Born in Pereira in 1957, he earned his Law Degree at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Université de París.
Villegas Echeverri started his public service career as Private Secretary for the Minister of Economic Development and later served as economic counselor for the Colombian Embassy in Paris.
Later on, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as Undersecretary for Economic Affairs and as the Ministry’s Secretary General.
In 1985 he was appointed as Governor of Risaralda and in 1986 became the Secretary General of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation. He returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1987 to serve as Vice Minister.
Between 1992 and 1995 he was the president of the Corporación Financiera de Occidente and was elected as president of the National Business Association (ANDI), position he held for 17 years before his appointment as Colombian Ambassador to the United States.
As leader of the industrial sector, Villegas Echeverri chaired the Consejo Gremial Nacional (National Guild Council).
Likewise, after the earthquake that affected the departments of Quindío and Risaralda in 1999, he was appointed to head the Fondo de Reconstrucción del Eje Cafetero (Reconstruction Fund for the Coffee Growing Region).
He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Ecopetrol from March, 2012, and in September of that year President Juan Manuel Santos appointed him as one of the members of the negotiating team that is taking part in the peace dialogues with the FARC at Havana.
In November 2013, Luis Carlos Villegas was appointed by President Santos as Colombian Ambassador to the United States, where he represented the country until June 2015, when he took office as Minister of National Defense.