• Advised several executive teams in startups and mid-market businesses
  • Held C-level positions at Revolution Fuels
  • Certified Professional Project Manager (CPPM)
  • Nivalis BTP, Association of Mexican Professionals in MN, Global Aquaculture Alliance
  • AENOVUS, LLC a boutique management advisory company focused on Venture Integration
  • Secured funding and founder shares at Nivalis BTP, LLC
  • Multiple leadership roles at Cargill, Inc. of increased impact and of regional scope
  • Grew sales over 30% while managing P&L of $100 million

Executive Profile

Manuel Santana
“Brilliant strategy is the best route to desirable ends with available means.” ― Max McKeown, The Strategy Book
Manuel Santana has accomplishments in senior positions in large companies and as a founder, partner, chief executive, board member and investor at different stages of entrepreneurial ventures.

  He has a solid record of finding and seizing new business opportunities ahead of the competition, and transforming ideas into profitable products and services. His ability to react quickly to volatile market and economic changes has enabled him to consistently maximize profits, sales, stakeholder value and market share. 

      During his corporate work, he spent almost ten years at Cargill. He formed part of the Strategy & Business Development corporate function where he led other analysts together with business managers in multiple business development projects.

     Later on, he led Cargill's Mexican Feed businesses and coordinated the regional aquaculture commercial activities for The Americas. He also participated in incubating entrepreneurial activities in the renewable energy sector, guided large regional integrations and negotiated multiple long-term alliances in the feed sector.

     Previously, he succeeded in quality and operations roles at Motorola and Bermo where he certified semiconductor fabrication as Six Sigma capable and obtained OEM certification for HP, Dell, Nortel and ISO 9001.

     He completed two Master's Degrees from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: an MBA and an MSE in Industrial & Operations Engineering where he majored in Corporate Strategy and Applied Statistics. His BS in Industrial Engineering is from the Universidad Panamericana in Guadalajara, Mexico. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

Professional Timeline

  1. Non-Executive Director, Wellpoint Mexico

    Invited to participate in the structuring and strategic planning for Wellpoint Mexico, a specialized water solutions management for the construction industry. Equity participation.

  2. -
    COO / Interim-CEO, Revolution Fuels, Inc.

    Recruited as COO, assumed interim CEO duties upon the departure of incumbent. Revolution Fuels is a PE-funded 30-employee organization that develops modular and co-located biodiesel plants with a small footprint to transform waste fats, oil and greases into fuel.

  3. Strategy Director, AENOVUS, LLC

    Founded an advisory group of business and strategy development guidance for small to medium-sized companies on project or interim-management bases.

  4. -
    General Manager - Renewable Products , Cargill Environmental Finance

    Directed the portfolio feasibility analysis of waste-to-energy investments that resulted in the largest bio-digester operations in the USA currently generating electricity.

  5. -
    Managing Director, Mexico , Cargill Animal Nutrition

    Promoted to lead the $250M Mexican subsidiary with two separate joint ventures, 11 manufacturing sites, and a 450-dealer distribution network.

life philosophy

"Don't argue, illustrate."

Experience Highlights

  • Turned around a biofuels startup
    development had fallen behind, took charge of project, commissioned pilot plant,  hired local team
  • Commercialized a technology
    Assessed product portfolio, carved out biofuels component and sold IP and assets to new developers
  • Started, grew and sold a business
    Identified need in Hispanic segment for marketing materials. grew revenues to $250k within 2 years
  • Seized opportunities in a new market, aquaculture.
    won Cargill C-level approval to execute a go-to-market plan across Latin America, 30% revenue growth


  • Master of Business Administration        (Emphasis in Corporate Strategy)
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • MSE, Industrial & Operations Engineering (Concentration on Applied Statistics)
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • BS, Industrial Engineering
    Universidad Panamericana, Guadalajara
  • Certified Professional Project Manager    (CPPM)
    University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN


  • Energy Efficiency
    The "other" pillar of Sustainability - the one with higher potential when compared to renewables


  • New Technologies
    My daily curated news include something  from cloud computing, biotechnology and robotic appliances
  • Cycling
    If only i was able to explore the whole world on a road bike
  • Good Karma
    like newton's 3rd law, there seems to be another kind of energy that plays at a less conscious level


  • 1st
    Registration. mobile biodiesel facility by us-epa
  • 30%
    Sales growth. regional feed market
  • $5M
    Seed round raise. algae oils for feed startup

Skills and Years of experience

  • Corporate Strategy  -
  • Business development   -
  • Start-ups  -
  • P&L Management  -
  • Mergers & acquisitions  -
  • operations management  -
  • team leadership  -


George Andrews, Managing Principal, Celadon Managed Wealth
"I've had the pleasure of knowing Manuel for nearly ten years. He was referred to me as a CEO candidate for a company my investor group was attempting to purchase. Although we were unsuccessful in our acquisition attempt, Manuel impressed us so much that we literally attempted to find a company to purchase so that we could recruit him to our investor group. Unfortunately for us, he pursued another opportunity. I am very hesitant to personally endorse any individual as it can affect my reputation as well. However, in Manuel's case, I can unhesitatingly state that he is one of the best qualified C-level prospects I've known in my 30 plus year career."
Robert Burris, President, Burris Trucking & Property Management
"Manuel was truly a visionary within a global company such as Cargill. He saw the trends of the future and was able to convince or lead the leadership team of Cargill Animal Nutrition to see the benefits of investing in the Aquaculture area. He furthermore was able to see the weaknesses and strengths of a corporate culture that needed a new infusion of ideas and business practices. The most impressive thing about Manuel was his ability to influence an organization of such depth, breath and magnitude to consider moving/investing in a direction completely different than it had in the previous 100 years. Once convinced, he oversaw and directed the acquisition and implementation of a small company into the huge organization of Cargill. A talent that should never be overlooked or assumed during an acquisition."
Luca Zullo, VP of Business Development, Grenyug
"Manuel has broad business experience combined with a technical background and well honed analytical skills. This allows him to rapidly define business strategies in emerging markets where information is often lacking. He can rapidly identify in a multitude of complex, and often contradictory information, key aspects and provide the team clear and unifying directions. I greatly enjoyed working with him in the definition of technical solutions for waste biomass market we were exploring."
Elias Roman, WW Commodity Manager for Scanners at HP
"I had the opportunity to work with Manuel when he was GM at Bermo in Mexico. Professionalism, dedication and pro-activeness are the best words that describe Manuel's attitude and work. If you want things to happen, just get Manuel involved, if he had to roll over his sleeves and get on the trenches to make things happen, he would do it, no question about it. He is committed to keep his customers happy. It was a pleasure to work with Manuel."

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