LEADERS Magazine January, February, March 2023 Volume 46, Number 1

Page 1


Indra Nooyi

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On the Cover


Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski

Richard A. Baker Hudson’s Bay Company

Arianna Huffington Thrive Global Richard Mack Mack Real Estate Group

Michael Dowling Northwell Health

Sandra Douglass Morgan Las Vegas Raiders

Farooq Kathwari Ethan Allen Interiors Inc.

Frank H. McCourt, Jr. Project Liberty

Thomas W. Corbett Alliant Insurance Services

Matt Higgins RSE Ventures

Dr. Nido R. Qubein High Point University

Chrissy Metz

Timothy Shriver Special Olympics International

Bruce E. Mosler

Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

Printing: Calev Print Media – Freeport Press

Photo Credits: Cover 12 author - © Duke Photography, 9 - © Evan Joseph Studios; 14 top left - © 2008 Max Turner; 26 building© Kevin Korczyk, 2017 Mesa AZ; Cover-Dowling 30-33, 34, 36, 38, 39 - © Lee S. Weissman; 40 author - © Las Vegas Raiders; 40 stadium exterior - Michael Clemens/Las Vegas Raiders; 41 top -- Michael Clemens/Las Vegas Raiders; 41 bottom - Jason O’Rear/ Las Vegas Raiders; 42 top - © Jason O’Rear/Las Vegas Raiders; 42 bottom - © Chelsea Christensen/Las Vegas Raiders; 43 top - © Chelsea Christensen/Las Vegas Raiders; 43 bottom - © Jeffrey Bennett/Las Vegas Raiders; 54 - © BryanBeasley; 58 author - © 2015 Brad Trent; 59 - © 2022 Max Touhey; 60, 62, 63 - atempletonphoto.com; 64 author - © 2016 Ben Hider; 84 author - © 2016 Ben Hider; 90-91 - © Dean Foreman; 98 candid - © Claire Behan; 99 - © Olympics, Inc.; 107 - © Don Hamerman 2016; 111 - © Paul Broadrick Photography; 127 - © Lauren Herrmann; 136-137 - © Hindman LLC; 162 girl - © Capture This Films: 165 Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris - © Masahiko TAKEDA; 168-169 - © Adi Adinayev Photography; 170-171 property photos - © Bruce Buck; 172-173 property photos - © Troy Campbell 2022; 176 author - © 2021 Heather White Images; 178 Bayou Rum - DRHORN.ORG; 182-183 - © Johnny De Los Santos, Dom Q Rum; 184-185 - © Nicole Ravicchio; 188-189 product - © Avistoria; 192 author and cocktail photos - © JP QUINDARA; 194 author - © Johanna Leigh Photography

LEADERS (ISSN 0163-3635 ) is published quarterly by Leaders Magazine, LLC, a Sandow brand; www.leadersmag.com. Leaders Magazine, LLC, Sandow Media, LLC and their respective affiliates, directors, officers, employees, contributors, writers and editors (collectively, “Publisher”) accept no responsibility for inaccuracies, errors or omissions with information and/or advertisements contained herein. The Publisher has neither investigated nor endorsed the individuals, companies and/or products that advertise within the publication or that are mentioned editorially. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the claims made by the Advertisers or the merits of their respective products or services advertised or promoted in the publication. Publisher neither expressly nor implicitly endorses such Advertiser products, services or claims. Publisher expressly assumes no liability for any damages whatsoever that may be suffered by any purchaser or user for any products or services advertised or mentioned editorially herein and strongly recommends that any purchaser or user investigate such products, services, methods and/or claims made thereto. Opinions expressed in the magazine and/or its advertisements do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Publisher. Neither the Publisher nor its staff, associates or affiliates are responsible for any errors, omissions or information whatsoever that have been misrepresented to Publisher. The information on products and services as advertised in the publication are shown by Publisher on an “as is” and “as available” basis. Publisher makes no representations or warranties o f any kind, expressed or implied, as to the information, services, contents, trademarks, patents, materials or products included in this magazine. All pictures reproduced in the publication have been accepted by Publisher on the condition that such pictures are reproduced with the knowledge and prior consent of the photographer. As such, Publisher is not responsible for any infringement of any third party’s intellectual property or other rights arising out of any publication. LEADERS® is a registered trademark of Leaders Magazine, LLC. © Leaders Magazine, LLC 2023. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher. ADDRESS SUBSCRIPTION REQUESTS AND CORRESPONDENCE TO: Leaders, 3651 NW 8th Avenue, Boca Raton, FL 33431.


Scott Rechler
“Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.”
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Creating Places and Building Communities

Scott Rechler, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, RXR 6

A Life of Teaching and Coaching Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski 12

A Company of Adventurers

Richard A. Baker, Governor, Executive Chairman, and CEO, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) 18

Ending the Stress and Burnout Epidemic Arianna Huffington, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Thrive Global 22

Transparency, Track Record, and Performance Richard Mack, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Mack Real Estate Group 26

Raider Nation Sandra Douglass Morgan, President, Las Vegas Raiders 40

Classic Design With a Modern Perspective Farooq Kathwari, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. 44

Project Liberty Frank H. McCourt, Jr., Executive Chairman, McCourt Global and Founder and Executive Chairman, Project Liberty, and Martina Larkin, Chief Executive Officer, Project Liberty 48

Enhancing Digital Governance Constance Bommelaer de Leusse, Executive Director, Project Liberty’s McCourt Institute 52

Technology for the Common Good Braxton Woodham, Co-Creator of the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) and President of McCourt Global’s Labs Team 54

Industry Experience

Steven M. Durels, Executive Vice President and Director of Leasing and Real Property, SL Green Realty Corp. 58

Nimbler Than Ever Richard A. Rosenbaum, Executive Chairman, Greenberg Traurig 68

Contents PURPOSE

Building Financial Security

Christian W. Mitchell, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Northwestern Mutual 71

Delivering Value Verdun S. Perry, Senior Managing Director, Blackstone and Global Head, Blackstone Strategic Partners 75

Burn the Boats Matt Higgins, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, RSE Ventures 78

Creating Pathways for Artists to Tell Their Stories

Maha Dakhil and Joel Lubin, Co-Heads, CAA Motion Picture Group 81

A Joyful Heart Chrissy Metz 90

A Noble Profession Brad S. Karp, Chairman, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP 93

The Power of Relationships Raymond L. Qiao, Chief Lending Officer and Executive Vice President, Bank of China, U.S.A. 96

Unbeatable Together Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Board, Special Olympics International 98

The Total Enterprise Reinvention Partner Muqsit Ashraf, Lead – Strategy, Accenture 101

Clients, Community, and Culture Bruce E. Mosler, Chairman of Global Brokerage, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. 104

Innovation and Discovery Evan L. Flatow, MD, President, Mount Sinai West 106

The Future of Energy Robert B. Catell, Chairman, Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stony Brook University and Chairman, National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium 108

Open Finance Simon Paris, Chief Executive Officer, Finastra 111

Putting People First John Shea, Chief Executive Officer, Octagon Sports & Entertainment Network 114

The Fusion of Excellence and Inclusivity Andrew D. Racine, MD, PhD, System Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Montefiore Health System 116

Advancing Equity and Inclusive Growth Shelley Stewart III, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company 119

Improving Clinical Care Michael P. Ast, MD, Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Chief Medical Innovation Officer, HSS 122

A Culture of Innovation Jordan S. Harmon, Chief Innovation and Commercialization Officer, HSS 123

Defining Entrepreneurship Uri Levine 124

Creating Experiences at Work That Matter Sanjay Rishi, Americas Chief Executive Officer, Work Dynamics, JLL 127

Live Healthy Bo Boulenger, President and Chief Executive Officer, Baptist Health South Florida 130

The Hightower Way Bob Oros, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Hightower 132

The Hometown Auction House Jay Frederick Krehbiel, Executive Chairman, Hindman 136

The World of Classical Music Gerard Schwarz, Music Director, Palm Beach Symphony 138

Automating Engagement Randall Crowder, Chief Operating Officer, Phunware, Inc. 140


A Digital Native Credit Union

Charles Krawitz, Senior Vice President and Chief Capital Markets Officer, Alliant Credit Union 144

Leading With Alignment Christopher Zook, Founder, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer, CAZ Investments 147

Living an Earned Life Dr. Marshall Goldsmith 150

The Four Cs Shundrawn A. Thomas, Founder and Managing Partner, The Copia Group 153

A Purveyor of Flavor J.R. Rigley, President, The Watkins Co. 156

The Healing Power of Art Jan Dilenschneider 158

Raising Health

Michael Dowling, President and Chief Executive Officer, Northwell Health 30

Advancing Healthcare

Said Aidid Ibrahim, MD, MPH, MBA, Senior Vice President - Medicine - Northwell Health, Chairman of Medicine - Internal Medicine, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Chairman of Medicine - Internal Medicine, North Shore University Hospital 34

Translating Patient-Impactful Research Into Practice

Karina Davidson, PhD, Senior Vice President of Research, Northwell Health 35

Neurosurgical Care

Daniel M. Sciubba, MD, Senior Vice President of Neurosurgery, Northwell Health, and Chair of Neurosurgery, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell 36

Otolaryngology Care Andrea Vambutas, MD, FACS, Senior Vice President and Executive Director for Otolaryngology Services, Northwell Health 37

Transplant Care Nabil N. Dagher, MD, FACS, Vice President and Director of the Northwell Health Transplant Center at North Shore University Hospital 38

Prevention Care

Felicia Hill-Briggs, PhD, Vice President of Prevention and Simons Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research, Northwell Health 39

The Alliant Difference

Thomas W. Corbett, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alliant Insurance Services 60

Strategic Direction Greg Zimmer, President, Alliant Insurance Services 62

A Connected, Collaborative Culture Peter Carpenter, Chief Operating Officer, Alliant Insurance Services 63

Financial Discipline Ilene Anders, Chief Financial Officer, Alliant Insurance Services 64

A Commitment to Specialization Peter Arkley, President, Retail Property and Casualty, Alliant Insurance Services 65

Focus and Excellence Sean McConlogue, President, Alliant Underwriting Solutions 66

The Caribbean Way Adam Stewart, CD, Hon. LLD, Executive Chairman, Sandals Resorts International 160

A Place Where Legends Belong Christopher Cowdray, Chief Executive Officer, Dorchester Collection 164

A Trilogy Model Peter Strebel, Chairman, Omni Hotels & Resorts 166

A Lifestyle Brand Dennis DeGori, Founder, E11EVEN 168

Timeless Glamour Octavia Marginean-Tahiroglu, General Manager, The St. Regis New York 170

Memorable Moments Deborah Yager Fleming, Chief Executive Officer & Partner, Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach 172

The Art of Personalization Ashish Verma, Senior Vice President, Luxury Division for Dream Hotel Group overseeing The Chatwal, New York 174

The Premier Life Skills University Dr. Nido R. Qubein, President, High Point University 84

Elite, Insurgent, Family Damian McKinney, Global Chief Executive Officer, Stoli Group 178

A Market Maker for all Rare and Collectable Wines David Parker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Benchmark Wine Group 180

A Pioneer in the Industry Silvia Santiago, Maestra Ronera, Destilería Serrallés, Inc. 182

On the Winemaking Borders Jim Silver, Managing Director, New Frontier Wine Co. 184

Distiller-Owned Eric Brass, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Tequila Tromba 186

The Golden Rule Florian Riedel, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis 176

Collector to Creator Julie Macklowe, Founder, The Macklowe 188

Growing Brands Bruce Hunter, Managing Director, Shaw-Ross International Importers 190

Innovation Through Storytelling Uduimoh Umolu, Co-Founder, Jon Basil Tequila 192

Finding the Hidden Gems of the Wine World Michael P. Votto, President, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Votto Vines 194


Creating Places and Building Communities

EDITORS’ NOTE Scott Rechler is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of RXR, an innovative investor, developer and place-maker committed to applying a customer and community-centered approach to building properties, services, and products that create enduring value for all stakeholders. From 2011 to 2016, Rechler served on the Board of Commissioners as Vice Chairman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He later served on the Board of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) from 2017 to 2019. In November 2021, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In addition to his role at RXR, Rechler currently serves as chair of the Regional Plan Association, trustee and Vice Chair of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center, member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Chair of The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and member of the Board of Trustees at Northwell Health, and a Board member of the Hospital for Special Surgery. He is also on the Board of the Drum Major Institute, Convene, Kitchen United, and a member of the NYU Real Estate Institute Advisory Committee. Rechler is a graduate of Clark University and the New York University Schack Institute.

COMPANY BRIEF Headquartered in New York with a national platform strategy, RXR (rxr.com) is a 500+ person, vertically integrated operator, developer, and investment manager with expertise in a wide array of value creation activities, including ground-up real estate, infrastructure, and industrial development, uncovering value in underperforming properties, repurposing well-located iconic properties, and value-added lending. RXR is also considered a leader in the digital transformation of the built environment with an ecosystem that includes its own proprietary digital lab, a digital ventures fund, and investments in leading PropTech companies such as View (NASDAQ).

The RXR platform manages 91 commercial real estate properties and investments with an aggregate gross asset value of approximately $21.2 billion, comprising approximately 30.4 million square feet of commercial properties, a multi-family residential portfolio of

approximately 8,000 units under operation or development, and control of development rights for an additional approximately 3,800 multi-family and for sale units as of September 30, 2022.

Prior to forming RXR, we ran a public company called Reckson, which was grounded in understanding our customers, embracing innovation, and driving growth in office and industrial in the New York market. As a public company, we began to recognize other compelling trends outside of the office and industrial sectors, such as student housing. We looked around the country and saw the aging campus housing stock, and we knew that schools were challenged to make the investments necessary to

improve these facilities. So, we helped build a company called American Campus Communities (ACC) to address the lack of highquality student housing on and off campus in a manner that kept the projects off a school’s balance sheet. We were able to expand this model throughout the country because we understood that our customer wasn’t just the student, the parent, or the university – we had to make all three of these stakeholders happy.

However, as we grew this student housing business, our Reckson shareholders made it clear that they wanted us to remain focused just on New York office and industrial space, and not student housing. With this pressure, we took the student housing company public in 2004, and it grew to become the largest student housing company in the world. But we were frustrated that we were forced to divest Reckson’s interest right as ACC’s growth began to accelerate. We faced a similar challenge

Will you highlight the history and heritage of RXR?
Scott Rechler An
Rendering of One and Two Clinton Park in New Rochelle, New York

with a “big box” logistics platform that we were building and also had to sell. We recognized that the world was changing, and our customers’ needs were changing, and we felt that to be successful in this environment we needed to be more agile. Unfortunately, the public markets were just too restrictive for this kind of approach.

In 2004, we began to think about the best capital structure for us to build a company that would give us the flexibility to adapt to a constantly changing world. And in 2006, with such unprecedented liquidity in the market, executing large M&A deals was increasingly attractive. So, in January 2007, we sold Reckson for $6.5 billion.

With the sale of Reckson, my partners and I had an opportunity to sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what would be the right organizational and capital structure to best position us for the future and that’s how we created RXR. Clearly, the timing was challenging heading into the 2008 financial crisis. We spent a lot of time early on traveling the

world and meeting with investors at a time when no one was really investing. Ultimately, we found institutional investors who sat out the financial crisis, and they recognized that RXR was a great vessel to capitalize on the extraordinary dislocation that was taking place in the New York office market. We formed funds and partnerships around this dislocation and made our first investment in August 2009, when there was still tremendous economic uncertainty. We quickly acquired over $4 billion in office buildings from 2009 to 2011, centered around the changing nature of the office user, particularly on where and how the knowledge worker wanted to work, including the type of buildings and the type of communities.

We also recognized a growing talent pool that could no longer afford to live directly in New York City. So, we began to think about how we could create high-quality housing in terms of the amenities, the finishings, and services in walkable and diverse communities with close access to public

transportation. These areas offered residents the opportunity to rent high-quality space at a big discount compared to what someone would have to pay to live in New York City, and they were only 30 minutes or so away from the City. Similar to our student housing business, when we worked directly with schools and universities, we formed public/ private partnerships with local municipalities to build on government-owned land. These municipalities were long on surface parking lots but short on tax revenue and economic activity. We’ve partnered with cities such as New Rochelle, Yonkers, Glen Cove, and the Village of Hempstead, where we served as the city’s master developer and built projects that provided not only sorely needed high-quality housing alternatives, but also ignited economic growth and activity for aging downtowns. We take a holistic approach when it comes to development in that it is not just about the project itself, but also the potential impact to local small businesses, the local schools, local residents, and so on. So, in our role as a master developer, we always seek to create win-win-win situations for all stakeholders.

Will you elaborate on RXR’s focus on creating places and building communities?

We believe that we are only as strong as the communities where we operate, which is why the concept of “doing good and doing well means doing better” is one of our company’s foundational values. We view philanthropy and civic engagement as integral to our business –no different than construction, development, and architecture. This is all part of the ingredients for our success.

I would also include placemaking in our buildings and in the communities where we operate as a part of our “doing good and doing well” approach. In the old days, it was about building four walls and collecting rent – but today, we want to activate what happens within those four walls, and we want to have a relationship with the user who lives or works within those four walls because those are our customers. In our view, real estate is ultimately a service business, so we’re constantly seeking ways to create unique and engaging experiences for our customers.

RXR has expanded outside of the New York market. Will you discuss this expansion and where you see additional opportunities for growth?

RXR is a New York-based company, but my partners and I had talked about for some time how we could transfer our experience and expertise in New York to other markets around the country. We asked ourselves, what was the formula that made our New York investments so successful, and how could we replicate this formula in other parts of the country? And we found that the common denominator was our understanding of the talent pool – specifically, where does the knowledge worker want to live, work, and play. New York is the epicenter for this

Rendering of 175 Park

knowledge worker, but there are other parts of the country where this talent has migrated, so we decided to target those specific markets. We focused on places that had good education systems, good healthcare systems, and leadership invested in improving infrastructure and quality of life – or what we commonly refer to as Eds, Meds, and WellLed cities. We believed that we could take the model that had been so successful for us in New York by targeting the outer ring of other cities that had the necessary transportation hubs that allowed people to get back and forth quickly from the city’s center to create high-quality housing at an affordable price. So, we’re investing in those growing Superstar Cities that now have the added potential to become Superstar Regions.

We have two buildings and two development projects outside Phoenix. We also have properties and pending projects in Tampa, Denver, Raleigh, and Dallas. Again, these are areas where the knowledge worker can rent a high-quality space at a 30 percent discount in areas just outside the city center where there are restaurants, art galleries, and other appealing amenities.

Do you see RXR as being in the hospitality and service business?

For far too long, I think that people in the real estate industry have thought of real estate as just building a product to rent when to really be successful, you really

have to approach real estate as a service business. And a successful service business requires hospitality, responsiveness, and knowing your customer. So, we built RXR on a philosophy of continually providing our customers with what they need to thrive.

What is your outlook for the New York real estate market?

New York City has repeatedly proven that it is far more resilient than anyone thinks. In the heat of the pandemic, when people were leaving New York and residential occupancy rates were down to 80 percent, we bought $2 billion of multi-family product and people questioned what we were doing at the time. But we always knew that people would come back to New York City, and today, occupancies are back to over 95 percent, rents are up, our streets are filled, restaurants are booming, and tourists are back.

New York is a unique place, and it will continue to be a unique place. New York has always been great at reinventing itself, which it did after 9/11, after the 2008 financial crisis, after Superstorm Sandy, and now, it is reinventing itself again for a post-COVID new normal. And the way people think about work, public transportation, and our central business districts is also changing. So, for New York to continue to be successful, it’s critical that we have public policies that reflect these changing dynamics to ensure that New York’s future is just as bright as its past.

What are your views on the future of work?

The pandemic certainly changed how we think about the office. But there is no doubt in my mind, and in conversations that I have had with other business leaders, a successful business is built on collaboration, culture building, and mentorship. These are critical factors that can be emulated virtually, but they cannot be directly replicated in a virtual realm. It requires physically being together, which means you need to create an office environment that is much more conducive to engagement, but that is a different type of office than before the pandemic. It may not be an office that’s occupied five days a week. After all, hybrid work is here to stay, and striking that work-life balance is key. I do think that with the uncertainty in the economy and a potential downturn, employees will need to be physically present working together, and companies need to maintain culture during potentially turbulent times.

But this is not just an office building issue –this is a fundamental civic issue that is directly tied to the future of cities. The workers that fill office buildings are a critically important component of our city’s ecosystems, supporting other businesses, restaurants, transit systems, museums, and so on. So, when workers that used to work in the office choose to work remotely, this ecosystem is thrown off balance. This is a civic issue that must be thought of on a much larger scale – as opposed to a specific industry issue.

Rendering of Terminal 6 at JFK Airport

On the office side of the business, there is clearly a demarcation of which buildings are going to be competitive post-COVID and which will not. I call this commercial real estate’s Kodak moment – you have digital, and you have film – you want to invest in the digital. For example, we are now investing in a project called 175 Park with our partner, TF Cornerstone, where we own the air rights over Grand Central Terminal, and we are going to build a state-of-the-art, fully electric 2.8 millionsquare-foot office building with a hotel at the top. Even in this period of economic uncertainty, it is so interesting to see company after company approaching us about space in this new office building, even though it will not be available until 2029/2030. This will certainly be a special building that will have a major impact on New York City.

We recently began the development of a $4.8 billion airport terminal at JFK International Airport. We put this deal together during the uncertainty of COVID, but we always believed that air travel to and from New York City would continue to do extraordinarily well, so building a world-class airport terminal that we will own for 40 years is something that we are very excited about.

We are also focused on opportunities where we are repurposing competitively obsolete product. Whether it’s office buildings, hotels, malls, or surface parking lots – we’re buying these properties at a price that allows us to transform them to much better use, such as housing. We just bought an old mall in White Plains at a price where we will be able to tear down the mall and build over 800 residential units a block away from the train station. This is a good example of where we had an opportunity to transform a mall that had been vacant for almost

two decades into something that will be a great asset for the city’s downtown. We were able to capitalize on this project because the price was right, and the municipality and the state offered the right incentives to help make the economics work.

Will you discuss RXR’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

I have always been a big believer that you need to have diverse perspectives, which only comes with a diverse workforce. You need to be intentional about seeking and creating that diversity in the workplace, and we have focused on this a lot at RXR. One area where we have had success is in our construction business, with women holding several key leadership positions. Joanne Minieri is the COO of that business, and her leadership has attracted a number of other women leaders in what has historically been an industry that has not typically had women in leadership roles. This demonstrates that whether it is racial or gender diversity, if you have role models and mentors, it attracts more diverse candidates to the organization.

We are also committed to having diverse talent work on our development projects. A good example is our master development in Downtown New Rochelle, where we are attracting a diverse group of workers, particularly from the local community. For each project, we begin job training a year before we start construction, and we hold a series of job fairs with the different building trades performing work on the project. We are constantly seeking ways to leverage our developments to benefit the communities where we operate. At our JFK project in Southeast Queens, we have committed to 30 percent MWBE (Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise) participation across the over $4 billion project and we’re also hiring talent from the local community.

Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is integral to RXR’s business planning, and we are intentional at incorporating it into our daily operations.

What has made philanthropy so important to you?

My parents were always very involved and engaged in their community, so it has always been a part of who I am. In connection with our business, I consider it to be consistent with RXR’s operational ethos, which is to build stronger communities. I have also been influenced by my interactions and friendship with Mike Bloomberg over the years and the model that he has set up for Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, where they have their own separate operational and organizational silos, but they are aligned in their mission. This is how I approach RXR’s corporate philanthropy and my own personal philanthropy – it really comes down to doing good, and doing well, means doing better.

What has made the relationship between the partners at RXR work so well?

We started working together when we were very young. I was in my mid-20s when we took our company public, and two of my partners are younger than me, and one is not much older than me, so starting young forced us to rely on each other to navigate different challenges. And when you live through the different battles that we have gone through together – whether it was buying companies, selling companies, or starting new businesses – you have those moments of stress that either break the team or make the team stronger, and for us, we always come out stronger and we have always put the value of the partnership above any one issue.

We also had to be humble and hungry to succeed against people who were much more experienced than us. We had to be humble because we did not know as much as our competitors, and we had to be hungry and willing to outwork them if we were ever going to succeed.

Are you able to enjoy the process and take moments to celebrate the wins?

That is a very good question with a very sad answer! My partners and I always joke that we never really celebrate – we are always onto the next opportunity before we even finish the one we are working on. The best example is when we sold our company, Reckson, and we opened our new company, RXR, on the exact same day. We always say that was one of our biggest mistakes, and maybe if we had taken a year off to regroup, it would not have made a difference. But the reality is that big celebrations are not really in our personalities – we just keep driving forward. I have this saying that “standing still is moving backward,” and I am always afraid of being complacent. We are always thinking about how we can reinvent ourselves and the need to adjust to the changing times. Or, as my team constantly hears me say, we need to regularly recalibrate for a new reality!•

Will you highlight RXR’s portfolio and current development projects?
The Beacon at Garvies Point in Glen Cove, New York

In all my years of playing around the world, I have never seen a brighter soul than Chiara’s. You would never know what it took for her to be here. Together with her world class team, Chiara triumphed over a rare cancer that nearly stole her future as a dancer.”

– Pilo Gomez

When we unite around one goal, that is when we win. Play on.

“When the prize is our future, every day is the match of our lives.
See Chiara’s story at cancer.montefioreeinstein.org/Chiara

A Life of Teaching and Coaching

EDITORS’ NOTE In 42 seasons at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski – a Naismith Hall of Fame coach, fivetime national champion and NCAA record 13-time Final Four participant – built a dynasty that few programs in the history of the game can match. No coach in Division I men’s basketball history won more games than Coach K’s 1,202. Announcing his retirement in June 2021 ahead of his 42nd season at Duke, and 47th overall as a head coach at both Duke and West Point, Krzyzewski finished his career with a 1,202-368 record as a head coach, including a 1,129-309 mark at Duke.

When did you know that you wanted to be a basketball coach?

It happened in high school. My high school basketball coach during my junior and senior years was young and was only about five or six years older than me. While I believed in myself and felt that I was the best player, he thought I was even better. I had never been

around anybody that had that level of belief in me. I also had a priest in my life who became a faith mentor for me. I went to a Catholic boys high school, and he explained faith to me where it made sense. The impact that these people had on me was remarkable and it made me want to be a teacher and a coach because I felt that there couldn’t be anything better than to have an impact on people in the way they had an impact on me. Then, when I went to West Point, that feeling was accelerated even more and my time at West Point created so many of the opportunities that I have had in my life.

You mentioned wanting to be a teacher and a coach. Do you see these two roles as connected?

Coaching is teaching, and it is also leadership. I had a lesson plan for every practice, which is over 5,000 practices during my career, and I still have all of them. It is about how to get your point across and how to best teach. You are not just teaching the pick and roll; you are teaching how to be a better teammate and how

to combine the talents of the group. Coaching is really about teaching a course on teamwork and leadership every day. For me, even though I have retired from coaching, I have not retired from the study of leadership and teamwork. I am a professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and I speak regularly around the country working with the Washington Speakers Bureau. I am constantly learning and have always been curious and interested in the concept of leadership.

When you talk about teamwork, how important was it when recruiting athletes to not only look for the best talent, but also to focus on the cultural fit within the program?

We look at three things when recruiting and they are all equal: obviously talent at the highest level; the fit into the environment, whether that was during my time at West Point or at Duke; and character – we studied the character of each of the young men we recruited, looking at how they treated their teammates, how they responded to their coach, teacher evaluations, etc. Almost half of the men we recruited did not have fathers in their lives for a number of

Mike Krzyzewski An Interview with Mike
Coach K at the 2022 Final Four (above) and as a young coach at Duke (upper right)

reasons, but all of them had mothers. I always looked at the relationship the young man had with his mom.

I would say that we recruited talent with character, not talented characters. I have been around great young men throughout my career. People say that I developed these men, but they had a good foundation before they came, and our program had a positive impact in building on that foundation.

How did your time at West Point impact your views on leadership?

West Point is the best leadership school in the world, and you learn it while you are a cadet because the cadets lead each other. You find out by being in different roles as a freshman and then, as a sophomore and junior, you find out what it feels like to be in those roles, whether it be as a squad leader or company commander or another role. It is a special place with a special process, and it gave me a great foundation and understanding of leadership.

You speak about the importance of resilience in life. Is resilience a skill that can be taught?

You can definitely teach resilience. At West Point, you get knocked down a lot because you are constantly learning new things and being challenged. A phrase that I used often during my time at West Point was, “failure is never your destination.” This means that when you get knocked down, you are supposed to get up. That does not mean that you get up alone. Resilience opens the door to working in teams, realizing that while you may not be able to do something alone, if you build a team someone else may be there not to let you fall down.

How important was it over your nearly five decades of coaching to continue to adapt and evolve year after year?

You have to adapt to change, and things are always changing. It is called Duke basketball, but the team changes each year and with the rapidity of players leaving over the last decade, it really became a different team each year. Even the players who stay all four years are changing each year, growing and getting wiser and becoming a bigger part of the culture.

I think that a huge thing to adapt to is communication – how you get your message across to the men you have in order to lead at the moment.

I found the changes in the way to communicate interesting and it keeps you young because

communication is not just about talking, it is about listening. In business, I often see that the older, established people do not listen to the young people in the organization. I believe that it is essential to listen since I have learned so much from my players. I teach them and they teach me, especially if you have guys with talent and character. It also keeps you young. I am 75 years old, and I can still coach, but I was tired of all the things that are required to be a good coach – being on the road recruiting, scouting, and so on. Having said that, I never get tired of teaching and coaching young men.

You have remained close to many of your players after they leave Duke and have built a strong alumni network for the program. What has made this so important for you?

I saw this with my high school coach, and I think one of the beauties of coaching and teaching is that you can have a lifelong relationship when a player wants one. Life gets busy and it is about being there for these men when they need you and this does not stop when they finish playing. We have something that we call “The Brotherhood” which is all the guys who played here, and our managers who have worked with the team actually have this as well. I love that we have been able to keep this connection.

What are your views on the state of the NCAA and the need for the NCAA to evolve and adapt?

The NCAA has not adapted in its entire existence. Some of that consistency is good, but it has not adapted to the changes that have taken place and they need to have rules that fit for different sports and different situations. The NCAA is like the store where one size fits all, and that does not work since one size does not fit all. There needs to be an evaluation of what

Coach K during a Duke victory at Furman in 2014
Coach K celebrating a victory over Arkansas to move into the Final Four in 2022

works for each sport and while the NCAA has a role as the umbrella organization with rules and regulations, it cannot expect to handle all sports the same. If the NCAA was a road, it would have no exits and no turns – just a straight road. I am not saying that the values and the people involved in the NCAA are not good, because they are, but the structure has been outdated for decades and they are trying to fit a square into a circle.

Is it harder to maintain a team culture when players are only staying for a year or two, and with the transfer portal increasing the way players move from school to school?

It is extremely hard today, so much harder than when you had Johnny Dawkins or Tommy Amaker for four years, or JJ Redick or Shane Battier for four years. Those older players would teach the younger players, and it was not just talking about culture, but actually seeing the culture in action. Our team managers play a big role in this regard. We have anywhere from 12 to 15 managers, and they are here for four years and play an integral part in our program. They have the same status as a player but have different duties. The reality is that it is not the same as when we had the four-year players, but you need to continue to try to get there.

What interested you in renewing your SiriusXM show, “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K,” and what is your mission for the show?

This is a people show to have conversations with interesting people and we touch on a variety of subjects. I personally learn a lot from the conversations and the show has been very well received over its 18 years.

With all of the success that you have had on the court, it has not always been a smooth journey and you have been open about some of the challenges you have faced in your life. What made you want to address these issues in public?

No one wins all the time, and there is the human aspect that happens with people, whether it is physical health, mental health, something with a family member. Once that time period and issue is addressed, you need to get back to the level that you deserve to be at with the talent and commitment that you have.

How much will you miss coaching and is there a possibility that you may return to the sidelines one day?

I am over coaching – if I wasn’t over it, I would not have retired. I also know that I do not want to do games on television because that requires study and time commitment so if I was going to put in that time, I would have stayed coaching. I am at peace and happy doing the Sirius show, speaking, spending time with my ten grandkids. For all of us, time will eventually run out, and there are other things that are meaningful to me and that is where I am focused now.

Will you touch on the impact that your family had on your career and the special partnership that you have with your wife, Mickie?

My wife and I have been great partners. We have been married 53 years and having

Coach K at a Duke game against Georgia Southern in 2008 with then player and now head coach of Duke Jon Scheyer (above) and with wife Mickie (right)

three daughters really helps because they have brought out great feelings for me. We have a family group text called “the starting five” and we have always looked at life as a family. I took all the kids and their families to the three Olympics I was involved with, and all of the kids’ families live within ten minutes of us which is unusual. We have a very close family.

During your career, you spoke about not looking in the rear-view mirror and always looking ahead. Now that you have retired from coaching, are you able to reflect and take moments to appreciate what you accomplished?

I can. The documentary titled, The Redeem Team, focused on USA Basketball’s 2008 Olympic gold medal win in Beijing, just came out on Netflix and the whole family watched it together. I have also received many letters since I retired from people who I have touched or tried to help over the years. I was not able to always appreciate those moments because I was moving onto other things, but when I read these long, emotional letters, it makes me feel even better about my career because I think we used the platform well. I do not look back on a great win or a tough loss or sit around watching old tapes, but I do think about the impact we have made on people’s lives, and this is something I plan to continue to try to do.•

Coach K at a Duke game against Army in 2021 (top) and with his mother, Emily (above)

Zvonimir Mihanović

Zvonimir Mihanović’s paintings draw inspiration from the picturesque harbors, marine vistas and small villages along the beautiful Dalmatian coast. Art critics describe his artistic style as poetic hyperrealism due to the application of his demanding and meticulous painting technique and depiction of idyllic scenery. He has achieved worldwide recognition for his paintings and Findlay Galleries is proud to continue to represent Mihanović’s work.

Born in Croatia in 1946, Mihanović was exceptionally talented as an artist from a young age. In 1965 he had his first one-man show in Split, followed by another in Zagreb, where he began his formal studies at the Academy of Fine Arts. After completing his studies, he traveled to Paris in 1971, where he furthered his education at the l ’Ecole des Beaux-Arts at the studio of the French painter Albert Zavaro. While Mihanović studied classical painting in the old tradition, he also produced sanctioned copies of paintings by the old masters as a way of honing his skills. Mihanović’s paintings quickly gained interest in Paris. In 1978, one of his works was exhibited at the Salon d’Automne at the Grand Palais, where he won “Best of Show” in the realism category. It was here that major art dealers recognized his work and introduced him to the international art scene. Mihanović then signed an exclusive contract with Wally Findlay Galleries.

Numerous art historians have praised Mihanović’s oeuvre. In 1996 his work was exhibited in the Croatian Pavilion at the Atlanta Summer Olympics. The following year he was honored by UNESCO in Paris with an exhibition of his work as part of a celebration of the cultural history of his beloved city, Split. That same year Mihanović was awarded the highest cultural honor his country can bestow: The Order of the Morning Star. To further recognize his talent, the Croatian government issued postage stamps, which carry his beautiful images worldwide.

Zvonimir Mihanović’s work is collected and exhibited internationally. The Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb along with other European museums hold his work in their permanent collections, as do collectors in Europe, Latin America and the United States. He has had numerous one-man exhibitions at Findlay Galleries in Chicago, Palm Beach, New York, Paris, London and Beverly Hills. We invite you to view recent works by the Croatian hyperrealist at our galleries in Palm Beach and New York.

