We had the good fortune of connecting with Ricardo Echeverri and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ricardo, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe taking risks is essential for personal and professional growth. Taking risks oftentimes forces you out of your comfort zone and enables you to evaluate circumstances with a much broader and larger lens. An unfamiliar situation sometimes can be very exciting and rewarding, but the hesitation and uncertainty of taking the jump will stop you from ever experiencing it. I have taken multiple risks throughout my career and lifetime. The most significant risk that I took in my young adult life was leaving my family and friends back in Colombia to relocate to the United States. I was fortunate to have earned a full-time tennis scholarship at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, in a very small town in an unfamiliar new country. Although, I realized I would be stepping very far outside my comfort zone, I believed this was the right decision and knew it was a tremendous opportunity for both my personal and professional life. Today, I thank god for the opportunity I was given and the decisions I made. The most significant risk that I took in my professional career was leaving Delmonte Fresh Produce, a very large and well-known multinational leader in the industry and joining Bounty Fresh, a much smaller company. By joining Bounty Fresh I moved up the corporate ladder (accepting a senior position) and ventured into a completely new facet of produce operations, within an organization that had less brand recognition than Delmonte. Looking back, these two risks are what prepared me and set me up for success to become a senior leader (Vice President of Produce) at Fyffes North America.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Some of my earliest and most valued lessons were learned through my participation in sports. Being active in sports not only kept me active and healthy, but also enabled me to learn the importance of discipline and focus, two invaluable attributes that have proven integral throughout life. Without the discipline and focus, I might have not made it to the level that I am at today. Particularly, as I think about living in a city as vibrant as Miami where there are always distractions all around me. Leaving my family and the life I had built for 19 years to move to the United States was the “toughest” decision of my life. There have been many sacrifices throughout my career and many extended trips on the road. Things were definitely not made any easier by deciding to pursue an opportunity in a small town in Macon, Georgia; however, having the strong foundation of the aforementioned lessons yielded a college life with a steady balance of academics, athletics and part-time jobs at the university. Moving up the corporate ladder as an international student was surely not an easy process, while I was working under an OPT (Optional Practice Training) college program. Fortunately, after working for one year, I had my H1B visa sponsored by Fresh Delmonte. I am very grateful for this opportunity and being able to obtain my US residency after only three years. This opened up what would become many important doors throughout my professional career. Overall, I am most proud of how I have progressed in my career, by building a strong professional foundation with each role I took. I began my professional career in an entry-level role as the Assistant Product Manager at Fresh Delmonte Produce with responsibility of procurement and logistics for the melon program. While in this role, I gained exposure to the sales and purchasing organization and soon used this opportunity to expand my knowledge to sourcing and business transactions into a senior position. When I was recruited by Bounty Fresh as a Product Manager, I was able to call on my combined experiences and synergies from all of my prior roles to excel as a leader developing and managing their plantain program. My career became even more exciting as Bounty Fresh was rapidly gaining market-share on plantains and industry competitors were taking notice. I was then approached by Turbana Corporation and was offered a senior leadership role as the head of their tropical program. As Vice President of Tropicals, I restructured the entire program by sourcing directly from growers in Central and South America. In less than a year, the program grew more than 300% in revenue resulting in an increase of product offerings from 3 to 18 products. This year, marks my seventh year with Fyffes North America (Formerly Turbana Corporation) and 13 years in the produce industry. I am proud to say our tropical programs has grown by over 30 % each year, for the past 7 years. Even though there were some challenging times along the way, I would not change any major life decisions that I had to make, as both these and my experiences shaped my character and molded me into the professional that I am today. Throughout life, I have learned that dreams can and will come true-but only if you fully put your heart and mind into it. I also learned it is important to always keep your head up and keep your eyes on your goals, because most things cannot be accomplished overnight.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting Miami I would definitely take him out for a good time. To start off the weekend, on Friday night we will go out for some drinks and dinner at the rooftop in Astra (Greek restaurant with live DJ). On Saturday morning we will go for brunch at Soho Beach House and then head to their private beach to enjoy from a beautiful Miami day. At night we will go out for dinner at one of the many good restaurants Miami has to offer (Zuma, Novikov, Komodo or Osaka). Then depending on my friends mood we can go dancing to La Victoria or just to a bar like Socialista to catch up. On Sunday we will go out on a boat during the day and stop at Boaters Grill for lunch (great seafood). We will be back to the city by 6:00 pm right on time for him to catch his flight back home.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give credit to my family especially my brother who has supported me through all my transition into the United States. I would also like to give credit to Juan David Alarcón and my previous bosses Javier Campo and Raul Romero who all have served as mentors in my professional career.