Year-end message to my colleagues at Grupo Salinas (2015)
It is time to reflect on what we learned in 2015 and what we can achieve in 2016.
A difficult environment
During the year, we can see that global fiscal and monetary irresponsibility and the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008-09 continue to affect us.
In Greece, the government had to accept its third financial bailout under much more adverse conditions for a population that has experienced almost a decade of high prices, recession, and unemployment.
In a recent blog entry I wrote that the problem in Greece goes far beyond a fiscal deficit. Today, the country is adrift and is not able to find its road to modernity because it lacks the financial resources and business spirit needed to compete in the 21st century. I hope we learn the lesson and that what is occurring in Greece never happens in Mexico.
At the same time, the Chinese economy slowed much more than expected, resulting in major losses in its stock markets and overall nervousness in bouts of volatility. This shows the difficulty of a transition to a market economy in a country where the government intervenes daily in all industries.
Furthermore, savings accounts worldwide are accruing an interest rate very close to zero, a perverse situation. Even though the Federal Reserve is beginning to raise interest rates, after almost a decade of not doing so, the incredibly low current levels represent an expropriation of deposit holders’ savings. Naturally, this situation destroys the possibilities of a decent retirement and corrodes economies’ long-term competitiveness.
Finally, the war in the Middle East and the terrorist attacks show that violence begets violence in an unending spiral that, “curiously enough”, represents a big business opportunity for arms manufacturers.
In Mexico we can see that the 2014 fiscal reform had very serious consequences for the real economy with ongoing negative effects. Consumer and producer confidence have collapsed and a recovery is barely beginning. Public debt is already approaching 50% of GDP and the Mexican peso has lost a quarter of its value against the dollar since mid-2014.
In response to a complicated economic environment, I've always said that "we cannot change the wind, but we can adjust the sails." This is precisely what we are doing in Grupo Salinas.
It’s time to adjust the sails
Naturally, our companies have felt the effects of this delicate economic environment and we have taken difficult decisions to address it, because a crisis has never stopped us. I can say that the Grupo Salinas companies have already reached their turning point, and I'm bullish about the future.
Beyond adjusting the sails, we are renewing leadership, which will allow us to face the future with determination and agility. Developing leaders with values has always been key for me and we have invested countless resources and energy in doing so.
I should remind you that we never have to settle for the status quo. In a rapidly changing world we must constantly evolve.
We must also understand that our group of companies does not operate in isolation. It operates in thousands of communities with which we have a commitment to create value for millions of people:
Economic value, which consists of constantly innovating and creating products and services to improve the quality of life of our clients, especially the population at the base of the pyramid.
Environmental value, which involves mitigating the negative effects on the environment in our supply chain and creating environmental awareness among our colleagues, customers, and public.
Social value, which implies creating and enhancing skills and capacities in society, establishing environments suitable for generating wealth and progress, promoting a vision based on our ideals of freedom, the rule of law, knowledge, good political and social leadership, promoting cultural change, and strengthening civil society.
These three pillars of our social commitment will lead to an inclusive prosperity for the communities in which we operate. This is an issue that I take very seriously. I invite you to actively support one of the many initiatives that we have created, from the Limpiemos Nuestro México cleanup campaign to the Juguetón toy drive, the Plantel Azteca educational program, or the Esperanza Azteca youth orchestras.
Let’s reaffirm our commitment
To meet the challenges of 2016, let’s reaffirm our commitment to the Group
and its values. I need a commitment on five levels from all of you:
Positive Attitude: the world belongs to those who make things happen. To achieve the right attitude, we must put the individual before anything else. If we are not on track, nothing will be on track. We must take care of each other, be in good health, and develop a high level of energy in order to achieve a winning mindset. It is a tremendous pleasure to work in such an environment.
Team: Again, it is easy to conclude that the same concept applies to our team. The team must be healthy, have a positive attitude, and high energy. We cannot allow negative people in our group.
Our assets: Let’s take care of the company’s assets as if they were our own. This is what being a colleague means. This involves the merchandise, inventories, computers, equipment, credit, and all the physical and monetary capital that enables us to operate.
Customer focus: The client is our reason for being. At all times we must be sure that the client has a pleasant experience that he or she keeps purchasing our products and recommending us to others.
Our values: In a world in which social values are gradually deteriorating, I need each and every one of you to live by the code that we have established so that our work environment is an appropriate one. I especially require: Honesty, Commitment and Respect, and Mutual Confidence.
Remember that with these five elements, we will have what it takes to be successful. Today we see an extraordinary opportunity to consolidate our achievements and continue to grow personally and professionally.
Thank you for another year of hard work and dedication
Our vision is to bring well-being and progress to millions of families through a strong social commitment and innovative business initiatives, which tend to break the power of monopolies. Working for the welfare of thousands of communities, in an environment of enthusiasm and high energy, is a great privilege that should fill us with pride.
I thank you for your effort, talent, professionalism, and dedication during 2015. To you, your families, and all those who participate in this space, I wish you peace and serenity in this holiday season, prosperity in 2016, and personal growth in coming years. The challenges we face are enormous but the opportunities are greater.