Copyright © 2023, Findlay Galleries, All rights reserved. 165 WORTH AVENUE , PALM BEACH , FLORIDA 33480 • (561) 655 2090 32 EAST 57 TH STREET , 2 ND FLOOR , NEW YORK , NY 10022 • (212) 421 5390
IN ART 1870 Est.

A Company of Adventurers

EDITORS’ NOTE Richard Baker is a chief executive and entrepreneur who serves as the Governor, Executive Chairman, and CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company, the historic Canadian retailer that he took private in March 2020. Since purchasing HBC in 2008, Baker has expanded North America’s oldest company into a holding company of eight portfolio companies: Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks OFF 5TH, Saks.com, Convene, Hudson’s Bay, The Bay, HBC Properties and Investments, and O5. Under Baker’s leadership, HBC has expanded from retail into real estate and technology. Baker is an active philanthropist and supporter of his alma mater, Cornell University.”

COMPANY BRIEF Hudson’s Bay Company (hbc.com) is a holding company that invests in technology, retail, and real estate businesses, and works to maximize value at the crossroads between these spaces. It is the majority owner of iconic ecommerce companies: Saks, a leading online destination for luxury fashion; The Bay, a Canadian ecommerce marketplace; and Saks OFF 5TH, a premier luxury offprice ecommerce company offering top brands at the best prices. These businesses were established as separate operating companies in 2021. HBC also wholly owns Hudson’s Bay, the operating company for Hudson’s Bay’s brick-and-mortar stores, as well as SFA, the entity that operates Saks Fifth Avenue’s physical locations, and O5, the operating company for Saks OFF 5TH stores. With assets spanning top markets and prime locations across North America, HBC owns or controls –either entirely or with joint venture partners – approximately 40 million square feet of gross leasable area. HBC Properties and Investments, the company’s real estate and investments portfolio business, manages these assets along with additional real estate offerings, including Streetworks Development, its property development division. Founded in 1670, HBC is North America’s longest continually operating company and is headquartered in New York and Toronto.

business has evolved?

What is interesting, and what most people don’t know, is that the company dates all the way back to the 1600s. Lord Rupert, the cousin of King Charles II of England, displayed an early interest in exploring the lucrative fur trade found in an area made accessible by the Hudson Bay. In 1670, the Royal Charter granted exclusive trading rights of the Hudson Bay watershed to the Governor and the accompanying adventurers. In fact, that document from 1670 still sits in my office today at our Toronto headquarters. Rupert put together a company to send people over from Europe to Hudson Bay; these adventurous souls would get on a boat and go to York Factory, which was located on the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay. They would trade beaver pelts, blankets, and supplies with the indigenous people, among many other things.

While they may not trade those items any longer, it is that adventurous spirit that has contributed to Hudson’s Bay Company’s longevity. The company has continuously operated for 352 years, making it North America’s longest continually running company, and I am honored to continue its legacy as the 39th Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Many of us talk about how companies are about culture and leadership; I can say that same adventurous spirit within Hudson’s Bay Company remains strong today. The activities of HBC over the past 15 years have very much replicated our initial DNA and culture. No matter how Hudson’s Bay Company progresses, it is that adventurous spirit that will always drive Hudson’s Bay Company’s evolution.

Is there one HBC culture or do each of the businesses have their own distinct culture?

That is a great question. First, we have to zoom out a bit. We have acquired, assembled and invented a whole series of companies that

Will you discuss the history and heritage of Hudson’s Bay Company and how the
Richard A. Baker An Interview with Richard Baker, Governor, Executive Chairman, and CEO, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC)
HBC’s flagship building in Vancouver (above and opposite page)

reside under the HBC umbrella. Each one of these companies has its own, unique identity. For example, what goes on in Saks Fifth Avenue is very different from what goes on in Canada at Hudson’s Bay, just like what goes on at Convene is very different from what goes on at Saks OFF 5th. They are different companies catering to the needs and wants of different consumers. The one-size-fits-all playbook would not make a great deal of sense here.

That said, there is a common culture that exists across all of our companies. When we purchased Hudson’s Bay Company, it was a series of five different companies all being operated with one team. At that point, it was an underperforming enterprise that was not living up to the potential I knew it possessed. The first task we accomplished was splitting the business up into five separate companies with different management teams. We also, at the same time, reinvigorated and revamped our famed history and culture. On the sheer strength of our culture, we were able to reinvent and reimagine each of these five companies. Some were sold off and others were kept, some of which we continue to operate today.

At Hudson’s Bay Company, and its subsidiaries, we prize entrepreneurship and pioneering adventurers. It is about taking very thoughtful and calculated risks at a very fast pace. This allows us, in the fast-moving world we live in, to adjust very rapidly. Whether it is a pandemic, a recession, or a digital revolution, this company of adventurers has been able to pivot and create value during challenging times.

Our hiring process places a great deal of emphasis on values. We make sure that all new

hires, first and foremost, match our values and the shared culture we have built: thoughtfulness and tact, intrepidness and introspection. We only hire inspired, quick-thinking, and value-driven team members. These are the individuals that contribute to an enduring culture. It’s one that a storied company like Hudson’s Bay needs.

How has HBC been able to stay nimble and entrepreneurial as it has grown in size and scale, and what have been the keys for HBC’s ability to continue to create new companies?

We spend a lot of time sourcing and nurturing entrepreneurial talent within our companies. As the leader of HBC, I spend a large percentage of my time instilling our culture and the values that we celebrate across the company. One key to staying nimble and entrepreneurial is intentionally fostering this attitude in the workplace. When I say I spend a large amount of time instilling this culture, that is what I mean.

I encourage ideating and idealism. Without outside-the-box thinking, growth and innovation become casualties.

Additionally, and perhaps contrary to the experience of many, we celebrate people who can think differently than other people, and we celebrate people who take risks and try new things – with limited downside. It’s the combination of our management team sharing these values and our commitment to hiring and training eclectic entrepreneurs who have a creative twist that enables us to evolve. As a result of this balance, we can weather great change rather than stagnating, which we have seen time and time again across our sectors and the business community at-large.

Many big corporations, by the nature of their size, tend to squeeze out the creatives and entrepreneurs because they are constantly trying to control risk. When those people are taken out of the organization, the companies are left without creativity. These companies become lifeless and staid. Risk-taking – controlled risktaking – is what breeds innovation and growth.

This entrepreneurial spirit, as you can imagine, is what gives us the lens through which we see new opportunities for expansion where others may not. Creating new companies requires an unwavering commitment to controlled risktaking. At the hands of this culture, our company is chock full of individuals who take concepts and ideas that have long been employed and give them new life. That is how we keep innovating and expanding Hudson’s Bay Company.

How do you describe the value of HBC’s brands and platform?

One of the lessons I have learned over the years is that the value of brands or the value of platforms is perhaps the most valuable asset under management. When people visit Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, they are, in part, going for the experience. The aura of that Saks Fifth Avenue is undeniable. That is what I mean when I talk about the power and value of a brand and a platform. When I say, “Saks Fifth Avenue,” an immediate image comes to mind. For those in Canada, the same is true of Hudson’s Bay Company. That value is what we can’t afford to lose. When people come to expect something –something excellent – you have to continue nurturing that image and fostering it.

That being said, change is one of the few inevitabilities in business and in life. That means that while the brand and value of a Hudson’s Bay or a Saks Fifth Avenue must be nurtured, it must also remain nimble and subject to change. That is why I am particularly proud of the work we have done with Saks. We bought Saks at a time when many questioned the logic of a luxury retailer. Not only has the Saks franchise and all of its businesses gone from $2.5 billion in sales (from when we bought it in 2013) to $6.5 billion in sales this year, but, most importantly, we were able to retain and polish the Saks brand. We increased sales exponentially, retained the value of the Saks brand, and took Saks in some new, digital directions that have proved the value of a culture that emphasizes imagination and creativity.

What are your views on the impact of technology on retail and how is HBC addressing the digital revolution?

For brick-and-mortar companies like ourselves, digital transformation presents both opportunities and challenges. Not only do we need to compete with other traditional retailers and meet the profitable EBITDA that investors and owners expect; as the industry embraces technology, we also must compete with digitalonly retailers operating against completely different evaluations.

We are constantly looking for ways to leverage technology, not only to transform the traditional retail environment, but to also adapt to the digital revolution. In 2021, we made the


deliberate decision to split our digital businesses from their brick-and-mortar counterparts, which were already separated from our real estate business. As a result, each of our four core brands has its own digital, operating, and real estate arms. With this approach, we are not only able to attract real estate, digital, and operating company investors and increase our competitive advantage, but also bring established brands into a new era of agility and innovation.

Where do you see the greatest growth opportunities for HBC as you look to the future?

Broadly speaking, I’m optimistic about future growth opportunities. We have seen outsized growth based on the competition set within each category. The value of our real estate has done better than similar real estate. Our brick-and-mortar operating businesses have gotten a lot of wind from digital marketing and are performing quite well compared to their competitors in the brick-and mortar space.

We have also been outperforming our competitors in the digital space, due in part to the added benefits provided by offering both digital and brick-and-mortar customer experiences.

What are your views on the future relevance of brick-and-mortar?

That is a question I get asked a lot. As it currently stands, brick-and-mortar still accounts for more than 80 percent of all retail sales. I think this fact is often lost on people because of the proliferation of e-retail, which is something to be taken seriously.

That being said, there are successful and unsuccessful companies in every category, and at HBC, our focus every day is to serve our customers, develop dedicated team members, maintain an entrepreneurial spirit, and run great businesses.

Some people see brick-and-mortar as rather old hat, but I think that flies in the face of the existing evidence. If you look at Saks Fifth Avenue, our sales have increased tremendously since we bought it in 2013, while a number of our competitors have gone bankrupt or disappeared. While Saks.com and the digital side of Saks has also been an amazing success for us, there is a tremendous staying power that Saks Fifth Avenue has. You can’t enjoy that magical experience from behind a screen. And therein lies the power of brick-and-mortar.

So, I see the future being the best brickand-mortars working in tandem with their digital partners to provide consumers with the ultimate experience. We have made a lot of positive progress on both of those fronts and we see a lot of opportunity ahead of us.

How do you define the meaning of the word luxury?

The word luxury, to me, means a highquality brand with limited distribution that also has a high focus on providing a level of quality to their customer. When people think of luxury, they often think of glitz and glamor. While that may be the case, it is much deeper than that, of course.

Luxury comes with a proposition from the seller that you, the consumer, will be treated in a manner befitting the one and only customer of the world. Luxury means we will cater to your every need. Luxury means a relationship, a real relationship, will be forged between buyer and seller, customer, and employee.

We are in the pure luxury business and, if we stay true to that definition of luxury, it is not leaving here anytime soon.

How important is it for HBC to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Very important. It is something we at Hudson’s Bay recognize and prize, and

something we know is crucial to our continued scaling and innovation. We know the customers we serve are not a monolith, and our customers want to see those differences reflected in our company and in our stores. A diverse company produces diverse thinking – something we love and have baked into our culture.

At the same time, maintaining a diverse team also allows us to better understand cultural sensitivities and be aware of how others may perceive words and actions. This is something particularly poignant at a company like HBC, where the history of the company is something we are still working to make amends for today.

That is why we are always striving to bring new and diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and groups into the fold.

What do you see as HBC’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to be a force for good in society?

We consider the communities we operate in – whether that be a physical store location, our network of customers and associates, or our online community – as partners in our growth. To that end, we have thought long and hard about how we can best participate in our communities.

Foremost is the Hudson’s Bay Company’s responsibility to Canada’s Indigenous communities. It is no secret that this company has a storied, winding past, and – like any organization that’s existed for more than 350 years – its history is at odds with a 21st-century mindset and contemporary values. Historically, the Hudson’s Bay Company made mistakes in their interactions with Indigenous peoples. That doesn’t mean we should shy away from that relationship. On the contrary, it means we have an obligation to make amends for past transgressions and right those wrongs. As part of our company’s efforts to make positive headway in the relationship between the Bay and the Indigenous community of Canada, I was honored to donate our historic department store in downtown Winnipeg to the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) earlier this year and work closely with SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels on that act of reconciliation. We all have a responsibility to work together in order to make for a more peaceful community – for all. That is why we look forward to maintaining close ties with the SCO as they develop affordable housing, a childcare center, and other meaningful uses at the site to help support Winnipeg’s downtown transformation.

Additionally, with each property development, we strive to work closely with residents, local officials, and neighboring businesses to help support and strengthen the surrounding area. Whether we are repurposing a store location or starting from scratch, we have a responsibility to understand the unique wants and needs of each community, and respect them in our business. We’re especially proud of the close work we’ve done with the communities in Beverly Hills and in Westfield, New Jersey, this year. We look forward to being a partner in reimagining their respective downtowns.

For years, my wife, Lisa, and I have also been devoted to mental health advocacy and

Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in New York City

awareness. For us, it’s about creating communities for those who have none. Over time, I saw the great opportunity we have to bring our personal devotion to HBC and leverage our business to support community-building and effect positive change.

When we started, conversation about mental health in the workplace was sparse. But we could see the value – and the need –in creating a sense of belonging within and outside the workplace. Being a force for good in the community does not stop at responsible business practice – it means addressing the challenges facing those around us, and doing what we can to alleviate them. Every associate, customer, and resident connected to our businesses – and to our personal lives –can be affected by mental health issues, and so we have spent a great deal of time raising money and contributing in any way we can to reducing the stigma of mental health and supporting those who are dealing with this issue.

How challenging is it to balance your time in running the business with your focus on philanthropic work?

Finding balance can sometimes be challenging. I am laser-focused on – and often totally consumed by – building our business and working with our team members to serve customers. In fact, I sometimes find myself needing to step back in other areas because I realized I don’t have the capacity at that moment to be impactful.

Having said that, I do spend time on more personal causes as well. Philanthropy has been and remains a priority for me, and as I mentioned, my wife and I are passionate about mental health advocacy. So, I do spend a great deal of time and energy on turning that devotion into action to make the world a better place.

What are your views on the future of work?

Right now, we have an opportunity to evolve. With a current and upcoming workforce that has adapted to a hybrid world – and the benefits and challenges we’ve seen as a result –I believe the future of work will take place in a spectrum of environments. Some will remain fully remote, some will return to the office, and some will do both.

For these reasons and more, we have spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about the future of work. First and foremost, we recognize that taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach to the office doesn’t work for our needs. We have roughly 25,000 team members, so it’s important that we have the right environment for different types of people and places.

Additionally, HBC Properties and Investments – our real estate arm – has fully embraced this evolving landscape. With our earlier recapitalization of SaksWorks with Convene – a premium flex operator of meeting spaces – we’re executing our vision for a future of work centered around choice, flexibility, and connection.

In the end, there are pros and cons to either reality. I do believe that there are many efficiencies in not having to commute, but I also believe that there are many benefits to culture and collaboration when working together in an office environment. But one thing is certain – the workforce of the future is going to be very different, and each company and each leader will need to find a way to thread the needle to maximize opportunities and accomplish their goals.

How do you focus your efforts leading HBC and how do you describe your management style?

It’s important to me that I empower the leaders I work with to take point. Each of our businesses is led by a very capable operating

CEO with unique insights into each business. I meet each week with a dozen or so different leaders to stay up to date on their world and provide guidance – and when needed, I’ll support and back them in their entrepreneurial pursuits. But otherwise, I trust them to get the job done.

With this approach, I can act as an available resource for each business leader without keeping them under a microscope. No operating CEO wants to have me sitting next to them all day long, but having a sounding board that they can brainstorm with and bounce ideas off of has been valuable. I see myself as the resident entrepreneur.

Did you always know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to build your own company?

I was always entrepreneurial. Sitting at a desk and rote memorization were not really avenues in which I excelled – I was much better at getting other people to help me do what I needed to do to execute creative, outside-thebox ideas.

I had a catering business in high school and entrepreneurial businesses in college. I was enthralled at an early age at the concept of owning the real estate of your own operating business, and at the time, while I did not know the words PropCo, OpCo, and DigCo, looking back at my 12-year-old self, that is exactly the guy I wanted to be. Today, I am a PropCo, OpCo, and DigCo guy, and it has turned out quite well.

While I am a businessperson, I tend to see my thought processes as resembling those of an artist more than anything. In my brain at any given time are 36 channels clicking away from one channel to the next. Those 36 different channels, however, are, to me, 36 different canvases that I’m painting. On each canvas, I work with these great teams of people: one might be the renovation of a building; another one might be focusing on a certain aspect of growing a particular business; another one might be the future business plan of a project that we’re working on. To me, as I think about it, they’re all canvases, and I’m working in my head through each one of those channels – through each one of those canvases.

What advice do you offer to young people beginning their careers?

I tell them to find something they are passionate about, find a mentor, and go to the office.

Are you able to enjoy the process and celebrate the wins, or are you always looking at what is next?

We certainly have big aspirations and plans for the future, and I’m excited to see where we go next. But I also believe that, as you get older, you begin to appreciate the journey. When I think about what we have accomplished over the years, I’m humbled. And inspired. What started with a $25 million check in 2006 has grown into an enterprise over $6 billion – more than we ever could have imagined. In a way, acknowledging how far we’ve come brings even more anticipation for the future.•

HBC’s expansion of Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills

Ending the Stress and Burnout Epidemic

EDITORS’ NOTE Arianna Huffington is the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, the founder of The Huffington Post, and the author of 15 books including, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time. In 2016, she launched Thrive Global, a leading behavior change tech company with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. She has been named to TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. She serves on numerous boards, including Onex and The B Team. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an MA in economics. At 21, she became President of the famed debating society, The Cambridge Union.

ORGANIZATION BRIEF Thrive Global (thriveglobal.com) seeks to go beyond raising awareness to creating something real and tangible that helps individuals, companies and communities improve their well-being and performance and unlock their greatest potential. It is uniquely positioned to sustainably change behavior by reaching people at home, at work and through the technology they already use. Its multi-pronged offering yields a revolutionary approach to ending the epidemic of stress and burnout.

What was your vision for creating Thrive Global and how do you define its mission?

The seeds of Thrive Global go back to 2007, when I collapsed from exhaustion and burnout. I started learning more and more about the connection between well-being, resilience, and productivity. I realized that this idea that burnout is the price we have to pay for success is simply a complete myth.

That led me to write my two books, Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. And as I went around the world speaking about my experience, I saw two things: first, that we’re in a growing epidemic of stress and burnout, and second, that people deeply want to change the

way they work and live. So I wanted to go beyond just speaking out and raising awareness – I wanted to help people change behaviors and turn awareness into action. It was a call to action I just couldn’t ignore, and so I founded Thrive Global, with the mission to end the stress and burnout epidemic.

Will you highlight Thrive Global’s behavior change platform and the impact that the platform has made for the companies it works with?

Thrive’s behavior change platform includes an integrated suite of products that meet people where they are in the workflow with real-time stress-reducing tools, inspirational storytelling, and science-backed Microsteps that can immediately be incorporated into people’s daily lives. We combine our Microsteps with science, storytelling and ancient wisdom to create a whole-human behavior change system that increases engagement by improving physical and mental well-being and resilience.

One of the most effective features of the Thrive platform is Thrive Reset, which helps users prevent cumulative stress by taking breaks of just 60 to 90 seconds. And one of the most powerful uses of Thrive Reset is Thrive for Support Teams, which launched this year and brings our 60-second Reset product directly into the workflow for contact center representatives. Contact centers are one of the most stressful places to work, with high rates of burnout – in a study from Cornell University, 87 percent of contact center agents report high stress and 40 percent turnover each year. Thrive for Support Teams is helping combat contact center stress, stopping burnout in its tracks by pushing a Thrive Reset to agents at the moments during their day when they need it most. We’ve partnered with contact center leader Genesys to launch Thrive for Genesys, making it simple for Genesys customers to implement Thrive for Support Teams and begin seeing results, both for individual well-being and for business metrics. Since launching eight months ago, we’ve seen a 98 percent engagement rate with our product, and increases of 10 percent in agent productivity, 15 percent in employee satisfaction, and 20 percent in employee well-being.

Arianna Huffington
“Thrive’s behavior change platform includes an integrated suite of products that meet people where they are in the workflow with real-time stressreducing tools, inspirational storytelling, and science-backed Microsteps that can immediately be incorporated into people’s daily lives.”

And we hear directly from our customers how transformative Thrive is within their organizations and for their office workers, frontline workers and contact center agents:

• Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer at Accenture, said that, “Teaming up with Thrive Global is an important step forward in advancing our focus on the whole person – helping our people not only achieve a sense of belonging and purpose, but be physically energized and mentally focused in our hyper-connected digital world.”

• Payal Sahni, Executive Vice President and Chief People Experience Officer at Pfizer, told us that, “Pfizer’s partnership with Thrive has been a great support in our ongoing efforts to provide the tools and resources to help all of our colleagues take care of their physical and mental health. The more knowledge and tools we have, the better able we are to achieve our purpose: Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”

• Tracy Layney, Chief Human Resources Officer at Levi’s, says, “We really leaned heavily into our partnership with Thrive around daily mental health exercises. The app, Microsteps, and Reset really help us find ways to take care of ourselves daily in a way that allows for good mental health, even in this time of extreme stress.”

These are only a few examples from the people leaders we work with at some of the world’s largest organizations.

What was the thought process for developing Thriving Families and what is its purpose?

Working parents were under an incredible amount of stress even before the pandemic, and the burdens of maintaining the household have fallen disproportionately on women. The home is the hub for how families are organized, so

the thought process behind Thriving Families, which we created in partnership with Fair Play author Eve Rodsky, was to bring the same systematic thinking and tools to our responsibilities at home as we do at work. The demands on home life now are simply too great and too complicated to wing it, or approach each day in an ad hoc way.

So the purpose of Thriving Families is to reduce stress for families – not just for women, but for everybody. It’s based on the truth that when responsibilities are divided up in a clear, fair, and equitable way, there’s less stress and more harmony in the home. And Thriving Families gives families the tools and strategies to do just that.

Will you highlight some of the areas where lack of sleep affects an individual’s performance?

Let me count the ways! Sleep is the underpinning of every aspect of our well-being. Sleep deprivation affects our physical health by putting us at higher risk of a host of illnesses, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. With mental health, sleep deprivation is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety, as well as reduced empathy, emotional intelligence, and ability to focus. In short, there’s virtually no element of performance that’s not impacted by sleep.

What do you feel will be the longlasting impact of COVID-19 on the way people work?

The stress and burnout epidemic was raging long before anybody had ever heard of COVID-19. The pandemic, as horrible and tragic as it clearly has been, provided a forced pause for people to reflect on what they truly value. More and more people have come to reject the idea that burnout is the price they have

to pay for success. They’re redefining success according to what makes them truly thrive. That has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change how we live and work. Even as people go back to work, the pre-pandemic world of work is not coming back. People have come to see that, while work is an important part of a thriving life, all aspects of life shouldn’t revolve around work. That mindset shift is just beginning.

What interested you in writing the book, The Sleep Revolution, and what were the key messages you wanted to convey in the book?

As I went around the world talking about Thrive, I found that the subject that came up the most – by far – was sleep: how difficult it is to get enough, how there are simply not enough hours in the day, how tough it is to wind down, how hard it is to fall asleep and stay asleep, even when we set aside enough time. Since my own transformation into a sleep evangelist, everywhere I go someone will pull me aside and, often in hushed and conspiratorial tones, confess, “I’m just not getting enough sleep. I’m exhausted all the time.” Or, as one young woman told me after a talk in San Francisco, “I don’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired.” By the end of an evening, I’ll have had that same conversation with any number of people. And what everyone wants to know is, “What should I do to get more sleep?”

So it’s clear that if we’re going to truly thrive, we have to begin with sleep. It’s the gateway through which a life of well-being must travel. From the moment we’re born until the moment we die, we’re in a relationship with sleep. So I wrote The Sleep Revolution to examine this ancient, essential, and mysterious phenomenon from all angles, and to explore the ways we can use sleep to help us be more present and regain control over our out-of-kilter lives.

Where did you develop your passion for helping people find fulfillment and well-being in their work and their lives?

The through-line to all my books, and everything I’ve done in my life, is about helping people connect and engage. The way I’ve always wanted to help people connect and engage is through storytelling, or, in the case of my books on Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso, showing how that’s done through music and art.

HuffPost was a version of that, and so is Thrive Global – it’s about using science and storytelling to help people connect and engage – with their jobs, with their friends and family, with their talent and potential, and with themselves.

What are your views on the notion of quiet quitting which has been receiving a great deal of attention?

The term means different things to different people. For some, it simply means quitting on hustle culture, which is a good thing. But for many others, it means just going through the motions, accepting a lack of engagement, joy, and purpose in

our work.
“So the purpose of Thriving Families is to reduce stress for families – not just for women, but for everybody. It’s based on the truth that when responsibilities are divided up in a clear, fair, and equitable way, there’s less stress and more harmony in the home.”

Yes, we shouldn’t be defined by our work. But at the same time, if work is at least eight hours of our day, are we saying these are hours we’re willing to simply go through the motions, with the inevitable boredom that’s bound to ensue? Work can give us meaning and purpose. It’s part of a thriving life. We should absolutely reject “hustle culture” and burnout – I believe this so strongly I founded a company with that as its mission. But rejecting burnout doesn’t mean rejecting the possibility of finding joy in our work, loving our work.

The idea that burnout and quiet quitting are our only options is clearly a false choice. There’s a third alternative – being engaged in our work without burning out and sacrificing our health and happiness. And that’s what Thrive is all about.

What advice do you offer to women who may be feeling like they are unable to juggle work and family?

My advice is, first, to prioritize your own well-being. It’s like what they say on airplanes: put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. As someone who was a working mother myself, I know this isn’t always easy. But when we prioritize our own well-being, not only are we better at our jobs, we’re more effective in all that we have to do outside our jobs.

Next, I would say to not listen to what I call the obnoxious roommate living in our heads – that voice that feeds on putting us down and strengthening our insecurities and doubts. We all live with that voice, but the

times it comes out the most are when we’re tired, stressed and run down. That’s when we’re most likely to doubt ourselves and react emotionally, and when our perceptions are at their shakiest.

So one of the ways to silence that voice is to take care of ourselves, which creates a more robust inner immune system that prevents that voice from breaking through and wreaking havoc.

Thrive Global is addressing a challenge that requires a long-term focus and commitment. How do you measure success for Thrive Global’s efforts?

One way that’s tangible at Thrive is just to look at our growth. When the pandemic hit, the themes at the heart of our mission became among the most urgent workplace issues of our time. What we’re seeing with the companies we work with is an urgency around employee well-being. They know that it’s essential to the long-term success of the company, but they want the tools to move from awareness to action.

We’re also starting to see real data from those tools. One of them is Pulse check, which is the entry point to Thrive’s platform. It’s a daily question for employees that prompts a moment of reflection about their personal well-being or about work, delivered via the platforms they’re already using, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and offering them personalized, in-the-moment Microsteps and content recommendations. Since we launched Pulse check in April, we’ve had over 1 million of these conversations with employees in 73 countries around the world.

We’ve also seen a 6x increase in users taking advantage of the Thrive platform since launching Pulse check. And this engagement with the Thrive platform has clear results on business metrics. Employees have seen:

• 76 percent increase in productivity

• 102 percent increase in engagement

• 104 percent increase in burnout prevention

• 233 percent increase in stress management

Will you discuss Thrive Global’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

At Thrive we’re committed not just to building a diverse and inclusive team, but helping other companies do the same. That’s why we’ve just launched Thriving Belonging, co-hosted by Thrive’s Chief Training Officer, Joey Hubbard. The program is based on two fundamental truths. First, that it’s up to all of us to create more inclusive workplaces. And second, that we’re all going to make mistakes – so creating a culture of belonging means that we have to give people space to learn from their mistakes and grow. Other themes in Thriving Belonging include what it means to be an ally, how leaders can be first responders for their people’s mental health, and Microsteps for examining unconscious bias, strengthening psychological safety, being an ally and more.

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

Leaders need to be role models for wellbeing, which both serves as a foundation for their own decision-making and their ability to listen and connect with their team, and it gives others the permission to do the same. Too many leaders still buy into the misguided notion that urgent or chaotic times require them to be in constant motion and always on, or that they somehow have to match the frenetic pace of the moment. In fact, the opposite is true. The best way to lead a company forward is by looking inward, because it’s judgment that we need from leaders in times of uncertainty, not just stamina.

At Thrive, one of our core values, which is important both for leaders and team members, is Compassionate Directness. It’s about empowering employees to speak up, give feedback, disagree, and surface problems in real time – with compassion, empathy and understanding.

Thrive Global has achieved strong results since its founding. Are you able to enjoy the process and take moments to celebrate what Thrive Global has accomplished?

Yes, and in fact, joy and celebrating success are essential ingredients of behavior change. For me, taking time to appreciate the impact we’re having is a source of great joy. It’s why Joy is one of our cultural values. At each of our weekly team meetings, we build in time to celebrate our wins, share our gratitude, and highlight stories of people we’re helping. It’s one way we embed wellbeing – and joy – into our own workflow. Because if we’re going to truly have an impact as a company, it has to start with us. •

“What we’re seeing with the companies we work with is an urgency around employee wellbeing. They know that it’s essential to the longterm success of the company, but they want the tools to move from awareness to action.”

Transparency, Track Record, and Performance

EDITORS’ NOTE Richard Mack co-founded Mack Real Estate Group (MREG) in 2013 and its affiliated debt investment business, Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies, L.P. (MRECS) in 2014, and has served as Chief Executive Officer and a member of each company’s Investment Committee since its founding. He also serves as CEO and Chairman of Claros Mortgage Trust, a commercial mortgage real estate investment trust (CMREIT), externally managed by an affiliate of MRECS. Earlier in his career, Mack joined AREA Property Partners (formerly known as Apollo Real Estate Advisers) in 1993, the year of its formation, and ultimately served as Chief Executive Officer of AREA’s North American business and a member of that firm’s U.S. and European Investment Committees. Over 20 years, he was involved in the investment of billions of dollars in debt and equity real estate transactions on behalf of AREA’s primarily institutional investors and was specifically responsible for creating new business lines to capitalize on evolving market trends, including a subordinate debt business and ArCap, a subordinate CMBS investor and special servicer. Previously, Mack had been a member of the Real Estate Investment Banking Department at Shearson Lehman Hutton.

Mack serves on the Wharton School of Business Board of Advisors and, each fall, teaches a course on Real Estate Disruption with Professor Gilles Duranton at Wharton. Mack also co-founded the Penn Media Accountability Project at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves on the Board of Trustees of both the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation and the Child Mind Institute, and on the board of directors of the 92nd Street Y. He is President Emeritus of the HES Community Center in Canarsie, Brooklyn, and a member of the Robin Hood Foundation’s Housing & Homelessness Committee. Most recently, Mack was elected as Chairman of the Board of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Mack earned a BS degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from the Columbia University School of Law.

FIRM BRIEF Mack Real Estate Group, LLC (mackregroup.com) is an integrated real estate investor, developer, operator, and lender with

offices across the United States. Founded in 2013, with roots in a family business dating back to the 1960s, MREG provides real estate investment management, development, and property management services through several affiliates, including MRECS. In 2021, MREG completed an initial public offering of its commercial mortgage REIT, Claros Mortgage Trust, which focuses primarily on originating senior and subordinate loans on transitional commercial real estate assets located in major markets across the U.S. Claros is the third largest commercial mortgage REIT in the country. MREG aims to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for investors while being a trusted counterparty sought out by a wide variety of real estate market participants.

Will you highlight the history of Mack Real Estate Group and how the firm has evolved?

This business is the evolution of a number of predecessor businesses, and the best way to explain the evolution of Mack Real Estate Group is to understand that history. I am third generation in the real estate business. My father was one of the pioneers in developing two different types of products in the Northeast – one was industrial in the Meadowlands, and the other was big suburban campuses in Northern New Jersey for telecom and pharmaceutical companies. In 1991, my father made an investment and went on the board of advisors in the creation of Apollo Management, and in 1993 they started a real estate fund. At that time, I was graduating from law school and had hoped to be on my way to the District Attorney’s office. I had been a banker earlier and while I did not necessarily

Richard Mack
AVEN, Los Angeles, California

see myself working in real estate, I thought that what they were doing provided a good temporal opportunity since they had raised a substantial amount of money to invest and assets were on sale. So, I thought I’d join them for a few years while I figured out what career I would pursue. The one thing I did not want to do was to end up in business with my father. He came from a family business which always has challenges.

We ended up being in the middle of the creation of the private equity real estate industry. In the early ’90s, three things were occurring simultaneously to address the lack of capital: REITs became a major part of the investment landscape; commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) became very important to the real estate debt capital markets; and there was the advent of real estate funds. I was fortunate to sit at the confluence of those three structural changes in the real estate business, and this influenced what Mack Real Estate Group has become.

While at AREA, we started with one $500million fund and raised about $14 billion in equity and did about $70 billion in transactions. We operated that business for about 20 years and did everything from co-development to direct development to capital allocation and opportunistic to direct lending in both the U.S. and in Europe. We started out as a buyer of distressed assets, but our business evolved and moved into development and seeking out other high return opportunities and geographies. Two of our insightful decisions, which I was the primary advocate for, were Central Europe and real estate credit. I was lucky to have been able to be involved in Central Europe early in my career. Over time, the business grew, and I became the CEO of the Americas and oversaw global credit.

In 2013, we sold our interest in the AREA business and formed Mack Real Estate Group, as an owner, operator, and property manager with institutional capital. We then built out the platform infrastructure and quickly grew our portfolio to 5,000+ Class-A apartments in primary U.S. coastal cities including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland.

A year later, we began to seize on the post-Dodd-Frank opportunity to scale rapidly in the debt space, because banks were no longer lending as they used to. We launched Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies, and built this on the back of our property management and development infrastructure, which we retained from the sale of AREA to Ares. Today, Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies is a diversified real estate debt platform that has executed more than $17 billion in loan originations, co-originations and acquisitions, with investments across the real estate credit spectrum including first mortgage, mezzanine, CMBS, and preferred equity.

Today, MREG is an integrated developer, operator, investor, and lender.

How do you describe Mack Real Estate Group’s culture?

At our core, we are a family business that has grown into an institutional quality enterprise. As we look to the future, I think about the

The Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York

importance of having a strong succession plan, but we are also going to try to maintain the best parts of a family business culture as well.

How important is brand awareness for Mack Real Estate Group?

There is awareness in real estate around the Mack name since we have been involved in the industry for decades and have deep experience and knowledge. These days, we are focused on building more awareness around the brand and what we stand for because the business has become a lot more than just the Mack family. We are building a business that will outlive its founders and, as such, are attracting top talent at all levels of the company. We want to continue to build our brand awareness and understanding as we look to future growth and to building a leading, sustainable business.

Where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth for Mack Real Estate Group?

I think that there remains a lot of opportunity for growth in the U.S. We have been focused over the past few years on the Sun Belt as well as Seattle. We will continue to build out our development infrastructure and our teams in those markets, but I also see opportunities to move into some discretionary funds directed at distinct strategies. There are a few more debt products and places in the capital markets that we would like to explore.

We currently do not have a presence in Europe, however, I think there are interesting opportunities there. But we’re in no rush. When the time is right, I foresee making our first investments in the London market through debt with a lower-risk, lower-return strategy. This would be a natural evolution for the business.

For CMTG, our publicly traded mortgage REIT, we continue to focus on high-growth markets in the U.S., increasing our position in the multifamily sector. Transitional real estate lending, which CMTG focuses on, continues to be a bright spot in today’s uncertain environment as the opportunities for alternative lenders have become increasingly attractive.

