José Alvarez Stelling is a retired advisor to the family and the Stelling group of Businesses. During his 27-year career in the banking sector of Venezuela, he was the Chairman and CEO of Banco Consolidado, led the acquisition of Banco de Venezuela and held many high-profile advisory roles in the industry.
In recognition of his many professional achievements and dedication supporting educational and artistic initiatives, he was made a Knight of the Order of Malta, received the Encomienda de Isabel la Católica from the King of Spain and is a holder of the B’nai B’rith International Award for Human Rights.
Born in Caracas in Venezuela, José Alvarez Stelling studied Civil Engineering at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB), a Jesuit University in Venezuela.
Upon graduation, he was selected by the University to join a research project between UCAB and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He spent three years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working as a research assistant, and graduated from MIT with a Master of Science in Civil Engineering in 1966.
José Alvarez Stelling felt a strong inclination for academic life and immediately returned to Venezuela to teach at UCAB where he conducted several research projects, including organising the first Pan-American Seminar on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering that was open to practising engineers and engineering students in their senior year. The seminar was jointly taught by several professors from MIT and Latin American specialists.
He made his first steps in the banking industry when he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Banco de Carabobo, a regional bank in the city of Valencia, Venezuela, in 1966. Members of the Stelling family had traditionally been shareholders of this bank, though it was not until Mr. Alvarez Stelling was appointed Alternate Director that they held an active role.
José Alvarez Stelling’s interest in banking grew rapidly and he soon took a leading role in the merger of three banks in which the family had heavily invested: Carabobo, Miranda and Aragua. In June 1969, Banco del Centro Consolidado was born with Mr. Alvarez Stelling holding the position of Chairman of the Board and CEO.
During his tenure, Banco Consolidado grew to become a major financial institution in Venezuela, encompassing mortgage banks, investment banks, leasing and insurance companies. It boasted the largest international network of among the financial groups in the country with subsidiaries in Miami, New York, Panama, Ecuador, Curaçao and Aruba, offices in London and Paris, and a bank in Spain.
In 1994, José Alvarez Stelling retired from his position as Chairman and CEO to focus on the acquisition of Banco de Venezuela.
Banking Industry Experience
In his nearly three decades in the banking industry, José Alvarez Stelling held a number of advisory positions including on the Board of Directors of the Venezuelan Central Bank (four years from 1971 to 1977) and the Board of the Venezuelan Banking Council of which he later became the Chairman for five years from 1980. He was an advisor to the Board of the Banking Council until 1994.
For six years from March 1973 to June 1979, he represented the banking sector at Fedecámaras, the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Production, as a member of the Executive Board of Directors. He was also a member of the Fund for Industrial Credit from May 1974 to October 1976.
José Alvarez Stelling served as a Director of Electricidad de Caracas, the electrical power company of the city of Caracas, for over 15 years. He was also Chairman of Electricidad de Valencia, a company owned by the Stelling family for a decade.
José Alvarez Stelling’s interest in education, culture and the arts moved him to launch two major projects in Venezuela, ACUDE (Asociación Cultural para el Desarrollo) and Fundación Banco Consolidado.
He founded ACUDE, a literacy and community development project, in collaboration with the late Monseñor José Joaquín Salcedo and was its President for over a decade. The Association’s main goal was to promote the idea that education is key to progress and in stark contrast to the prevailing traditional paternalistic culture of the time, held self-esteem and self-promotion in high regard.
ACUDE helped over half a million people become literate through programmes teaching reading, writing and basic maths. The Sono-Estudio packages of a tape-player, tapes and books that was sold and distributed by the Association was popular in both the inner cities and rural areas. Beyond tackling illiteracy, ACUDE strived to teach foundational principles of positive civic conduct in a bid to improve people’s living conditions.
José Alvarez Stelling also founded and was Chairman of Fundación Banco Consolidado and the Centro Cultural Consolidado which was housed within the headquarters of Banco Consolidado. It quickly became one of Venezuela’s most widely known exhibition centres, hosting visual arts and musical events. Many international exhibitions were held at the Centre, including Rodin, Miró, Juan Gris, Dali, Picasso and Chillida exhibitions. Accomplished Venezuelan artists were a constant presence at the Centro Cultural which was regarded as a great source of support and promotion for new names in the arts.
In addition to the Centro, Fundación Consolidado ran many other successful projects and was well-respected for its involvement in the areas of conservation (of national parks in Venezuela), sports promotion, and choral music.
Awards and Recognition
José Alvarez Stelling received many awards from institutions around the world throughout his life. He has been a Knight of the Order of Malta since 1974, received the Encomienda de Isabel la Católica, awarded by the King of Spain in 1988, and the B’nai B’rith International Award for Human Rights for his successful efforts in promoting literacy with ACUDE.
From the Venezuelan Government and other Venezuelan institutions, he received the Work Excellence Award (Orden de Mérito al Trabajo); the Orden Francisco de Miranda (First Class); the Orden Andrés Bello (First Class), the highest national award for achievements in promoting culture and education; the Orden Diego de Losada (First Class); and the Orden Cultural de Chacao.