One history, a thousand inspiring stories.



Paulina Burbano de Lara is a true symbol of transition in Metropolitan Touring. She was brought in when Grupo Futuro bought the company in 2001, and has been witness to (and an active part of) the joys of seeing it grow, continuing the legacy and keeping alive the innovative spirit that made it the world’s most important showcase of Ecuador’s treasures 60 years ago.

“Everything was a huge coincidence, my getting involved in Grupo Futuro, my getting involved in Metropolitan Touring the way I did, and then my becoming president of the company… I didn’t plan on it, never did I expect it, never did I dream it… it was all a big, big coincidence,” says Paulina.

She seems like she needs convincing when she says it. Her father, a one-time employee at Metropolitan Touring when she was a child, upon leaving the company gave his entire life to tourism… And before Grupo Futuro bought Metropolitan Touring, Pablo Burbano de Lara, her cousin, was the president of the company…  “I know…,” she adds, “Freud would definitely NOT believe me… but I guess all I can say is that one thing led to another”. In any case, it was meant to be. Metropolitan Touring wouldn’t be the same without her.

And as coincidences go, it all seems to come down to a long conversation she entertained with Roque Sevilla, when Roque was elected Quito’s Mayor and Paulina directed the Empresa del Centro Histórico, an entity in charge of restoring and conserving the monumental heritage of Quito’s Historic Center. The next thing you know, Paulina was named Manager of Grupo Futuro, having worked closely with Roque for a couple of years during his time as Mayor

Not only named was she named General Manager, but she became the group’s first woman to hold an executive position. The move happened 12 years ago, when Paulina, who had always worked in the public sector and had always geared her efforts to social causes, was suddenly attending meetings with older private-sector investors who managed some of the most important insurance companies in the country. It was a leap, to say the least.

A handful of months later, while Paulina was still getting used to her new job, Grupo Futuro bought Metropolitan Touring from Eduardo Proaño. “These were people who knew very little about tourism. Their entire lives revolved around insurance. They were great businessmen, and to them, buying a tourism company was another wise investment. It seemed as though it would be no different”, she recalls. But… it was. And in a hard way, because, a few fateful months after the purchase, the unthinkable happened again: the Twin Towers vanished from the New York skyline.

This fatal event not only sent chills down everybody’s spine around the world, it literally destroyed receptive tourism in Ecuador, putting Metropolitan Touring into intensive care. “Those were tough times… and we didn´t knew when we were going to overcome them, we just had to act.” Grupo Futuro’s buying of Metropolitan Touring ended up looking like an inevitable flop. And there was only one possible solution: to put all the eggs in that basket. Paulina Burbano de Lara, like other Grupo Futuro members, was asked to come onboard to help save the ship.

“The previous president of the company, before Grupo Futuro took over, was my cousin Pablo Burbano de Lara,” she explains. “A two-year transition period was programmed so that the incumbent administration would smoothly gain full control, but an unpredictable string of events led to an improvised go-between and six months after the acquisition, I sat there with Pablo, signed every last document with him, making sure everything was settled the right way.”

Not only was Paulina Grupo Futuro’s youngest and newest member, not only was she the only member from the public sector, Paulina became a veritable link between the old Metropolitan Touring and the new one, the one who, although she had bypassed it all her life, had inevitably inherited tourism from her father, the one person who, in the end, could learn to love the company and dedicate herself to it and its growth.

“Metropolitan Touring was, I have no doubt, a blessing in disguise for Grupo Futuro,” says Paulina. “It brought so many challenges and complexities into the lives of these people who had already established their prosperous businesses, that it really captivated them and brought out the best in them. They were suddenly forced to invent, to be creative and seek out solutions in a sector they didn´t know. And that made the name, Grupo Futuro, make even more sense as a true conceptual drive. I, on the other hand, kept on learning, on the job, as the years went by and responsibilities grew. I was first in charge of administration and finance, as well as human resources. Then in 2006 I became Commercial Vice-President; in 2008, I also led land and sea operations, to later open the regional offices and finally become President and CEO of Metropolitan in 2010. A wonderful learning process.”

At the new building, Metropolitan Touring’s current building, Paulina has a wall-to-wall window instead of a wall separating her office, and an enormous glass door that, for the most part, she leaves open. She doesn’t believe in separation within the work place. She wants people to come in whenever they want, whenever they can, even, to tell her everything that’s going on, whatever is on their minds. This is central, she says, to the evolution of the company. It has adopted newer, more ergonomic, more modern, more dynamic concepts, that lead to transparency, faster reactions, smarter solutions and more creativity. She wishes, at some point, it had been done earlier. But, you have to live and learn.

“Since 2001, beginning with a world crisis and now having opened Metropolitan Touring offices in four countries, it’s been a comprehensive education for me and for all of us. It’s been like eating the entire cake, slice by slice!”

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Contest Invitation
We will be running lots of contests to celebrate our 60th anniversary throughout the coming months. How about a 60-second video contest? A 600-word blog competition? Or a 60-character tweet contest on Twitter?! That’s all in the pipeline, and there will be our usual amazing prizes...