How challenging is differentiation in the industry?

Differentiation is very challenging. It starts with transparency, track record, and performance, but assuming those are all very similar, you need to find investors who are philosophically aligned with how you approach the business and the opportunities you prioritize.

Part of our differentiation is our integration of certain family office attributes with the institutional quality of our platform and business. This enables us to provide investors with attractive opportunities that have the requisite

transparency, as well as create an environment where top talent can build a career path with a little more stability and different culture than an institutional Wall Street-type firm.

a very demanding business to make us more attractive to female candidates.

You commit your time and resources to philanthropic work. What has made this so important to you?

When you look at real estate development, is it about building buildings or creating places?

You need to provide what the market demands. That is becoming more and more about creating a sense of place around everything that you do. As we go about doing that, we also recognize that our first job is to seek to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investors. This is always our first job – taking care of our investors. In order to produce those returns, you need to provide places that meet the evolving needs and desires of communities – and today that may also include more environmentally friendly attributes and features.

Do you feel that the real estate industry is making progress in regard to diversity and inclusion?

We are not seeing enough progress across the industry, so we need to keep trying different strategies. We start with the premise that we need to hire the best and brightest as that is what is going to make our business succeed. The way to make progress is to cast a wider net and to introduce young people to the industry.

We are involved in a program called Project Destined, which aims to introduce minority students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to the real estate industry through an internship program. We do a lot of mentoring of these kids, which has resulted in finding talented people to hire.

I am also working with a close friend in the real estate industry on the concept of putting a few real estate courses in HBCUs or possibly building a real estate major at one of these schools to be a model for others to follow.

I think we also need to make a push for more women in the industry. We need to think about how to create the right opportunities in

I think it is important for our business to set an example as a corporate citizen. For me personally, I had an incredible example from my father, and he had an incredible example from his father, about the importance of serving nonprofits and being engaged in the community. I have already seen in my kids their interest and desire to get involved in community service and make a difference. And frankly, as the leader of two companies, Mack Real Estate Group and Claros Mortgage Trust, it simply is an imperative as we think about integrating corporate responsibility throughout each organization and retaining the top-tier talent we need.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in building a career in the real estate industry?

When I speak with kids about the profession, I point out that there are many career opportunities in real estate. When we hire someone, we are looking for a diverse set of skills including real life experience – construction, leasing, asset management, brokerage. I encourage them to take a long view on their career and be willing to take entry level jobs that may not be in their sweet spot. They should approach their career as a progression of many different things that will evolve into something that they may not have expected. The key is to get in the door and learn, and to continue to raise your hand when opportunities present themselves.

Are you able to take moments to celebrate the wins and appreciate what you have accomplished?

I do not really celebrate the wins but focus more on the problems, which I know may not be emotionally beneficial. I’m working on that. But we have a long way to go as a business and I am focused on our future plans. I am looking to the day, which is not too far off, when I can step back and focus on three core things: being a spokesperson for the business and more public; thinking strategically about long-term plays; and spending more time with our investors.

Mack Real Estate Group will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2023 and this will provide a chance for our entire team to reflect and celebrate what we have achieved over the past decade, but our main focus is looking at the next 10 years and the exciting opportunities ahead. •

Old Post Office Building, Chicago, Illinois

Raising Health

EDITORS’ NOTE Michael Dowling is one of healthcare’s most influential voices, taking a stand on societal issues such as gun violence and immigration that many health system CEOs shy away from. His leadership has been invaluable to Northwell’s consistent expansion and prominence. In March 2020, he successfully navigated the health system through the first COVID-19 epicenter in the U.S., detailing Northwell’s experiences in a book entitled, Leading Through a Pandemic: The Inside Story of Humanity, Innovation, and Lessons Learned During the COVID-19 Crisis . Overall, Northwell has treated over 300,000 COVID patients –more than any other U.S. health system.

Prior to becoming CEO in 2002 and joining Northwell in 1995, Dowling served in New York State government for 12 years, including seven years as State Director of Health, Education, and Human Services and Deputy Secretary to the Governor. He was also Commissioner of the State Department of Social Services. Earlier, he was a Professor of Social Policy and Assistant Dean at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services and Director of the Fordham campus in Westchester County. Dowling has been honored with many awards and recognitions over the years, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad, the Alfred E. Smith Award from the American Society for Public Administration, the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee, and the Foreign Policy Association Medal award. In 2017, he was selected to serve as the Grand Marshal of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In 2022, he was named the most influential leader in healthcare by Modern Healthcare, ranking #1 in its annual list of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” making it the 16th consecutive year he was featured.

Dowling is past Chair of the Healthcare Institute and the current Chair of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences and the North American Board of the Smurfit School of Business at University College, Dublin, Ireland. He also serves as a board member of the Long Island Association. He is past chair and a current board member of the National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL), the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Healthcare Association of New York State, and the League

of Voluntary Hospitals of New York. Dowling was an instructor at the Center for Continuing Professional Education at the Harvard School of Public Health. He earned his undergraduate degree from University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, and his master’s degree from Fordham University. He also has honorary doctorates from the prestigious Queen’s University Belfast, University College Dublin, Hofstra University, Dowling College, and Fordham University.

INSTITUTION BRIEF Northwell Health (northwell.edu) is a clinical, academic and research enterprise with a workforce of more than 80,000 and annual revenue of $15 billion. Northwell is the largest healthcare provider and private employer in New York State, caring for more than two million people annually through a vast network of more than 850 outpatient facilities, including 220 primary care practices, 52 urgent care centers, home care, rehabilitation, and end-of-life programs, and 21 hospitals. Northwell also pursues pioneering research at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and a visionary approach to medical education highlighted by the Zucker School of Medicine, the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies, and one of the nation’s largest medical residency and fellowship programs.

What do you feel are the key characteristics of a leading health system?

All health systems are different. Many of the health systems around the country cover a broad geographic area. Northwell Health operates in a clearly defined geography which allows us to integrate services so that we can share ideas, staff, and leadership. This element of integration is very important, and it is part of the culture of the organization. This allows us to provide seamless, consistent service and treatment throughout the health system. Culture to me is very important – it is about how you think, how you feel, how you act.

As a leading health system. it is also important to not only be focused on financial return, but also on a high degree of mission work which may not always be about financial gain, but is a benefit to the community. Northwell is very inclusive and community focused, and we get involved and take a lead in addressing issues that impact the community.

As I look to the health system of the future, it is about more than just being involved in the core business of providing treatment and medical care. Leading health systems are also focused on sustainability such as greenhouse gas emissions. It is about having a broad definition of health. Health is a lot more than just delivering medical care, which is why Northwell has made a commitment to addressing issues such as gun violence and immigration since these are public health issues.

Michael Dowling An Interview with Michael Dowling, President and Chief Executive Officer, Northwell Health
Michael Dowling addressing Faith Based Leaders at Northwell’s first forum in November. Northwell partners with reverends and other religious leaders in the communities they serve to propel better community health.

Another characteristic of a leading health system is consistency of leadership, which allows for a consistency in strategy. We have not changed our overall strategy at Northwell in more than 15 years. The topics and the initiatives may change, but the overall direction of the health system has been consistent.

A differentiator for Northwell is that we offer the full range of care delivery, from birth to end of life. Many health systems have certain areas of focus or specialties, but we have been consistent in our focus to address the totality of a person’s health.

We also have a close relationship between the front lines and the CEO’s office. I meet every month for dinner with a range of frontline staff and I meet all new employees since I believe it is critical to be close to the front lines to develop a level of cohesiveness. The CEOs office is important, but the most important part of the organization is at the front lines with those who are delivering care and treating patients every day.

Is there one Northwell culture or do the different hospitals and locations have their own distinct cultures?

There is a common Northwell culture. We have to create a system culture where there are certain expectations about behavior and personality, but that does mean that there are not some specific traits to a specific location. The Northwell culture is about how we treat each other, how we treat patients, and how we treat our communities. While this may be implemented a little differently in Staten Island than it is in Northern Westchester, the overall goals are the same throughout the health system.

How do you balance the pressures for financial results with the need to address and invest in public health issues?

This is the test of leadership. You need to balance both – you must have a strong balance sheet and financial return to be able to do the other things you need to do as a leading health system. We are not going to walk away from our commitment to the community and addressing public health issues. We may need to modify our efforts, but leadership is about finding the balance between the bottom line and fulfilling your commitments to the community.

It is very easy to be one dimensional. If you are running a company where your only focus is on the bottom line, in my view that is easy since you eliminate anything that contradicts that focus. Leadership is about maintaining and increasing the bottom line while still doing the things that are important in the community and for society.

How do you define effective leadership?

It is easy to be a leader in the good times. The real test is if you are an effective leader in the bad

Michael Dowling (left) with New York State Governor Kathy Hochul (center) as she tours Feinstein Institutes’ upgraded labs alongside Dr. Kevin Tracey (right). In September, Governor Hochul announced a $10 million grant awarded to the Feinstein Institutes, the research arm of Northwell Health, to continue their research in bioelectronic medicine.
“As a leading health system. it is also important to not only be focused on financial return, but also on a high degree of mission work which may not always be about financial gain, but is a benefit to the community.”
“Northwell is very inclusive and community focused, and we get involved and take a lead in addressing issues that impact the community.”

times. I often get asked by staff about the major challenges we have going forward, and my answer is that we do not have any challenges. We have opportunities, which is a different way of looking at it. If you look at it through the lens of challenges, you are looking at it pessimistically. If you look at challenges as opportunities, then you are being optimistic. It reminds me of when I was on 60 Minutes during COVID and was asked about the future. I said that we were going to beat COVID and that there was no retreat.

In difficult times, the true nature of organizational culture comes through. This is not just about leadership at the top level; it about leadership at every level. This is a test of the organization’s culture – is there a unity of purpose, are people committed to work together – this is all part of the culture of the organization.

In my view, it would be very boring if you did not have challenging times. The reality in healthcare is that if you are a doctor or a nurse in the emergency room, you are dealing with

bad things every day. You are dealing with traumatic situations – life and death. It is crisis every day. Organizations that are not in healthcare do not face this, and while they may lose a client or the business may not be performing well, they are not dealing with life and death situations daily. This builds a grit and resilience in healthcare that is critical to help sustain you during challenging times.

What do you look for when hiring talent?

I am looking for people who do not accept the status quo, who have a positive attitude, and who are continuously looking at how to make things better. If you speak with our people at any of our locations, you will find that they are focused on what they need to do today in order to be better tomorrow. It is about continuous improvement. When you hire the right people, and put them in the right positions, it allows you to adapt and be flexible as you focus on the future.

Northwell Health has a mission statement to “Raise Health.” What does this mean to Northwell?

This means that we are one of the key organizations whose sole purpose is to improve the human condition. We do much of this through medical care delivery, but we can do an awful lot more by going upstream. Raising Health means that every endeavor you are involved in – whether it is providing a job opportunity, improving housing, dealing with food insecurity, or providing educational opportunities – has the potential to improve the human condition. This is a global message. We need to be very good at treating illness and also at preventing illness. Raising Health is about more than what doctors and nurses do clinically –it is also about what doctors and nurses can get involved in and talk about to make a difference in

human condition.

Recent medical school graduate Britney Nathan, MD, credits her success to the Medical Scholars Pipeline Program at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, which connects underrepresented minority teens to careers in medicine.
“A differentiator for Northwell is that we offer the full range of care delivery, from birth to end of life. Many health systems have certain areas of focus or specialties, but we have been consistent in our focus to address the totality of a person’s health.”
“It is easy to be a leader in the good times. The real test is if you are an effective leader in the bad times. I often get asked by staff about the major challenges we have going forward, and my answer is that we do not have any challenges. We have opportunities, which is a different way of looking at it.”

What impact has the medical school at Northwell made for the organization?

It has made a major impact. The medical school has elevated the organization and elevated our brand. We are one of the largest academic teaching places in the United States, and having a medical school is a big component of that. The curriculum we developed is helping us educate the doctors of the future. We do not believe that you just take students, put them in a classroom and lecture them about what the world is like. We believe that a student who visits a patient’s home and travels out into the community to see the circumstances that impact health is going to be better prepared to succeed in the industry. This also helps us prepare the next generation of nurses with the teaching and curriculum taking place at our nursing school.

The medical school is about 13 years old, and we are reviewing the curriculum and looking at what the next iteration is and how we continue to change to stay ahead. This is the benefit of starting a medical school from scratch since we did not have to knock down old bureaucracies and ways of thinking. We were able to create a new culture and a new thought process.

Will you discuss Northwell’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

We have a way to go in this regard, and we will look very different in five years because of what we are doing now. This is about making sure that our people are looking where they may not have been looking, and seeing what they may not have been seeing. People tend to look for what looks like them. People hire people like them. I am always telling our people to stop looking where they have always been looking. It is about looking at it differently and identifying people that

you may not see all the time. It is then critical to provide opportunities, increase responsibility, and promote.

It is also critically important the way that you enhance the concept of inclusion. How do we educate each other about the other person? If you work in any of our divisions at Northwell, you will find people from multiple countries, multiple religions, multiple ethnicities, multiple backgrounds. It is critical to have our people collaborate and interact

because the more I know about you, the more I become inclusive.

What has made the industry so special for you?

When I get up in the morning, I wonder how I can make a bigger difference today than yesterday – that is the drive. I always feel I can do better. That opportunity is huge for me. I come to work every day to improve people’s lives and the health of the community at large. Healthcare is an industry where you make a difference.•

LIJ Medical Center
“Raising Health is about more than what doctors and nurses do clinically – it is also about what doctors and nurses can get involved in and talk about to make a difference in the human condition.”
“The medical school has elevated the organization and elevated our brand. We are one of the largest academic teaching places in the United States, and having a medical school is a big component of that. The curriculum we developed is helping us educate the doctors of the future.”

Advancing Healthcare

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Said Aidid Ibrahim is Senior Vice President of Northwell Health’s Medicine Service Line. In that role, he also serves as Chair of the Department of Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and the Donald & Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. Dr. Ibrahim joined the health system from Weill Cornell Medicine, where he was professor of Healthcare Policy & Research and the founding chief of the Division of Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation at the Department of Healthcare Policy & Research. He also was Weill Cornell’s inaugural senior associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion. Previously, Dr. Ibrahim worked at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and served as chief of medicine at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Dr. Ibrahim received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He also holds a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University’s School of Public Health and a master’s degree in business administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Dr. Ibrahim completed his internship and residency training in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I serve as the Chair of the Department of Medicine, and as Senior Vice President of the Medicine Service Line. The Department of Medicine is the largest medical department and consists of roughly a dozen medical subspecialities such as rheumatology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, to mention a few. The Medicine Service Line is a way to give the department a system approach.

The Department of Medicine plays three roles for the health system. One is to provide excellent clinical care, particularly as it relates to medicine. Another role is research and developing cutting-edge clinical research to advance medical science and to create future cures and care processes. Lastly, we train the future generation of physicians. In fact, Northwell is one of the largest physician training organizations in the country, and the Department of Medicine

and Medicine Service Line is the place where the vast majority of that training happens.

Is there close coordination between the Medicine Service Line and the other service lines within Northwell Health?

In my opinion, one of the unique things about Northwell, which is also what attracted me to Northwell, is that it is one of the most collaborative health systems in the country. Northwell’s culture of a team approach to all things, which comes directly from leadership of the institution, shapes our Department of Medicine/MSL approach to collaboration. We work with all of the other departments, such as the Department of Surgery, the Cancer Institute, the Department of Cardiology, and so on. An excellent example of how we collaborate with other departments would be with Northwell’s thriving transplant programs. The three major Northwell transplant programs, namely liver transplant, lung transplant, and kidney transplant, couldn’t exist or thrive without the full collaboration of the Medicine Service Line. All of these programs leverage our service line/department expertise and workforce in nephrology, hepatology, and pulmonary medicine. Our faculty and providers in Hospital Medicine, Infectious Diseases, and Critical Medicine, all work intimately with our surgeons to make these transplant programs successful.

Will you elaborate on Northwell’s commitment to and investment in research?

I strongly believe that Northwell should have robust clinical and basic science research programs for three important reasons. One, it is critical to be part of the national and global effort to advance the science of healthcare –this is how we discover the future cures and better ways of delivering care. This is also, in part, why the United States spends more money than any other country on medical research. The second reason is that research and scientific innovation is and will be a key distinguishing feature of an academic healthcare system. It will be the reason patients choose us for care over the competition. That is because when a person is looking for a health system to go to, one of the areas that gets attention is the academic reputation of the institution, and you cannot be an academic institution without a strong focus and commitment to research. Lastly, academic – such as research – is how you

attract the best and brightest to the institution. Today’s talent wants to work for health systems that are advancing health and creating the cures of tomorrow. Fortunately, Northwell is committed to research, which is why we have the Feinstein Institutes and continue to attract clinical research in cooperation with industry.

What do you feel are the keys to driving impact on the issue of health equity?

Delivering the best care to all of our community members regardless of their social station in life is the most important healthcare challenge of our time. I know this in part because health equity has been a focus of my research and scholarship which has been continuously supported for over 25 years by the National Institutes of Health and other funders. One way to think about health equity is to look at it as a feature of healthcare quality. In fact, I would go as far as saying that quality and equity in health are simply the two sides of the same coin. An institution that fails to deliver the best possible care for 20 or so percent of its patients cannot claim to be a high-quality institution. So, we are committed to pursuing health equity on multiple fronts. We work with our institutional leaders on health equity such as the Department of Population Health which is led by Dr. Debbie Salas-Lopez.

Northwell takes care of a very diverse patient population. Therefore, we have to have a diverse strategy that includes recruiting physicians, nurses, and staff that collectively reflect the communities we serve.

What are some of the changes that you have seen during your career in healthcare?

There are three profound changes that come to mind. One is the realization that social factors impact health and that we, as care providers, have to address social determinants of health. A good health system today is one that is able to follow the patient outside of the hospital and into the community and home. The second potentially transformative change is technology. Technology is allowing us not only to expand knowledge, but to reach patients and communities in unprecedented ways. The last one is the shift in how we finance healthcare. The shift from a fee-for-service model of reimbursement to a value-based care model that rewards good care is likely to have a major impact on how we deliver care.

In short, this is an exciting time to be in the profession, and I am fortunate to be a part of an institution like Northwell that is on the forefront of advancing healthcare.•

Dr. Said Aidid Ibrahim
An Interview with Said Aidid Ibrahim, MD, MPH, MBA, Senior Vice President - Medicine - Northwell Health, Chairman of Medicine - Internal Medicine, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Chairman of Medicine - Internal Medicine, North Shore University Hospital

Translating Patient-Impactful Research Into Practice

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Karina Davidson also serves as Dean of Academic Affairs, Director and Professor, Institute of Health System Science, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, and Donald and Barbara Zucker Professor in Health Outcomes, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. For more than 25 years, Dr. Davidson has served in leadership roles for teams focused on the advancement of scientific, educational and patient care missions through both the generation and implementation of evidence-based practices. She has been the principal investigator of more than 30 federally funded grants and authored over 300 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Davidson is also past chair of the United States Preventive Services Task Force. She earned her Master of Applied Science degree in industrial/organizational psychology as well as her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Waterloo (Canada).

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I’m the Dean of Academic Affairs and the Director of the Institute of Health System Science at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the research arm of Northwell Health. I’m also honored to be the Donald and Barbara Zucker Endowed Professor in Health Outcomes at the Zucker School of Medicine and the Senior Vice President of Research for Northwell Health. Through these roles, I work with many talented faculty and staff to improve health by translating patient-impactful research into practice across the system. We have created the Northwell learning health system, allowing us to efficiently study gaps in care delivery and rapidly implement innovative and best practices to improve the quality of care.

What have been the keys to the industry leadership of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research?

The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research’s foundation is built upon Northwell Health’s patient-driven mission and entrepreneurial spirit to be more than just a healthcare system. Consequently, Feinstein’s leadership promotes a culture of relentless innovation and collaboration for research. The impact of this

leadership is evident in our Institute for Bioelectronic Medicine which is developing new approaches to treating and diagnosing disease and injury through a convergence of molecular medicine, neuroscience, and bioengineering disciplines to make innovative therapies a reality. Another example of Feinstein’s ability to be an industry leader is our strength in harnessing the power of big data to inform science and practice. Recently, we launched Northwell Health Vital Sign. This initiative leverages data analytics and AI to understand various dimensions of health and well-being to enhance research and improve patient care. As a result of these efforts, research is a primary pillar of Northwell’s mission and is a driving force across Northwell.

How has the Feinstein Institutes allowed you to follow your passion for doing something disruptive and innovative in the research world?

Throughout my career, I have seen that data science is the backbone of all research. More than ever, the healthcare industry is poised to harness big data’s potential and power. As a result, we can now apply new analytic tools and techniques to our vast patient and population-level data to make discoveries that improve patient care. So, Feinstein has provided me with a career-defining opportunity to transform data science at Northwell by creating and launching a new Quantitative Intelligence team. The goal of this innovative group of data scientists, statisticians, engineers, economists, and professional staff is to centralize research data and analytics infrastructure to increase research insights and pace. My passion will be realized when rapid-cycle research – problem analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation – is established and operating. The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research will transform how research is done by attaining accessible, real-time data to enable discovery, enhance clinical trial conduct, and, ultimately, inform better patient care.

Do you feel that Northwell Health’s commitment and investment in research is a differentiator for the health system?

With over 5,000 scientists, clinical investigators, and professional staff at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Northwell is committed to investing in the careers of

disrupters and innovative thinkers to transform healthcare. Feinstein is recruiting outstanding scientists across various disciplines and training the next generation to be leaders in their field. We are committed to bringing our patients highquality, cutting-edge care by supporting our employees to make impactful evidence-based discoveries. We’re moving research beyond the bench and translating findings to the patient’s bedside and throughout the community. We’re engaging patients as research partners to inform the types of research problems that we tackle and reach underserved populations. We’re sharing research findings with our communities and seeking to raise health for all.

How critical are clear metrics and objectives to ensure the development of impactful research?

When conducting novel research with cutting-edge technology, clear metrics and objectives are vital to produce impactful research. Defining objectives and identifying specific metrics streamlines research and leverages various strategic, scientific, and operational expertise across Northwell.

One of our driving objectives is to ensure that underrepresented and vulnerable populations receive equitable health outcomes in our communities. Another ambitious objective is to use De-implementation science to remove evidence-free practices and paperwork from our clinicians’ workload. We intend to give clinicians precious time back, and we relentlessly work when designing research to evaluate that we have done so.

What are you looking forward to next in the healthcare industry?

Healthcare is uniquely poised to leverage cutting-edge technology and harness the power of big data and analytics to revolutionize and personalize how we deliver care to our patients. Big data provides us with population-level insights into the health of our communities. AI allows us to predict adverse health events in our patients before they occur. Automated shared decision-making tools allow us to hear the voice of each patient and emerging technologies offer us the tools to deliver personalized care solutions based on our patients’ values and preferences. I am excited and energized by the opportunity to translate research findings into improved outcomes for our patients as rapidly as possible to help our patients achieve longer, high-quality lives.•

Karina Davidson

Neurosurgical Care

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Daniel Sciubba also serves as the Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) and Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center and as Co-Director of Northwell Health’s Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Dr. Sciubba came to Northwell from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine where he served as professor of neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, oncology, radiation oncology, and molecular radiation sciences. He also served as JHU’s director of spinal tumor and deformity surgery, as well as director of the multidisciplinary spinal oncology board and clinic. Dr. Sciubba received his medical degree from the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His post-doctoral training included a residency in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and two complex spine fellowships at JHU and Shriners Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I currently serve as the Lucille and Milton Cohn Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, the senior vice president of neurosurgery at Northwell

Health, chair of neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and the Co-Director of the Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Northwell Health. These roles provide me the extraordinary opportunity to lead one of the largest academic neurosurgery departments in the country. As such, I am responsible for the strategic, operational, quality, and financial initiatives for every neurosurgery team in the system.

Will you discuss Northwell Health’s strength and leadership in neurosurgery?

Northwell Health is home to one of the most extensive and innovative neurosurgery programs in the country. Our neurosurgeons are globally recognized in their respective subspecialties and expertly treat a wide variety of neurosurgical issues – from routine procedures to the rare and complex. We also have initiated many pioneering research programs and experimental therapies.

Will you highlight the breadth and depth of Northwell Health’s neurosurgery capabilities?

There is no other neurosurgery department in our region that has the breadth of Northwell. From northern Westchester County to eastern Suffolk County, we provide excellent neurosurgical care for both the brain and the spine. In

addition, we have multiple local teams in New York City, Westchester, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County that provide a depth of skill that matches or exceeds what is offered at other institutions. This combination allows us to treat more neurosurgical patients than any other system in New York.

How is technology impacting the field of neurosurgery and helping advance treatment?

Advancing technology has been present in neurosurgery from the genesis of the field itself. From spine surgery to interventions for stroke and other vascular diseases to treatments for brain tumors and healing functional disease such as Parkinson’s, more and more options are available because of the impact of technology. More advanced imaging modalities and artificial intelligence will create even more pathways in the future where previously treatments might not have existed or would not have been optimal.

How important is cross-disciplinary collaboration in creating neurosurgery treatment plans that are customized to produce an optimal result?

Cross-disciplinary collaboration is vital in every aspect of neurosurgical care. The care of the brain and spine is so closely connected to multiple specialties including neurology, oncology, psychiatry, orthopedics and physical medicine, and rehabilitation just to name a few. In addition to the physician specialties, there needs to be close collaboration with advanced care providers, nursing, technicians, facility staff, and administration to ensure that patients are cared for to the greatest extent possible.

What are you most excited about as you look to the future of neurosurgery?

The future of neurosurgery is incredibly bright as the research that is being done every day in neuroscience has the potential to revolutionize treatment options in multiple areas in neurosurgery. Over the next decade we are bound to see advances in treatments for brain and spine cancer, brain vessel disease, and functional neurological conditions such as essential tremor and Parkinson’s. Such treatments will fundamentally change how patients and their families deal with debilitating neurological conditions, and in many cases, we are allowing for complete cures. I feel honored to be part of this incredible community that is at the cutting edge of

Dr. Daniel M. Sciubba An
Interview with Daniel M. Sciubba, MD, Senior Vice President of Neurosurgery, Northwell Health, and Chair of Neurosurgery, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
“Advancing technology has been present in neurosurgery from the genesis of the field itself. From spine surgery to interventions for stroke and other vascular diseases to treatments for brain tumors and healing functional disease such as Parkinson’s, more and more options are available because of the impact of technology.”

Otolaryngology Care

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Andrea Vambutas oversees the quality and delivery of Head and Neck Services at Northwell Health. She also serves as chair of otolaryngology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. Dr. Vambutas is a nationally recognized leader in immune mediated hearing loss. Previously, she was chair of otolaryngology at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital and vice chair of otolaryngology at the Zucker School of Medicine, where she is also a professor of otolaryngology and molecular medicine. Dr. Vambutas joined LIJ in 1998 and helped maintain a rich tradition of research, receiving numerous awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for immunology research. She was also instrumental in developing the Apelian Cochlear Implant Center at LIJ, where she served as medical director for more than a decade before becoming department chair in 2015. In addition to her clinical and academic titles, Dr. Vambutas is an investigator in the Center for Autoimmune & Musculoskeletal Disorders at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. She is a regular reviewer for the NIH and other grant agencies. She has been elected to a number of national positions, including the board of directors of the American Auditory Society, the Education Committee of the American Neurotology Society, the CORE Grant Committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), and the Research Advisory Board of the American Otological Society. Dr. Vambutas holds a medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed her residency at LIJ Medical Center, as well as a fellowship in neurotology at Minnesota Ear, Head and Neck Clinic.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I am Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Otolaryngology service line as well as Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology at the Zucker School of Medicine. My role is to drive the mission and vision of the department: to provide superior otolaryngologic care to patients of all ages through outstanding clinical care, monitoring quality and by actively

engaging in clinical and translational research that can change the outcomes of our patients.

Will you highlight Head and Neck Services at Northwell Health?

We provide care in all subspecialty areas of otolaryngology: head and neck oncology, endocrine surgery, robotic surgery, microvascular reconstructive procedures, cosmetic procedures, rhinology and skull base surgery, pediatric otolaryngology, neurotology, sleep medicine, and laryngology. Most of our faculty see patients at more than one location, thereby allowing us to reach multiple communities. Additionally, we provide audiology and speech pathology services for the rehabilitation of hearing and speech disorders in both children and adults.

What have been the keys to the strength and leadership of Northwell Health’s otolaryngology specialty?

The key strength is our tremendous faculty. They provide superior care by collaborating with their community partner physicians that refer patients as well as in multi-disciplinary teams within Northwell to render comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of the patients’ needs for the best possible outcome.

Will you discuss the advances taking place in otolaryngology and what excites you as you look to the future?

We are in an age of precision medicine. It is clear that in many clinical conditions, various molecular signatures can be observed that may dictate tailoring clinical treatment based on these signatures. This approach is being

implemented in various areas, whether in the care of head and neck cancer, sinus disease or hearing loss. Understanding these molecular signatures and translating them to more precise care is the key to better patient outcomes. Additionally, otolaryngology care is becoming increasingly more ambulatory. Procedures that we used to perform in an inpatient setting now may be ambulatory or even performed in the office. For our patients, that means returning to their normal routines faster, with less pain and greater satisfaction.

Will you discuss your role as an investigator in the Center for Autoimmune & Musculoskeletal Disorders at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research?

My laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of immune mediated hearing loss. Although standard of care is through the timely use of corticosteroids to ameliorate their hearing loss, we know that many patients may not respond to corticosteroids. Unfortunately, there are no therapies that effectively address these corticosteroid-resistant patients. By studying the molecular mechanisms in these patients, we have identified a potential new treatment for these patients.

Did you always know you were interested in a career in medicine and what has made the work so special for you?

My mother was a biochemist and earned a PhD in an era where the numbers of women in basic science research were significantly less than today. She was an inspirational figure in my life who taught me the importance of understanding the basic science mechanisms in biological processes.•

Dr. Andrea Vambutas
An Interview with Andrea Vambutas, MD, FACS, Senior Vice President and Executive Director for Otolaryngology Services, Northwell Health
“We are in an age of precision medicine. It is clear that in many clinical conditions, various molecular signatures can be observed that may dictate tailoring clinical treatment based on these signatures.”

Transplant Care

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Nabil Dagher oversees NSUH’s liver and kidney transplantation programs and serves as both surgical director of the liver transplant program and co-director of the Center for Advanced Liver Disease and Transplantation. A nationally recognized hepatobiliary and abdominal organ transplant surgeon, Dr. Dagher most recently led NYU Langone’s abdominal transplant surgery program and was surgical director of its liver transplant program. Prior to joining the NYU Transplant Institute, Dr. Dagher spent eight years at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, first as a fellow and later as director of its living donor liver and kidney transplant programs. Dr. Dagher earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and his bachelor’s degree from McGill University in Montreal. He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas/Parkland Memorial Hospital, followed by a fellowship in multi-organ abdominal transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins.

Will you highlight the Northwell Health Transplant Center and how you define the Center’s mission?

The Northwell Health Transplant Center performs heart, lung, liver, and kidney transplants. We care for patients at all stages of end organ failure, not just those who require a transplant. We are a very large healthcare system, and we serve a patient population that is extremely diverse. Our core purpose is to provide our patients with access to world-class transplant care. That doesn’t just mean building a multidisciplinary team of expert transplant professionals and having great outcomes. It also requires a strong focus on educating and engaging with the communities we serve, promoting organ donation, and constantly striving for equity in how we deliver care. Research, innovation, and a commitment to train the next generation of transplant professionals are also key pillars of our center. We want to inspire the large number of trainees across our system to pursue a career in transplantation.

Will you discuss Northwell Health’s transplant program and what have been the keys to the strength and leadership of the program?

Our transplant program has grown significantly over the past couple years with the rapid growth of our liver transplant program and initiation of a lung transplant program. Our kidney and heart programs continue to grow with excellent patient outcomes. Transplant surgeries occur at NSUH and with great collaboration with hospital leadership, we have built a strong infrastructure there to help support our complex patient population. With that said, we view our program as a system-wide effort and can provide care to patients across several key hubs throughout the system.

I think the key to success of any program in healthcare is that the values and priorities of the program align completely with those of the system leadership. Leaders need to be trusted and allowed to lead at every level. If that is achieved, anything is possible. With the support of system leadership, we view every challenge and make every decision with a laser focus on what is best for the patient. Almost always, what is best for the patient and what is best for the organization are one and the same.

How critical has it been for Northwell Health to build a multidisciplinary care team of transplant professionals and do you feel this is a differentiator in the industry?

A strong multidisciplinary care team has become essential to any successful transplant program. It’s easy enough to say, but to effectively implement that model is the challenge. That means having professionals from all the various medical and surgical specialties working side by side every day with the same mission, priorities, and focus. This in many ways goes against the traditional structure of medical care in the U.S., especially at large academic medical centers. We have broken down the rigid silos between specialties and are creating what I believe will be the gold standard of transplant care for the future.

What also differentiates us from many other successful programs is the size of our healthcare system. Although it can be challenging at times, this is a great benefit to our patients. Patients and providers want quality, access, and convenience. Gradually, we are expanding end stage organ failure and transplant services across the entire Northwell system which allows patients to access expert care close to home no matter where they live.

Will you discuss the innovation taking place in the field of transplants and how technology is impacting the entire transplant journey?

The field of transplantation is currently in a phase of significant transformation on all fronts. With a few exceptions, it has basically been business as usual for decades. The field is now finally embracing new technologies. For example, the use of AI and improved matching algorithms to more equitably allocate donor organs to recipients is on the horizon. GPS technology has been adopted to track hundreds of donor organs daily as they travel across the country to their intended recipients. Machine organ perfusion technology has also advanced significantly and now plays a major role in how we preserve and optimize organs for transplantation. There continues to be a severe donor organ shortage and these new technologies will help get us closer to making sure that every organ that can be transplanted, is transplanted.

Minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery is gradually making its way into the transplant field and this technology will hopefully continue to advance and improve recovery for both living donors and recipients.

Communication technology (online access, apps, etc.) is also now being adopted by transplant centers to better care for their patients before and after transplant. Keeping patients better connected to their providers and enabling them to access their lab work and medications will certainly enhance the care we provide and improve patient satisfaction.

What are some of the exciting developments taking place in the transplant field as you look to the future?

It’s interesting that as we continue to advance and look to the future, we always go back to the main obstacle, essentially the Achilles heel of transplantation – the human immune system and its very keen ability to detect the presence of a donor organ that isn’t inherently its own. This is despite great advances in immunosuppression medications. No matter how well matched, unless from an identical twin, transplanted organs suffer the gradual wear and tear of the recipient’s immune system. Advances in tissue regeneration and gene editing may finally one day help overcome this barrier for good.

