The famous entrepreneur Jorge Paulo Lemann began his professional career in 1971 when he and partners Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Hermann Telles founded a bank in Brazil called Banco Garantia, but that’s just the beginning. The man is also the stock majority holder, meaning he owns the controlling stake, in one of the most famous and profitable beer companies in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev, makers of Budweiser beer and countless others. His business ventures have paid off wonderfully; he is currently the third wealthiest man in Brazil, with a net worth of $13.3 billion, and as far as his wealth status worldwide, Lemann at number 55. What makes all of this incredible is that, according to Famous Entrepreneurs the man has amassed his fortune entirely on his own, by his own blood, sweat, and tears.
While most of you may be familiar with Jorge Paulo Lemann, many of you likely are not. His story is an incredible one, set with all of the points that would make a great movie of the week. When coupled with the fact that he is, indeed, a very important individual (riches aside), there are likely many things that we can all learn from his life and the discipline he has exercised over it. So, below are twenty facts about Jorge Paulo Lemann that most of you out there probably don’t know. But never fear…there is no time like the present to learn about this amazing man and his super-successful life.
1. He came from very humble, less-than-comfortable beginnings.
Born in Rio de Janiero to a Swiss immigrant father and Brazilian mother with a Swiss background. His father, Paul, was killed in a bus accident while Jorge was attending an American school in Rio de Janiero when he was 14 years of age. This event resulted in Jorge being raised by his mother alone, and the small family was not rich by any means. Regardless of this fact, he moved to Boston and attended college at Harvard University and Harvard Business School, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Economics, which he earned in 1961.
2. Lemann was a champion tennis player.
According to Sunsigns.org, Jorge was an accomplished tennis player in his younger years. He played with both Switzerland and Brazil for their Davis’ Cup Team, and five times he won the Brazilian National Tennis Championship. He also made it to Wimbledon. Certainly he was a busy young man, juggling college, a place in the tennis spotlight, and figuring out his future pursuits, but he did so successfully, as we can all see.
3. His zodiac sign is Virgo; they are known being trustworthy, generous, and disciplined.
Fitting enough, wouldn’t you say? Born August 26, 1939, 80-year-old Lemann’s self-discipline is certainly recognizable. You don’t get to the top of the heap the way he has by wasting time and flitting about. The Lemann Foundation, which ensures quality education to the children of Brazil, shows his generous side. As for being trustworthy, well, one is not the head of banks, put in charge of money, or in the position to run a world-famous brewery without having earned a reputation for being worthy of trust. We’d say the stars were spot on in his case.
4. With his time so filled, how could he have a family?
That’s a good question. One would think that Lemann has been so busy all of his life that building a family and maintaining a family life were impossibilities. Nonetheless, he is one of those men who has managed to have it all. Yes, he is married, and it is his second marriage. His first wife was Maria de Santiago Dantas Quental, and they were married until 2005. He is currently married to Susanna Lemann. As for children, he has fathered five: Lara, Jorge Filipe, Marc, Anna Victoria, and Kim. Well, one thing is for sure, he found time to work on that family!
5. Where does he currently live?
Even though he was born in Rio de Janiero, his father and mother were both of Swiss descent, with his father even having immigration status from Switzerland. Because of those roots, Jorge likely spent much time visiting Switzerland, and even if he didn’t, his heritage would have built up his curiosity regarding the place. Today he maintains his permanent residence in Zurich, which isn’t at all surprising, all things considered. While he may have several other homes, it is in Zurich that he prefers to ‘hang his hat’, so to speak.
6. What was his first job after college?
After attending Harvard University Cambridge and Harvard Business in Boston, Jorge found gainful employment immediately for the Geneva-based bank, Credit Suisse. This was his first bank venture, and it eventually led to he and his two aforementioned partners opening their bank, Banco Garantia in Rio de Janiero, which ironically was sold to Credit Suisse when it eventually went bankrupt after 30 years of business and its pioneering role in revolutionizing the financial world for Brazil.
7. Lemann is astoundingly multi-faceted and talented…
Not only does he have a famous reputation for being successful in finance, being a controlling shareholder of Anheuser-Busch, and playing tennis so well he went all the way to Wimbledon, Jorge Paulo also was employed as a business journalist while he was training with Credit Suisse. His time spent as a writer was with ‘Jornal do Brasil’, which happened to be one of Brazil’s oldest newspapers at the time. He continued writing for the paper until 1971, when he co-founded Banco Garantia.
8. ‘The World’s Most Interesting Billionaire’
In 2013 Bloomberg.com named Lemann the ‘World’s Most Interesting Billionaire’, naming spearfishing, tennis, and surfing among his many talents, besides all he had accomplished professionally at that point. The article pointed out that the man not only controlled many everyday items we all use and love, but it made a point of saying that even Warren Buffet referred to the man as ‘classy’. It seems that’s saying quite a bit about a person, coming from the likes of Mr. Buffet.
