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Grupo Tzanetatos

PANAMA - Real Estate & Construction

Virginia Matos

CEO, Grupo Tzanetatos

Bio

Virginia Matos is the CEO of Grupo Tzanetatos in Panama, where she has been leading the organization since May 2020. With over 21 years of experience as CEO at Nestle Ecuador, she brings a wealth of expertise to her current role. Her dedication to her work is reflected in her congratulatory messages to colleagues and her continued commitment to the business community in Panama and beyond.

"Our distribution center reaches over 90% of the stores in Panama City and the countryside."
Grupo Tzanetatos, with a Greek heritage, is one of Panama’s largest distributors of mass consumption products.
What steps did you take to transform Tzanetatos from a family-owned company to one of corporate governance?

I arrived in Panama in the second half of 2020, the middle of the pandemic, so it was difficult to settle in. Ours has been a very well-known company for over 60 years. Founded by Haralambos Tzanetatos, the idea was to change from a family-owned company to one, as you said, operating in compliance with the requirements of corporate governance for the long term. What we first did was to hire a robust law firm to support us in the company transition. I have a couple of people here who were recently hired, one before I arrived, who is a legal compliance officer, and a couple of people who help understood what I wanted to do. My uncle’s mandate was to establish an institution that would stand the test of time. The Greek culture has this “one man, one signature” approach. We are eight companies each with a factory producing personal care products. Our distribution center reaches over 90% of the stores in Panama City and the countryside. We have offices in the countryside near the border with Costa Rica and in central Panama. We also have the real estate business that the founder is particularly fond of. We also have an inbound warehouse which is a logistics center. We also have a school called Instituto Atenea, and METALPAN, a steel company. What we have to do is change from the model of a person going to one office and leaving to having everybody working together. That was the first step. I first got into Tzanetatos full time even in middle of the pandemic, as my base, and we started changing procedures within the company for greater efficiency. I worked probably one full year in Tzanetatos while managing the other businesses to some extent. Over the past 60 years, there have frequently been add-ons. It started with the distribution center and then the factory, which has been operational for over 50 years.

To what countries do you export your own brands?

For now, we are only selling in Panama and are arranging the team and equipment for export. To date the company has only exported to special spots many years ago, but we are building an entire process for regular export. That will happen probably in the second-half of next year. We are currently working with customers in Latin America to export, but want to consolidate what we’re doing locally first. And so we will likely start building on that the second-half of next year .

How are you integrating social responsibility into the new company’s approach?

We went through an interesting process of social responsibility guided by Sumarse because he was a philanthropist. He probably told you, “I got this land for the hospital, I gave money for this.” What we did in the eight-month project with Sumarse was to have a special team in the projects to guide us in assessing the key aspects of social responsibility to focus on according to the rules and values of the owner. So, we considered all aspects of the company and responded to 400 questions to determine our focus areas. We settled on three things: entrepreneurship, because that’s the root of the company, the environment, and education. Under the HR head the ASE is a social responsibility team led by Mr. Tzanetatos’ granddaughter. Among all the companies, what we have done is to adopt a more environmentally sensitive approach to our factory operations. Education largely concerns our school, of course. And meanwhile, entrepreneurship concerns most of our companies.

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