The transplant community for some time has known that there is inequity in transplant access and care based on gender, race, culture, and socioeconomic status. It’s good to see renewed focus on this issue as we all strive for more equity in healthcare and in our society in general.•

Dr. Nabil N. Dagher

Prevention Care

EDITORS’ NOTE Felicia Hill-Briggs is Associate Director and a professor within the Institute of Health System Science at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. She is also the Simons Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research and professor in the Department of Medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/ Northwell. Dr. Hill-Briggs previously served as a professor of general internal medicine and endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, director of the NIH-funded Behavioral Research in Heart and Vascular Disease fellowship program, and senior director of Population Health Research and Development for Johns Hopkins HealthCare, LLC. In 2018, Dr. Hill-Briggs was national president of the American Diabetes Association for Healthcare and Education. She was elected to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and recently led a Johns Hopkins Medicine/University of Maryland Medical Center partnership that was awarded $43 million by the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission to establish diabetes prevention and management services in underserved areas.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

In my role as Vice President of Prevention at Northwell Health, I lead a team of clinical researchers, implementation scientists, and clinicians with expertise in conducting clinical research for new discovery in prevention care and expertise in implementing and evaluating large-scale, evidence-based prevention programs delivered in healthcare, community, and regional settings.

Our mission is to establish and to grow prevention research and care programs that are effective and accessible and that promote a healthier, more equitable future. Our vision is optimal health and wellbeing for all through prevention. A key focus of our work is large-scale impact. To have population level impact, prevention research and care programs must reach and be effective within populations of health inequity. Northwell Health, as an integrated healthcare system and the largest healthcare provider in New York State, is uniquely poised to lead the nation in the design and conduct of prevention research and care models that improve outcomes among a wide breadth of racial and ethnic populations carrying disproportionate burden of chronic conditions.

We use health system and public health data to identify priority conditions and populations within

Northwell Health and its communities for preventive interventions, and we collaborate across Northwell Health departments. Our current work is focused on prevention of diabetes and its comorbidities within our highest-risk communities, reducing the stark inequities in maternal morbidity and mortality particularly among Black/African American pregnant persons, and enhancing reach of cancer research and care programs to populations of health inequity.

How is Northwell Health working to expand disease prevention research and care programs at the Feinstein Institutes and across the health system?

Our strategy is to address the full continuum of prevention – primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention is interventions to keep healthy people healthy. Secondary prevention is for people who already have risk factors for disease, such as overweight, elevated blood pressure, or elevated blood sugar, but not yet reaching the thresholds for disease onset. Interventions for secondary prevention target those risk factors to stop people from progressing to disease. Tertiary prevention, also known as disease management, is for people who already have disease. We want them to live their best possible lives. Disease management interventions target improving disease care and outcomes, reducing disease complications and comorbidities, and improving quality of life.

Our prevention researchers design and conduct research across the prevention continuum to discover novel interventions and methods where there is not an evidence base of effective solutions. Working in partnership with clinical departments and centers, such as the Northwell Health Center for Maternal Health, innovations are proposed for research, and grants are submitted for funding. Currently two large clinical research grants on maternal morbidity and mortality are in processes of review for federal research funding. These collaborations between our prevention researchers and Northwell clinicians increase integration of research and data science into care and clinical decision-making, grow research training and new investigator opportunities, and propel Northwell Health’s leadership in advancing new models of prevention care.

In addition to new discovery, we use implementation science to bring prevention interventions with a strong evidence base into our healthcare and community settings in a sustainable manner. As an example, our first major implementation initiative is the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP), a secondary prevention program that cuts

progression to type 2 diabetes in half in people with prediabetes. The National DPP, launched in 2010 by the CDC, is the largest national effort to bring an evidence-based lifestyle change program to communities across the country. The program has reached many communities, and in 2019 the CDC reported a reduction in overall new cases of diabetes in the U.S. But not everyone is benefitting. During that same period, diabetes incidence continued to increase among African American and Hispanic/Latinx populations and among individuals with less than a high school education. Northwell Health, in partnership with the New York State Department of Health, local health departments, community-based organizations, and faith-based organizations, is bringing the National DPP to populations not yet reached by the program. We are employing a population health strategy to implement the program in 11 high-risk communities served by Northwell Health and to close gaps and enhance National DPP networks in key areas across the state. In doing so, this initiative will result in reduced diabetes incidence rates in those most in need and ultimately move the needle on diabetes incidence rates at the New York State level.

Do you feel that there are strong opportunities for women to grow and lead in the industry?

I absolutely see strong opportunities for women leadership in the industry. Women are entering science and medicine professions in relatively equal proportions to men when we look at medical school enrollment and graduation rates and early career faculty appointments in academic medicine. This is important, as it produces a steady pipeline of women for professional promotion and leadership. However, when we look at advancement in science and medicine, it remains the case that women are promoted at rates that lag behind men, and among leaders in science and medicine, very few are women. While data will likely show growth in the number of women leaders from racially and ethnically underrepresented groups in medicine in recent years, there is a temptation to relegate women leaders from underrepresented groups to leadership positions focused on diversity rather than positions focused in their academic and scientific expertise. So, for example, growth in attainment of leadership can be seen in the areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, while their expertise, professional training, and achievements have prepared them equally to be Chair of Cardiology, Endocrinology, Neurology, or Medicine, or CEO of a healthcare system or other health organization. Biases and glass ceilings still need to be shattered for the industry to benefit optimally from the talent pool available for leadership.•

Felicia Hill-Briggs

Raider Nation

EDITORS’ NOTE Sandra Douglass Morgan is a visionary and trailblazer with more than two decades of leadership experience in the sports, gaming, legal, and corporate sectors. She has served as a chief regulator, director, attorney, and advisor to integrated resorts, casinos, and telecommunications companies. No stranger to historic firsts, Morgan was named President of the Las Vegas Raiders by owner Mark Davis in July 2022, making her the first Black female team president in the National Football League’s history. Having an adept understanding of the community as a native Las Vegan, she accepted the role with the vision of making the city the sports capital of the world. Prior to joining the Raiders, Morgan served as Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. As the chief regulator for Nevada’s dominant billion-dollar gaming industry, she led the passage and implementation of cashless wagering regulations, ensured that gaming licensees adopted policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment, and led a team of 400 employees in five cities across the state of Nevada. The Las Vegas native was the first person of color and the second woman to serve as Chair in the state’s history. Morgan also served as a Commissioner on the Nevada State Athletic Commission and was the first Black City Attorney in the State of Nevada when she was the chief legal officer for the City of North Las Vegas, where she served from 2008 to 2016. Morgan was previously Of Counsel with Covington & Burling, LLP and also served as an advisor to the State of Nevada’s COVID-19 task force charged with finding solutions for personal protective equipment, virtual education options, and expanding testing capabilities so that the state could re-open the city to tens of millions of visitors from across the globe. Widely recognized for her business acumen, unflappable leadership, and support for local causes focused on children and philanthropic initiatives for women and girls, Morgan is the recipient of the UNLV Boyd School of Law’s Distinguished Service Alumni Award and the Corporate to Community Connector Award from the National Urban League Young Professionals. She was honored as one of the most influential “Women in Business and Politics,” receiving an award from the Urban Chamber of Commerce in 2015 along

with the Ladies of Distinction Award in 2013 from Olive Crest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting abused and neglected children. In 2012, Morgan was named Attorney of the Year by the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association in recognition of her commitment to serving the local community, especially communities of color. She has chaired a variety of nonprofit boards and is currently the host committee vice chair of Super Bowl LVIII, which will take place at Allegiant Stadium in 2024, marking the first time Las Vegas and the state of Nevada will host one of the mostwatched annual sporting events in the world. Additionally, Morgan serves on the Board of Directors of Allegiant Travel Company and Fidelity National Financial. She is a member of the State Bar of Nevada and the District of Columbia Bar. Morgan graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in political science and holds a JD from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The daughter of a retired U.S. Air Force Veteran and first-generation immigrant, she currently resides in Las Vegas with her husband, Don Morgan, a former NFL safety, and their two children.

Will you provide an overview of your business career and how this experience has helped in your current role as president of the Las Vegas Raiders?

Like many business executives, my career journey has taken a lot of twists and turns, but each and every role that I’ve held gave me a unique skillset that helped foster the leader I am today and opened many doors along the way. The experience of being from Las Vegas shapes the way that I lead. I grew up in a working-class family, attended Clark County public schools, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.

I started with the City of North Las Vegas in 2008, which at the time was one of the top three fastest-growing cities in America. I helped lead the city through the recession, and the municipal bankruptcies that ruptured the city’s relationship with key unions – including fire, police, and Teamsters unions. In response to this crisis, I consulted with other cities that had faced municipal bankruptcy and successfully negotiated amendments to our union contracts to ensure critical services continued for the people of North Las Vegas.

Beyond that, I have led the state and institutions through some of the most difficult times in Nevada’s history. I guided the entire gaming industry when we closed our doors to our 40 million visitors during the start of the pandemic,

Sandra Douglass Morgan
Interior of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas

and then again when we welcomed them back. Each of the roles I’ve held throughout my current career has helped catapult me to the position I’m in now and built a foundation for my leadership style in the process.

What excited you about joining the Las Vegas Raiders and made you feel it was the right fit?

When Mark Davis first contacted me about this opportunity, I was honored, humbled, and curious. I’m an attorney by trade, and I’ve always looked for opportunities that expand my skillset and expose me to new arenas. When I met with him, he shared the organization’s core values of integrity, community, and commitment to excellence – all tenants of the environment I seek to cultivate each and every day now as its leader. Mark has entrusted me with the authority to lead this team and foster an environment that will pave the way for the future of Raider Nation.

I was raised here in Las Vegas and lived here since I was two years old, so I’ve watched the evolution of this city that has ascended to one of the entertainment capitals of the world, visited by millions from across the globe. With this role, I have the opportunity to make this city I love the capital of the sports world as well. Being the President of the Raiders gives me the opportunity to make sure that supporting the Las Vegas community is foundational to the organization’s mission and values.

How do you define the role of president of the Raiders and how do you focus your efforts?

As President, I’m responsible for our success off the field. A key piece of that success means ensuring that our entire team – from our Raider Image store to stadium operations, and hundreds of employees behind the scenes, is supported and able to bring their knowledge and skill set into their work environment each day as they live out the Raiders core values.

I am coming into this role with a new perspective and leadership style and am here to forge a new path forward, taking our team to the

next level – from improving the organizational culture to being a trusted and valued community partner. I am tackling each challenge the same way I would any professional challenge, by rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.

Sports is an industry built around community, fun, and entertainment. But today, sports are undergoing a lot of change. During these times of change, it’s important that I double down on making honest decisions and function as an ethical catalyst to promote, sustain, and maintain accountability within our team and the communities I work with each day.

How do you define the Raiders culture and how critical is culture to the success of the organization?

The Raiders culture of winning, teamwork, and opportunity is a part of everything we do, and how we live out our core values as an organization. Inclusion and opportunity are key tenants of the organization, and I want to make sure

those tenants take root in Nevada so that we can uplift and empower local communities. It is how we continue to fulfill our promise to be a part of the fabric of the southern Nevada community and bring a new generation of fans into Raider Nation while leading this global brand to gains on a national and international scale. There’s an axiom here, “The greatness of the Raiders is in its future.” Our commitment is to maintain the finest organization in the history of sports.

What do you see as the role that professional sports plays in a city’s economy and growth?

Having a franchise in our town is building a sense of community and pulling people together in a uniquely American way. The arrival of this Raiders organization just a few years ago has forever changed the landscape of the Strip and created opportunities for this region we never dreamed were possible. As a team, we each have a role in mentoring and

“With this role, I have the opportunity to make this city I love the capital of the sports world as well.”
Allegiant Stadium
Modelo Cantina Club at Allegiant Stadium

supporting our community, and as an organization, we are committed to making a lasting, positive impact in Las Vegas.

The organization has already provided an economic boost to southern Nevada and the Las Vegas communities, most visibly in the nearly 10,000 jobs the team’s move has generated. The team and our owner, Mark Davis, donated $1 million during our inaugural season to help the coronavirus relief effort in the local community. Allegiant Stadium, one of the biggest success stories of the year, has already seen more than a million people attend events just in the last six months – with more than 400,000 people traveling here from other areas just for stadium events. The stadium alone is expected to generate an economic benefit of $620 million annually.

Will you discuss your vision of making Las Vegas the sports capital of the world?

To start, I want to ensure that Allegiant Stadium has the best fan experience in the NFL and can be showcased at events beyond the season. Our 65,000-seat venue which opened to fans for the first time in the 2021 season was actually ranked the top stadium in the league last year for “overall game-day satisfaction” by those who took part in the NFL’s “Voice of the Fan” weekly independent survey. This is obviously a massive undertaking and a complete team effort, and I have to also give credit to partners like the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, which enacted a bus service called the “Raiders Game Day Express” that delivers football fans from five locations across the Las Vegas Valley.

Allegiant Stadium was recently named the number one international stadium for live events, according to Billboard Boxscore’s annual rankings. Our home stadium grossed more than $180 million in ticket sales, welcomed more than 1 million fans, and held 24 events from November 2021 to October 2022.

In the past few months, it was also announced that Las Vegas and Allegiant Stadium will host its first Super Bowl (LVIII) in 2024 followed by the NCAA’s premier championship for the men’s

college basketball Final Four in 2028. Those are two defining moments for our region and will bring millions in revenue to this region.

What can fans expect from the Super Bowl in 2024 at Allegiant Stadium?

Las Vegas is a city that knows how to entertain and leave visitors with a memorable experience. I can confidently say as the Vice Chair of the Super Bowl Host Committee that we are going to host the best Super Bowl in history. Fans can expect an unprecedented experience, with the entertainment expanding well beyond the game itself to our entire region. Our partners from across industries will be coming together to create a seamless experience and bring world-class talent and partners to the region as we welcome hundreds of thousands into our city across the week.

What do you see as the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

As an executive, it’s always been important that my team comes to work understanding what is expected of them and that our organization is supportive of their success. The best way to achieve this is by making sure that my staff knows they have my respect and support.

As I lead the Raiders, I am driven by three core tenants of leadership. Championing inclusion, opportunity, and community. The Raiders have a long legacy of greatness because we have cultivated a place of belonging where fans and players from all walks of life, each with their unique differences and perspectives, are celebrated. We pursue a culture of winning both on and off the field through accountability, respect, and grit. There is an undeniable grit associated with the Raider franchise, and this has produced a culture that is committed to excellence. We hold ourselves, our players, and our entire organization accountable to the same high standards, and as a result, have built an organization that excels on and off the field. We are committed to being a steward for the Las Vegas community through philanthropy, economic empowerment, and a guiding sense of responsibility to others. Raider Nation is one that champions everyone, and we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be a part of our legacy and celebrate our wins. How important is it for the Raiders to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to mirror the diversity of its fans and the communities it serves?

At its core, a business’ culture is its people –starting with leadership and bleeding into every other employee. This is why the Raiders franchise has such a uniquely rich culture – because of leaders like Al and Mark Davis, who have championed opportunity, accountability, and respect in their personal and professional endeavors. To me, the Raiders culture is defined by a commitment to equity and social justice – it is at the very core of the Raiders identity, from Al Davis’

Interior of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Raiders alumnus Roy Hart loads toys into the bus during the Fill the Bus Toy Drive

legacy as an advocate for social justice to my and Mark’s joint commitment to championing underresourced communities throughout Las Vegas.

To be a Raider is to stand for inclusion and opportunity. For example, in 1963, the Oakland Raiders were scheduled to play a preseason game against the New York Jets in Mobile, Alabama. Despite their status as worldclass professional athletes, the Oakland Raiders African American players were mandated to sleep and eat at lower-quality establishments than their white teammates – and then play in front of thousands of fans separated solely because of the pigmentation of their skin. The game was eventually relocated back to Oakland with Raiders Head Coach and General Manager Al Davis backing his African American players’ protest. Davis, even in 1963, knew where to stand – with his players, fighting to compete on a level playing field. This set the culture for the Raiders, which is evident through multiple trailblazing hires and a whole lot of winning.

As a leader, I am eager to continue building upon this culture through my own commitment to excellence, opportunity, and respect for others – which I hope will be an example to all members of the Raiders staff.

What do you see as the Raiders responsibility to be engaged in the community and to be a force for good in society?

While the Raiders have a long history of excellence, we’re still new in Las Vegas and plan to grow a local fanbase here in Vegas. I want to build a legacy team that will positively impact Las Vegas’ communities for years to come and to make the Raiders a good corporate partner and corporate citizen by serving the communities in which we operate, providing jobs and economic security, and empowering our staff and alumni.

In addition to personally immersing ourselves through in-person participation in community activities, the Raiders are committed to making an economic impact, as evidenced by the contributions made through our Community

Relations and Raiders Foundation programming totaling over $4 million. Internally, I plan to create a positive work culture because if our staff is happy, then they can have the best possible impact on our communities.

You are the first Black female team president in the National Football League’s history. Do you feel an added responsibility in the role and how important is it for you to open doors for more women and women of color to have opportunities in the sports business?

I am someone with a lot of firsts when it comes to leadership roles. First Black woman to serve as city attorney for North Las Vegas, the first Black woman to serve as Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and the first Black woman to serve as president of an NFL team. And this is a narrative that a lot of women in leadership roles will face. I know that sports are a male-dominated industry, just as gaming

was, and we need to continue to break down these barriers. Sports today is undergoing a lot of change.

It is important to build a strong network of women in business to elevate the power we hold for the next generation. I have enjoyed meeting women at all levels from the different teams and hope to be a part of a cross-team network of women working in football. If I can be a catalyst for inclusion, if I can bring more women into this business, then that is a win in my book.

As a leader, my mission is to ensure traditionally underrepresented groups – whether they be women, LGBTQ, people of color, veterans, or those with disabilities – have a presence at every level. I know that I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me and shoulder to shoulder with some of my colleagues from other teams. I am proud to join the ranks of visionary women and leaders of color who came before me. I join Kristi Coleman (Panthers) and Kim Pegula (Bills) as the only women to hold the title of team president, and Jason Wright (Commanders), Sashi Brown (Ravens) and Damani Leech (Broncos) as the only Black individuals named to the position in league history. I certainly hope to be able to make a difference by being a source of opportunity for the next generation.

What advice do you offer to young people beginning their careers during this uncertain time?

My number one piece of advice for women, or anyone trying to make it in sports, business, or any other industry, is to respect others. At the core, respect should extend beyond the scope of what’s on your business card or title. Respect should entail: Respect for the institutions you are serving, whether you are in the C-suite or an entry-level position; Respect for your peers and the people throughout the organization, which comes in the form of accountability and a commitment to excellence; and finally, Respect for the communities and people you engage with by uplifting and empowering them.•

Raiderettes Kylee and Meghan and Las Vegas Raiders alumnus Roy Hart pose for a photo during the Fill the Bus Toy Drive
Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Matthew Butler (94) and cornerback Sam Webb (27) pose for a photo with students and teachers during the Hip Hop Entrepreneurship class

Classic Design With a Modern Perspective

EDITORS’ NOTE Farooq Kathwari has been Chairman and CEO since 1988. He serves in numerous capacities at several nonprofit organizations including the Board of Overseers of the International Rescue Committee; the advisory board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is Chairman Emeritus of Refugees International; an advisory member of the New York Stock Exchange; former Chairman of the National Retail Federation; Director Emeritus and former Chairman and President of the American Home Furnishings Alliance; a Director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University; Co-Chairman of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council; and a member of the International Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace. He served as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from 2010 to 2014 and was tapped to join the congressionally mandated United States Institute of Peace bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States co-chaired by Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, who formerly led the 9/11 Commission. Among his recognitions, Kathwari is a recipient of the 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor and has been inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame. He has been recognized as an Outstanding American by Choice by the U.S. government. He

has received the Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute Lifetime of Leadership Award; the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee; the National Retail Federation Gold Medal; and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award. He has also been recognized by Worth magazine as one of the 50 Best CEOs in the United States. Kathwari holds a BA in English literature and political science from Kashmir University, Srinagar, and an MBA in international marketing from New York University. He is also the recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees.

COMPANY BRIEF Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. (ethanallen.com) is a leading interior design company and manufacturer and retailer of quality home furnishings. The company offers free interior design service to its clients through the efforts of approximately 1,500 in-house interior designers and sells a full range of furniture products and decorative accessories through its website and a network of approximately 300 Design Centers in the United States and abroad. Ethan Allen owns and operates nine manufacturing facilities including six manufacturing plants in the United States, two manufacturing plants in Mexico, and one manufacturing plant in Honduras. Approximately 75 percent of its products are made in its North American plants.

How do you define Ethan Allen’s mission and purpose?

Our mission is to constantly reinvent to remain relevant. This has resulted in 90 years –so far – of a vibrant enterprise where our associates take pride in their work and accomplishments. We are the world’s leading interior design destination, and our mission is to help our clients create a beautiful home. Our business is built on providing exceptional personal service, enhanced by state-of-the-art design technology.

We’re also a vertically integrated business, from product design and manufacturing to retail and delivery. This structure enables us to create about 75 percent of our products in our own North American workshops and ensure that our customers receive products of the highest quality.

We also partner with artisans around the world to curate products for the whole home. These partnerships are also important. They make us a one-stop, whole-home solution for interior design, with a team of more than 1,200 world-class professional interior designers who serve our clients every day, at every Ethan Allen location around the world.

Do you describe Ethan Allen today as a furniture brand or an interior design company?

We are an interior design business that is vertically integrated. Forty years ago, our retail was focused on selling products. Today, we still sell products, but we do it through this service. We’ve always been focused on one enterprise and one brand – Ethan Allen. It would be easy to make furniture and sell it to other retailers, but that’s not what we do. We make furniture in support of our interior design business.

In recent years, we’ve focused on strengthening our retail locations by transforming them into design studios centered around working with a designer. You can still see furniture there, but that furniture can be personalized any way you want, by your interior designer. About 75 percent of the products we craft in our workshops are custom made using the unique fabrics, leathers, finishes, or options that our designers come up with in partnership with our clients. It’s that personalization – that personal service – that makes us so much more than a furniture store.

Farooq Kathwari
Ethan Allen Design Center in Skokie, Illinois

What have been the keys to Ethan Allen’s ability to stay relevant for 90 years?

We’ve stayed relevant because we’ve always run our business in a way that lets us control our own destiny. First of all, our philosophy – classic design with a modern perspective. We build on things that are timeless while adapting to the changing tastes of our clients. A “modern perspective” may look different in different years, but by adapting the classics to those changes and having incredible diversity of style, we make sure clients can come to us and find something relevant for any time and any lifestyle.

The recent COVID crisis, for us, became an opportunity. We saw an increased focus on the home, and we also saw people wanting to use their homes in different ways. We quickly adapted to those demands – more outdoor furnishings, more home office space, things like that – and we could do it because we support our clients with interior design service and make most of our products ourselves.

Technology has also kept us relevant and helps us do more with less. Maintaining 75 percent of our manufacturing in North America would not be feasible without adding stateof-the-art technology. Also, technology in our retail operations has been a game changer. Many of our designers kept working during COVID because we had invested in 3D design technology which made it possible for them to work with their clients anywhere in the world, even when they couldn’t collaborate in person. You have to have the right talent and give them the tools they need to do the job. It has to be part of your culture, part of your DNA: constantly reinventing, thinking, and challenging yourself. It’s what’s kept us profitable for 90 years.

How important has it been for Ethan Allen to be a vertically integrated company?

As I said before, we run our business in a way that lets us control our own destiny. We are a vertically integrated company, from operating sawmills and lumberyards to manufacturing, to

retail, to logistics, and then to having one of the largest interior design networks in the world.

In the 1990s, we had 30 manufacturing plants, and things began to go offshore. We decided to make improvements to our manufacturing right here in the United States, but also to go south of the border because we wanted the ability to control what we are doing.

We own all our own manufacturing, we own logistics, and we own about 40 percent of our retail. When we’ve been approached by people in private equity who ask, “Why don’t you sell all this real estate?” I tell them we’ve gone through the Depression and some recessions. I want to survive the next one. Longterm thinking isn’t easy, especially in a public company, but being vertically integrated gives us an incredible long-term advantage.

You mentioned that the pandemic brought a major focus on the home. How did this impact Ethan Allen’s business, and do you feel this focus on the home will continue in the future?

Crisis presents challenges, but it also presents opportunities. Our business increased about 30 percent during COVID; in fact, it was the best profitability we’ve had for 15, 20 years. I mentioned earlier that during COVID, people changed the way they used their homes: They wanted to gather outdoors with their families, they needed to work from a home office. Some of those changes have remained part of people’s lifestyles even after the pandemic.

We look at ways to keep operating well, but also how to take advantage of new opportunities. Three years back, financial markets paid less attention to businesses like ours; now they pay more, but we don’t run our business based on what the financial markets think. We do what we think is the right thing for us to do.

Will you discuss Ethan Allen’s focus on combining personal service and technology, and do you see this as a differentiator?

As I mentioned, we are first and foremost an interior design destination. Today, most of our designers meet with their clients online, via email or over video conference, before clients make their visit to a Design Center. This

Ethan Allen Design Center in Hartsdale, New York
“We’re also a vertically integrated business, from product design and manufacturing to retail and delivery. This structure enables us to create about 75 percent of our products in our own North American workshops and ensure that our customers receive products of the highest quality.”

pattern began during the pandemic, and our designers have continued to use technology to meet people where they are, then invite them to come in and finalize the details in the Design Center.

Ten years ago, our designers were used to doing much of their work by hand. Today, by combining talent with technology, half the people can do two or three times as much. The same thing happens with our manufacturing. Especially in the United States, we have a challenge of finding skilled labor, but we’ve retained good people and empowered them with technology. If we hadn’t, we’d need three times as many people to do the work. That’s why we invest in technology throughout our enterprise.

What are your views on the future of interior design and what will be the keys for Ethan Allen to remain at the forefront of the industry?

We have to keep adapting to the ways that homes will change, but what differentiates Ethan Allen now, and will always differentiate us, is our service. Clients now want to be able to start their design project from anywhere, so we continue making our 3D design technology better than ever. Our clients can see 2D floor maps, 3D renderings, and even virtual tours of their design plans, and then they can come into a Design Center to see the fabrics and finish options for themselves. And when they see the quality, they know they’ve made the right decision.

We also recognize that our clients are busier than ever before. Being “busier” means a client’s home has to do more jobs than ever before. Our clients may like to entertain in a formal way, but they may also have children and pets at home, so they need interior design that can fit with their lifestyle.

An interior designer helps them save time on a home project and can prevent costly mistakes. Busy clients get their project right the first time – they don’t have to waste time fixing mistakes. No one can predict the future perfectly, but I think our technology, our talent, and our one-on-one relationships with our clients make us uniquely positioned to adapt to whatever the future of interior design may be.

What are your views on the future of retail and will brick-and-mortar stores remain an important part of Ethan Allen’s model in the years ahead?

In every retail category, foot traffic has been declining over the past 10 years. One reason is that people used to go to stores to window shop. Today, they go to the internet to window shop. Although we’re seeing the same traffic trends as other retailers, we’re also seeing much more qualified shoppers come in, who’ve already done their research online – and as I said before, many of them have already started working with an interior designer before they come into a Design Center.

Our brick-and-mortar business will always be important to us because our level of quality is something that is best experienced in person.

Another brick-and-mortar advantage is our network of professional interior designers, many of whom have long relationships with clients, and these relationships work best one on one, in our Design Centers. I always say, start online, but then come into a Design Center to meet with an interior designer. The way we can personalize everything to you – that’s not something you get from many online retailers.

What are you most excited about as you look to the next 90 years for Ethan Allen?

My main job as a leader is to help develop a motivated and talented team and to ensure we remain relevant in various aspects of our vertically integrated enterprise. That’s why I challenge my team to look at five things every week: talent, service, marketing, technology, and social responsibility. You wouldn’t think they have a lot to say from week to week, but they always do. When you have talented people who are entrepreneurial but also disciplined, you can meet any challenge in any business environment, now and in the future.

Fortunately, we have talent that has stayed with us for a long time – sometimes, some people leave obviously, but it has been relatively small – and I think, going forward, we’ll have a great opportunity to continue doing something that many industries haven’t done. We will continue to be profitable by running a business that is vertically integrated, focused on one enterprise, always improving our service to our clients, always in control of our own destiny. As I always say, we are just getting started.•

“We have to keep adapting to the ways that homes will change, but what differentiates Ethan Allen now, and will always differentiate us, is our service.”
“We’ve always been focused on one enterprise and one brand – Ethan Allen. It would be easy to make furniture and sell it to other retailers, but that’s not what we do. We make furniture in support of our interior design business.”
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Project Liberty

EDITORS’ NOTE Frank McCourt is a civic entrepreneur and the Executive Chairman of McCourt Global, a private family company committed to building a better future through its work across the real estate, sports, technology, media, and finance industries, as well as its significant philanthropic activities. He is a fifth-generation builder who is extending his family’s 130-year legacy of merging community and social impact with financial results, an approach that started when the original McCourt Company was launched in Boston in 1893. McCourt is a passionate supporter of multiple academic, civic, and cultural institutions and initiatives. He is the founder and Executive Chairman of Project Liberty, a visionary effort to transform the internet through a new, equitable technology infrastructure and rebuild social media in a way that enables users to own and control their personal data. The project includes the development of a groundbreaking, open-source internet protocol called the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP), which will be owned by the public to serve as a new web infrastructure. It also includes the creation of the McCourt Institute, launched with founding partners Sciences Po in Paris and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, to advance research, bring together technologists and social scientists, and develop a governance model for the internet’s next era. In 2020, McCourt launched and became CEO of Unfinished, an initiative that aims to strengthen civic life in the digital age by redirecting technology, especially social media, to fuel collaboration over division; renew and strengthening civic institutions to accelerate inclusive problem-solving; and grow a fairer economy. McCourt has served on Georgetown University’s Board of Directors for many years and, in 2013, made a $100 million founding investment to create Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. He

expanded on this project in 2021 with a $100 million investment to catalyze an inclusive pipeline of public policy leaders and put the school on a path to becoming tuition-free. McCourt owns the French football club Olympique de Marseille and formerly owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. With family roots in the construction business dating back to the late 19th century, he has built upon this history with initiatives ranging from the development of Boston’s Seaport to large, mixeduse projects in Dallas, London, New York City, and elsewhere. McCourt graduated from Georgetown University, and is a proud father of six.

Martina Larkin assumed the role of CEO of Project Liberty in December 2022, following an international career working at the intersection of public policy, geopolitics, economics and innovation. She is an experienced leader and recognized expert well versed in innovation and international economics and politics. Prior to joining Project Liberty, she was Vice President for Global Issues at System, an artificial intelligence and data science company based in the United States. Before that she spent 16 years at the World Economic Forum, most recently as Head of Europe and Eurasia where she oversaw the Forum’s activities in 56 countries, working with business leaders across all sectors, as well as representatives

from governments and international and civil society organizations. Previously she led the Forum’s think tank, the Global Agenda Councils, and the Young Global Leaders Foundation. Earlier in her career, she was Associate Vice President at Lazar & Company, an investment bank, and held positions at Nestlé Switzerland. Larkin has helped launch numerous innovative initiatives and global networks addressing emerging technologies, the environment, education, and economic and political development. She has forged successful interdisciplinary regional and global coalitions, working with diverse groups of stakeholders to effect change. She is a member of several nonprofit boards, including the European Institute of Innovation and Technology of the European Commission; the international advisory panel for the Future of Science and Technology of the European Parliament; SITRA, Finland’s innovation think tank; Deusto University and Circulo de Empresarios, in Spain. She is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Larkin holds a degree from Fordham University, an MBA from ESCP in Paris and was awarded the prestigious Yale World Fellowship from Yale University in 2011. She speaks English, French and German fluently, and lives in London with her family.

PROJECT BRIEF Project Liberty (projectliberty.io) aims to create a new civic architecture for the digital world that returns the ownership and control of personal data to individuals, embeds ethical values into technology, and expands economic opportunities for web users and developers alike. The initiative seeks to accelerate the world’s transition to an open, inclusive data economy that puts citizens in control – a future in which all people, not just the few, directly benefit from their participation and contribution. The success of this work depends on many people and organizations actively working together to shape a better future.

An Interview with Frank H. McCourt, Jr., Executive Chairman, McCourt Global and Founder and Executive Chairman, Project Liberty, and Martina Larkin, Chief Executive Officer, Project Liberty
Martina Larkin
“Project Liberty is not a tech project. You can call it a democracy project; or you can call it a project of hope and human dignity. It is about a beautiful, healthier future that is possible.”
Frank McCourt

What was your vision for creating Project Liberty and how do you define its mission?

McCourt : Over a period of time, I came to the conclusion that if we were going to fix, or maybe even save, democracy, we needed to fix the technology that now underpins how we live, learn, work, do business, and communicate. Technology has such an important role in society and unfortunately the way the current technology architecture was designed is not conducive at all to democracy. It has enabled a few major companies and executives to consolidate significant power. Our technology today is great if you want to support autocracy, but it is not so great if you want to support individual rights and the freedoms and liberties assorted with democracy. We feel that the current tech architecture is fundamentally flawed. Fortunately, we are at a moment when the web is evolving from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, and we have an opportunity to reset and redesign. This is a great opportunity because 30 years ago not many people knew what the internet was about, and now people do know so instead of pointing fingers, we are focused on coming forward with a comprehensive, people-centered solution and getting it right.

I would also add that social media, which is a product of the current tech design, has unleased very unhealthy things on society. When you have social media platforms that are focused on advertising revenue and keeping people online – and anger and rage is one way to keep people online – this is not healthy for individuals, families, and children in particular, and is certainly not healthy in order to keep a society woven together. Social media today is optimizing for polarization and this type of addictive behavior online, which is very destructive. We need to step back, assess what is going on, and go to the core of the problem in order

to fix the design and fix the infrastructure, and then start building beautiful things on top of it.

Martina, what excited you about the opportunity to lead Project Liberty and made you feel it was the right fit?

Larkin: I spent several decades working at the intersection of tech, society, and geopolitics, so when this opportunity came along it was super exciting. The mission of Project Liberty resonates with me, and the timing is right since this is the moment when there is an opportunity to really do something with the technology that is out there that we did not have ten years ago. We have also seen a decline in democracies around the world in regard to civil discourse and individual rights. I thought it was a unique opportunity that was at the intersection of the areas that I had spent my career involved in, and the team behind Project Liberty is very impressive. It is important to have a mission and then to have the right people working with you in pursuit of that mission, and that is all present with Project Liberty.

You have referred to Project Liberty as a movement. Will you elaborate on the concept of this effort creating a movement?

McCourt: The last time around, when Web 2.0 became a novelty with all of these amazing things being built, there was an infatuation with it and we led with the tech. It was very much a “move fast and break things” mentality. There is nothing wrong with moving fast, but I think a big step was skipped in not bringing in key parts of society to understand governance issues and ethical issues that would result from the tech. The policymakers were another group that was left behind since the tech happened so fast that our policymaking apparatus today is still playing catch up.

The movement piece of Project Liberty is about how we engage civil society and

citizens who right now are really being treated as subjects and being targeted with their data being exploited and monetized without sharing the benefits, and that data is now even being weaponized. People are being manipulated, which is not democratic, and it has happened in a way where there has not been a lot of transparency. The tech led and everything followed.

My company, McCourt Global, is in the infrastructure business, and we build projects around the world. We do not build a project and then ask someone to create the design that replicates what we built. We are deeply concerned about the design of our projects and collaborate with great designers and engineers on these projects. What is always first with a building project of any kind? Safety. Whether it is highway safety or bridge safety or airport safety and so on, it is about safety first. You design safety into the infrastructure from the beginning. Too often, with technology, safety has not been a consideration. Democracy has not been a significant consideration. Truth has not been a substantial consideration.

