During Fernández’s tenure, FEMSA has grown from a $1.2 billion Mexican beverage company into a $36 billion Latin American powerhouse. It operates the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottler and the region’s fastest-growing retailer, the Oxxo convenience-store chain. When it became clear that global giants were transforming the beer industry, this pragmatist sold the beer business that his wife’s family founded in 1890, to Heineken, in a lucrative deal that gave FEMSA a 20% stake.
As a child, Fernández was called Diablo, a common nickname for hyperactive kids. He still has energy to spare. After two FEMSA security guards were killed in a drug shootout, he sought new ways to make the city of Monterrey safer, focusing more on community and social programs to improve prospects for youth. He also teaches an engineering course at his alma mater, the Tecnológico de Monterrey.