Sven Von Appen
Chile
Sven Von Appen
  • Chair, Ultramar Agencia Maritima (Shipping and Logistics)
Born Hamburg, Germany, 1934. Advanced Management Program 76, Harvard Business School (1977).
“[A]fter the banking crisis resulting from widespread unbacked debt of many Chilean companies, which forced the government to intervene … and assume its liabilities, we took opportunities to buy low-price stock that later recovered.”

Summary

Sven von Appen outlines the history of the shipping business founded by his father in Chile, but which he grew enormously, and its expansion into Argentina. He discusses the challenges of owning and running a family-owned business, including decision-making and succession practices, the importance of gaining work experience outside the family's holdings, developing international social networks, prioritizing strong corporate governance, and the participation of external consultants and advisors. He also describes how the company diversified into gas delivery and shipbuilding, and comments on the role of immigrants in the creation of the shipping industry in Chile. He discusses at length the role of business and innovation (commercial, operational, financial) in the turbulent recent political and economic history of Chile, particularly during the governments of Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Sven von Appen outlines the history of the shipping business founded by his father in Chile, but which he grew enormously, and its expansion into Argentina. He discusses the challenges of owning and running a family-owned business, including decision-making and succession practices, the importance of gaining work experience outside the family's holdings, developing international social networks, prioritizing strong corporate governance, and the participation of external consultants and advisors. He also describes how the company diversified into gas delivery and shipbuilding, and comments on the role of immigrants in the creation of the shipping industry in Chile. He discusses at length the role of business and innovation (commercial, operational, financial) in the turbulent recent political and economic history of Chile, particularly during the governments of Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 1980s.
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Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Interview Citation Format

"Interview with Sven Von Appen, interviewed by Andrea Lluch, May 28, 2008, Creating Emerging Markets Project, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, http://www.hbs.edu/creating-emerging-markets/."