Adolfo Diaz Valdez
Chief of staff for the Ministry of Urban Development & Transport at Buenos Aires City Government
Adolfo Diaz Valdez is a 2015 graduate of the Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation and the Inclusive and Social Business Certificate from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He launched the first Social Impact Bond (SIB) of Argentina and the third SIB in Latin America.
After graduating from HEC, he returned to Argentina and started working for the Government of the City of Buenos Aires as Director of Strategic Planning, where he was responsible for elaborating the government plan, assessing impact of implemented programs and coordinating innovative new policies. Among these initiatives, he had the opportunity to design and implement a SIB aimed at improving employability conditions of young people living in the southern part of the city, where human development indicators perform the worst (ie: youth unemployment is 30% versus 10% city average)
Why and how did you choose to be a change-maker with social impact?
I would say that both why and how I moved my career towards impact are pretty much related and happened over time, rather than in one specific “eureka” moment.
On one side, I come from a country (Argentina) where currently more than 30% of its population lives in poverty. Hence, poverty is not some issue that happens far away but something concrete you see everyday: it is only one step to move from empathy towards actively helping people in need. On other side, during my professional career in banking and consulting I became aware of the huge and most often unused potential for companies to have a positive long-term impact in the communities with which they interact.
All these led me to take the Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation at HEC (2014-2015) to learn how to develop sustainable business models that could help me address social issues in my country.
How has HEC S&O contributed to your success?
HEC has had a huge contribution to my professional (and personal life) in many different ways.
First, it opened my eyes to an entirely new world of issues, methodologies, experiences, cases and business models that I didn’t know existed. For example, I first heard of Social Impact Bonds (SIB) during a Responsible Investment class in HEC!
In addition, it gave me an international standpoint and network that helps me to address issues at home from a different perspective, whilst keeping me at the forefront of advances in social business models that I can apply in Argentina.
However, the most important thing I got from HEC was confidence: realizing that things can change for good if we put our minds to it. I would have never dared to go into the public sector or work in projects like the SIB if it hadn’t been for the focus and confidence I gained during my experience at HEC.
Since I started this project in December 2015, I have always said that launching this SIB would be like a dream come true (it is now!) as I remember first learning of SIBs in a Responsible Investment class at HEC and thinking it would be great (and almost impossible) to implement this back at home.
What are you currently working on?
When I returned to Argentina after HEC, I quit my job in a consulting firm and started working for the Buenos Aires City Government, whose new mayor was starting his first term in December 2015. During the first couple of years, I worked as Strategic Planning Director, where I had the chance to take on a pre-existing idea for the SIB (from the prior mandate) and develop it.
Since early 2018, I have been working as chief of staff for the Ministry of Urban Development and Transport of the city, helping to implement some of the most critical projects of the government plan. We are in the final stage of executing the largest urban development plan of the city in the last 50 years, with over 100 projects and US$3.5 billion invested in 4 years.
Though it is not directly related to social businesses, I think it is still 100% about positive impact: If everything goes as expected, all these projects will help to improve the lives of the millions of people that live and come into our city, while also reducing impact on the environment.
What advice would you give to anyone who would like to have a social impact?
I would tell them to focus and persevere: it is amazing how things just “fall into place” when you put all your energy into doing something (particularly social impact)