We need to fix the tech, but fixing the tech alone will not save democracy. We are focused on a project that brings forth innovations in the technology, but also has a governance track and policy track and, perhaps most importantly, a people track. We think of it as a campaign and a way to engage civil society so that people understand why this effort should matter to them and hopefully will matter to them. We are beginning to see this evolve with more awareness around the impacts of social media on mental health of young people. This feels similar to the recognition years ago with drinking and driving when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) showed up. Imagine the idea of mothers against the negative impacts of social media – that is what we need. We need the realization of

“When you have social media platforms that are focused on advertising revenue and keeping people online – and anger and rage is one way to keep people online – this is not healthy for individuals, families, and children in particular, and is certainly not healthy in order to keep a society woven together.”
Frank McCourt
“We feel that the current tech architecture is fundamentally flawed. Fortunately, we are at a moment when the web is evolving from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, and we have an opportunity to reset and redesign.”
Frank McCourt

impacts that this is having on our children and families and communities, and for people to be talking about it at the dinner table, rather than focusing on some crazy tweet that has people entertained.

The internet is awesome – there is plenty of room on the internet to provide all sorts of entertainment and news for people – but how about embedding some values and principles around what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. This is going to mean that civil society needs to be involved in shaping technology and digital governance.

Who are the stakeholders in this effort?

Larkin: Society at large. It is about working with academia, business, and social impact leaders, policymakers – everyone is impacted by the internet. We need to engage anyone who is willing to get involved and we want to have open doors to bring others in to shape this with us. This is about benefiting and empowering people, rather than platforms.

McCourt : I think that many people are asking if this is how they want the internet to work, or if there is a better design that still provides all of the benefits but is a more coherent and supportive internet. We live in a democratic society and need to take advantage of this moment when decentralization is in play and there is new technology that will allow decentralization to become a reality, but let’s not let the tech run it, rather let’s get the social scientists and civil society at the table with the technologists so that it is designed

with clear results in mind. You consider truth and safety in the design before you start building it.

This is becoming one of the most important geopolitical issues in our day, and as Martina said, this is hugely important for societies, for governments to be able to govern, and for democracies to be able to thrive and survive.

Where is Project Liberty on its journey to create a new civic architecture for the digital world?

McCourt : I think society is well down the line in beginning to understand the problems and is aware that something is not working.

On the other hand, I think we are in the early innings in getting people to understand that the internet does not need to work the way it works now. It works the way it works because of some very basic protocols that we all agreed to adopt – now what if we added other protocols so that it was designed to work differently, starting with giving people ownership and control of their data. I think that agency is fundamental to a reengineered internet, and we have the ability to return agency to individuals.

Larkin : I totally agree with Frank. We want people to understand that there is a solution, but also understand that it is necessary to educate people about what this means and how we are embedding values as we look at the design. It is about getting back to basics and bringing people on board to join the movement.

How important is it to explain this effort in a simple and clear way that people can relate to?

McCourt: I think that this is one of the real challenges that we have at Project Liberty and one of the things we are working on. I do not think it is a single way – it is multiple ways to communicate with different constituencies that are thinking about this problem from different perspectives. Some are thinking about it at the level of democracy, others are thinking about it at the level of geopolitics, and many are thinking about it in regard to how it impacts them personally as well as their children and their families. We need to have different approaches with different constituencies to tell this story in the most effective way.

I think a way to illustrate the challenge and the opportunity is to go back to the early 1990s when my family started a telecom company that was an early mover with the internet and was the first to bundle phone, television, and internet service. It was very well received by customers who were interested in leaving the carrier they were on to come over to the service we had started. People were excited until it came time to sign the contract and they asked to keep their same telephone number, and we had to tell them this was not possible because the baby bells at the time owned their number. Most people wanted to wait until they could keep their same number, and in 1996 the Telecommunications Act was passed and telephone numbers became portable. I mention this

“We have also seen a decline in democracies around the world in regard to civil discourse and individual rights.”
Martina Larkin
“We need to fix the tech, but fixing the tech alone will not save democracy. We are focused on a project that brings forth innovations in the technology, but also has a governance track and policy track and, perhaps most importantly, a people track.”
Frank McCourt

because at that time a phone number, which has little value, had a lot of emotional importance to people. They would not change the carrier they were on unless they could bring their phone number with them.

Now, here we are 30 years later, and people have an entire digital identity – what I call a digital DNA. It is your digital life, which is worth a lot more than a phone number, and I think a challenge and an opportunity is to create that same emotion and attachment that people had with their phone numbers in the 1990s to how they feel about their digital identity today. If that happens and people start to say all that data should be their own, and that they should have access and control of it and decide what to do with it, that is the game changer. This is the bridge that we need to create and cross in my opinion, and I believe this will happen as people understand more and more about the value of their digital archive that is everything from the time you are born all the way through your lifetime.

Project Liberty is not a tech project. You can call it a democracy project; or you can call it a project of hope and human dignity. It is about a beautiful, healthier future that is possible.

How important has it been to build the team at Project Liberty and to build partnerships?

Larkin: It is critical. This is not something we can shape on our own. A range of people and partnerships are needed to inform and advance this effort. We are thinking of many milestones ahead and it takes a great team to

get there. We talk about 2024 as the year of democracy because there are approximately 70 elections taking place around the world and this is a time for Project Liberty to show up. We are working on what that means and how we are going to make a critical impact that will move the needle in terms of strengthening democracy, restoring trust, and empowering people.

What made you feel the time was right for a leadership transition at Project Liberty?

McCourt: I had said privately to my leadership team at McCourt Global a year ago that by the end of this year I wanted to essentially flip how my time was being used, and rather than spending 90 percent of my time on our businesses around the world and 10 percent of my time at Project Liberty, I wanted to essentially flip this time allocation. I needed to bring someone into the business to replace me as CEO at McCourt Global, and we made the announcement that Shéhérazade Semsar-de Boisséson is joining the company as CEO in January 2023. I also realized that I did not want to go from the CEO of one place to the CEO of another place because there is a lot of responsibility that a CEO has, and it takes up a lot of time. I wanted to free myself up to be able to have the time to actually push this project out and to be able to engage with people to bring them to the point of belief that this is possible. The fact that we were able to attract someone of Martina’s caliber with a lifetime of experience in this area who will do a better job than I would as CEO is

reassuring and gives me the confidence to make this leadership transition.

Martina, how do you describe your leadership style?

Larkin : When you are leading this type of visionary project, you need to give people the freedom to do their work. I am focused on building a high-performing team and am here to help guide them. I see it as co-leading and working together as a team to achieve our mission.

Do you enjoy the process and take moments to celebrate the wins?

McCourt : I don’t feel that we have a lot of time to reflect on what we have accomplished, but I am hugely grateful for everyone’s efforts in making it happen. This is a huge undertaking and I have a viewpoint that this can happen much more quickly than people realize because the one thing about technology is that once the mindset shifts, things can happen very fast. The technology that supports this project is happening and it has created an incredible amount of possibilities for the future of the Web.

I would say that one thing that I am very proud of and grateful for is getting to the point in my life where I am able to bring in seasoned and accomplished executives that share my ambition and goals and values. For them to have the confidence in what we are doing, both on the McCourt Global side and the Project Liberty side, with Shéhérazade and Martina coming on to take over the reins, that is an accomplishment.•

“I think we are in the early innings in getting people to understand that the internet does not need to work the way it works now. It works the way it works because of some very basic protocols that we all agreed to adopt – now what if we added other protocols so that it was designed to work differently, starting with giving people ownership and control of their data.”
Frank McCourt
“We talk about 2024 as the year of democracy because there are approximately 70 elections taking place around the world and this is a time for Project Liberty to show up.”
Martina Larkin

Enhancing Digital Governance

EDITORS’ NOTE Constance de Leusse joined Project Liberty’s McCourt Institute in November 2022 and serves as its Executive Director. She has more than 20 years of experience in digital policy and capacity building. She started her career working in the French prime minister’s services on information society issues. She then joined the Internet Society, the international NGO founded by Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet, as Vice President of Institutional Relations and Empowerment. She has been instrumental in developing new internet governance institutions, and founded the Internet Technical Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), facilitating the participation of global technical and academic communities into international policy discussions. In 2013, she was seconded to UNESCO to help develop their internet governance strategy. She has served on a number of committees including the World Economic Forum Internet For All Steering Committee, and the UN Secretary-General’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). On a part-time basis, she teaches digital governance at the university of Sciences Po. She also serves in the Naval Reserve of the French army. She holds a master’s degree in law

from the Paris Panthéon Asass University, a post-graduate degree in EU politics from Sciences Po, and a diploma in management from the London School of Economics (LSE).

INSTITUTE BRIEF The McCourt Institute (mccourtinstitute.org) was established in 2021 with a $75 million initial investment. The Institute aims to enhance digital governance by supporting timely, actionable research on ethical technology and serving as a meeting ground for technologists, social scientists, policymakers and governance experts, and leaders from the public and private sector. Together, these interdisciplinary partners are focused on creating a framework for online activity and growth that supports innovation and focuses on technology for the common good. Through the McCourt Institute, founding partners Sciences Po and Georgetown University will each receive grants of $25 million over 10 years to support the development of new scientific work conducted by their community of researchers. The Institute is a key component of Project Liberty (projectliberty.io), an international nonprofit working to transform how the internet works, create a more equitable digital economy, and develop a new civic architecture for the digital world.

Will you provide an overview of the McCourt Institute?

I recently joined the McCourt Institute as Executive Director, and the McCourt Institute is a key part of Project Liberty. Project Liberty is a comprehensive international effort focusing on accelerating a movement for change and advancing a decentralized technology so that people can be in control of their data and have better agency online. The McCourt Institute brings the fundamental pillar of governance to this project. We are set up as an international institute with two foundational academic partners, Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and Sciences Po in Paris, and a growing network of collaborators. This transatlantic approach gives us the opportunity to be at the heart of academic and political ecosystems where the future of technical governance, but also policy, is being designed.

We have several goals at the McCourt Institute. One is to accelerate research in areas that are necessary to enable regulatory and technical environments to allow for ethical technology and good governance frameworks to flourish. We have a set of activities with our partner universities, including grants that we offer and programs that are impact-oriented. We want the findings of the research to be quickly translated into either technical solutions that are going to improve technology for better lives or influence the development of policy frameworks that will foster

Constance de Leusse
“We are set up as an international institute with two foundational academic partners, Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and Sciences Po in Paris, and a growing network of collaborators. This transatlantic approach gives us the opportunity to be at the heart of academic and political ecosystems where the future of technical governance, but also policy, is being designed.”

innovation for the common good and be enlightened by the rigorous contributions of the universities and practitioners that we are partnering with.

How critical are metrics to measure the impact of the McCourt Institute’s work?

Metrics are very important in order to assess the benefits as well as the damages that we can acknowledge in the digital space. They are also very important in terms of measuring the positive impact of new technologies and policy frameworks. An example would be around social media’s impact on mental health. We are actually developing a list of criteria to have indicators on whether or not things are improving in terms of social media and individuals’ social media experience. This is very important because sometimes perception is different than reality. We want to be able to measure two things: trust in social media, and also verify if it correlates with actual benefits or challenges that people are experiencing on social media.

The fact that we have partnered with universities gives us an important advantage of coming into the conversation with rigorous data. We are looking to fund research which will help to connect the dots between our community of academics, students, and researchers with civil society leaders and industry leaders and policymakers. The Institute is a trusted platform where these key stakeholders can come in and have a genuine conversation and work together in designing the right kind of governance that

needs to be embedded in technology for tomorrow’s policy framework.

I started my career working for the French government on these issues, and then I spent 16 years helping build an organization that was at the forefront of technical developments of the internet as well as the development of policy frameworks being developed. It is critical to find an impartial forum since, in my experience, I have found that sometimes when governments take the lead, they do not have the expertise on board to lead these conversations in an effective way, and when industry takes the lead, they may be seen as biased. This is where the McCourt Institute provides value since we are impartial. Our ambition is to create an environment to bring in the data from universities and have different stakeholder communities come together in a multi-stakeholder fashion to take the necessary steps for creating technology for the common good.

Do you feel that progress is being made with this effort?

I think the internet is still a teenager. I have been working on these issues for about 20 years, and a lot of progress has been made. I sense that there is a backlash when it comes to technology today. In the 1990s, there was hope and optimism around technology and how it was going to change how individuals and societies interacted in a better way, and some of this has happened. But, we also saw some of the difficulties and flaws.

I think that it is a healthy signal that there is a suspicion of technology, and that people are expressing that they have some level of discomfort in the way, for instance, that platforms are managed and the impact on their lives and on public opinion and on how democracies are functioning. This provides an opportunity for us to come into the conversation with solutions.

What excited you about the opportunity to lead the McCourt Institute and how valuable is your past experience for this new role?

When I left the French government, I surprised my entire family, since it was a great career. I felt at that time it was important to get closer to the technology, which is why I left and moved to Geneva and joined the Internet Society, founded by Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet. I am in the same mindset today as I was 16 years ago when I joined the Internet Society because I am seeing the key elements that I saw at that time. I am seeing a comprehensive understanding that we will not be able to fix this if we do not harness the technology, the governance, and the policy piece. And, we need to involve civil society to create this movement. Project Liberty and its McCourt Institute are tackling one of the most pressing issues which I feel very strongly about, which is how technology is impacting society. The vision of Frank McCourt that there was something to do urgently on this front really resonated with me.•

“Project Liberty is a comprehensive international effort focusing on accelerating a movement for change and advancing a decentralized technology so that people can be in control of their data and have better agency online. The McCourt Institute brings the fundamental pillar of governance to this project.”
“The Institute is a trusted platform where these key stakeholders can come in and have a genuine conversation and work together in designing the right kind of governance that needs to be embedded in technology for tomorrow’s policy framework.”

Technology for the Common Good

EDITORS’ NOTE Braxton Woodham leads McCourt Global’s work to develop technology that supports the common good and played a key role in launching nonprofit Project Liberty. He joined McCourt Global in 2019 and, in addition to leading the company’s technology business unit, is the original inventor of the groundbreaking, open-source internet protocol called the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP) that was released by Project Liberty in 2021. Woodham has been at the forefront of envisioning and leading the development and commercialization of scaled software products and platforms for more than 20 years. Formerly, he served as the Chief Technology and Product Officer at Fandango, where he was responsible for product development and technology operations for Fandango Ticketing, Rotten Tomatoes, Fandango NOW (TVOD service with over 90,000 titles), Movietickets.com, Flixster, MovieClips, Ingresso (ticketing in Brazil), and Fandango.lat. While at Fandango, he led technical strategy, diligence, and integration efforts for eight acquisitions. Prior to

Fandango, Braxton was co-founder, President, and Chief Technology Officer at Sun Basket, a personalized meal platform based in San Francisco. He was also co-founder and Executive Chairman at kuma.capital, a software company providing a platform and applications for systematic digital asset trading. Woodham previously co-founded Tap11, a real-time social media analytics platform which was acquired by AVOS Systems in 2011. Before this he was the CTO of InfoSpace’s mobile division where he was responsible for the infrastructure that serviced approximately three quarters of all mobile web traffic in North America. Woodham joined InfoSpace through the acquisition of Moviso, where he led the development of the V4 Digital Media Platform. Prior to joining Moviso/InfoSpace, Braxton served as Executive Director of Technology at Sony Music Digital Media Ventures. Woodham is a United States military veteran and, as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force, served as Lead Propulsion Engineer for two Atlas missions. He earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering with honors from Vanderbilt University.

In early 2019, McCourt Global was looking for a chief technology officer for the overall enterprise and I had the opportunity to meet Frank. It was an interesting opportunity and I ended up becoming a technology advisor to Frank. This was a busy transition phase, as I was also involved with two other companies I had co-founded. In the Fall of 2019, Frank and I were discussing concerns over the use of social media in regard to polarization and disinformation. I mentioned to Frank that I had been thinking about a protocol for decentralizing social networks and making the Web socially aware for over a decade.

I was not aware at the time that Frank had been studying and focusing on this problem and was surprised by how committed he was to find a solution. I was amazed at how quickly he understood the abstract concepts of blockchain and decentralized shared state. Frank asked me how I would specifically attack this problem, and I told him that I would start by creating a single tech organization to prototype the entire technology solution, knowing that part of the “solution stack” would be public interest technology, and part

Will you discuss your background in the technology space and how this led you to working with Frank McCourt?
Braxton Woodham An Interview with Braxton Woodham, President, Unfinished Labs
“In the Fall of 2019, Frank and I were discussing concerns over the use of social media in regard to polarization and disinformation. I mentioned to Frank that I had been thinking about a protocol for decentralizing social networks and making the Web socially aware for over a decade.”

would be commercial technology. Once we had a working system in place, we would be able to draw more precise “cut lines” and separate the work into nonprofit and commercial tracks. He told me to put a business plan together and “let’s do it.” This is how the company’s Labs team, the tech business unit that I lead, came into being.

How do you define your team’s mission, and will you highlight how you built the team that created DSNP?

We live in the digital age and technology impacts our democracy and our civic discourse, but it was not built to serve society in this critical role. Our belief is that social and economic advancement is dependent on creating and adopting a more equitable civic architecture for the Web.

The pandemic was a horrible crisis for the world, but one of the results from the pandemic was that it provided the time to focus on this project. I was fortunate to be working with Frank because this allowed me to bring in the best talent I have ever worked with to build an amazing team of people who are highly skilled and also acutely focused on technology’s societal impact. Together, we wrote a white paper on the protocol (DSNP) and its potential benefits for internet users and started building a comprehensive technology

solution. We were pleasantly surprised as we built it out that we did not hit as many road bumps as expected, and it was actually pretty feasible.

Did you always know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to build companies?

I think that there are different sides to entrepreneurial drive. I was in the mindset of retiring from the entrepreneurial environment when Frank recruited me, but the idea of a decentralized social networking protocol had been with me for many years. While I was not looking for another entrepreneurial opportunity, my view is that I am a citizen first and it is important for me to leverage my experience and expertise to tackle societal challenges through innovation and meet the moment.

How has your journey with leading a technology business unit and helping to launch Project Liberty progressed?

As in any entrepreneurial undertaking, it is like a roller coaster, and we are still in the journey. It actually gets more challenging as you progress, and I try to develop tools along the way to manage stress. I remember good advice that was given to me by a board member of one of my companies a number of years ago which was that as long as you have another move to make, just focus on that

move. There have been moments on this journey when the next move was not always clear, but it is easier when you are working with a visionary like Frank and have a great team behind you to see the way forward.

You spent time in the military. How did this experience shape your leadership style?

This was a formative time in my life and a great experience. I did not realize until afterwards how lucky I was to have this opportunity to work with scaled systems on high impact missions. You learn accountability and teamwork and the need to make decisions in a timely manner. I think a lot about the operational execution that is critical in the military. This was a very important time in my career and had a major impact on me.

How valuable has it been for you in this role to have someone with Frank’s experience and vision to work alongside?

It is like nothing I have ever experienced. He is a great thought partner, and challenges me to think bigger. He has lived a big life and his expectations are high. He is consistently inspiring, and keeps our focus on what we need to achieve and promotes an elevated view of the impact our work can have at this point in history.•

“We live in the digital age and technology impacts our democracy and our civic discourse, but it was not built to serve society in this critical role. Our belief is that social and economic advancement is dependent on creating and adopting a more equitable civic architecture for the Web.”
“Frank asked me how I would specifically attack this problem, and I told him that I would start by creating a single tech organization to prototype the entire technology solution, knowing that part of the ‘solution stack’ would be public interest technology, and part would be commercial technology.”

Celebrating 80Yearsof Philanthropy

Celebrating 80Yearsof Philanthropy

Since 1942, we’ve been the entertainment community’s trusted partner in philanthropy. Our groundbreaking programs and philanthropic partners raise awareness and funds for issues that affect millions of people around the world.

Since 1942, we’ve been the entertainment community’s trusted partner in philanthropy. Our groundbreaking programs and philanthropic partners raise awareness and funds for issues that affect millions of people around the world.

We couldn’t do it without the strength, passion, and commitment of the entertainment industry itself. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to 80 years of facilitating positive social change.

We couldn’t do it without the strength, passion, and commitment of the entertainment industry itself. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to 80 years of facilitating positive social change.

To donate visit EIFoundation.org @ EIFoundation EIF Programs
To donate visit EIFoundation.org @ EIFoundation EIF Programs

EIF Philanthropic Partners and Initiatives

EIF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and meets all 20 BBB Charity Standards. Copyright ©2022 Entertainment Industry Foundation. All Rights Reserved. EIN: 95-1644609

Industry Experience

EDITORS’ NOTE Steven Durels is responsible for marketing, structuring, and negotiating all lease transactions of SL Green Realty Corp. and has completed many of the largest and most complex leases in SL Green’s history. He manages a leasing and marketing team of 25 professionals and completes more than 200 leasing transactions per year. Prior to joining SL Green, Durels served as Vice President and Director of Leasing and Management of Helmsley-Spear Inc. for 16 years. While there, he was responsible for all leasing, management, and operations of a 2.5-million-square-foot Manhattan office portfolio. He is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York. Durels received a degree in economics and political science from the University of Iowa.

COMPANY BRIEF SL Green Realty Corp. (slgreen.com), Manhattan’s largest office landlord, is a fully integrated real estate investment trust, or REIT, that is focused primarily on acquiring, managing and maximizing value of Manhattan commercial properties. As of June 30, 2022, SL Green held interests in 64 buildings totaling 34.4 million square feet. This included ownership interests in 26.3 million square feet of Manhattan buildings and 7.2 million square feet securing debt and preferred equity investments.

How do you define the SL Green difference?

The pandemic brought on a slew of challenges that we haven’t experienced before, but SL Green leaned into our decades of industry experience to restrategize, adapt to changing tenant needs, and continue to be a leader in commercial real estate. Having the confidence to continue being a leader amidst trying circumstances is the SL Green difference.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

As Executive Vice President and Director of Leasing and Real Property, I am responsible for marketing, structuring, and negotiating all lease transactions. I am proud to say I have contributed to the successful execution of many of SL Green’s largest and most complex leases. I manage a hardworking team of 25 marketing and leasing professionals and complete, on average, more than 200 leases per year.

Will you discuss SL Green’s recent development, One Vanderbilt, and how this project has impacted Midtown Manhattan?

Standing 1,401 feet tall, One Vanderbilt is a 1.7 million-square-foot skyscraper that offers an unparalleled combination of amenities, innovative office design, state-of-the-art technology,

best-in-class sustainability, and healthy workplace environment together with direct connection to Grand Central Terminal. One Vanderbilt is a market defining property for Midtown Manhattan for two major reasons – it has ushered in a new standard of office development, and it provides an integral social component with SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. The best-in-class work environment at One Vanderbilt has become the new precedent for future development and an ideal model for developing office space post-pandemic. It has been wonderful to see the project, from both the office space and SUMMIT, be received so well and have such a large impact on Midtown.

In September, FIS Global signed a 25,488-square-foot, 15-year lease covering the entire 62nd floor, bringing the tower to 99 percent leased. This milestone is a significant achievement which reaffirms the new standard One Vanderbilt has set as the industry leader for worldclass office space.

Will you highlight SL Green’s current development project, One Madison Avenue?

As mentioned, One Vanderbilt is experiencing great success. Our newest development project, One Madison Avenue, is witnessing similar success with tremendous lease activity, despite still being under construction.

Located adjacent to Madison Square Park, the 27-story, 1.4 million-square-foot Midtown South office tower will provide the highest standard for today’s workplace with state-of-theart infrastructure, forwardthinking amenities, and a cutting-edge healthy work environment. One of the highlights includes an expansion of an already best-in-class outdoor foot roof deck featuring sweeping views that’s connected directly to a 7,000-square-foot tenant-only amenity space, “The Commons.” Other enhancements include a planned 13,000-squarefoot, full-service restaurant, 10,000-square-foot artisanal food market, and new four-level Chelsea Piers Fitness club.

Steven M. Durels
An Interview with Steven M. Durels, Executive Vice President and Director of Leasing and Real Property, SL Green Realty Corp.

One Madison will feature best-in-class amenities and wellness with the inclusion of DOAS HVAC, which circulates 100 percent fresh outside air and expected LEED-Gold and WELL certifications; new, oversized nine foot by nine foot floor-to-ceiling windows in the podium and a continuous curtain wall in the tower will flood all floors with natural daylight; and megasized roof terraces will provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to create indoor/outdoor, work/ entertainment sky-gardens.

This September, investment management firm Franklin Templeton signed a 15-year, 347,474-square-foot lease, which comes on the heels of a 328,000-square-foot lease with International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). Together, these are the second and third largest new leases signed in Manhattan in 2022 –a sign of the desirability of Midtown South as a neighborhood, as well as a strong indicator

of the larger return to office, as leading tech and creative firms continue to look for premier offices in the heart of the city.

The incredible momentum we’re seeing at One Madison reflects the long-term strength of prime Manhattan office space and leading companies’ unwavering belief in a collaborative work experience that’s only possible in the office. One Madison Avenue will set a new standard as an industry leader for world-class office space, and is on schedule to be completed by November 2023.

What are your views on the future of work and the importance of bringing employees back to the office?

It goes without saying that I believe bringing employees back to the office is of the utmost importance. We strive to lead by example and are proud that our employees have been back in the office since June 2020. We’ve witnessed the “flight to quality” in New York City’s office

market as a result of the pandemic, as companies continue to seek top-tier office space to entice new talent and draw employees back to the office. As our team has been on the ground and safely in the office for the past two years, we are now at a unique advantage to best understand the needs of companies looking to return to in-person work, that now have higher, reimagined standards for office space than ever before.

We have worked diligently to integrate the newest technology and health standards into our office buildings and are confident that our commitment to the highest-quality office space has led us to continued success, as the return to work comes to fruition.

What is your outlook for the New York commercial real estate market?

I am confident that the commercial real estate market will continue to recover. Not only are people returning to work at high rates, we are also seeing a resurgence in tourism – truly an underpinning of the New York City economy – and residential rates across the city continue to climb.

How critical is it for SL Green to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to mirror the diversity of its clients and the communities it serves?

As a leader in our industry, it is imperative that we set standards that align with our morals, values, and the community we serve. It is of the utmost importance for us to build a diverse and inclusive workforce so that all – our employees, our tenants, their employees and so on – are working together to create an inclusive environment.

What do you see as SL Green’s responsibility to corporate citizenship and to being a force for good in society?

As the largest office landlord in the city known for being an international hub for professional connectivity, we feel a deep obligation to positively impact our community. Last year, we contributed over $6 million across 70 organizations to reach the most in need and are constantly seeking out new partnerships to increase our charitable footprint. Through our Food 1st Foundation, we address food insecurity in our local community by providing meals to New Yorkers in need and frontline workers. We are proud to say since we launched this program in April 2020, we have delivered over 750,000 meals and helped to reopen dozens of restaurants throughout the city.

What has made the real estate industry so special for you?

Playing a direct role in a city evolving and taking new form is so special to me and is the sentiment that has guided my 40-year career. Even considering the unforeseen circumstances the pandemic brought on, real estate continues to prove itself as a vital piece of the city’s future economic success.

What advice do you offer young people interested in building a career in real estate?

It is essential to be passionate about the market in which you would like to build your career. I am deeply invested in the integrity of the New York City real estate market and this passion has been at the forefront of all decisions I have made in my career.•

One Vanderbilt

The Alliant Difference

EDITORS’ NOTE Thomas Corbett serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alliant Insurance Services and sits on the company’s board of directors. He joined Alliant in 1977 as a producer and launched its Newport Beach-based Public Entity Group. Prior to joining Alliant, he was with Allendale Insurance in Los Angeles and spent three years as a loss prevention engineer at Factory Mutual Engineering Association. Corbett is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, and is involved in various community and charitable organizations.

COMPANY BRIEF Alliant Insurance Services (alliant.com) is one of the nation’s leading distributors of diversified insurance products and services. Operating through a national network of offices, Alliant offers a comprehensive portfolio of services to clients.

Will you highlight the history of Alliant and what you feel have been the keys to Alliant’s industry leadership?

Alliant began as a small local operation in the San Diego market and has grown into one of the nation’s largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms with a national reach and more

than $3 billion in revenue. While our organization has undergone extensive changes and evolutions throughout our history, the core component to our leadership has always been in attracting and retaining highperforming individuals from across the industry who are forward-thinking and fiercely independent. Our culture is team-based – you don’t have a lot of cowboys riding the range alone. We provide our brokers and service teams with the support and collaboration they need to compete and win on a daily basis and don’t stand in the way of them achieving their goals. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Alliant is a majority employeeowned company where our employees have the unique opportunity to share in the rewards of ownership. We attract the best talent in the business because we provide the opportunity for them to own their successes.

What is unique about the Alliant culture, and how do you see it playing into the success of Alliant for years to come?

Keeping our management structure flat has played an essential role in helping us build an entrepreneurial, sales-based culture. We believe in letting great people do great things, and we don’t weigh our talent down with unnecessary layers of management and oversight. This keeps the organization dynamic and allows people to

operate at their full potential. The formula is simple: hire great people, provide them with the resources and collaboration necessary for success, then get out of their way and let them do what they do best.

Alliant’s core values are Entrepreneurialism, Service, and Strength. How do you define each of these values from your leadership perspective?

Our culture of entrepreneurialism points directly to our intrinsic focus on people –attracting talented, creative, and hard-working professionals who don’t need continuous management oversight to achieve success. Our people have the freedom to own their successes and make their own unique contributions to the business. Service means understanding that we are nothing without our clients. Everyone thinks of this as a sales business, but the real value we deliver is service after the sale. Our continued growth and retention rates demonstrate that we excel at this part of the business. Strength can be defined in many ways – financial success, geographical reach, size. However, being big isn’t great on its own. It’s our volume with the insurance companies that makes a true difference in the solutions we are able to deliver. Having the support of our carriers gives us tremendous leverage in delivering products and services to our clients that are customized, cost-efficient, and best-in-class.

Thomas W. Corbett
“Alliant is a majority employee-owned company where our employees have the unique opportunity to share in the rewards of ownership. We attract the best talent in the business because we provide the opportunity for them to own their successes.”

What do you see as Alliant’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to be a force for good in society?

We realize that our success as an organization correlates directly with the success of our communities, and we are deeply committed to investing in our local communities and in the health and well-being of the people who live and work in each of them. We achieve this through a strong commitment to supporting local charities and encouraging our employees to play a direct role by providing volunteer time off (VTO) to give back to their community and through corporate giving and matching gift programs.

Alliant supports a broad array of programs nationwide that:

• Support women and minority-owned businesses

• Assist organizations that facilitate the development of on-the-job skills

• Help people with disabilities

• Provide vital services for victims of abuse

• Promote the educational development of children

• Ensure the welfare of the elderly and those in need of additional care

• Promote access to a wide array of crucial resources that promote the general wellbeing of the community

• Provide direct relief for communities impacted by natural disasters.

We also believe that the future of our industry is directly connected to cultivating diversity at all levels of the workforce, and making a strong investment in diversity, equity, and inclusion plays a direct role in our success. The larger the talent pool, the stronger you become. Having a wide variety of different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas on our team is a significant competitive advantage and promotes a stronger, more engaged team of professionals. Alliant’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative takes a broad-based approach to this perspective through partnerships with like-minded organizations, internal employee resource groups (ERGs), and a proactive approach to providing career opportunities for underrepresented individuals in the insurance industry. This approach will help us build a stronger, more dynamic organization today and sets the stage for a better future for our business and our industry.

How critical has it been to Alliant’s success to build such a strong and experienced management team?

We have found a significant competitive advantage in building a management team that understands what it takes to get the job done. Our leadership team is comprised of true “insurance” people; men and women who know what it’s like to be in the trenches and have real-world experience leading in client acquisition, service, and retention. This enables them to draw from their own personal experiences as brokers, underwriters, and service professionals to guide

their teams to the best possible outcomes, and when certain challenges arise, they know how to address them from an insurance perspective.

You joined Alliant 45 years ago. Did you believe in the early days that this would be a company that you would spend your career with and what has made Alliant so special for you?

When I joined Alliant in 1977, I saw an opportunity to build something that was uniquely different from the usual insurance sales operation. We used this opportunity to open a new geography and shift the organization’s focus to a more specialty-driven business, beginning with the public entity vertical. This set the tone for Alliant going forward, helping us grow into an organization that wasn’t “all things to all people,” but excelled at delivering targeted products and services built around specific industries and disciplines. As we continued down this path, more doors opened, culminating with our purchase of the company in 1998. Prior to this time, Alliant was a family-owned operation. This move enabled us to open up ownership to our employees and continues to serve as the foundation of how we operate today. It opened up the door for growth and expansion and helped us attract the best people in the business. This has been the most rewarding part of my career; building something together and seeing great people thrive. What I value most is the extraordinary people I’ve worked with over the past 45 years.•

“We realize that our success as an organization correlates directly with the success of our communities, and we are deeply committed to investing in our local communities and in the health and well-being of the people who live and work in each of them.”
“Our leadership team is comprised of true ‘insurance’ people; men and women who know what it’s like to be in the trenches and have real-world experience leading in client acquisition, service, and retention.”

Strategic Direction

EDITORS’ NOTE In conjunction with other members of senior management, Greg Zimmer is responsible for implementing the strategic direction of the firm. He also is responsible for corporate operations and all mergers and acquisitions activity. Prior to joining Alliant in 1998, Zimmer and his partners built a significant financial services firm that ultimately was sold to GMAC, where he served as Senior Vice President. His career also includes corporate finance and venture capital experience while serving as Vice President at Security Pacific, which ultimately merged with Bank of America. Zimmer holds a bachelor’s degree in economics/systems science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a master’s degree from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I am generally responsible for the strategic direction of the company and directly responsible for all M&A activities. Our corporate development team is focused on two core objectives: First, to enhance our presence within either geographic territories or industry verticals where we compete. Second, to continuously evaluate new markets, segments, or products where we believe we can make a substantial difference, then executing a strategic plan to become a major player within such segments. We achieve this through the identification of top-level talent or firms within such space. For example, in 2020, we saw a major opportunity within the retirement health space, which is predominately Medicare. We responded by acquiring Senior Market Sales, a category leader in this industry. Since joining our team, SMS has helped us expand our presence within this market significantly by hiring talented professionals and making selective acquisitions within the Medicare space.

How do you define Alliant’s mission and purpose?

Our mission is to be the best at what we do. We achieve this in many ways, with one way being through specialization. We’re not trying to be “all things to all people” but to excel in the areas where we focus, then scale those areas as extensively as possible. This means not thinking on a local or regional basis, but on a national and/or international scale. This is the

foundation of our business – to continually drive growth and expansion in targeted areas where we can make a significant impact.

What have been the keys to Alliant’s growth and how do you define the Alliant advantage?

The keys to Alliant’s growth are threefold:

1. Pursuing targeted industry segments

2. Working as teams as opposed to individuals

3. Providing ownership opportunities to allow our employees to share in our successes.

Alliant is not a serial acquirer, and this is by design. We don’t make a lot of acquisitions, but the acquisitions we make work extremely well. We achieve this because we spend a lot of time both prior to and following the acquisition making sure that both parties are on the same page in terms of strategic intent. We believe in fully integrating our acquisitions, which ultimately creates exceptional long-term results.

How critical is it to maintain the company culture when pursuing acquisition opportunities?

Culture is extremely critical, which is why we do a lot of work leading up to the acquisition. We work diligently to ensure that the acquisitions we make are a good fit strategically and culturally. The best way to ensure a cultural match is to spend a lot of time with the leadership of a potential acquisition to ensure we have a shared view of what success will look like.

Will you discuss Alliant’s core values of Entrepreneurialism, Service, and Strength, and how these values are embedded in Alliant’s culture?

