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Luis Carlos Sarmiento Jr., MBA '85, who heads up Colombia's largest banking firm, Grupo Aval, addressed a new generation of Johnson graduates on October 18, 2013 at the 25th annual Lewis B. Durland Memorial Lecture, Johnson's most prestigious speaking event.

While expressing confidence in Johnson's current MBA crop, Sarmiento emphasized that the road to success would be more difficult for this generation, given the state of the global economy. He discussed the role banks play as viable value creators in emerging markets, including his own Grupo Aval. South American banks, he argued, filled some of the gaps created when banks in the Northern hemisphere stumbled after 2008. In particular, Grupo Aval has taken a long-term, responsible, and sustainable approach to value creation. Today, Grupo Aval has $130 billion in assets under management, serves 10 million customers, and has 63,000 employees. He emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship, creativity, and hard work, expressing confidence that, despite global economic conditions, Johnson students will find ways to succeed.