other countries where it operates. In fact, in spring 2022, SMI leaders decided Guatemala would be the next location and in June of that year, Pozo dove into the project to provide legal support.

He began negotiations with landowners, defining commercial and contractual conditions. Working with his team of 11, he reviewed contracts and coordinated the formalization of the documents through submission to the country’s real estate property registry.

“Depending on the scope of the contract and transactions, these negotiations could take less than an hour or months,” he recalls.

Julio Pozo | Legal and Compliance Manager | San Miguel Industrias PET South America

Julio Pozo, Janett Vasquez y Ximena Vilchez, the contracts legal team of San Miguel Industrias PET S.A.

In short, the plant could not open without him first ensuring that he’d taken care of all matters related to obtaining the appropriate licenses and permits to not only build but operate the recycling operation in Guatemala.

At the moment, his goal is to help SMI have the plant open and fully functional by the end of 2023.

“This will establish our recycling presence in the country,” Pozo says. “Social responsibility and sustainability are important to SMI’s growth—and this is a virtuous cycle through which we reduce plastic waste while generating economic benefits for our company.”

Talking the talk for a supportive future

While Pozo is committed to helping SMI achieve its environmental goals and remain in compliance with industry norms and regulations, he’s spending just as much time creating a positive, supportive and inclusive work environment.

On every project, he positions himself as a leader and mentor—and his efforts all circle back to communication. He speaks with his team constantly, not just about work issues but to determine what they need at work and beyond. He schedules weekly meetings with them while also maintaining an open-door policy.

“I’ve established effective and horizontal communication, which has had a positing impact on our work performance,” Pozo says.

Julio Pozo | Legal and Compliance Manager | San Miguel Industrias PET South America

Julio Pozo in his role as a professor.

His mother is also always in the back of his mind. Her recognition of his skills changed his life—and he’s bringing that same positive scrutiny to every interaction with his team. He wants to contribute to their current welfare at work while also guiding them in discovering their passions and strengths, so they can excel in their careers well beyond their time at SMI.

As for Pozo’s future, he has many ideas—and all of them revolve around sharing his thoughts with others. Before he eventually retires, he wants to perhaps own a law firm or be a legal consultant; he’s even considered venturing into politics to improve the present and future of his country, Peru. No matter what he does, he’s certain that he wants to continue communicating and connecting with people across the world.

“At the moment, though, I’m happy to be working with SMI and helping it take great strides forward in recycling and sustainability across Latin America,” Pozo says. “Knowing that I’m helping create a better world for my family, including my mother, my wife and my daughter, makes me excited to go to work every day.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Summer II 2023 Edition here.

Published on: June 15, 2023

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