Entrepreneurialism hinges on two key factors. First, remaining flat organizationally and allowing your professionals to do their job in an open way where they are not strangled by bureaucracy. Second, allowing our employees to be owners in the business so they can reap the rewards of their success. It’s about offering an environment that enables talented people to use their creativity, then rewarding them for their successes with ownership.

Service begins and ends with the client. This means always putting the client first and offering the service, expertise, and products they need to be successful.

At the end of the day, the key advantage for Alliant is having great people that can leverage the expertise and products that we control. By focusing on expertise, taking a collaborative, team-based approach, and, where possible, offering proprietary products and services, we have gained a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Alliant has been involved in several acquisitions. What do you see as the keys to making sure there is an effective integration when bringing two organizations together?

Our strength comes from leveraging our size and scale to the benefit of our clients. We are able to offer a depth of resources and opportunities by virtue of being a large and diverse organization. This also enables us to leverage our relationships with carriers to ensure that our clients receive the best products in the market.

What has made your experience at Alliant so rewarding for you?

Watching the people in our business grow and flourish has been extremely rewarding. Our growth has created tremendous opportunities for our employees, both personally and professionally. Witnessing people in our organization achieve more than they could have ever believed is the best part of the job.•

Greg Zimmer An Interview with Greg Zimmer, President, Alliant Insurance Services
“This is the foundation of our business – to continually drive growth and expansion in targeted areas where we can make a significant impact.”

A Connected, Collaborative Culture

EDITORS’ NOTE In his role as COO, Peter Carpenter is responsible for managing all day-to-day aspects of Alliant Insurance Services’ operations. Carpenter has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry and joined Alliant in 2008 when it acquired ClearPoint, a Seattle-based employee benefits consulting firm that he co-founded and where he served as CEO. Prior to founding ClearPoint, Carpenter served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a large regional insurance brokerage firm and as a group representative for Sun Life Insurance Company. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where he majored in government and Spanish.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

My role at Alliant Insurance Services is Chief Operating Officer. I oversee many of Alliant’s day-to-day operations and focus on creating an entrepreneurial, diverse, collaborative, and innovative environment. Corporate areas in my purview include legal, operations risk management and administration, HR, DE&I, and marketing.

What do you tell potential hires about the career opportunities that Alliant offers and what attracts them to the organization?

We believe in recruiting the best people in the business, giving them what they need to thrive, and then getting out of the way. Our flat management structure eliminates layers of bureaucracy. It provides our people plenty of room to make their own decisions for delivering superior service to clients without the burden of corporate mandates or meddling. When our clients and employees win, Alliant wins, and with the company’s continued high-growth trajectory, we plan to keep winning together year after year.

Our exponential growth and privately held status are a building block to creating career growth for employees on the service and operations side of the business. At Alliant, there are more opportunities to achieve career growth because we foster independence, ambition, and creative thinking. If they see an opportunity and want to take it on, it’s theirs, and they are rewarded for success.

Our connected, collaborative culture may be one of the most significant resources we have to offer. We can foster and scale good ideas with our deep and versatile bench. Alliant has deep resources, like technology and sales tools, the strength of specialty expertise across many verticals, finance functions, and significant access to capital.

And perhaps most importantly, our employees make up the majority of Alliant’s ownership. Ownership is critical, as employees are fully dedicated to client service and deeply invested in the company’s health, which makes our culture and growth highly sustainable.

complex problems. They proactively look for opportunities and bring different perspectives to make our clients successful.

We are entrepreneurial, collaborative, and innovative – and we only bring people on board if they live these values. We gear everything toward ensuring client success, so our employees must want more for their clients, not just hand them an out-of-the-box solution. Top talent also wants the freedom to go the extra mile for their clients without layers of bureaucracy, and they are equally rewarded for their success.

How critical is it for Alliant to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table when making business decisions?

The collective strength of the people who work here defines us, and we believe that diversity and inclusion are at the heart of what makes us successful. Our employees have a broad array of backgrounds and life experiences and bring unique perspectives on our business strategy and overall corporate culture. Different views are crucial to innovation and superior client service. We need to be able to solve our clients’ individual and complex problems in a constantly changing environment. The responsibility starts at the top, but requires everyone’s full and collective effort.

With the support and engagement of Alliant employees, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program helps to strengthen our business and our culture by promoting inclusiveness across all levels of our organization and within the insurance industry at large. At the heart of the program is a commitment to education, collaboration, and understanding. Our goal is to create an environment where employees with unique backgrounds and experiences can do great work together and set a course forward.

Do you feel that the insurance industry has done an effective job of telling its story and highlighting the innovation taking place in the industry to the next generation entering the workforce?

Alliant is home to some of the industry’s top talent. What characteristics define an Alliant employee, and what makes them unique?

Alliant employees are unique in their levels of creativity and desire to solve our clients’ most

No, but we are getting better at it. The industry is at a time of rapid growth and immense change across operations, service, technology, and data and analytics. It’s an exciting time for people who thrive on solving complex client challenges and want to build something great for the future.•

Peter Carpenter An Interview with Peter Carpenter, Chief Operating Officer, Alliant Insurance Services
“Our connected, collaborative culture may be one of the most significant resources we have to offer. We can foster and scale good ideas with our deep and versatile bench.”

Financial Discipline

EDITORS’ NOTE Ilene Anders oversees Alliant’s finance, accounting, and IT operations. She brings a multidisciplinary approach to the position well-suited for an industry where the worlds of finance and technology continue to merge. She previously served as Alliant’s Chief Information Officer, where she created the vision for client-facing technologies, directed business intelligence, and oversaw the integration of systems and infrastructure. Prior to that, Anders was Alliant’s Vice President and Director of Financial Planning and Analysis. She also has experience in investment banking and corporate development with Prudential Volpe Technology Group, GMAC-RFC, and has served as a strategic consultant to start-up organizations. Anders holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston University and a master’s degree in business from San Diego State University.

How do you define the role of the CFO today and how critical is it for the role to be engaged in business strategy?

The CFO role is becoming broader and more engaged in the business than ever before. Capitalizing a company continues to change, and as a private company, the CFO has to be engaged in the business strategy to ensure that the organization is well capitalized. Beyond that, it is essential that the internal pieces – from accounting to technology and data to operations – flow through the entire organization effectively, and the only way to achieve this is to be continuously engaged in the business strategy.

Will you discuss your multidisciplinary approach to the role and how valuable this approach has been in an industry where the worlds of finance and technology continue to merge?

The worlds of finance and technology have merged significantly in the past decade. Although my career has been heavily focused in finance and corporate development, I also spent five years as CIO at Alliant. This has made me well-equipped to navigate how technology can both support the business and help drive growth. People, data, and technology are critical to our business, so when I think about my role as CFO, I don’t see it as a single discipline – it requires leadership in all areas. Really, everything from our core business to finance, technology, operations, strategy, and people.

How important has Alliant’s financial strength and discipline been as the company has grown in size and scale?

Our financial discipline has always been critical to our success as an organization. We have been highly focused in how we approach spending on M&A and other growth initiatives, and the larger we get, the more important it becomes to maintain this discipline. Many companies reach a certain size and can lose sight of spending and innovation, allowing their competitors or disruptors to take market share. The key for us is to ensure that, as we grow, we continue investing smartly, where it makes sense, for our clients and our employees, in the context of where we want to be in the future. Fortunately, these strategies are also attractive to investors, which in turn has contributed to the overall financial strength of the company.

that help clients understand and manage their risk and spending on insurance and employee benefits products. We’ve spent a decade investing in this strategy. Central to this conversation is the advent of Insurtech. While this term means different things to different people, the prevailing theme is that it is a way for technology to disrupt the insurance industry. From an investment perspective, we are paying close attention to all of these potential drivers and responding with tools and systems that create value, drive efficiency, and help our clients navigate their own changing business landscape.

Do you feel that there are strong opportunities for women to grow and lead in the industry?

Yes. It’s no secret that insurance has long been a male-dominated industry. There has been an emerging focus on developing and nurturing new leaders that have a different perspective – not just women, but across the entire diversity spectrum. While there may have previously been some opportunities for women to advance in leadership, many may not have felt they were seen as a candidate or empowered to step forward. With the last decade of women advocating for more opportunities and respect in the workplace, I believe what has changed is that women have now found their voice. With allies across all genders, more women are emerging in leadership roles. Mentorship also plays a crucial role in accelerating women in leadership. I mentor several women in the business, and I see more women leaders doing the same. This will only grow in scope, and this is a positive thing for everyone.

What are your priorities for Alliant’s finance and accounting operations as you look to the future?

How is technology impacting the insurance industry and how critical has it been for Alliant to continue to invest in new technology?

Technology is deeply integrated into the way we function, both in business and in our day-today lives. As a result, investing in new technologies is a critical component of our business plan. Ten years ago, the focus was on leveraging technology to create systems that helped manage business more efficiently. While this remains important, the focus has now shifted to client-facing technologies

Ultimately, it’s about ensuring we remain nimble and efficient and continue to have the capability to innovate. This is all in service of being the absolute best we can be for our clients. These priorities will direct all of our decisions from an investment perspective and will guide us as we continue to grow and diversify. Continuing to build an organization with great people is certainly a key priority as well, because we can only accomplish these things if we have great people working with us. Alliant is home to some of the best and brightest people in our industry –people who are motivated to do the right thing by their clients and by one another. Leadership is about inspiring people, but it’s also reciprocal, where leaders are inspired by people. At Alliant, I can say that I’m inspired every day.•

Ilene Anders An Interview with Ilene Anders, Chief Financial Officer,
Alliant Insurance Services
“Our financial discipline has always been critical to our success as an organization.”

A Commitment to Specialization

EDITORS’ NOTE Peter Arkley is responsible for development and implementation of the specialty business and financial strategy. Alliant Specialty includes Aviation, Agribusiness, Construction, Environmental, Financial Institutions, Healthcare, Management Liability, Marine and Energy, Mergers and Acquisitions/Transactional Liability, Public Entity, and Real Estate operations. Arkley joined Alliant in 2011 and brought together the premier construction risk management talent in the United States. Prior to joining Alliant, Arkley served as Chief Executive Officer of the construction operations at Aon, an international insurance brokerage firm. Prior to joining Aon in 1994, Arkley held senior executive positions with Marsh and McLennan and Johnson and Higgins in New York and Los Angeles. He began his career in 1977 with American International Group where his central focus was financial services products such as directors and officers and fiduciary liability insurance.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I am President of Alliant Retail Property and Casualty (P&C) operations which currently consists of 135 offices and over 3,000 insurance professionals and specialists throughout the U.S. Alliant Retail Property and Casualty includes our middle market geographical strategy and our national Specialty platform. Five geographical leaders collaborate with the 14 industryfocused Specialty verticals – Agriculture and Forestry Products, Alliant Consulting, Aviation, Construction and Surety, Cyber Solutions, Energy and Marine, Financial Institutions, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Management and Professional Liability, Mergers and Acquisitions/Tax, Public Entity, Real Estate and Hospitality, Transportation and Trade Credit – to bring specialty expertise and differentiation to clients and prospects.

What have been the keys to Alliant Retail Property and Casualty’s industry leadership?

Talent is the key. Our P&C leadership has promoted an entrepreneurial spirit that is supported by technical experts in 14 specialty verticals. The commitment to specialization and the depth of talent geographically significantly differentiates Alliant in the market. At Alliant,

we invest in Specialty platforms that simply do not exist elsewhere. Others have tried to replicate our model and specialization strategy. The attempts have not succeeded.

Our geographical strategy provides local insurance professionals overlaid by industry experts who work tirelessly to benefit our clients. Day in and day out, our P&C teams mitigate our clients’ risk and create opportunities for our clients to realize greater profitability. The teams’ diligence and efforts keep our client retention rates above 98 percent. Our P&C professionals are the greatest pool of technical talent I have seen in my 42 years in the insurance business.

Where do you see the most significant opportunities for growth for Alliant Retail Property and Casualty, and what are your priorities as you look to the future?

We will increase our presence in local markets and build sophisticated operations in those areas while we continue to invest in our existing specialty verticals. We have recently created two new verticals – Transportation and Cyber. I envision launching several additional verticals in 2023.

We will remain focused on recruiting “A+” talent on our sales and client services teams.

In 2023, we will continue to prioritize our investment in data and analytics and helping our clients not merely understand their true cost of risk, but how working with Alliant is a better way to manage their risks. Over the last decade, several of the world’s largest firms have engaged Alliant as their broker. We, in turn, have made significant investments in complex risk and alternative risk strategies, insurance platforms and specialists.

Will you discuss the strengths of Alliant Retail Property and Casualty?

Our main strength is our talented employee base. It’s all about talent. We truly value our employees.

Another strength is maintaining our entrepreneurial spirit and making every effort to keep a flat management platform. Alliant’s geographical and industry vertical leaders take pride in knowing our employees and their strengths. Everyone contributes to the success. Our teams are very engaged in the sales and brokering process and providing excellent client service.

We are in the global insurance market every day, so we are on top of market conditions and understand where the best opportunities for

our clients exist. This is evidenced by the fact that our corporate executives, including our Chairman and CEO, Tom Corbett, are brokers and are involved in the market. This involvement means corporate management understands the issues the field – the front-line producers and account managers – are up against and are engaged to support the field in finding solutions. Ivory towers don’t exist at Alliant. Our executive team supports our employees in the client service process every day.

Will you discuss Alliant’s investment in technology?

Alliant has invested heavily in data and analytics and in new technology platforms that did not exist five years ago. Our IT team works hand in hand with our insurance professionals to deliver cutting-edge analytics that enables our clients to make thoughtful buying decisions based on real time data. Our data collection platform provides our brokers and clients with detailed information on specific industries that cannot be found with any other broker. Being nimble and entrepreneurial allows Alliant to act quickly and effectively and to stay in step with technology as it emerges.

You have spent your career in the insurance industry. What has made the industry so special for you?

The relationships I have been so fortunate to establish and keep over the last four decades are why this industry is so special to me. My closest friends are also my colleagues and my clients. The financial rewards are great, but building a successful business that employs thousands of people with defined career paths and roads to advancement, along with forging deep and lasting friendships, means so much.

From a business perspective, the ability to build a specialty business means a lot to me. I have spent 30 of the 42 years of my career in the construction risk management field, and I have experienced great joy in being a part of the success of my fellow teammates and seeing the clients we serve thrive, grow and succeed. Many of the wonderful people I have had the great fortune to work with for 20 or 30 years are still working together. Our desire is to create opportunities for the next generation of insurance professionals. It is a privilege and truly lifeaffirming to be a part of the Alliant organization. I am amazed at what we have done together.

It all goes back to the talent as it takes a great team to create something this special.•

Peter Arkley

Focus and Excellence

EDITORS’ NOTE Sean McConlogue serves as President of Alliant Underwriting Solutions (AUS) and has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, with particular emphasis on specialty program development. Before joining the company in 2003, McConlogue served as President of Affinity Insurance Services and, prior to that, held senior-level management positions with Tristar Insurance Services, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., and Xerox Corporation. McConlogue earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, San Diego and a master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management.

Will you discuss your role and areas of focus?

Alliant Underwriting Solutions is comprised of 15 unique MGAs/PAs spanning several industry categories and disciplines. My role is to provide leadership, coordination, and guidance to the talented people who oversee these brands. We aim to develop truly great solutions for insureds that are also outstanding opportunities for insurers, finding the inflection point between

distribution and the stewardship of our carrier partner’s balance sheet. We have found that creating superior programs while stewarding the carriers’ profit interest enables us to emerge as a long-term, dominant player within a particular niche.

Will you provide an overview of Alliant Underwriting Solutions’ business?

Alliant producers had developed a specialized expertise within an industry category, which led to an extraordinary understanding of the needs of insureds. As the books grew, we approached the underwriting of this business with a unique knowledge of the industry combined with carrier-trained underwriting talent and actuarially sound pricing tools. This resulted in a number of organic programs, which we soon realized were applicable to greater distribution. We responded by expanding the distribution to non-Alliant retail production, and as we grew, we overlaid additional technology which supported our underwriting of superior risks with superior results. Together, these factors have made us a more valuable partner to insurance carriers and brokers, helping us grow to 15 programs with nearly $2.5 billion in underwritten premium.

What are the primary attributes of an AUS company/employee, and how do they separate themselves from their competitors?

Focus and excellence. There are MGAs that aggregate production, but fewer that care about the results of that production. We have extraordinarily lengthy relationships with our carrier partners because we deliver consistently responsible results. Hence, we have deeper relationships with fewer partners. We’ve also taken a more judicious approach to program development. We try to find a competitive advantage in the marketplace by developing a deep knowledge of the customer and their risks. Meanwhile, the way we underwrite and our pricing models create better results for our carrier partners. That makes us different. Quality and integrity drive long-term quantity and loyalty.

As President of AUS, how do you build and nurture an entrepreneurial culture?

It’s a culture of entrepreneurial stewardship. The program leadership I work with are extremely trustworthy and understand the goals of both their carrier partners and the insureds. As such, we empower them to do a lot. We allow space for retrenchment, taking a step back to take two forward, which gives us the clarity to act with integrity with risk taking partners. Carriers and brokers reward real stewardship, making us the critical link in risk transfer.

You have been with Alliant for over 20 years. What has made the experience so special for you?

I have been blessed to receive the same delegation of authority from Alliant as we receive from the insurance companies, in concept anyway. It’s been highly rewarding to run a business under the Alliant umbrella with the freedom and support provided by its leadership. Trust takes time to build, but if one is a good steward of that trust, the blessings are manifest.

What do you tell young people about the type of career the insurance industry offers?

There is great opportunity for young people to innovate in the insurance space. If you’re young and technology-driven, you’ll find that there are myriad opportunities to apply it within our industry, particularly because insurance is still in the process of adapting to new technologies and integrating them into the business. As a result, you will be the one applying it. You’ll be one of few rather than one of many.•

Sean McConlogue An Interview with Sean McConlogue, President, Alliant Underwriting Solutions
“We have found that creating superior programs while stewarding the carriers’ profit interest enables us to emerge as a long-term, dominant player within a particular niche.”

Own it.

For over 95 years, Alliant has been home to some of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial producers in the business hailing from across the nation and serving in a broad range of industries.

Alliant is the premier place to propel your career to new heights, and the reasons are simple. We give you the resources to succeed. We surround you with outstanding people. Then we get out of your way.

At Alliant, we take ownership seriously and even offer our producers an opportunity to own equity in the company.


Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. 18100 Von Karman Ave. 10th Floor Newport Beach, CA 92612 CA License No. 0C36861
Because we believe you should own your success.

Nimbler Than Ever

EDITORS’ NOTE Richard Rosenbaum is the Executive Chairman of Greenberg Traurig, a unified international law firm of more than 2,650 attorneys spanning 43 offices around the globe. He has long been considered a thought and change leader in the broader legal profession. He joined the firm in 1985 as its 90th lawyer and has since been integrally involved in forming and intensely executing the strategies which have led to the firm’s growth and unique culture across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He closely guards the firm’s long-term core values while still aggressively navigating ever-changing times. Rosenbaum has always put the firm’s clients and people first, understanding that a law firm leader works for them, first and foremost. He is proud of his work in founding the firm’s renowned and wide-ranging “commitment to excellence” program, which ensures that all of these values remain core to the firm’s daily practice and global brand for many years to come.

FIRM BRIEF Greenberg Traurig, LLP (gtlaw.com) has more than 2,650 attorneys in 43 locations in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. The firm reported gross revenue of over $2 billion for FY 2021 and is consistently among the top firms on the Am Law 100, Am Law Global 100, and NLJ 250. On the debut 2022 Law360 Pulse Leaderboard, it is a Top 15 firm. Greenberg Traurig is Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certified Plus by The Diversity Lab and the Center for Resource Solutions Green-e® Energy program certifies that the firm’s U.S. offices are 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The firm is often recognized for its focus on philanthropic giving, innovation, diversity, and pro bono.

do you think is most core to Greenberg Traurig’s success in good times and bad?

One of Greenberg Traurig’s key differentiators has always been our ability to act intentionally and adapt swiftly; when conditions change, we are already there. With the confluence of macro-economic uncertainty, geopolitical instability, and a global health crisis, we must be more agile than ever. It is critical to recognize change agents in real time and have a plan in place before the impact hits. While others may wait for the effects to be felt, we seize the moment, look at what’s right in front of us, and turn challenges into opportunities so we can best serve clients now and down the road.

Having more than 2,650 lawyers working across 43 offices globally as one unified family is no small feat. This model succeeds because we fiercely protect our core values of collaboration, excellence, integrity, trust, respect, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We empower our lawyers on the ground within our vast global platform and grow organically in a disciplined and fiscally responsible way to add value to the firm and our clients.

Another core element in our success is our longstanding and award-winning diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative. At Greenberg Traurig, we understand that providing clients with diverse perspectives helps to best address their business challenges.

We succeed because we attract and retain top talent who share our core values, and, most importantly, we grow together as a firm. Our commitment to investing in our attorneys by providing life-long career development

programs and an enterprising environment helps all of us reach our potential and grow practices. Along with our reputation for delivering the highest level of quality, excellence, and value for clients, these core values and practices provide enormous opportunities in any economic climate.

The breadth of our practices, location, and talent allows us to pivot to wherever and however clients need us. We must and can be nimbler than ever to understand and respond to clients’ changing legal needs, enabling the firm and those who rely on us to thrive in the best and worst of times.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the legal market in New York and do you see opportunities for regional expansion?

The legal market in New York can be vulnerable to downturns in financial services, capital markets, and commercial real estate.

Greenberg Traurig is not dependent on any one sector, geographic location, or legal discipline. We are known for our diversity of practices, markets, and talent worldwide. Together with our emphasis on collaboration and operating as one unified firm, our attorneys – and clients – in New York can harness the resources of our broad global platform.

We see a huge and timely opportunity with our substantial presence on Long Island – the only global law firm to establish one – and our expansion in Westchester County and New Jersey. Being closer to where many of our clients and attorneys live means greater flexibility, value, and service. Along with our state-of-the-art Manhattan flagship, Greenberg Traurig has the needs of the New York metropolitan area covered like no other firm.

Richard A. Rosenbaum
“With the confluence of macro-economic uncertainty, geopolitical instability, and a global health crisis, we must be more agile than ever. It is critical to recognize change agents in real time and have a plan in place before the impact hits.”

Additionally, we gain a key competitive advantage by leveraging the synergies among the Long Island, New York, and South Florida markets, as many prominent business decisionmakers frequently travel between these destinations and around the world.

We remain focused on continued growth in the New York region. Following the business and finding opportunities wherever they arise is our go-to winning formula.

What are your views on the traditional firms from New York and Chicago going into Texas and Florida during the pandemic, the talent war that ensued, and the challenges and opportunities this creates for Greenberg Traurig?

Greenberg Traurig was founded in Florida in 1967 and opened in Texas almost 20 years ago. Many firms who were quick to open in these “currently hot” markets have learned the hard way that there are no shortcuts to true, long-term success. You have to grow roots and be agile enough to provide value to clients locally and across the globe. When we enter new markets, we are not chasing trends; rather, we are responding to the needs of clients and our incredibly special brand of talent.

In Miami, we were established by three attorneys committed to creating a new kind of law firm where everyone was welcome. Today, Greenberg Traurig has grown into a global powerhouse with offices across the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. We are the only Florida-born firm to reach that level of success, and we are still leaders in the state – delivering excellence and value to a diverse set of clients with whom we build long-term relationships of all sizes across a broad and balanced range of practices and industries.

For nearly two decades, Texas has been a cornerstone of Greenberg Traurig’s expansion and success. Today, the firm enjoys a strong market presence in the Lone Star State, with a seasoned team of more than 150 attorneys across the state who have practiced together for years, well before the many firms now opening in Texas.

We are proud of our ability to attract toptier professionals in the most in-demand practices and important legal markets where Greenberg Traurig is already an institution. Talented attorneys join the firm because our unique “freedom within a framework” philosophy allows decisions to be made locally and we reward entrepreneurship, innovation, meritocracy, and drive.

History teaches us that the only way for a law firm to expand successfully is to grow with its clients and market. We find opportunities in change and provide our clients, wherever they are, with the best possible service and value. Never merging or creating a verein means our brand, our soul, and our culture have never been diluted, and we continue to thrive through virtually every kind of change and cycle.

In a time of global and national disruption and change, how do you expect to navigate and ensure that Greenberg Traurig remains a leader?

The key challenge is to pay close attention, grasp the coming reality, and change as needed. Don’t wait until it hits you. One of Greenberg Traurig’s key advantages has been our ability to plan for the next cycle well before it arrives and by being empowered and nimble on the ground. We are always moving to where the puck is going.

Our unique blend of locations outside the United States, wherever innovation and significant businesses are thriving – across Europe, Asia, and in Mexico and Israel – provides exceptional opportunities and seamless service worldwide. This growth has taken almost 20 years to carefully develop as we strategically open and expand locations, always with an eye to current and future needs. Today, we stand strong in the United States and in these international markets as one unified, global firm with consistent excellence and cultural values.

In addition, we are committed to fiscal responsibility by intentionally maintaining operational and space efficiencies in all cycles. We provide premier legal service, without traditional, elite pricing, by matching costs, including billing rates, to market conditions in each location and minimizing firm level and shareholder debt by requiring relatively low capital by BigLaw standards. Together with investing in innovative, time-saving technologies and creating economies of scale, our financial management benefits our clients and our firm.

During the many changes we have all recently experienced, many stalled in strategy, were slow to react, or focused only on survival. At Greenberg Traurig, we act and seize opportunities.

Periods of prosperity, or even stability, are not constant and are not a true test of strength or durability. At Greenberg Traurig, when the water goes out, we see what is real. We have executed some of our most strategic moves during periods of disruption. And we are always ready.

“Talented attorneys join the firm because our unique ‘freedom within a framework’ philosophy allows decisions to be made locally and we reward entrepreneurship, innovation, meritocracy, and drive.”
“Our unique blend of locations outside the U.S., wherever innovation and significant businesses are thriving– across Europe, Asia, and in Mexico and Israel – provides exceptional opportunities and seamless service worldwide.”
Ethan Allen Global, Inc.

Building Financial Security

EDITORS’ NOTE Christian Mitchell leads strategic ideation necessary to elevate the client experience and deliver bold solutions. Specifically, Mitchell oversees initiatives and deliverables to build the most powerful digital engine in financial services, including engineering solutions, data analytics, digital products, and consumer insights. Mitchell joined Northwestern Mutual in 2006 as part of the Managed Investments team and has served in a variety of leadership positions throughout the company, including as president of the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, where he led the company to impressive growth in advisory and private client services. He also led the company’s investment in ClientWise, a premiere coaching and consulting firm. Previously, he was Vice President of Corporate Strategy, and spearheaded Northwestern Mutual’s venture capital efforts – including its investment in automated advice firm Betterment and the acquisition of LearnVest. He serves on Northwestern Mutual’s Senior Leadership Team and sits on Northwestern Mutual’s Future Ventures investment committee. Mitchell serves on the board of directors for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Mitchell is a graduate of Indiana University and earned his MBA in finance from the Yale School of Management.

COMPANY BRIEF Northwestern Mutual (northwesternmutual.com) has been helping people and businesses achieve financial security for more than 165 years. Through a holistic planning approach, Northwestern Mutual combines the expertise of its financial professionals with a personalized digital experience and industry-leading products to help its clients plan for what’s most important. With more than $561 billion in combined company and client assets, $34 billion in revenues, and $2.1 trillion worth of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual delivers financial security to nearly five million people with life, disability income and long-term care insurance, annuities, and brokerage and advisory services. Northwestern Mutual ranked 97 on the 2022 FORTUNE 500 and was recognized by FORTUNE® as one of the “World’s Most Admired” life insurance companies in 2022.


do you describe Northwestern Mutual’s mission and purpose?

At Northwestern Mutual, our purpose for the past 165 years has been to help individuals and their families achieve financial security. Our mission is simple: to free Americans from their financial anxiety. We bring that mission to life through the expertise of our financial professionals, our comprehensive approach to financial planning, our industry-leading products, and by our client experience that’s become the gold standard in the industry. As a mutual company, we seek to build lifelong relationships that help our clients achieve greater financial security over time.

What have been the keys to Northwestern Mutual’s industry leadership and how do you define the Northwestern Mutual difference?

From the beginning, our number one competitive advantage has always been our people. Our dedicated network of advisors is a true differentiator and serves as the engine behind Northwestern Mutual’s longevity and growth. For this reason, we always take a people-first approach and have invested deeply in providing our financial advisors with the tools and resources they need to do their best.

For example, we’ve been focused on transforming our client experience over the last few years and our advisors played an integral role in its development. Simply put, every step of the way, we incorporated feedback and perspectives from our advisors to ensure we would meet their unique needs and client expectations. This partnership is core to our culture of co-creating together to reach the best outcomes.

Our increasingly exceptional proprietary digital planning experience helps clients to clearly see a full picture of their finances to enable them to make informed and intelligent choices about their financial future. Our planning platform also solves for our advisors’ biggest pain points and ultimately gives them time back to focus on what matters most –helping clients reach their goals.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I proudly serve as Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at

Northwestern Mutual. In this role, my job is to ensure that Northwestern Mutual’s clients enjoy an unparalleled financial planning experience: one that empowers and inspires them to make smart choices about their financial future. I am also deeply focused on delivering a best-in-class client experience and establishing Northwestern Mutual as one of the most powerful digital engines in financial services. This includes overseeing an extremely talented team focused on engineering solutions, data analytics, digital products, and consumer insights.

Will you discuss the approach to Northwestern Mutual’s planning philosophy and experience?

Too often, providers create wealth management strategies that deliver results in the best of times. Instead of looking at each client’s full financial picture, they recommend financial plans focused exclusively on wealth accumulation with little accounting for the impact that risks like inflation, taxes, a disability event, and more can have on their dreams. At Northwestern Mutual, we take a different approach.

As a mutual company, we are committed to building comprehensive financial plans that combine risk and investment solutions. This approach is proven to deliver better financial outcomes and greater financial security for clients more often than any investing-only strategy can deliver. The challenge, however, has historically been illustrating this for our clients – bringing the vision and value of a comprehensive financial plan to life.

That’s one of the reasons we decided to build our proprietary planning platform. It’s the only tool on the market today that comprehensively helps people to see how whole life insurance with investments and annuities can work together as part of a holistic plan to protect what they’ve already built while also creating future prosperity.

In this way, our platform is making the financial planning experience more dynamic and engaging. It enables advisors to show, rather than tell, their clients how a comprehensive financial plan compares to an investment-only approach. This has the potential to fundamentally change the future of financial planning and help to significantly strengthen the advisor-client relationship moving forward.

Christian W. Mitchell
An Interview with Christian W. Mitchell, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Northwestern Mutual

Will you highlight Northwestern Mutual’s client experience strategy and what sets Northwestern Mutual apart in this space?

Across industries, client experiences and expectations are being redefined due to a confluence of factors. Post-pandemic, people of all ages are significantly more willing to use technology than they were before. The need for relevant digital tools as part of the client experience will only become more prevalent as Millennials and Gen Z become new prospective clients and financial advisors. We are in a period of seismic change and for consumers, the choice of where and how you choose to manage your money has never been more dependent on technology alongside expert and empathetic advice from an advisor.

As an industry, we must do more to deliver clients an exceptional and unique customer experience. At Northwestern Mutual, we’re making it a priority. For example, we believe people want personalization in the way their finances are managed, including multiple, customized touchpoints that enable them to allocate their time and money according to their preferences. That’s why we’ve put the resources behind developing a customer experience that’s contemporary and differentiated; contextual and comprehensive; something that allows clients to worry less, live more, and actually get excited about the planning process.

A few factors set us apart in this space –our commitment to a people-plus-tech approach; our unrivaled approach to planning, which integrates risk management and investing in a holistic way; and our awardwinning technology, tools and resources.

In short, our focus is on creating a winning customer experience – one that both attracts and retains and creates better outcomes.

Will you elaborate on how Northwestern Mutual is developing digital tools and processes to deliver a distinctive customer experience throughout a client’s journey?

Our commitment to, and investment in, technology is rooted in our commitment to, and investment in, our clients. The digital era has opened a range of new frontiers and we’ve made the strategic choice to lean into those transformational opportunities. Our aim is to provide our clients with the most powerful digital engine in financial services. This means we are drawing on our strengths

in core data analytics and solution engineering to develop innovative tools that meet clients where they are today. Our planning platform is one example, but there are others as well. Through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, we’re transforming the traditional underwriting process to not just be faster, but also to deliver better outcomes. It’s a significant shift that has big benefits like reducing delays and enabling even greater volume. For example, a client fills out an online medical healthcare questionnaire as opposed to having an in-home exam. Then, technology helps us see whether an applicant is likely to require additional labs or fluid measures earlier in the submission process. For our clients and advisors, we now have fewer “back-and-forths” with our corporate office, and clients get their digital policy just two days or less after applying. This is down from 25 to 60 days.

We are also actively working toward delivering experiences that seamlessly integrate into our clients’ lives: from the possibilities of fully immersive virtual experiences, to the potential of more decentralized applications. For example, within my team, I oversee Venture Studio. This new team is delivering insights from rigorous exploration and validation of experiments around emerging technology and disruptive ideas which produce long-term future product value that can deliver an exceptional client experience tomorrow. We are continuously partnering with industry innovators to find and fund early stage disruptors to help support our initiatives and insights. So, while this work will take time, it’s incredible to imagine the future through this lens.

The insurance industry is not often thought of as an innovative industry. Will you discuss Northwestern Mutual’s culture of innovation and how innovation is impacting the business?

We do not innovate to be flashy. For us, it’s all about our clients, what they need, and how we can best serve them today and in the future. So, we choose to innovate in the interest of driving faster value, deeper engagement, and better outcomes.

That philosophy has driven us to embrace a start-up mentality, allowing us to adopt a new level of speed and agility that, on the surface, could seem nearly impossible for a

165-year-old financial services company. But by embracing this culture of innovation from the top down, we have created an environment where we can share honest feedback in real-time and quickly pivot as needed to deliver superior products and services to our clients.

You joined Northwestern Mutual over 16 years ago. What has made the experience so special for you?

Over the last 16-plus years, I have had the opportunity to wear many hats within Northwestern Mutual. This includes overseeing everything from our investment, advisory and trust solutions, wealth management company, corporate strategy, and venture capital efforts to now leading the charge with our customer experience and digital strategy. The things that have remained consistent throughout and continue to make Northwestern Mutual such a special place to work is our mission-driven company culture. We know how debilitating financial anxiety can be in someone’s life, and we know how impactful building financial security can be to free people from that uncertainty.

I feel incredibly privileged to work for a company with such strong values and a passion for doing what’s right that matches my own. I get to wake up every day and be inspired to go to work with talented teams, both in our corporate headquarters and out in the field, who are making the world a better place for people.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in a career in the insurance industry?

My biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid to think outside the box and take risks. It may seem somewhat counterintuitive for an industry so focused on risk management, but the biggest payoffs of my career have resulted from taking the biggest risks or signing on for new and creative projects that push me out of my comfort zone. Consumer demands are going to continue to challenge the financial services industry as a whole to deliver an experience on par with the most innovative and disruptive companies out there. It’s about moving onward: Be willing to take risks, learn from your mistakes, get up the next morning, and try again. It will make all the difference when it comes to building the insurance industry of the future.•

“Our mission is simple: to free Americans from their financial anxiety. We bring that mission to life through the expertise of our financial professionals, our comprehensive approach to financial planning, our industry-leading products, and by our client experience that’s become the gold standard in the industry.”
Foremost Group HONOR. INTEGRITY. PERFORMANCE. Since 1964 https://www.foremostgroupusa.com/ https://www.linkedin.com/company/foremost-group Our mission is to remain a premier provider of ocean transportation services & a model of excellence for our industry.



