Freelance Spain
Spaniards for the 21st century

Eduardo Serra
Chairman of the Prado Museum board of trustees, former Minister of Defence (1996-2000), and Jack of All Trades

Eduardo Serra Rexach has the distinction of having served in government under all three political parties that have administered Spain since democracy was reinstated in 1977: he was Secretary of State for Defence under the now-defunct, centrist party UCD, Minister of Defence under the social-democratic PSOE, and again Minister of Defence under the conservative Partido Popular. Yet he has never been a member of any of these parties nor does he consider himself a politician.

If ever a symbolic dam springs a leak in Spain, Serra will be the one called to plug the hole with his finger. In both politics and in business, he has demonstrated his skill as an able manager and negotiator, impeccably discrete and with a pragmatic and conciliatory approach to tackling problems. He is also well known and liked abroad, including the UK and the US (where he bought a bunch of new F-18s for the Spanish Air Force).

Eduardo Serra was born in Madrid on December 19, 1946. He studied law at the Complutense University in Madrid and passed tough competitive exams to become a State lawyer. Later, he served in mid-level posts in the ministries of Education and Industry. In 1982 he was named Secretary of State for Defence, the first civilian to hold the post. Between 1984 and 1987 he served as Minister of Defense under the Felipe Gonzalez government.

Then he went into the private sector, holding executive posts in Telettra (chairman, 1986), Cubiertas y MZOV (vice-chairman, 1989, and chairman, 1991), Peugeot Spain (chairman, 1992). In 1994 he became chairman of the newly formed Airtel telecom company, a post he held until he was called back to public office, this time by the conservative Partido Popular, to serve as Defence Minister from 1996 until 2000. According to one report it was the Spanish King himself who requested his designation. During this second tenure he carried through the professionalization of the Spanish Army, which would end compulsory military service.

After leaving the government at his own request, he was appointed to head the board of trustees of the Prado Museum, a non-paying post, because it was felt his managerial and negotiation skills would be valuable at a time when the famous Madrid landmark is about to embark on a major and complicated restructuring. He has also served as president of the Foundation for Assistance Against Drug Addiction since 1996.

In October 2000 he was recruited by the Swiss banking group UBS Warburg, as chairman of their Spanish branch.

Eduardo Serra is married to Luz del Camino Municio. He has a son by a previous marriage.

Copyright Mark Little

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