Juan Ernesto de Bedout - Doctor of Engineering
Juan Ernesto de Bedout
Mr. Juan Ernesto de Bedout is the former group president of Latin American Operations, Kimberly-Clark Corporation. He has also held leadership roles at VF Corporation and Colombiana de Tabaco.
De Bedout was born in Medellín, Colombia. In January 1964, he enrolled at Purdue, earning bachelor and master of science degrees in Industrial Engineering in 1967 and 1968. He participated in the Incolda-Incae-Harvard Top Management Program in Colombia during 1971, and in 2007 led the formation of Latin America’s first Blue Ocean Strategy Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, embracing the innovation philosophy developed by Professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of INSEAD.
His career started in 1968 at Colombiana de Tabaco where he held roles as assistant production manager, production manager, operations manager, and head of the R&D center from conception to implementation.
In 1981, de Bedout was asked to manage Colombiana Kimberly, a joint venture formed with Kimberly-Clark Corporation, focused on manufacturing specialty papers. His responsibilities grew in 1988 to include the management of Kimberly-Clark’s Consumer Products companies in Central America. He was entrusted to become General Manager-Latin American Operations in 1991, entrepreneurially entering numerous markets through expansions, mergers and acquisitions. During subsequent roles as vice president, president and group president, the regional businesses became a corporate growth engine, quickly attaining overall market leadership and later being recognized by the Great Place to Work Institute as the best multinational to work for in Latin America, among many companies within twenty countries, during three consecutive years.
Since retiring as an officer of the corporation in December 2011, de Bedout has served as a senior consultant, sitting on the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa leadership board and acting as an advisor to the newly formed Global Innovation Center in Colombia.
Since December 2000, he has served as director of VF Corporation, where he currently sits on the Executive, Finance and Audit committees, the latter of which he is chair. Recently he was elected to the Carvajal S.A. board in Colombia.
De Bedout has been active with community affairs and professional societies. In 1981 he served on the board of Sociedad de Mejoras Públicas, with oversight of the Medellín Zoo, the Fine Arts Institute, the Botanical Gardens and the Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe. He was co-founder of Medellin’s Colombian American Chamber of Commerce in 1987, serving as board president in 1991. From 1981 to 1990, he was a participant in the Pulp and Paper Committee of Colombia’s Asociación Nacional de Industriales. He is a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers.De Bedout has kept his Purdue ties strong, serving as chair of Purdue’s Engineering Advisory Council, and as a member of the Industrial Engineering Advisory Council. He helped launch the Colombia-Purdue Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, promoting mutually beneficial initiatives aligned with Colombia’s strategic priorities and Purdue’s strengths. Purdue has honored him with the Outstanding Industrial Engineer, Distinguished Engineering Alumnus, and Engineering Alumni Service awards in 1998, 2000 and 2002, respectively.