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Delivering Value

EDITORS’ NOTE Verdun S. Perry is the Global Head of Blackstone Strategic Partners having joined the business in 2000, the year it was founded. Perry chairs the Investment Committee for each of the Strategic Partners funds and is currently an advisory board member of multiple third-party funds. Prior to joining Strategic Partners, Perry worked at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette as an Associate in the Investment Banking Division. Prior to joining DLJ, he worked in the strategic acquisitions group at Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon and Eckhardt, Inc. and in the Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley & Co. as a Financial Analyst. In 2013, Perry joined the board of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), which is an organization focused on narrowing the opportunity gap for minority high school and college students, as well as increasing diversity in the financial services industry. He founded Blackstone’s Diverse Professionals Network (DPN) in 2014 and chaired the network for its first six years. Perry serves on the boards of Morehouse College and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. He was a member of the David Rockefeller Fellows Class of 2016. In 2021, he was selected as a Fellow of the fifth class of the Finance Leaders Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Perry received a BA magna cum laude in business administration from Morehouse College in 1994, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa, and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2000, where he was a Robert Toigo Foundation Fellow.

FIRM BRIEF Blackstone (blackstone.com) is the world’s largest alternative asset manager. It seeks to create positive economic impact and long-term value for its investors, the companies it invests in, and the communities in which it works. It does this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Its $951 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, infrastructure, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis.

How do you describe Blackstone’s culture and how critical is culture to the success of the firm?

Blackstone is built around our greatest asset: our people. We’ve grown a great deal since our founding in 1985, but we still aim to give all of our people uncapped opportunity to build purposeful careers. Culturally, we hire for and foster entrepreneurship, integrity, teamwork, and excellence. We strive to be the best in the world at what we do on behalf of our investors and we’re constantly looking for ways to serve them better.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

As Global Head of Blackstone Strategic Partners, I manage Blackstone’s secondaries business. We provide liquidity to investors by acquiring interests across private alternative asset classes. We view these opportunities as

another way of driving value where others may not see it and we’re one of the most active participants in the secondary market.

What was the vision for creating Blackstone Strategic Partners?

In 2000, Stephen Can founded Strategic Partners to purchase secondary LP interests in private market funds, which was a relatively new asset class at the time. I was fortunate enough to come into the role after spending a summer at DLJ between my first and second years at Harvard Business School, where I earned my MBA. The vision for the business was to deliver tremendous value for investors by providing liquidity to LPs who wanted or needed to sell their LP interests in otherwise long-term, illiquid private equity funds. In addition to acquiring interests in funds, we also co-invest alongside fund managers. We know that private markets can be complex and opaque, and we want our partners to view us as a helpful and trusted counterparty as they navigate this space.

How has Blackstone Strategic Partners evolved since its founding?

Since then, the asset class has grown significantly, as the primary market has grown, driving increased need for, and understanding of, the secondary market. To meet this growing demand, we’ve expanded our team and built dedicated infrastructure, real estate, and GP-led continuation strategies. Currently, we have $67 billion of assets under management as of September 30, 2022; we’ve completed over 1,900 transactions; and we’re invested in approximately 5,100 unique funds. On average, we have completed a new deal about every four to five days for the last 22 years.

Verdun S. Perry An Interview with Verdun S. Perry, Senior Managing Director, Blackstone and Global Head, Blackstone Strategic Partners
“The vision for the business was to deliver tremendous value for investors by providing liquidity to LPs who wanted or needed to sell their LP interests in otherwise long-term, illiquid private equity funds.”

What have been the keys to Blackstone Strategic Partners’ strength and leadership, and how do you define the Blackstone Strategic Partners difference?

Since Stephen Can founded Strategic Partners in 2000, the team has always prioritized investing in and developing young talent – a priority that got me to where I am today. Historically, we have recruited talented, hard-working individuals directly from colleges and universities, mentored them, and trained them as they learn the skills unique to Strategic Partners’ secondaries business and to Blackstone.

In terms of what differentiates us – it’s our culture and our scale. Our cohesive culture built on mutual respect and a commitment to teamwork enables us to execute complex transactions seamlessly. In addition, the size of our team gives us the ability to work on transactions of all sizes, even in a high-volume environment. Our capacity to execute a high number of deals provides our professionals ongoing exposure to all different kinds of transactions and opens up opportunities for them to develop domain expertise.

How critical is it for Blackstone to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table when making business decisions?

Diverse perspectives make us better investors. At Blackstone, we value everyone’s opinion and encourage people to speak up. In 2014, I founded Blackstone’s Diverse Professionals Network – a community of diverse employees and their allies at the firm. Since then, this employee affinity network has expanded with dedicated communities for different racial and

ethnic identities that offer targeted programming and resources. These groups also offer avenues for mentorship and sponsorship, connecting the firm’s senior executives with more junior employees.

We also know how important it is to recruit and train diverse talent and continue to accelerate our efforts. We are focused on widening the funnel of applicants – our 2022 analyst class was sourced from 80 different global universities. This outreach involves providing access and early education opportunities to those at HBCUs and beyond. We partner with several external organizations to source top talent from the widest funnel possible, including Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, an organization where I serve as Vice Chair of the Board.

What do you see as Blackstone’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to being a force for good in society?

Blackstone operates as a good neighbor, responsible owner, and active community member. We invest on behalf of tens of millions of teachers, firefighters, and other pensioners and take that responsibility very seriously. Our scale allows us to do business all over – including in cities like Atlanta, where I have deep personal ties and where the firm has a significant impact on the community. Blackstone LaunchPad – the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s career readiness and entrepreneurial skills-building program –launched at Morehouse College, where I am a proud alum and board member, along with other Atlanta HBCUs Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in building a career in finance?

There’s a saying I like to use: “Stay hungry and humble.” I use it to describe my team at Blackstone Strategic Partners and I repeat it often to many young people looking for advice or guidance. It’s so critical to stay open to feedback and guidance as you pursue different opportunities, from a summer internship to a secondaries deal. You only learn by doing or asking, so raise your hand and speak up when you are looking for guidance or a steer on something. Most importantly, recognize that you can always be better. We should all pursue constant personal and professional improvement and stay intellectually curious.

You joined Blackstone over nine years ago. How do you think the firm will continue to evolve in the years ahead?

It’s an extremely exciting time to be at Blackstone and to be working in the alternatives industry. At Blackstone, we’ve made notable strides on diversity – our 2022 global analyst class is 47 percent women and our 2022 U.S. analyst class is 56 percent racially diverse –which we believe can help make us stronger, more innovative and better able to capitalize on opportunities others might miss. Those opportunities only continue to grow as alternatives become better known and better understood. I think Blackstone will leverage this increased awareness of alternatives to continue growing in both institutional and retail channels, while also strengthening our leadership in different asset classes and across geographies.•

“We provide liquidity to investors by acquiring interests across private alternative asset classes. We view these opportunities as another way of driving value where others may not see it and we’re one of the most active participants in the secondary market.”
“Blackstone operates as a good neighbor, responsible owner, and active community member. We invest on behalf of tens of millions of teachers, firefighters, and other pensioners and take that responsibility very seriously.”


Featured: Pier 57 Public Rooftop Park

Burn the Boats

EDITORS’ NOTE Matt Higgins serves as Cofounder and CEO of private investment firm, RSE Ventures, and is also an Executive Fellow at the Harvard Business School where he co-teaches the course “Moving Beyond Direct-toConsumer.” Higgins’ reputation as a self-made serial entrepreneur earned him a spot as a recurring guest shark on ABC’s Shark Tank during seasons 10-11, and he’ll soon star in a new spinoff also produced by Mark Burnett. His deep operating experience spans multiple industries over his 25-year career which he draws upon to help founders navigate complex situations in order to reach their full potential. Higgins previously spent 15 years in senior leadership positions with two National Football League teams: starting as EVP of Business Operations for the New York Jets before serving as Vice Chairman of the Miami Dolphins for nearly a decade. He cofounded NYC-based RSE Ventures in 2012 alongside developer Stephen M. Ross, amassing a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio of leading brands across sports and entertainment, media and marketing, food and lifestyle, and technology industries; NYC’s iconic Magnolia Bakery is one of the latest additions to a portfolio that includes David Chang’s renowned culinary brand, Momofuku, and Australian-inspired hospitality/lifestyle brand, Bluestone Lane. Higgins was the first client and ultimately only partner in VaynerMedia, the largest social-media first agency in the world founded by Gary Vaynerchuk, and his first book, Burn the Boats, will be published by William Morrow in February 2023.

FIRM BRIEF RSE (rseventures.com) is a private investment firm that combines a deep understanding of a founder’s mission with the strategic resources of its network to elevate businesses at inflection points. This approach has transformed companies across sectors: RSE has taken the International Champions Cup from an idea in a conference room to a global soccer platform with 140 million viewers; it helped transform a founder’s PowerPoint presentation into the world’s premier drone racing circuit; and has shaped the growth strategy of scalable restaurants that have iconic brands with cult followings.

Less a desire to build a business and more to build a life of increasing autonomy. Let me give you some context. I grew up in abject poverty and spent all my energy trying to take care of my sick mother. I spent many years as a little boy praying the calvary would come, some white knight, but as we all learn, the calvary never comes. It’s up to you to be an agent in your own rescue, as a wise friend once told me. So I engineered my way out of poverty by making one radical decision. I dropped out of high school at age 16, took my GED, enrolled in college two years earlier than my peers, and got a better paying job that was only available to college students. Everyone said I was crazy, and they were right, but they didn’t have visibility into my desperation. I had to trust my instincts. Just 10 years later, I had graduated from college, law school, and became the youngest press secretary in New York City history. Unfortunately, it all came too late to save my mother. She died the first year on the job as press secretary when I finally had enough money to support her. My lifelong takeaway was that none of us are guaranteed happy endings, and the more autonomy you can achieve, the more you can help yourself and the ones you love the most. That was the spark that launched my career in business.

Do you feel that entrepreneurship can be taught or is it a skill that a person is born with?

It absolutely can be taught and must be taught. Almost everyone has some insight that could be the seed of a business. Whether they wish to pursue it is a personal and lifestyle choice. But there are millions of people who don’t because they have a distorted relationship with risk and think it’s safer to maintain the status quo. That’s one of the core topics I cover in the book – how to cultivate your own risk tolerance so you can go all in on your first choice, Plan A, instead of settling for Plan B.

Will you provide an overview of RSE Ventures and how you define the firm’s mission?

We are a consumer investment firm operating in sports, entertainment, food and

beverage, and technology founded by developer and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and myself. We are a founder-focused firm that specializes in using our collective expertise to unlock potential rather than financial engineering. I believe that the fish rots from the head, a great Italian expression. It just means that most problems in an organization and the upside potential resides at the top, with the leadership, and that’s where we spend all of our time. We own sizable positions in great brands and we roll up our sleeves to tackle the challenges that matter most – scaling, real estate decisions, hiring choices. Our portfolio includes some recognizable names like Milk Bar, Magnolia Bakery, Momofoku, and VaynerMedia, now the largest privately owned ad agency in the world started by Gary Vaynerchuk.

What are the traits you look for when evaluating an investment opportunity?

My first principle is that I don’t want to sign up for a rescue mission. I want my effort to make a difference, not the difference. That’s not an investment – it’s a job.

I look for a large Total Addressable Market (TAM). I also look at the founder/ product fit, meaning that I want to feel that the universe put the founder on this earth to pursue this exact business. Solving an unmet need in a very differentiated way, ideally with a customer experience that feels magical, is another principle. And I look for sectors where there are exponential rewards once the innovation achieves escape velocity. In other words, I will only sign up for a long slog provided there is a massive payoff on the other side of the rainbow. If the business doesn’t eventually scale in some asymmetrical way, I run the other direction.

But most importantly, above all else, I evaluate the founder. The biggest mistakes I’ve made in investing happened when I became so enamored with the cleverness of an idea that I overlooked all the warning signs about the founder. Experience has taught me the painful lesson that a great idea will never overcompensate for a weak founder. But the inverse is also true. A great founder will evolve faster than the consequences of their poor decisions and iterate to a better place. The key attribute to identify is self-awareness.

Did you always know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to build your own businesses?
Matt Higgins

You mentioned your book, Burn The Boats . What are the key messages you wanted to convey in the book?

I love surfacing the uncomfortable missing conversations most people aren’t willing to have, yet should have. That’s where real arbitrage in life exists. In mentoring so many budding entrepreneurs over the years and teaching at Harvard Business School, I kept coming across this one central theme holding most people back: an inverse relationship with risk. We are programmed to think the status quo is safe, and that we should defer to experts instead of trusting our instincts. I want to help people recapture their personal power by writing a blueprint for going all in on Plan A. I studied the science, psychology and history around the idea of Burn the Boats  – eliminating your escape route to unleash your best effort – and what bears out since the beginning of time is that humans perform better when they have no choice.

I dissect the common internal and external obstacles that impede risk taking –imposter syndrome, shame, corporate saboteurs, for example – and provide an actional guide to surmount them. I felt there wasn’t a book on the marketplace that actually illustrates how to maintain a growth mindset, rather than just advocating for one. I don’t just use elements of my story, but 50 different founders, billionaires, activists, athletes and activists I interviewed – everyone from Marc Lore to Scarlett Johansson – to show how they all had to cross the threshold to total commitment, and just how uncomfortable that journey is for everyone, no matter how rich or famous or gifted you are.

Why does any of it matter? Talk to any marathon runner a few days after they’ve recovered, and they will tell you, finishing the race was a letdown and they miss the training. They miss the work. We humans are not meant to actually finish anything – we are destined to remain works in progress trying to find the ceiling of our own potential.

The joy of living is in the striving. That’s the point of my book.

Who is the book targeted to when you look at its messaging and advice?

I think it applies to anyone with unsatisfied ambition who is just tired of hesitating and hedging. Someone who feels a bit stuck and can’t quite figure out how to surrender to the goal. I especially want to reach marginalized members of our society who have been conditioned that success must move along some steady preordained progression, or that the rules are stacked against them. Corporations and society promote incrementalism because it’s an efficient way to organize humans. Do this job for five years and then you will get a promotion. But I think waiting for your turn is for kids. It squanders so much potential. I want people who read this book to stop dwelling on “what if,” and start demanding, “what’s next.”

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership?

Self-awareness is right at the top because it scales well. If a leader is self-aware, they will make their own course corrections. They don’t need an intervention from the Board, the management team, or a spouse. They remain intellectually curious about their own decision-making and under-index on defensiveness so they remain open to the idea they are simply wrong. Empathy is a close corollary because, aside from being the decent thing to do, empathetic leaders have a 360-degree perspective on situations. They are able to step into someone else’s shoes. They have a wider aperture and take in more information, which just improves their decision-making.

How do you describe your management style?

That’s probably best for someone else to say. What I aspire to be is demanding but inspiring and modeling high expectations through the pressure I put on myself. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out someone’s superpower and how to put them in a position to best use their gifts. I’m sure being around me can be maddening since I am not someone who embraces routine. I cherish my spontaneous insights and I don’t want routine to inhibit my time to mentally roam, and that’s probably a bit unsettling for anyone in my glide path since I am highly unpredictable – by design.

With the success that you have achieved in your career, do you enjoy the process and are you able to take moments to celebrate the wins?

Unfortunately, I really don’t take time to celebrate the wins and I don’t think that’s something to be proud of. It’s probably a symptom of some still unresolved defense mechanism. What’s the point of it all if you don’t experience the joy? But I am wired to love the pursuit. I always say, opportunity arrives before the tipping point of evidence. I am happiest when I identify a trend on the far distant horizon and have the courage of my conviction to go all in when no one else agrees. When it does play out as I expected, it fills me with awe that the universe is in fact knowable, that there are subterranean patterns you can discern if you pay close enough attention.

And then I move on to the next thing.•


Pioneering Solutions

At Paul, Weiss, we are passionate about innovation. Dedication to the success of our clients drives us to continually revisit how we deliver legal services. Whether exploring the latest legal technology, super-charging knowledge sharing, or forming innovative industry partnerships around diversity and pro bono efforts, we are committed to working smarter. Our investment in technology and a creative, forward-thinking mindset enable us to find new and better ways to provide value to our clients.

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Creating Pathways for Artists to Tell Their Stories

EDITORS’ NOTE Maha Dakhil serves as Co-Head of the Motion Picture Group and Co-Head of the agency’s International Film Group. She also serves on the CAA Board that is responsible for the day-to-day management of the agency. Additionally, she represents some of the world’s most successful actors and actresses. An 18-year veteran of the agency, Dakhil has long been at the forefront of cultivating opportunities for diverse talent and championing underserved voices and their stories. Dakhil is a founding member of Time’s Up, an initiative that addresses systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace. She is a champion for underrepresented storytellers, creating opportunities for them to transition into the global marketplace. Dakhil also serves on the boards of Baby2Baby and the UCLA Lab School. She began her career at Genesis, a literary agency. Dakhil graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in sociology.

An 18-year veteran of leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Joel Lubin serves on the CAA Board which is responsible for the day-to-day management of the agency. He is also Co-Head of the agency’s Motion Picture Group and represents many of the world’s most acclaimed talent. An avid art collector, Lubin currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Hammer Museum and the Board of Directors of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Lubin received his BA degree from Skidmore College.

AGENCY BRIEF Positioned at the nexus of talent, content, brands, technology, sports, and live events, CAA (caa.com) creates limitless opportunities for the storytellers, trendsetters, icons, and thought leaders who shape popular culture. Across film, television, music, sports, digital media, marketing, and beyond, CAA represents thousands of the world’s leading actors, directors, writers, producers, musical artists, comedians, authors, athletes, coaches, broadcasters, teams, leagues, chefs, designers, fashion talent, consumer brands, and more. With a global network of employees and strategic partners in North America, Europe, Asia, and beyond, CAA taps its internal and external ecosystem of experts, relationships, access, and industry intelligence to help ensure that its clients achieve their goals. CAA has created an ever-widening scope of services and businesses. It was the first talent agency to build a sports

business, create an investment bank, launch a venture fund, found technology start-up companies, establish a business in China, create a brand marketing services business, and launch a philanthropic arm, among other industry innovations.

Will you highlight the history of CAA’s Motion Picture Group and how the Group has evolved?

Lubin: CAA represents the world’s premier actors, directors, writers, and producers whose work garners awards, drives the box-office, and centers cultural conversations. Since CAA opened its doors in 1975, the agency has fiercely championed our clients’ success, with world-class experts and resources to maximize

every opportunity. This has been a continuous and core tenant of our work and drives our innovation.

As in every industry, our business is everevolving. In particular, change has been accelerated these past few years. There are so many options for audiences to see a movie, which is exciting. We don’t necessarily see it as a streaming versus theatrical world – the businesses are complimentary. Our role as artist advocates is to try to match the distribution vehicle – theatrical or streaming – to each story or property in a way that best supports our clients expressing themselves artistically, as well as commercially.

Dakhil: This is a dynamic business in terms of how audiences see a film – whether it is in a theater or via streaming – but the one constant is the insatiable appetite for high-quality storytelling and the stars who bring the magic of movies alive. We have the great fortune of representing artists who have a tremendous impact on pop culture and are at the center of every awards season, major blockbuster, and zeitgeist-shaping film.

How do you describe CAA Motion Picture Group’s mission and purpose?

Dakhil : Our mission is to create pathways for artists to tell their stories and reach the broadest audience possible. We recognize

Maha Dakhil An Interview with Maha Dakhil and Joel Lubin, Co-Heads, CAA Motion Picture Group
“Our role as artist advocates is to try to match the distribution vehicle – theatrical or streaming –to each story or property in a way that best supports our clients expressing themselves artistically, as well as commercially.”
Joel Lubin
Joel Lubin

there are different ways for artists to share their voice and our holistic 360-degree approach to representation delivers gamechanging opportunities to engage with their core audience that span traditional and nontraditional areas.

Lubin : Our goal is to create an environment where an artist has a rich creative experience and where their work is valued from a financial perspective. To do this, we apply this lens in identifying the next generation of film agents – we look for colleagues who bring an entrepreneurial spirit to their representation. We look for people who know how to connect internally to offer the most enriched experience for the clients of tomorrow, and build businesses that support artists’ passions.

Will you provide an overview of CAA Motion Picture Group’s services and capabilities?

Dakhil : We have a phenomenal team whose shared passion and creativity is inspiring: Dan Rabinow and Ida Ziniti lead the Motion Picture Literary department, which represents the screenwriters, directors, and producers of the world’s biggest hits and critical successes; Franklin Latt and Rachel Rusch oversee the Motion Picture Talent department, which represents many of the most accomplished actors and actresses working in film – from movie stars to emerging talent; Megan Crawford heads the Motion Picture Marketing department, which advises clients in all areas of marketing and distribution, including domestic and international release strategies, awards campaigns, and media plans. Megan also curates a tastemaker screening series which has become an important stop on the awards circuit.

Lubin: We also have the benefit of the agency’s Strategic Client Advisory Group, led by Roger Batchelder, that has exceptional expertise and strategic insights that support our efforts to architect and implement best-in-class deal structures that enhance and protect the value of clients’ work across multiple distribution platforms.

In addition, we frequently collaborate with CAA’s Media Finance department, led by Roeg Sutherland and Benjamin Kramer, which has done extraordinary work over the years advising clients as to the financing, licensing, and distribution sales of film and other media that fall outside the traditional studio system. In just the past year, they have broken film sales records at virtually every major festival. And Jenn Joel, Michelle Weiner, and Sloan Harris, who lead CAA’s Books department and spearhead the agency’s book-to-film/television and publishing activities, have their fingers on the pulse of the most sought-after IP.

What have been the keys to CAA Motion Picture Group’s industry leadership and how do you define the CAA Motion Picture Group difference?

Lubin: We have a deeply collaborative and inclusive culture, which is the cornerstone of our business. We have put a great deal of thought into building a team of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial people who are able to flourish in this type of environment and connect with artists in a meaningful way.

Dakhil : We spend a lot of time really thinking about how we support artists to amplify their voices and extend their reach. Key to that is defining our advocacy and making sure that our approach is as modern, innovative, inclusive, and forward-thinking as possible. We want to capture the interests of the most curious future leaders.

What has made your relationship at CAA work so well?

Dakhil: Joel and I have worked alongside one another for 18 years, many years before we became leaders together. We started at CAA at the same time. There is a closeness and rapport that we share and our trust was established a long time ago.

Lubin : We share a deep respect for one another. Though we may take a different approach from time to time, we have a shared vision.

Dakhil : To Joel’s point, we complement each other’s strengths. We give each other the space and room to come to our own conclusions. In the end, the word that comes to mind is equitable.

Will you discuss your views on the state of the global film marketplace and what you expect for the future?

Dakhil: The movie business is in an amazingly exciting time, and we have incredible optimism and hope for the ongoing success of the theatrical business. Over the past year, we have seen an amazing array of films draw audiences back to theaters. As we enter awards season, so many of the films in the conversation were put together at CAA. New talent and new voices are breaking through, including international stars and men and women of color – it’s exhilarating.

Lubin: When you see Squid Game become a global phenomena, it reinforces the idea that it’s the art itself that matters, not the language.

Dakhil: Hollywood is not the only access point – the next breakout can unexpectedly come from afar. In a time where there is so much anxiety and turmoil, it is gratifying to use the power of storytelling to create bridges with cultural communities across the world. Audiences are clearly responding.

For many of us, it is what drew us to the business in the first place.

What do you see as the role that CAA Motion Picture Group can play in championing underserved voices and their stories?

Dakhil: We value diversity and inclusion. It is integral to our company culture and business strategy.

Lubin: We have seen time and time again that diversity drives innovation and amplifying voices is good business.

How do you view your management styles

Lubin : We are thoughtful about how we represent artists in a complicated time. It requires multi-dimensional thinking – there are 100 ways to do one thing. We are helping to support a group of individuals that have the freedom to be creative in their decisionmaking, and in how they build and sustain long-term careers for the artists we represent. This is a very personal business, not transactional.

What are your priorities for CAA Motion Picture Group as you look to the future?

Dakhil : The agency is a constantly evolving think tank of artists and advocates. Our clients are at the center of everything we do and always will be. To best serve them, we have to listen to the heartbeat of the industry. The second it changes or skips a beat, we know exactly where to operate. Being intuitive and flexible, while also being fiercely protective about deals, will continue to be as vitally important as ever.

Lubin: As the landscape shifts, we are two steps ahead to make sure the changing deal structures don’t undercut the value of the artists that drive the business.•

“Our mission is to create pathways for artists to tell their stories and reach the broadest audience possible. We recognize there are different ways for artists to share their voice and our holistic 360-degree approach to representation delivers game-changing opportunities to engage with their core audience that span traditional and non-traditional areas.”
Maha Dakhil
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The Premier Life Skills University

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Nido Qubein became the seventh president of High Point University in January 2005. Since that time, enrollment has quadrupled, campus has expanded from 90 to 520 acres, and academic schools have grown from four to thirteen. He came to the United States as a teenager with limited knowledge of English and only $50 before going on to build business partnerships in banking, real estate, publishing, and retail businesses. Prior to his role as HPU president, Dr. Qubein rose to prominence as an internationally known author and consultant who has given more than 7,500 presentations worldwide. He serves on the corporate boards of several Fortune 500 companies including Truist, the sixth largest bank in the nation, La-Z-Boy and nThrive Healthcare. Dr. Qubein is also executive chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company. Among numerous honors and recognitions that he has received, Dr. Qubein is an inductee of the Horatio Alger Association for Distinguished Americans, along with Oprah Winfrey and Colin Powell.

eighth consecutive year as the number one Most Innovative Regional College in the South for innovation in curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, and facilities. HPU was named, for the twelfth consecutive year, to the national “Colleges of Distinction” list. HPU also earned Fields of Study distinctions for the Phillips School of Business and the Stout School of Education. The Princeton Review named High Point University as one of the nation’s top institutions for undergraduate education. The Princeton Review also named HPU in the 2023 edition of “The Best 388 Colleges” and on the Best Southeastern Colleges “2023 Best Colleges: Region by Region” list. HPU was also recognized among the Top 20 in the nation for Best-Run Colleges, Best Career Services, Most Beautiful Campus, Most Active Student Government Association, Best College Dorms and Best Campus Food, as well as a Great School for Business/Finance Majors and a Great School for Communication Majors.

role in my life. She had only a fourth-grade education, but she had a post-graduate degree in wisdom and uncommon sense. She insisted I go to school in the United States and pursue the American Dream.

I came to America to attend college and had the words of my mother still ringing in my ears: “If you want to be a great person, you have to walk side by side and hand in hand with great people.”

As soon as I finished graduate school, I started my first business following the principles that built America: personal initiative, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to pursue new opportunities – these are all things we sometimes take for granted but, as an immigrant, I understand and value them tremendously.

UNIVERSITY BRIEF Founded in 1924, High Point University (highpoint.edu) is a 98-year-old liberal arts institution located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. “America’s Best Colleges” 2022 Edition, published by U.S. News & World Report, ranks HPU number one among all regional colleges in the South (the eleventh consecutive year at number one). It also ranked HPU for the

You came to the United States as a teenager with limited knowledge of English and only $50 in your pocket. Will you discuss this experience and how it impacted your life?

My life is a series of turning points. And for me, turning points were magical because out of adversity often emerges abundance. My father died when I was six years old, and that was tough for me. My mother played a pivotal

That’s why at High Point University I tell families we are a God, family, and country school. Our country may not be perfect, but even with its blemishes, this nation is extraordinary. I thank God for its existence, for its strength, for the men and women who served in the military and for the American Dream. It is real for those who are willing to work hard enough and smart enough.

Will you highlight your business career and how your business experience prepared you to lead High Point University?

While I was in college, I worked as a youth counselor and sought out leadership materials that would help youth counselors grow professionally. I couldn’t find any, so I started a business to provide leadership materials for people like myself. I also

The campus of High Point University (above and opposite page) POSTED WITH PERMISSION. COPYRIGHT © 2023 LEADERS MAGAZINE, LLC LEADERS 84 VOLUME 46, NUMBER 1

began leading seminars and giving speeches, and my career began to grow in those areas.

I started other businesses and went on to write books, consult with corporate leaders and speak at conferences. Over the years, I’m blessed to have given more than 7,500 presentations worldwide. I served on corporate boards of several Fortune 500 companies including Truist, the 6th largest financial company in the nation, La-Z-Boy, and Savista. And I’m the executive chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company with many stores from coast to coast.

I never expected nor sought to become president of High Point University, but when the Board of Trustees asked me to in 2004, I prayerfully considered it and accepted the challenge.

As a graduate of High Point University whose life was deeply and positively impacted by earning an education, and as a parent of four children, I began to understand the impact High Point University can have on the next generation of leaders. Today, I lead a transformed institution aimed at investing in our students’ lives for the better. Our goal is to prepare graduates not for the world as it is, but as it will be.

Did you always know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit and passion to build organizations?

I am the kind of person who wakes up every morning and happily says, “Good morning, Lord!” rather than the kind of person

who wakes up and woefully says, “Oh Lord, it’s morning.” God has blessed me with energy, focus and passion. I remind our students every day that oxygen is a free gift not to be taken for granted. Without it, we would all die.

Do you feel that entrepreneurship can be taught or is it a skill that a person is born with?

At HPU, we believe in the art of the possible and seek to instill it in every student. We believe that having an entrepreneurial spirit is not just about building a widget and selling it. Rather, having an entrepreneurial mindset is about building appreciated value and rendering it for your client, customer, congregation, company – you get the idea. Everyone needs it to thrive. That’s why we passionately celebrate hard work, perseverance and personal initiative. It’s what built this country in the first place.

We do this in many ways. Consider the 50 bronze sculptures of historical trailblazers, such as Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver and Marie Skłodowska–Curie, that line the Kester International Promenade on our campus. When students see these sculptures and even sit down on a bench next to one, they realize that they, too, can achieve great things.

It’s why HPU houses a Center for Entrepreneurship filled with prototypes of students’ creations. Whiteboards line the walls,

and students can use this collaborative workspace anytime. And every year, HPU hosts the Annual Elevator Pitch Competition and Business Plan Competition where students earn start-up funds for their businesses while also receiving feedback from a panel of judges consisting of business owners and entrepreneurs.

We also constantly bring real-life heroes to our campus for our students to connect with and learn from. Consider that Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, the genius who invented the personal computer, is HPU’s Innovator in Residence and has worked alongside HPU students on a number of projects. Marc Randolph, the co-founder of Netflix, is also HPU’s Entrepreneur in Residence. In fact, more than 30 CEOs, tech titans and industry leaders regularly visit campus to mentor and teach students through our Access to Innovators program.

These are just a few examples. A student who wants to create impact, render value and create positive change in this world will thrive at HPU.

What interested you in assuming the role of president of HPU and made you feel it was the right fit?

I saw an opportunity to evolve a small, regional school into a dynamic, intentional university. I believed wholeheartedly that with a clear vision, a solid strategy and consistent execution, we could thrive.


I learned that my experience as an entrepreneur and consultant, which is similar as serving as an educator and coach, could in fact serve this university well. While I didn’t anticipate serving as president of my alma mater, I began my life working with young people, and I’m ending my life working with young people. One could say in many ways, I’ve invested my life preparing to work at High Point University.

Will you provide an overview of HPU’s transformation journey and how the university has evolved over the past 15 years?

When I arrived to HPU in 2005, I knew the university had to distinguish itself. We had to transform our campus and our culture in order to transform the lives of our students. As Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest, said, “Transformed people transform people.”

I defined a clear vision and asked faculty and staff to join me in moving HPU from an ocean of sameness to a small pool of distinction. We became student focused. We didn’t make a single decision without asking how something served the best needs of the student.

Our campus culture is energized by the challenge to take HPU to new heights. During a short period of time that ordinarily would take decades to achieve, we became a highly ranked institution where enrollment has tripled from just 1,500 to 6,000. We expanded our campus

from 90 to more than 520 acres. And academic schools grew from just four to eleven. To do that in such a compressed amount of time is unheard of in higher education.

We moved beyond focusing on the “product” – the diploma. Instead, we chose to focus on the product of the product – a life filled with meaningful success and framed with purposeful significance.

And it worked. Today, 98 percent of HPU graduates are employed or in graduate school within 180 days of graduation. That’s 14 points above the national average.

HPU has received an abundance of national recognition, too. U.S. News & World Report has ranked HPU the number one “Best Regional College in the South” for 11 consecutive years (HPU was number 17 in 2005) and the number one Most Innovative for eight consecutive years. The Princeton Review also recognizes HPU in “The Best 388 Colleges” publication, along with numerous Top 20 in the Nation awards, including: Best-Run Colleges, Best Career Services, Most Beautiful Campus, Most Active Student Government Association, Best College Dorms and Best Campus Food.

But most importantly, HPU became a place of deep, intentional mentorship that leads students through a personal, transformational process that enhances their lives. I remind faculty and staff that “we live, students watch

and students learn.” Students need heroes, models and mentors to positively influence their lives and increase their impact.

Today, our incredible growth has been shared by so many parents, students and media outlets that some even refer to us as Transformation U.

How do you describe HPU’s culture and values?

First, HPU is The Premier Life Skills University.

Consider what the father of a student recently told me: “I wish I had been educated in an environment where people believed in me. You promote hard work, perseverance and the entrepreneurial spirit. You tell these young people to get up and try again. Do you know how long it took me to learn that?”

Students can’t walk a few feet on campus without seeing inspirational art, U.S. flags, energetic fountains and sculptures of history’s greatest leaders – including their words of wisdom etched into sidewalks. Why? Because we know that every moment of a student’s day is an opportunity to shape who they will become. We have succeeded because of this unique approach.

We are committed to equipping students with the capabilities that outlast and extend beyond inevitable technical changes. These


include the ability to communicate well with others, thrive in a competitive environment, adapt, and navigate complex situations.

These are, in fact, the skills that employers say they need in new hires. HPU has conducted two national surveys – one in 2018 and another in 2022 – of 500 executives at companies of 2,500 employees or more. Consider some of these national poll results:

“When you hire recent college graduates, what are the reasons they fail?”

• Coachability – 13 percent

• Emotional intelligence – 29 percent

• Motivation – 38 percent

• Temperament – 9 percent

• Technical competence – 11 percent

“Of these attributes, which would most likely cause an employee to be overlooked for a promotion at your organization?”

• Doesn’t accept feedback and constructive criticism – 46 percent

• Doesn’t know how to solve complex problems – 36 percent

• Doesn’t have the technical skills needed – 18 percent

These results are merely snapshots of many others from HPU’s national C-suite surveys that show employers need people with life skills. Known as The Premier Life Skills University, HPU provides an extraordinary education

framed with the life skills that outlast and extend over a lifetime.

Yes, our campus is filled with state-ofthe-art technology, labs and learning spaces. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks HPU number one for Innovation in our category. Consider the financial trading room with a livestock ticker, the healthcare simulation labs, the professionalgrade television studios, planetarium, and e-sports, among others.

Because HPU knows technology always changes, these facilities are steeped in life skills lessons, too. That’s why HPU is home to two fine dining restaurants with cell phonefree environments, where students practice job interviews over dinner and are exposed to global cuisine and protocol from different cultures.

When HPU students graduate, they are prepared to render value in the global marketplace with both technical and life skills. They are ready to adapt and change along with technology in order to thrive throughout their careers.

