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Meet Francisco “Poncho” Itzaina ('71)

2010 Distinguished Alumnus

Francisco “Poncho” Itzaina graduated from SVSU in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. When he enrolled at SVSU in December 1968, there were 800 students. "There was great vision for the growth of this university. I am very proud of how my alma mater has evolved," he said.

"My education at Saginaw Valley was excellent," Itzaina explained to a group of students last November while he was on campus to receive the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award. "It gave me all the elements I needed to be successful in graduate school and I was able to put into practice the things I learned in my first years of work very successfully. Also, I was able to participate in athletics and formed friendships that still remain today."

Francisco joined Rolls-Royce International in 2003 as Regional Director of South America. His responsibilities in this position includes leading the strategic process for the region, overseeing the operations of all Rolls-Royce business units, developing the Company’s position in South America and assessing competitive activities.

Born in Uruguay, Francisco began his professional career at W.R. Grace & Co., where he worked for nearly 16 years, and occupying positions as Vice President of Finance for Latin America and Operations Director in Brazil. He joined Bunzl plc as President of its Brazilian subsidiary in 1990. In 1993 he joined Moore Corporation and held the positions of President of its Brazilian subsidiary and President Moore Latin America.

He has lived in Brazil since 1975, but speaks fondly of his time in the Great Lakes Bay Region. "There is nothing like the Midwest in terms of friendship. People here are open. They are what they are. I'm very grateful for what this region of the world did for me in terms of my formation, character building, etc... But I am particularly very thankful to Saginaw and what it means to me. It is, together with what my parents taught me, the center of the creation of my set of values"

He and his wife, Neuza, have four children.

Advice for Success

  1. There's no substitute for hard work. It takes effort to get anywhere.
  2. Do what you like. Make sure you pursue the career you like, not the career you are told will make you a millionaire.
  3. Be open minded to diversity. Receive new cultures. Try to travel during the time you study.
  4. Challenge yourself to be good. Then be better. Then be the best. Never let it rest. Until the good is better and the better best. There is always room for improvement, You can always work on something to make you better.


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Dr. Kylie Jaber


Dr. Jayati Ghosh


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