2 LATIN AMERICAN BRIEFINGS APRIL 2017 © Association of Corporate Counsel
DRINKING FROM A FOUNTAIN: HOW PABLO JIMENEZ-ZORRILLA BECAME VP LEGAL & CORPORATE AFFAIRS AT AB INBEV MIDDLE AMERICAS
trying to learn, you’re going to be at a disadvantage,” Jimenez-Zorrilla observes.
This mentality is evident in his professional
résumé. Before completing his legal education, Jimenez-Zorrilla had already begun
working in the field. He started as a paralegal
for Bufete de la Garza, and became engrossed
in the knowledge and experience of his mentors. His boss at the time, Jose Mario de la
Garza, now serves as the chairperson for the
Mexico Bar Association.
Later, he worked as an associate in the Mexico City office of Galicia y Robles S. C. (
currently Galicia Abogados, S.C.), before accepting a
job as a visiting lawyer for Sullivan & Cromwell
LLP in New York City. When asked about the
differences in corporate culture between the
United States and Mexico, Jimenez-Zorrilla
argues that they are quite similar.
“I can only speak for my company, but I
believe that [the corporate culture] is rather homogenous around the world. We all work under
the ‘dream people culture’ principles, which
provide for a common dream, meritocracy,
informality, and pursuit of excellence,” he states.
In January 2014, he was appointed to his
current position at Grupo Modelo — which, at
the time, had just been purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Sabine Chalmers, the company’s chief legal officer, and past chair of ACC,
offered him the position.
“She said to me, ‘You will never have a dull
day.’ She has been an amazing mentor and has
kept her promise ever since. I look forward
to continuing to learn from Sabine and from
other outstanding colleagues in this wonderful
company,” he exclaims.
AB InBev’s worldwide presence, coupled
with Grupo Modelo’s national image, creates a
unique blend of compliance and cross-border
issues. The company regularly engages with
nearly 800 municipalities in Mexico — complete with their own rules and regulations
regarding the distribution of alcohol. With over
400,000 points of sale throughout the region,
AB Inbev must stay vigilant to ensure regulatory compliance.
more than 30,000 employees — which makes
them a leader of the global beer market.
“Beer is the original social network. At AB
InBev, we don’t like to restrict ourselves to mission statements. Our dream is to bring people
together for a better world,” he says.
Growing up in San Luis Potosí, Mexico,
Jimenez-Zorrilla was surrounded by both
idealism and ambition. His mother was a
nurse who regularly assisted eye surger-ies. His father was a chemical engineer who
worked in several industries before creating
his own consultancy.
He is the eldest of four siblings: One is an
economist, one is finishing law school, and one
is studying to become a doctor. To say that determination is a common thread in his family
would be an understatement.
Jimenez-Zorrilla was torn between two
passions when he had to pick a profession. On
one hand, he loved the human interaction and
intuitive problem solving associated with the
legal profession. However, he also found industrial engineering to be a fascinating professional prospect. While he initially intended to
study both subjects independently at two different universities, Jimenez-Zorrilla ultimately
decided to focus his energy on the law.
“I tried to envision whether I would want to
be sitting at a desk interacting with people and
trying to dissect human relations, or whether
I would want to be looking at a line of production and fixing manufacturing. This simple
‘picture of the future’ helped me make my decision,” he notes.
He enrolled in Escuela Libre de Derecho in
1997 — which he describes as a crash course in
self-learning. At the law school, 95 percent of
the teachers were working professionals, which
meant that classes focused on tangible skills for
success. He graduated with honors, in the top
five percent of its class. In 2004, Jimenez-Zorrilla realized another of his dreams — enrolling
in Stanford Law School for a master’s degree.
“If you really want to learn, you need to be
the driving force and look for valuable opportunities everywhere. If you are not constantly