Stanford Business School Honors CEMEX CEO Lorenzo Zambrano for Excellence in Leadership
Lorenzo Zambrano, who transformed the Mexico-based cement firm CEMEX from a domestic player into a global powerhouse that is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of building materials, has been awarded the Stanford Graduate School of Business Excellence in Leadership Award from the Stanford GSB Alumni Association.
Business School Dean Robert L. Joss presented Zambrano with the award during a gala dinner held May 15 at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey. Zambrano is a member of the museum’s board of directors. “I am proud of the accomplishments of all our alumni,” said Joss. “It gives me special pleasure to recognize Lorenzo for both his strategic leadership of CEMEX and his understanding of the importance of corporate social responsibility in the global communities his company serves.”
Zambrano, who earned a BS in mechanical engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey, is a 1968 MBA graduate of the Business School. He joined CEMEX in 1968 and has been the company’s chief executive since 1985.
During Zambrano’s first year as CEO, CEMEX revenues were approximately $276 million. After the acquisition of two major cement firms in Spain in 1992, CEMEX expanded its operations throughout Latin America, the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia. In 2005, the company boosted its international market presence further with the purchase of UK-based cement maker RMC Group, and in 2007 CEMEX completed the acquisition of Australia-based Rinker, its largest ever.
Today CEMEX produces, distributes, and markets cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates, and related building materials to more than 50 countries. The Mexican firm is one of the world’s largest building materials suppliers and the third largest cement producer. Last year’s revenues topped $21.7 billion.
Leader in Promoting Environmental and Social Programs
In addition to shepherding the company’s evolution from a regional supplier to a global leader, Zambrano has dedicated significant company resources to initiatives that preserve and support communities in which the firm operates. He made conservation a priority by helping to establish El Carmen, a wilderness preserve located near the Mexico-U.S. border that is home to deserts, grasslands, forest, and other biologically diverse ecosystems. “As a result of the solid working relationships that we helped to build, the unspoiled area of El Carmen was designated the first wilderness area in Latin America,” Zambrano said about the preserve, considered a global hotspot for biodiversity protection, habitat restoration, and wildlife management programs. “We greatly appreciate the cooperation and strong partnerships that we have developed with nongovernmental organizations, governments, universities, and private landowners to help protect this unique ecosystem for present and future generations.”
In addition to CEMEX’s efforts, Zambrano has also encouraged the development of social programs to benefit the communities in which it operates. Patrimonio Hoy, a highly regarded sales, distribution, and savings program intended to serve Mexico’s large self-construction housing market, has benefited close to 200,000 families since its beginnings in 1998, helping them to improve their homes while helping fulfill Mexico’s housing needs while creating value for the company.
Zambrano has successfully balanced the interests of different stakeholder groups while promoting CEMEX’s environmental stewardship initiatives on a global scale. As a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a leading participant in the Cement Sustainability Initiative, CEMEX has been a pioneer in exploring ways for the cement industry to meet the demands of today without compromising the needs of future generations.
“For CEMEX, sustainability means continually increasing our competitiveness and conducting our operations with the least possible impacts, while reaching out to our stakeholders to foster positive long-term relationships. Our sustainability strategy is to run a highly efficient and profitable business that ensures the safety and well-being of employees, protects the environment, and contributes to the development of our communities. Balancing the needs of all our critical audiences, including our employees and the communities in which we serve, is key to ensuring the ongoing success of our business,” Zambrano said.
Active in Advancing Education Initiatives
Zambrano also has been a long-time champion of education. He is chairman of the board of Mexico’s largest private university, Tecnológico de Monterrey, which has 33 campuses in Mexico and international offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. He also served for more than 10 years on the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council.
Zambrano is a member of the IBM Board of Directors, the Citigroup International Advisory Board, and the boards of some leading Mexican companies, including financial services group Grupo Financiero Banamex, soft drink bottler Femsa, and Spanish-language media company Televisa.
He has received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, the Americas Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, and the 1998 Ernest C. Arbuckle Award for Managerial Excellence from the Stanford GSB Alumni Association.