An interview with Mr. Alejandro de la Peña, Secretary General of the Latin American Integration Association – ALADI

October, 17, 2018

Alejandro de la Peña has been member of the Mexican Government for more than 39 years. He was designated Secretary General of the Latin American Integration Association – ALADI (INSME Member from Uruguay), as of September 2017. 
Mr. de la Peña has also worked for the Mexican Government in the following positions: Deputy Representative to ALADI, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federative Republic of Brazil, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat in Singapore, Mexican Ambassador to the WTO, Deputy Representative to GATT/WTO, Minister in the Mexican Mission to the European Union in Brussels, and Economic Advisor in Washington DC and in Brussels. 
In the private sector, he worked as General Director of the Wines and Liquors Commission A.C.; as General Director of the Social Investigations Foundation A.C.; and as an independent consultant in México and abroad (Geneva, Argentine, Indonesia and Philippines).
He studied political and social sciences in the Universidad Autónoma de México and graduated in the Institut des Hautes Études Internacionales in Geneva. Mr. de la Peña is married with Luján Giménez and has two sons: Mixtli and Augusto.

 How would you define an innovative organisation?

Mr. de la Peña: An innovative organisation is always open to new ideas and thoughts and adapts to new and unknown scenarios. Innovation requires continuous communication and teamwork. Innovation is a process to be more efficient and to achieve strategic objectives.

 SMEs environment is changing very fast. According to you, what are the most relevant challenges to cope with?

Mr. de la Peña: SMEs have the challenge of taking advantage of the opportunities of globalization. Currently there are several ways of doing business. Information and Communication Technologies – ICTs – are key factors to benefit from these opportunities. SMEs must think about innovation in terms of products, forms of production and new markets. They need to consider other forms of internationalisation.

 Edwin Land said: “the essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail”. In your opinion, which is the most effective way to stimulate innovative thinking and unleash the creative potential of human resources?

 Mr. de la Peña: Openness and ongoing dialogue, as well as encouraging people to take risks are essential ways to stimulate innovative thinking.

 Innovation is about collaboration: how did your organisation benefit from strategic partnership opportunities?

Mr. de la Peña: We are open to develop activities, projects and ideas that contribute to achieve our final goal of helping the region in its progress and increase intraregional trade. Activities such as sharing of knowledge, SMEs trade promotion, trade facilitation, allow us to have a collaborative environment with the State members.

 What role can international networks like INSME play to help public bodies, stakeholders and other intermediaries to foster innovation in favour of SMEs?

 Mr. de la Peña: International networks like INSME can help and play a key role to improve SMEs’ activities, and can help them to apply ICT tools to make deep changes and enhance participation.

Let’s play a game
        If I say Cooperation you say…

Mr. de la Peña: Necessary support.

If I say Network you say…

Mr. de la Peña: Connection to improve.

If I say Internationalisation you say…

Mr. de la Peña: Worldwide.

If I say Intercultural Communication you say…

Mr. de la Peña: Exchanging ideas and experiences.

If I say Innovation you say…

Mr. de la Peña: Changes.

If I say change you say…

Mr. de la Peña: Transformation.

Your innovation motto…

Mr. de la Peña: Innovation it’s not a matter of a particular task or project, it’s a philosophy to reach even what now seems impossible!


Source: The International Network for SMEs - INSME