Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat

  • Interviewed 12 May 2008 in New York City, United States of America, by Andrea Lluch, Research Fellow, HBS
  • Clip Duration – 2:11

Mrs. Fortabat discusses her career as president of Loma Negra, identifying the most difficult times for the company and their outcome. She analyzes corporate investment and funding policies, activity diversification, and human relations policies. She explores the particulars of the Argentine context, strategies to adapt to instability, and the decision to sell the company. She describes her role as entrepreneur, the relationship between business and government, and her defining qualities as a businesswoman.

Interview Excerpt

P: ¿Al principio usted siente que tuvo que vencer ciertos prejuicios?

R: Si. Pero tuve hombres que tuvieron un gran afecto conmigo y me brindaron el apoyo y su amistad, no sólo en la Argentina sino aquí en Estados Unidos, en Francia, en España y en Alemania. Me respaldaban porque se daban cuenta de que pasaba el tiempo y yo iba haciendo crecer la empresa. A la última fábrica que construí le puse: “La Amalí”. Todo el mundo piensa que lo puse por mí. No es así.

En una visita empresarial fuimos al Cairo, ya estaba el presidente Mubarak en el poder, y hubo una gran comida de hombres a la cual yo no quería asistir pero insistieron y fui. Entonces Mubarak me saluda y me dice: “Amalia, what a beautiful name, do you know what it means in my language?”, “No, Mr. President, I do not”. “Amal means hope, Amalí means my hope, and Amalia means the hope of everybody, so you must be very loved in your country”. Yo quedé muda. Y le contesté: “Many thanks Mr. President, I never heard such beautiful words surrounding my name.” Todos pensaron que la Amalí era por mí, pero se lo puse porque en realidad era mi esperanza.

Q: Did you have to overcome prejudices in the early days?

A: Yes. But there were men who were fond of me and offered me their support and friendship, not only in Argentina but here in the United States, in France, Spain and Germany. They supported me because they realized that, as time went by, I made the company grow. The last plant I built was named: “La Amalí”. Everybody thinks I named it after myself. It was not so.

During a business trip to Cairo, Egypt, there was a large dinner party for men and I did not want to go. President Mubarak was already in power. Eventually, I went along. Once there, Mubarak greeted me and said: “Amalia, what a beautiful name, do you know what it means in my language?” “No, Mr. President, I do not”. “Amalí means hope; Amalí means my hope, and Amalia means the hope of everybody, so you must be very loved in your country”. I was struck dumb. I answered, “Many thanks, Mr. President; I never heard such beautiful words surrounding my name.” And, thus, everybody thought I had named it La Amalí after myself, but I did it because it was my hope.

All the interviews are audio recordings with Spanish and English transcripts. Excerpts from these interviews are included in this web guide. The collection of oral history interviews are part of Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School. Please contact Baker Library Historical Collections at to receive a full copy of the transcript.

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