The Business Year

Stanley Motta

PANAMA - Economy

Dollar Economy

Chairman, Copa Holdings


Stanley A. Motta is Chairman of the board of Copa Holding (NYSE CPA), ASSA Group, Motta Internacional, and Inversiones Bahia, Ltd. He is Director of Banco General, TVN Media and several other companies. Over the past three decades, he has expanded his organization throughout Latin America, emphasizing the need for corporate social responsibility. He is Chairman of SUMARSE, an organization for the promotion of CSR. He is Chairman of Fundación Alberto Motta. He is a trustee of ANCON, member of the Latin American Council for Conservation in cooperation with TNC and the City of Knowledge in Panama. He is also a founder and trustee of the Central America Leadership Initiative (CALI). He is a member of the Advisory Board of EGADE Business School in Monterrey, Mexico and the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. Additionally, he is a board member of the Trust for the Americas associated with the Organization of American States and was honored with the Americas Society Gold Medal 2010.

“The secret is to find good people.“

In terms of foreign direct investment, how is the strategic position of Panama an advantage compared to the region?

Panama is a lucky country compared to the region, and the growth of the private sector is constantly contributing to strengthening the economy. When one examines the financial sector, Panama has a strong position because it is a dollar economy. Additionally, the country has a small population, which, in my opinion, facilitates inward and outward business interactions. Also, another advantage that Panama has, when it comes to foreign investment, is that it has been a country for transit for 500 years, which has attracted both investments and human capital to be part of its development.

How have you managed to stand out as a leader in the country?

There are two key lessons I have learned. First, you must be willing to delegate responsibility. Second, you must be willing to take measured risk. Everyone knows about successes, but few people know about the failures. Believe me, both are a part of life.

What have been the main strategies to increase the value of your investment portfolio?

The secret is to find good people. I define that as people who are ethical, have a passion for what they do, and can communicate the purpose and strategy of the company.

What is your opinion about the latest IT developments in the Panamanian economy?

Panama has outstanding infrastructure for the development of the telecommunications sector. The development of the information storage sites and fiber optic infrastructure are strong. In fact, events like Cybertech Panama 2019 are facilitating the exchange of ideas and initiatives that invite entrepreneurs to increase direct investment. In addition, these projects are bringing new talent to Panama. They, in turn, then interact with Panamanian talent.

What have been the recent milestones in terms of social responsibility activities?

As president of SUMARSE, I would say the most important companies in Panama now have corporate social responsibility agendas. As I get older, I am also spending more time on non-profit activities, and I have always told people that if I regret anything it is not having done more with non-profits earlier in life. In this way, I strongly suggest everyone get involved in at least one social nonprofit activity. I think it will make you a better person, and therefore a better business executive.

What are the goals for 2019?

The goal is to keep growing responsibly. That has been the goal for many and many years.



You may also be interested in...

Juan Carlos Croston, VP Marketing, Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) Panama

PANAMA - Transport

Juan Carlos Croston


VP Marketing, Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) Panama


PANAMA - Finance

Victor Viggiano


Executive President, BiBank


PANAMA - Economy

Luis Eduardo Ocando B.


Country Managing Partner, Tax | Law Leader - Panama & Market Segment Leader Mexico – Central America, EY

View All interviews