10. He also has a professional association with 3G Capitol.
At 74 years of age, Mr. Lemann was strategist and chief investor for 3G Capitol, the company which gained fame when they managed a buyout of Burger King in 2010. Besides that, however, he is a founder of the company as well. 3G wound up purchasing Burger King with Berkshire Hathaway, which put up thrice the amount of money for the buy than 3G, however, thanks to Lemann, 3G walked away with an equal ownership for less money.
11. He is on the board of directors of Kraft-Heinz.
Not only was he involved in the purchase of Heinz, the company famous for their ketchup and much more, but he is also on the Kraft-Heinz board of directors. He was appointed to the board in July of 2015, but also served in a seat from ’13 to ’15 when the company was simply ‘Heinz’. Due to his extensive background in finance and the long list of companies he had co-founded and turned around, they were more than comfortable giving him his fair share of control.
12. he fact is, most American’s haven’t even heard of the man.
While Jorge Paulo Lemann is pretty much a household name in Brazil, and while it seems it ought to be in the USA due to all of the American food brand buyouts he has had a direct hand in, most American’s don’t know who he is. But we’re reassured that we will, and it won’t be long. At the rate he’s going, his ability to keep himself under the American radar can’t possibly last; it doesn’t even matter that the man is 80-years-old.
13. He disliked attending Harvard, and even announced it publicly.
Indeed, he is not a fan of his famous alma mater, and during a speech he gave at a high school, he made this fact clear. He so disliked it that he pressed himself to graduate in three years instead of four so he wouldn’t have to endure another year of the place. He loathed the Boston climate, and was very homesick for Brazil, both factors which likely played major parts in his low opinion of Harvard as a university and business college.
14. His most dominant business talent..
According to Famous Entrepreneurs Lemann is best recognized for his skills when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. Certainly this is a bit obvious, when we consider the buyouts of Burger King, Heinz, and more. It seems that he handles this aspect of business with a deftness that is admired by most everyone around him in the business world, including Mr. Warren Buffet himself.
15. His father was a businessman as well.
Yes, he got his knack for business from his dad, apparently. Swiss immigrant Paul Lemann was best known for founding Leco, a dairy manufacturing company in Brazil. While he passed away at a young age, and never made the fortune his son was destined to make, her certainly did his best and provided well for his wife and son. Leco is a well-known company in Brazil.
16. Did he ace Harvard as he does everything else?
The truth is that Lemann had horrible grades while attending Harvard during the first year, which, according to the man himself, was his worst year of them all due to adapting. Not only that, but he got into trouble at the end of his freshman year for setting off fireworks, and the reprimand nearly motivated him to drop out completely and return home. Seems he’s human after all!
17. What other companies does he run besides Burger King and Anheuser-Busch?
You may be surprised to know that Lemann also has controlling interest in Restaurant Brands International. This particular company owns Burger King, but they also own Tim Horton’s, a coffee chain that is very popular in Canada. Since he has been with Anheuser-Busch, the company purchased Foster’s Lager and Pilsner Urquell, according to Forbes.com.
18. Speaking of Forbes, has he made any of their well-known lists?
In fact, Lemann has made it on two of Forbes lists. He was number thirty-five on their Billionaires 2019 list, and was also listed as a Global Game Changer on Forbes’ 2016 list with the same title. It’s pretty much a given that this multi-talented man would make one of Forbes’ lists, so we should have considered this on a shoe-in.
19. Why didn’t he go on to play tennis as a career if he was so good?
We can answer this one straight from the horse’s mouth. Forbes.com quoted Jorge Paulo Lemann as saying, “I quit playing professional tennis when I realized that it would be hard to be among the best in the world.” This statement shows us the drive this individual has to be the best he can be, which is the driving force behind his extraordinary success.
20. Surfing in a storm…
We mentioned earlier that surfing was among the many things that Lemann enjoyed and indulged in. With that in mind, it is interesting to note that he one was caught surfing by a storm when he was young. While the experience was frightening, we’re sure, he gleaned a valuable lesson that has helped him succeed, and that is to understand the importance of taking risks and going for what you want. With that knowledge taught to him the hard way, we’re sure he doesn’t want to have to take that particular lesson over again.
What is the reason behind America’s extensive lack of knowledge of Lemann?
Well, first and foremost, it is likely because he has only been buying American companies for a short time, in the grand scheme of things. But we prefer to think it’s because he is actually a very secretive and private person, not to mention the fact that he is shy. That is surprising when we consider the toughness it must take to not only do all of the things he does, but to succeed at nearly each and every one of them. One wouldn’t think being shy would be part of his character, but it is, according to Lemann himself.
From the start, Jorge Paulo Lemann has led an interesting life. With parents determined to provide him with the best education and his personal desire to achieve working hand in hand, the man has made it to the top, and is literally self-made in every sense of the term. His life is a fine example of anyone being able to achieve anything they set their mind to, as long as they have the right mind-set as a basis. With that, we’ll wrap up our list of twenty things you didn’t know about Jorge Paulo Lemann, but remember that name…I’m sure we’ll hear much more of it in the future.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn