DRIVING CHANGE

Colombia 2018 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to María del Carmen Araujo Grijalva, Executive President of Hidalgo e Hidalgo (HeH) Colombia, on contributing to productivity and growth in Colombia, working closely with local communities, and areas of opportunity.

 María del Carmen Araujo Grijalva
BIOGRAPHY
María del Carmen Araujo Grijalva has a master’s degree in economics from Boston University and studied economics at the Catholic University of Ecuador. She has been Executive President of HeH Colombia since 2017. She is a member of the board of several companies and concession holders of HeH Group including Concesionaria Vial del Perú, COVIPERU, Concesionaria Vial del Sur, and COVISUR, among others. She was previously the social responsibility manager at Construcción y Administración, CASA and member of the board. She has also been a consultant in public management, development, and decentralization in several international organizations.

What do 50 years of operations mean for the company?

Over the last 50 years, HeH has successfully completed a significant number of projects achieving contractual compliance, reaching the utmost technical standards, improving workers' quality of life, and creating a positive impact on communities, cities, and countries. We work on road infrastructure such as freeways, tunnels, and bridges, as well as sanitation, potable water, sewage, ports, airports, irrigation systems, and waste collection. HeH works in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Bolivia, and El Salvador. Working for 50 years has created a highly experienced team to carry out these diverse projects. HeH has contributed to productivity and growth in Colombia since 2011, when we started working in the country.

What were the major accomplishments of the company in 2017?

We worked on five projects of Vías para la Equidad by INVIAS that take place in marginalized areas of Colombia such as Chocó, Caquetá, and Arauca. In these areas, the disparities in infrastructure are evident. This is one of the biggest challenges in Colombia; there is much to do in the infrastructure sector. These gaps are also great opportunities to continue working and improving the country. We have a 4G project involving a 30-year concession in Popayán-Santander de Quilichao. This project is currently in the pre-construction stage, and in the next year the construction of four lanes will commence. The project is located in the southern zone, which is necessary for the productive sector and the connection with Ecuador.

How did you come to develop these important projects in these areas?

We seek closeness with the communities that we work with. We require employees from the beneficiary communities to work on our projects and establish close collaborations with the people of those communities. Our work is characterized by our efficacy to fulfill contracts, compliance with high-quality standards and proper cost records, good performance achievements on time, and social responsibility.

What new opportunities do you seek in 2018?

We hope that 2018 brings larger actions than 2017. All countries have cycles; we cannot lose hope and must move forward. We were fortunate to win the project of waste collection in Bogotá in January for an eight-year concession. Although electoral processes create some uncertainty, institutions in Colombia are strong; therefore, we expect the new government will hit the ground running and foster new investment opportunities. In Colombia, there is much to be done, and the human capital of this country will take things forward. We must work with the next leaders to do what is necessary, and do it well. We will continue to comply with contracts, be technically competent, maintain occupational health and safety, pay taxes, and focus on environmental preservation and social responsibility standards. HeH provides the best quality construction, maintenance, and infrastructure management services. Our commitment to excellence will open more opportunities in the future

How do you ensure sustainability within the communities surrounding your projects?

Each country has different laws regarding prior consultations with the communities. Beyond complying with all legal requirements, we must build an authentic relationship with the community. For example, in Peru, we have three important 30-year road concessions and an amazon port in the Huallaga river. We provided help to organized microenterprises and they hired graduates from the communities to provide maintenance. We offer protective equipment and training. These actions generate a long-term relationship. In Colombia, we work in conflict zones, and contributing to the peace building process is important to us. Additionally, the environmental issue is key, and everyone must participate. We work in the waste sector in Colombia; if we do not take personal responsibility we could destroy the environment. We need to generate more recycling and greater goals to reduce waste production and develop sanitation and water treatment projects. We guarantee our constructive commitment to support competitiveness, integration, and sustainable development in the countries we operate in.