LSU Graduate Now President of National Colombian Bank
BATON ROUGE - When it comes to real-world, complex business situations, no other LSU business graduate seems more prepared than Francisco José Mejía Sendoya, the current president of the Agrarian Bank of Colombia.
In 2018, Mejia was asked to run the only government commercial bank in Colombia and the eighth largest in Colombia with $9.5 billion in assets by President Ivan Duque.
“The bank needed a turn around, and President Duque had promised to govern with skilled and competent people, and he thought I was up to the task. It has been a very intense year, but now the financial performance of the bank supports our strategy,” he said.
Before completing an MBA with an emphasis on economics from LSU, Mejia studied agricultural engineering at the University of Tolima in Colombia. A few years later, he was offered a scholarship to return to LSU to complete a Master of Science in finance in 2000.
Mejia references his lessons in business strategy and strategic thinking from his MBA classes at LSU for helping him with his job.
“We are going through a technology change in the bank that I run, and one of the things that we are doing is using statistical analysis and data analytics for credit analysis, so what I learned in those classes have been very useful in leading that change,” Mejia said.
Upon graduation, Mejia’s finance career has led him to solve problems around the world.
“In the summer of 1999, I got an internship in the corporate audit department at Schering Plough in New Jersey, and I was offered a job there upon graduation as an auditor. After that, I held managerial positions such as finance planning manager in Mexico City and finance manager for Latin America in New Jersey,” he said. “I was also appointed to a special project based in Paris to improve the finance function of the company in the Middle East offices. Then I came back to Colombia and worked for Philip Morris International as a financial controller.”
While working abroad, Mejia said he’s encountered several professionals that are LSU Tigers themselves. For instance, he said he recently discovered that one of Colombia’s former presidents, who was founder of the Agrarian Bank of Colombia, also completed a master’s degree at LSU.
Mejia said one of his favorite experiences at LSU was being a part of the Student Finance Association.
“I made a trip to New York with them where we toured the New York Stock Exchange and talked to investment bankers and other Wall Street professionals. That trip helped me a lot to relate classroom teachings with the experience of real-life practitioners and inspired me,” he said.
Mejia said that he still enjoys working in the ever-growing finance industry.
“Financial innovation in the last 50 years has generated enormous amounts of wealth and has improved the quality of life of all humanity. There is so much more innovation waiting to happen,” he said. “Nowadays, it is more common to see CFOs taking the CEO seat as they are more suited for turnarounds or financial challenges like mergers and acquisitions.”
Mejia stressed that a United States education is imperative when it comes to getting preparation and experience for complex situations in the real world.
“No matter how much experience you have, if you don't have a strong education, you may never really grasp some complex concepts needed for good analysis. Experience is crucial, but the best way to leverage it is with the kind of education that you get from a place like LSU,” he said. “It’s a kind of a paradox, but you get to use more of the lessons from business school as you advance your career, that is, you need more of what you learned in business school at the final stages in your career than earlier on. Having that kind of education is crucial to advance.”
Mejia urged other international students to attend school in the United States and said that a career in finance is very rewarding.
“No other investment is better than having a U.S. education. You not only acquire
some valuable knowledge but studying in the U.S. broadens your perspective. That is
why you see a U.S. education in the resume of many, if not most, of the most successful
people around the world,” he said. “My advice is to pursue a career in finance – it
is very rewarding. As I said before, there is plenty of innovation waiting to happen.
I think there is a lot of beauty in finance and a lot of beauty in LSU. Let yourself
be guided by it.”
Written by LSU student Mollie Angel, a mass communication major who will graduate in December 2020.
Contact Rachel Holland
LSU Media Relations