In addition, High Point University is a values-based institution, grounded in hard work, personal initiative, generosity, gratitude, faith, and civility. Parents spend their lives modeling values for their children. When they send their students to a university, they want it to uphold and nurture those values.

When students choose a university, they want an institution that will serve as an extension of their home. We’ve built a culture that celebrates those values. It’s in the air at High Point University. And it’s the most consistent praise we hear from students and parents –that we’ve dared to build an environment and foster a culture where students choose to be extraordinary.

What do you see as the mission and purpose of a leading university today?

Our goal is to prepare the next generation of leaders for the world as it will be, not as it is. We are committed to giving students the premier life skills and the values-based education that prepare them to thrive and render value in a world that changes faster than you can download the latest app. We want them to decipher the difference between sound bites and sound judgment and to develop a depth of awareness and relevance. Their success is our success and our greatest reward.

You teach a course to all freshmen at HPU titled, “The President’s Seminar on Life Skills.” What was the vision for developing this class and what are the key messages you want to convey to the students?

I teach the First-Year Seminar on Life Skills so that I, personally, can mentor students on matters important in the marketplace. I love our


students, and I care about their success. I invite global leaders, such as the co-founders or CEOs of Apple, Netflix, Domino’s, MyEyeDr. and the Dallas Mavericks, to guest teach the seminar as well.

This seminar gives students a hefty dose of real-world pragmatism as they enter HPU. The skills they learn are meant to help them succeed in all aspects of life – academic, professional, and personal. By taking the course as freshmen, the rest of their course work is often experienced through the lens of practical application. It sets the tone for developing an intentional life plan.

In short, we created an influential environment and resourced it with impactful people. The strategies we implemented and the success we achieved apply to anyone, whether you are a manager, a business owner, a CEO, a parent, or a friend.

What do you see as HPU’s responsibility to the community it serves and how important is it for HPU to be engaged in the High Point community?

Our city is a big part of our spirit and our heart. We will always be High Point’s University

with an apostrophe “s,” and High Point will always be our home. For this reason, we volunteer 500,000 hours every year with at least 40 local agencies, and students participate in dozens of service-learning courses that engage them throughout the city to lend a helping hand. In addition to service, we have raised $63 million from private donors to build projects to bring visitors downtown year-round, including the new downtown ballpark known as Truist Point, an events center, a children’s museum, and a park.

In spring of 2022, the Nido and Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum opened, and just recently it was named North Carolina’s Attraction of the Year. This museum is a beautiful example of where our love for our city and HPU’s student volunteer efforts come together to grow a caring community and nourish healthy fellowship with one another.

You serve on several company boards. What do you see as the role of a board member today?

Any person’s role, whether on a board or within an organization, is to render appreciated value in a rapidly changing world and to

constantly keep the organization moving forward. Reinvention and adaptation are required at a fast rate in today’s global marketplace, where stagnation leads to failure. We must always be willing to spark growth, take calculated risks and measure whether or not your organization is truly meeting the needs of its constituents.

Effective corporate board members devote the time and effort necessary to learn all they can about their institutions and remain ever ready to serve the best interests of their stakeholders.

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership?

The best leaders always strive to create greater capacity in others. They seek to inform, involve and inspire their teams to possess a growth mindset and focus on innovation and distinction. They insist on the thoughtful application of the organization’s vision, mission, value and goals. They inspect what they expect and learn from their productive failures.

Leadership is a privilege best appreciated by dedicated and committed people who seek a continuum of growth.•

How YOU can apply HPU’s transformational principles to your own life:


Values are everything, especially in a world where technology is advancing the speed and way in which decisions must be made. Remember these words of Roy E. Disney: “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Know your values so you can live and lead by them.


Having an entrepreneurial mindset is not about building a widget and selling it. It’s about building value and rendering value for your client, customer, congregation, student – you get the idea. That’s why we seek to instill what I call “the art of the possible” in every HPU student. Leaders can foster, instill and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit in every member of their team. From entry level to C-suite, working in an entrepreneurial manner benefits everyone.


Employers seek new hires with more than technical competence because technology changes daily. The skills that outlast technological advances are what we call life skills –the ability to communicate, build relational capital, develop a growth mindset, embrace failure as a small price to pay for learning, solve complex problems and continuously adapt. At HPU, our curriculum is grounded in these skills. When you’re hiring or promoting team members, remember to ask: Is this person coachable? Are they motivated? Do they communicate well with others? If you give them a complex problem and ask them to figure it out, can they? Those are the people you want on your team.

Dr. Qubein talks with students at HPU

Our uniqueness is our greatness. Only by attracting and retaining world-class talent from every type of background can we have the very best team in the industry. We’re 30,000 strong – all working hard to deliver on our promise to take care of our customers, our communities and each other.


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A Joyful Heart

You have been public about the challenges you faced in your childhood and early years. What made you feel it was important to discuss these experiences in public?

I think a lot of it has to do with being on the show, This is Us. I felt that every single time my character, Kate, would do something that made her more vulnerable in her relationship with her family and with her siblings, it always brought them closer together. It showed me that when you are vulnerable and honest, it allows others to feel and act the same way. It becomes a reciprocal relationship. While I always knew this, having the opportunity to play Kate allowed me to see the benefits firsthand and reconfirmed my belief that we are all more alike than we are different.

The more Kate went through on the show, the more people would talk to me in grocery stores and restaurants and on the street, and the more we talked about the show, it made me feel that while it is scary to be vulnerable and to be exposed, it helps empower people which is important to me.

Did you know in the early days of the show that it would make such an impact and touch so many lives?

You had empathy for them as you were watching the show, and I do not think there has ever been a show like it and I do not think that there ever will be another show like it in the future. This is Us brought people together – the story of regular people going through life and doing it the best way they knew how, while learning from each other in the process.

You mentioned how challenging is it for aspiring actors to secure a role. Did you know that you had the resilience to keep pushing and not give up?

I questioned myself all the time. I became an agent’s assistant when I moved to Los Angeles, and I was a junior agent and then an agent for about nine years. I would see people going on auditions and trying to do what I wanted to do, and I questioned whether acting was my thing or whether I should continue to serve as an agent. Even to this day, after the amazing experience that I had on the show, I ask myself if I am meant to be an actor.

EDITORS’ NOTE Emmy and two-time Golden Globe nominee Chrissy Metz starred on the award-winning NBC series This Is Us, winner of the 2018 and 2019 SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and People’s Choice Award for “Favorite New TV Drama.” Metz recently starred as Joyce Smith in the hit 20th Century Fox faith-based film, BREAKTHROUGH. She also performs “I’m Standing With You” on the BREAKTHROUGH soundtrack, written by 10-time Academy Award nominee Diane Warren. Metz performed this song at the 2019 ACM Awards. Metz gueststarred in the hit comedy series The Last OG with Tracy Morgan, and the NBC hit series Superstore. She is known for her roles in American Horror Story: Freak Show, Sierra Burgess is a Loser, My Name is Earl, and Entourage, to name a few. Metz released her memoir, This Is Me , which debuted at number one on The New York Times Bestseller List. People magazine named her to the “Ones to Watch” and “50 Most Beautiful.”

No, no, no. As an actor, I was just trying to get a job and be able to do what I love to do, which was to understand other people’s stories. I felt fortunate to have the opportunity since roughly 1 percent of aspiring actors actually get jobs, and even less get jobs that stick. I was given the opportunity to be a part of a show that changed the hearts and minds of so many people and, while the cast knew that it was special, we could not have imagined that it would make the impact it did – from the music to the writing to the acting. This is Us meant so much to so many, and this is truly gratifying for an actor.

What made the show so special?

I think it was so real that it became a blueprint for people’s lives. I always say that we are all dealing with life on life’s terms, which means that in our highest moments, we also can have some of our lowest moments, and Dan (Fogelman, writer of This is Us) wrote a show about this family where you could see yourself in the characters. The stories were very relatable, whether it be about the relationships with family, weight issues, dealing with illness, handling anxiety and depression – these are issues that every person on the planet deals with in one way or another. The show addressed these issues through a family that may not have handled things perfectly, but did it in a loving way.

There was a time before I got the part on the show that I was ready to move back to Florida. I had been in Los Angeles for a number of years and I wondered if it was for me. It was almost 12 years until I booked This is Us, and looking back at it, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and pushing forward. I remember my mother telling me that I could be miserable in Florida, or I could be miserable in Los Angeles, but at least in Los Angeles I was pursuing what I wanted to do. I had heard the saying that “you always give up before the miracle happens,” and I almost did that, so I am so fortunate that I stayed. I think that things

Chrissy Metz with her Joyful Heart wine
Joyful Heart white wine

happen for a reason and while I would have loved to have a massive role in a hit show at the age of 21, I was not ready for it. This is Us came at the right time in my life and I could not have been more fortunate to be a part of it.

You also have a passion for music and went on tour this past summer. Will you discuss your focus on music?

Music was my first love. I was always entertaining my family and friends, and I was the class clown in high school. I thought that comedy may be my thing, and then in middle school my mom could not afford a band instrument – all the cool kids were in band – so I went to the room next to band and joined the choir. I became obsessed with music, and was taken by how a choir of 30 kids could sound like one voice. I listened to all genres of music, but my manager who I worked with before I went to Los Angeles wanted me to focus more on television and film, and I never really felt supported or encouraged with music.

I had been coming to Nashville during hiatus ever since I started on This is Us, and have been writing music which is about love and loss and healing. Feeling your feelings is uncomfortable, but music has provided a way to tell the story of my life and the things I have experienced and what I have gone through. I am so grateful to the amazing songwriters and producers in Nashville who I have had the opportunity to work with.

I am hoping one day that it will all come together and I will have the opportunity to do a stint on Broadway.

How challenging was it for you to deal with the realization that the show was coming to an end?

I am still grappling with it. There are moments when I am so sad and miss the show and the people that I was able to work with on the show. There are also moments when I am excited to have the time to pursue other opportunities and projects. This is new territory for me. I had never been on a television show that was so successful and had so much to do with who I was as a person. There are mornings that I wake up and am relieved that I do not have to be on set at 4:00 AM, and then there are mornings that I wish I was on set at 4:00 AM. I miss being this character that so many people learned from and loved, and I often wonder if I will ever again find something as special as that was for me, but I have come to know that there will be other projects that are special, just in a different way.

I am so gratified to have been a part of something that was truly special and iconic, and I think this is why I still grapple with my emotions about the show ending.

Do you feel that there has been progress in creating leading roles for women on television?

I think there has been progress and feel that Dan Fogelman and the executives at NBC and FOX putting a character like Kate on television was a big step. There had not been plussize actresses in this type of role – they were usually the butt of the joke or would play roles as the friend to the leading actress. I believe that art imitates life, and because Dan, as well as NBC and FOX, were so adamant about having a

plus-size actor in the role, we now see all sorts of roles for women no matter what the age, race, or weight. There has been a lot of progress, but there is still a lot of work to do.

I believe that viewers want to see plus-size actors on television and in film, because 65 percent of the American population is “plus size” – it is important to put this term in quotes because it is pretty loosely used. People want to see themselves on television and it doesn’t matter what they look like or where they come from, because everyone’s story is deserving of being told.

What were the keys to remaining true to yourself and who you are, even with all of the notoriety and success from the show?

I grew up in very humble surroundings. We lived paycheck to paycheck, so for me there was always a feeling that as quickly as it could come, it could go equally quickly. I feel that the only thing that matters in life is how we treat each other, because money and success are fleeting. I am focused on how I feel about myself and how I walk through the world. I try to be a good person. I try to be present. I try to be a good friend, a good girlfriend, a good daughter. That is what I want to be whether or not I have success on a television show.

You created the Joyful Heart Wine Company. What was your vision for the company and how do you define its mission?

I had always felt that wine was very pretentious, and I just wanted to find something that I liked to drink. My boyfriend, Bradley, knows about wine and there is such a science to it. Wine was always something I brought to someone’s house for Sunday dinner, and I wanted to bring a wine that I loved and that I had something to do with. I wanted to be involved in the blending, and also wanted to create a wine that was accessible to people who just wanted to enjoy it.

The way that I want to walk through the world is with a joyful heart, and this has to do with being of service and giving. We created a wine that would give back, which we do through World Central Kitchen – we donate proceeds from every bottle to World Central Kitchen, an organization that has been on the front lines of so many challenging events around the world, providing food for people that are going through crisis.

I wanted to put love and good energy into a bottle of wine, and it not only tastes delicious, but it is making a difference.

You are a role model and inspiration to many young girls. In a world of social media and constant posting of photos, what do you say to young girls who don’t feel that they fit in or belong?

I have a really hard time, especially as I get older, with the idea of what social media is and what people want to portray. It is always about the highlight reel. For my own mental and emotional health, I have really curated who I follow, and I ask myself each time if it is hurtful or if it is helpful. It is dangerous to see pictures that have been photoshopped and manipulated, and then to try to compare yourself to those pictures when they are not even real. This affects your mental and emotional health, and I think it is important to ask yourself what you are getting from social media, because there are so many more positive places we can be giving our energy to other than constantly scrolling and being made to feel bad about ourselves.

I try to tell young girls that if it is not making you happy, then it is not worth it. It is important not to rely on what people think or what people say, because what is important is how you feel about yourself. I think this is a conversation that we need to keep having with each other.

What interested you in writing the book, This is Me, and what were they key messages you wanted to convey in the book?

I did not want to write a book – I was afraid to do it and did not think anyone wanted to hear from me. After talking to people, I decided that if I could write a book that talks about what I have gone through in my life, maybe it could help others. Every chapter is a lesson about something that happened in my life, and the more specific I got, the more it resonated with people. I would not be where I am today if I had not written the book.

My boyfriend, Bradley, and I just wrote a children’s book together which is coming out in February, and we are very excited about it.

Are you able to take moments to reflect and appreciate what you have accomplished?

I feel that since the show has been done, which has been about nine months now, I have taken moments to appreciate what I have done and accomplished. It would not have happened without a lot of help and support, and I try to spend time with my family and with Bradley because it is about finding balance. I am fortunate to be in a position to be able to pursue things that make me happy, and it is my intention to do them with a joyful heart.•

Chrissy Metz with Joyful Heart Winemaker Nicole Walsh

A Noble Profession

EDITORS’ NOTE Chairman of the firm since 2008, Brad Karp is one of the country’s leading litigators and corporate advisors. Karp has successfully guided numerous Fortune 100 companies, global financial institutions and other companies and individuals through “bet the company” litigations, regulatory matters, internal investigations and corporate crises.

FIRM BRIEF Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP (paulweiss.com) is a firm of about 1,000 lawyers with diverse backgrounds, personalities, ideas and interests who provide innovative and effective solutions to their clients’ most complex legal and business challenges. The firm represents many of the world’s largest and most important public and private corporations, asset managers and financial institutions, and clients in need of pro bono assistance.

What do you feel are the distinguishing factors that have made Paul, Weiss an industry leader?

First, our track record is the foundation of our success. We provide superlative service and performance, matter after matter, delivering exceptional value to our clients and building close and enduring relationships. Because of this, boards and C-suite executives of the world’s leading public and private companies and alternative asset management firms turn to us when the stakes are highest.

Second, we have steadfastly maintained our culture of collaboration, respect and professionalism. We are a client-focused law firm, with an indefatigable work ethic, but we also are the most community-minded law firm in the world. We have

a mission and we are laser focused on fulfilling that mission each and every day.

Finally, our talent distinguishes us. Because of our unmatched client work and our collegial, team-focused culture, we attract the smartest, most dynamic and hardest-working lawyers, year after year.

How has the role of a law firm evolved and how do you define the role today?

When I was a young lawyer, senior partners presumptively passed on “their” clients to junior partners. Today, we have to earn our clients’ loyalty every day, and clients are in the driver’s seat in the attorney-client relationship. It’s not enough to be the smartest advisor in the room; we need to create value continually.

Beyond offering the most commercial, strategic advice, we now offer a range of other valueadd services and capabilities, from advice on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, ESG, and collaborative pro bono platforms to cutting-edge knowledge management technology, cybersecurity, contract analysis and AI-powered case and deal analyses. We have many more touchpoints with our clients than in the past.

Today, clients look to us as business advisors, not just legal advisors. Our clients face unprecedented challenges, from market volatility and business disruptions related to supply chain issues and geopolitical conflict, to emerging issues including ESG, cybersecurity and data privacy, among many others. Our role is to bring a creative, adaptive mindset to each engagement so we can help our clients solve their most complex problems and achieve their most important business goals.

What do you feel are the characteristics that make for a leading law firm and allow for long-lasting client relationships?

Building long-standing client relationships begins and ends with superlative client service, day in and day out. At Paul, Weiss, we set incredibly high standards for everything we do, and strive to consistently exceed our clients’ expectations. Because we treat their problems as if they are our own, we nurture close bonds with our clients.

A focused business strategy is also critical to a firm’s long-term success. At Paul, Weiss, we have long identified five core areas where we lead the market – private equity, public M&A, litigation, white collar and regulatory defense, and restructuring – and we invest in them consistently and strategically. This strategy has positioned our firm as a leader in the areas most important to our clients.

Finally, to maintain an edge in an ultracompetitive market, it is critical to listen to our clients and discern not only how to address their needs in the moment, but also to identify what’s next – to understand what is keeping them up at night and how we can help them sleep easier.

What are the keys to a successful partnership model for a leading law firm and how important is it to build a collaborative culture and team mentality within the partnership?

The most resilient partnerships are those where people share a professional culture and a dedication to mentoring and training younger lawyers. A collaborative culture – built on shared values, mindset, vision, and ways of interacting – is foundational to the success of any business, but it’s particularly important to a law firm partnership. In a very real way, culture is the “glue” that holds a partnership together.

Brad S. Karp An Interview with Brad S. Karp, Chairman, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton
“At Paul, Weiss, we set incredibly high standards for everything we do, and strive to consistently exceed our clients’ expectations.”

At Paul, Weiss, we talk about our values all the time, and we are careful who we invite to join our partnership. Especially in this hybrid environment, we all need to work harder to nurture a sense of pride, belonging and inclusivity, and we continually find ways to create an environment where everyone can thrive.

Clients recognize the strength of our culture and how it leads to better results on their matters and a much more enjoyable experience working with us.

The legal profession is not often thought of for its innovation. How critical is innovation to Paul, Weiss and where is innovation taking place inside the firm?

Innovation is critical to Paul, Weiss’ continuing success. Our clients include the world’s best-known, most sophisticated companies and alternative asset management firms, so to remain competitive, we need to continually innovate and keep up with changing expectations around the use of technology. Over many years, we have invested in market-leading technology, including AI, advanced E-Discovery, workflow automation, knowledge management and cybersecurity systems, among others.

We are also always looking for opportunities to leverage our expertise in innovative ways. For example, we recently launched a dedicated Civil Rights and Racial Equity Audit group – among the first in the nation, and recently recognized by the Financial Times for being innovative. The team, led by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, conducts bespoke investigations that help clients understand any gaps between their specific DEI commitments and the reality experienced by diverse stakeholders. Our goal is to provide clients with the practical guidance they need.

What role is technology playing in the way leading law firms operate?

AI is pervasive today. We are thoughtful in how we deploy new technologies; we adopt them to help our lawyers be more efficient, more productive, and better equipped to deal with the rapidly changing world.

Leveraging cutting-edge technology is not only important to improving client service and client outcomes, but it’s also critical to our well-being. Today, lawyers are on call 24/7 and contracts are growing ever more complex, thanks to the ease with which document processing allows constant amendments and revisions. The proliferation of information means that our lawyers need to keep their heads above an onslaught of data influencing their cases or transactions. We provide technology that creates efficiencies to help them get the work done at the same level of quality that our clients have come to expect from us.

AI-powered legal and knowledge management technology gives time back to lawyers and retrieves the knowledge they need faster, decreasing mundane work and preserving their mental energy. Likewise, we are deploying the latest technology that helps us adapt to new expectations around work, including new technology that supports collaboration in a hybrid environment.

How critical is it to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to mirror the diversity of Paul, Weiss’ clients and the communities it serves?

It’s essential for leading law firms to become more inclusive and more reflective of our clients and the communities we serve. We recognize that the success of our firm is directly linked to the unique skills, talents and

viewpoints contributed by lawyers from diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes us better advisors and contributes to better outcomes for our clients, as numerous studies have shown.

Our dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion goes back to our very founding and it has shaped the intellectual and cultural character of Paul, Weiss over many decades. Today, our commitment to DEI has never been stronger.

What do you see as the responsibility that leading law firms have to being good corporate citizens and addressing societal need?

The practice of law cannot be fully realized without service to those in need; it’s not just a commercial enterprise, but a noble profession. That belief is shared by every Paul, Weiss lawyer today, and is among the main reasons that I and many others joined the firm.

It’s also important for each of us to feel that we can contribute to something larger than ourselves. Especially after a period when we were isolated due to COVID-19, we need to reengage, reconnect, and continue the fight for justice across all of its many battle lines.

We have long used our platform and considerable resources to address the needs of our wider communities. Last year, we contributed nearly 100,000 hours on pro bono matters, including both impact litigation and efforts to help individuals in need. We’ve also spoken out repeatedly on issues of importance to our community and our nation, from racial justice to anti-gun violence efforts to voting rights and abortion. We also contributed directly to the recovery of New York City’s arts and cultural institutions


and addressed the scourge of
“Beyond offering the most commercial, strategic advice, we now offer a range of other value-add services and capabilities, from advice on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, ESG, and collaborative pro bono platforms to cutting-edge knowledge management technology, cybersecurity, contract analysis and AI-powered case and deal analyses.”
“The practice of law cannot be fully realized without service to those in need; it’s not just a commercial enterprise, but a noble profession.”

They said it couldn’t be done. We

We’ve done hard things before, we do them all the time.

For most cancer patients, the usual options are surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. So we’re working on ways to get the immune system to deploy billions of cancer-killing cells and help more patients survive.

When some people experienced mysterious COVID symptoms and had nowhere to go, our team created the first Center for Post-COVID Care.

It wasn’t that long ago we had to open up your whole chest for heart surgery. Now we’re pioneering a bypass that goes through a few tiny incisions. With this surgery, we can get you back on your feet in weeks instead of months.

So if anyone ever tells you there’s no other way—don’t listen.

didn’t listen.

The Power of Relationships

EDITORS’ NOTE Raymond Qiao joined Bank of China’s New York Branch in 1998 and currently serves as Chief Lending Officer and Executive Vice President. In this role, he oversees all of the bank’s corporate banking and lending practices, including project finance, commercial real estate, trade services, commodities business, and financial institutions. In addition, Qiao supervises the operation of Bank of China’s Los Angeles Branch and Chicago Branch. In 2016, he was ranked number one among the 50 Most Important Figures in Commercial Real Estate Finance by Commercial Observer . He was also awarded the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business in 2015, recognizing his contribution to local Asian community development. Qiao holds a master’s degree in economics and an MBA degree in finance.

COMPANY BRIEF As China’s most international and diversified bank, Bank of China (www.boc.cn/en) has a well-established global service network with institutions set up across the Chinese mainland, as well as in more than 60 countries and regions. It has established an integrated services platform based on the pillars of its corporate banking, personal banking, financial markets and other commercial banking businesses, which covers investment banking, direct investment, securities, insurance, funds, aircraft leasing and other areas, thus providing its customers with a comprehensive range of financial services. Bank of China U.S.A. (BOC U.S.A.) (www.bocusa.com) has branches in New York City, Queens, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Will you highlight BOC U.S.A.’s commercial real estate debt operation and how the business focuses on the long-term?

BOC U.S.A.’s lending profile took its current shape following the Great Recession of 2008. Liquidity for commercial real estate (CRE) debt had dried up and developers needed refinancing or debt capital for new projects. BOC U.S.A. employed our thoughtful and thorough due diligence processes and was very selective in considering opportunities with sponsors that had established track records and who we felt could create value over the long term. We had a vision for what our CRE debt operations could be, and we expanded our lending capabilities to build up the portfolio over time.

Today, we provide financing solutions to CRE projects throughout New York City and other gateway cities – including iconic properties like One Vanderbilt, JFK Terminal One, 220 Central Park South, 50 Hudson Yards, and USC Center in Los Angeles. BOC U.S.A.’s culture has been guided by our long-standing relationships with partners that remain committed to their projects in up and down markets. Our best relationships have been maintained because of our shared goal to grow our respective businesses and create value in our communities.

BOC U.S.A. works with some of the leading real estate firms in New York. What has been the key to BOC U.S.A.’s ability to build client loyalty and long-standing client relationships?

Relationships are everything to our business, so we treat them with care and make highquality customer service a top priority. We pride

ourselves on our culture of listening, collaborating and ultimately enabling projects. BOC U.S.A.’s experienced CRE professionals have been in this business for decades and, as a result, know the markets well, are cycle-tested, and are able to meet the nuanced needs of our clients. We are transparent and work closely with sponsors to develop financing solutions for their projects. We also work well with all counterparties in the lending ecosystem, including other regulated balance sheet, mezzanine, and full debt stack lenders. Our history of success and long-standing client relationships often leads to referrals that generate additional business and supports our clients’ continued growth.

How critical are transparency, industry expertise and execution as BOC U.S.A. continues to expand its existing relationships?

Transparency, industry expertise, and flawless execution are benchmarks of BOC U.S.A.’s brand. We continue to invest in talent in our offices across the country – and our rich environment allows us to stay true to our commitment in creating better understanding and stronger ties between the U.S. and Chinese business communities. As the first Chinese bank in the U.S. market, we’ve been able to establish our brand locally and serve a wide range of U.S. businesses, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. We leverage our industry expertise and operational excellence to deepen our relationships with clients by providing the highquality service they have come to expect from BOC U.S.A. In addition, our strong compliance protocols allow us to maintain an exceptional operational environment throughout our organization to best protect our clients, investors, and employees – and in turn, to build our reputation and grow our business.

Raymond L. Qiao An Interview with Raymond L. Qiao, Chief Lending Officer and Executive Vice President, Bank of China, U.S.A.
“BOC U.S.A.’s culture has been guided by our long-standing relationships with partners that remain committed to their projects in up and down markets. Our best relationships have been maintained because of our shared goal to grow our respective businesses and create value in our communities.”

Will you discuss how BOC U.S.A. evaluates and manages risk when looking at lending opportunities?

As a regulated balance sheet lender that retains loans rather than selling them, BOC U.S.A. has exposure from the time we originate the loan until it gets paid off. As a result, we must be very thoughtful in our underwriting and asset management and have a robust risk management framework to evaluate lending risk. As part of that, we continually assess our valuable capital and make decisions that account for a margin of safety under various scenarios that may stress our loan-specific underwriting assumptions. We pick our sponsors carefully and have expertise in building, managing, and adding value to their holdings. BOC U.S.A.’s wide range of product offerings, such as fund finance, project finance, and M&A loans also enables us to serve our sponsors financing needs. This, in turn, helps us to better understand their underlying assets and ensure we are working with sponsors that have significant market expertise and prudent financial management strategies. We continue to align our goals and risk management to guarantee project success.

Will you discuss BOC U.S.A.’s focus on major metro areas and its belief in the viability of cities?

Cities are vital to our business in the U.S., and we feel a close connection to the communities in which we operate. In 1981, BOC U.S.A. reopened a branch at 410 Madison Avenue to offer retail and commercial services to the citizens of New York City, the most populous city in America, to great success. Since then, we have expanded to Queens and other major metro areas in the U.S. – Chicago and Los Angeles.

Our headquarters in New York City has grown to over 700 full-time employees.

We continue to find that our customers and the greatest business opportunities exist in the major metro areas where we are located. In addition, that’s where we have found the best talent to support BOC U.S.A.’s growth. In recognition of all of the opportunities and collaboration that U.S. cities we operate in have provided us, we have made it a priority to give back. Investing in our communities has and will continue to be part of BOC U.S.A.’s mission. As such, we’ve ingrained our corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts into everything our institution does – from how we interact with our clients and employees, to how we operate within and support our local communities. We’ve partnered with community leaders and organizations such as TruFund, Cents Ability, and the Jump$tart Coalition to provide financial education in innovative ways. We’ve also supported local organizations and events dedicated to enriching cultural ties between the U.S. and China, including the CGCC Foundation, The Juilliard School, Asian Americans for Equality, Chinatown Healthcare Clinic Foundation, and the Sino-U.S. Business Leaders Roundtable. Our staff invests our time to serve underserved and underprivileged youth as mentors in the Bank’s Big Brothers Big Sister Workplace Mentorship Program which continued with remote sessions throughout the COVID-19 crisis. In response to the pandemic, we donated more than 130,000 pieces of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, frontline responders, and other essential personnel to assist their efforts to combat the virus. All of BOC U.S.A.’s branches are dedicated to supporting local communities and organizations through various initiatives. By embracing both top-down and bottom-up

engagement, the causes and events we support showcase our extensive employee volunteerism, community lending and investments, as well as charitable giving programs.

What are your views on the current state of the commercial real estate market?

The commercial real estate market is not immune from the macroeconomic challenges facing our economy. High interest rates, energy prices, and inflation have scared investors and slowed progress. In addition, supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have hindered developers’ ability to complete projects. As a result of these factors, we expect commercial real estate prices to come under certain pressures in 2023 depending on the specific submarket. Despite the difficult macro environment, BOC U.S.A.’s experienced real estate professionals are well-equipped to leverage our existing relationships and make tactical decisions to best support our clients.

How important is it for companies to bring employees back to work to build culture and collaboration, and what are your views on the future of work?

While there are obvious benefits to a hybrid model of living and working, we’ve seen real benefits and successes resulting from in-person engagement and collaboration. Interpersonal relationships have, for centuries, served as the backbone of successful business partnerships. At BOC U.S.A., our colleagues have returned to the office in a manner that continues to benefit our employees and our customers’ needs, and we’ve done so because we understand how important it is to our employees, our customers, and our local communities to forge personal connections. We now meet more regularly –in-person – with our clients, vendors, and business partners to ensure we are fostering the relationships that allow us to create long-term benefits for the environment, society, and the many Americans we serve. We will continue to honor and respect the flexibility our employees deserve, but we believe in a balanced approach, and think this trend will continue into the future.

What are your priorities for BOC U.S.A.’s lending operation as you look to the future?

The confluence of high interest rates, a potential looming recession, and geopolitical uncertainty are fodder for a measured approach to allocating debt capital. We have always been selective in our execution of opportunities in terms of sponsor quality, location, and best-inclass collateral. As we look into the future, we will continue – as we always have – to focus on establishing a diversified and balanced portfolio. In past years, we have seen significant growth in lending to Fortune 500 companies, fund finance, project finance, green finance, and cross border finance, which has helped us generate good economic and social returns which supports jobs and local communities across the United States. Therefore, we will continue to look closely at those and other similar opportunities. We are well positioned to benefit from our prudent practices and to serve the communities in which we operate better.•

The headquarters building for Bank of China U.S.A. in Manhattan

Unbeatable Together

EDITORS’ NOTE Timothy Shriver leads the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, and together with six million Special Olympics athletes in more than 200 countries, promotes health, education, and a more unified world through the joy of sport. Shriver joined Special Olympics in 1996. He has been a leading educator who focuses on the social and emotional factors in learning. He co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading school reform organization in the field of social and emotional learning. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, President of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, and a co-founder of Lovin’ Scoopful Ice Cream Company. He has produced six films, authored The New York Times bestselling book, Fully Alive – Discovering What Matters Most , and has written for dozens of newspapers and magazines. Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Master’s Degree from Catholic University, and holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut.

INSTITUTION BRIEF The mission of Special Olympics (specialolympics.org) is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

Will you highlight the history of Special Olympics and how the organization has evolved?

In 1962, my mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, invited young people with intellectual disabilities to a summer sports day camp in our backyard. Special Olympics was formally created in 1968 with the first World Games in Chicago, Illinois. Today’s global movement for inclusion began as a reflection of her core values: faith, love, sport, and restlessness. She lived by the faith that every person is unique, sacred, and worthy – no exceptions. She would have

turned 100 in 2021, and she was a brave visionary for her time. We can still learn from her, as the dangers of inequality are more apparent than ever.

She deeply loved her sister, Rosemary, and her family, and she gave herself unconditionally to the mission of spreading love and respect for people with intellectual disabilities. My mother was an athlete, and the whole family played sports together. It was through sports that she saw the pathway for changing attitudes about people who have been marginalized. She knew that playing together, training together, and competing together could create common ground for people of all abilities.

My mother was restless in the face of injustice, and instead of breaking the rules, she wrote a whole new playbook. In the 1960s, when her brother was the U.S. president, the country was at a critical point in the collective conversation about civil rights. At a time when public swimming pools were a microcosm of the larger conversation on segregation and integration,

my mom invited people of color to swim in our backyard pool. She was cleverly rejecting the existing paradigms of segregation and setting new expectations for equality.

What began as a backyard sports camp is now a global movement with more than six million athletes and Unified partners and one million volunteers in over 190 countries and territories. Most people are familiar with our flagship World Games, but in a typical year Special Olympics hosts over 100,000 sports events around the world. Special Olympics is truly a year-round, grassroots movement.

The next Special Olympics World Games are in Berlin in June 2023, where 7,000 athletes from 190 countries and territories will compete in 26 sports. Our Official Broadcast Partner, ESPN, will cover the Games and share our message with the world: We are unbeatable together.

How do you define the mission of Special Olympics?

Special Olympics is a movement from people with intellectual disability, not a charity for people with ID. Special Olympics uses sports as a catalyst for inclusion, and our impact transcends the playing field. Athletes

Timothy Shriver An Interview with Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Board, Special Olympics International
Timothy Shriver with members of team Germany - Closing Ceremony Special Olympics World Summer Games, Abu Dhabi 2019

learn skills like discipline and teamwork which are directly transferrable to schools, workplaces, and communities.

We do more than prepare people with intellectual disabilities though. The standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion are always rising. Through our Unified sports program, we bring people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. By training together and competing alongside people with intellectual disabilities, those without ID learn the value of inclusion. They take this first-hand experience with them into healthcare, business, education, everywhere.

Perhaps most importantly, our international Board of Directors and Boards of local Special Olympics Programs include athlete leaders. Countless people with intellectual disabilities are employed throughout the more than 240 Special Olympics Programs around the world. Our global organizational governance includes local, national, regional, and global Athlete Input Councils to ensure athlete interests are represented anywhere decisions are being made.

The next World Games – Berlin 2023 –is by Special Olympics athletes, not just for them. From the original bid for the Games to the logo design and vendors supplying Games merchandise, people with intellectual disabilities are the leaders.

Will you provide an overview of Special Olympics’ programs in its work to create an inclusive world?

Before every competition, athletes recite the Athlete Oath: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” As a global movement, we are always challenging the status quo. While sports is the heart of the movement, we are changing expectations in education, health, and leadership.

• Health – providing free health screenings to athletes, training healthcare providers, building community-based health promotion programs, and partnering with healthcare systems.

• Education – empowering young people, educators, coaches, and families to build inclusive schools and communities for all.

• Leadership – turning unconscious bias into conscious inclusion and changing the attitudes and behaviors of people without ID to create meaningful inclusion in workplaces, communities, and families.

By creating an atmosphere – online and in-person – of equality, unity, and pride, Special Olympics educates the public about people with intellectual disabilities, changes perceptions, challenges stereotypes, and addresses barriers to inclusion.

Workplaces inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities are more profitable, more productive, and have higher morale. Companies looking to amplify their DEI or ESG efforts should look to Special Olympics. Intellectual disabilities transcend location, income, race/ethnicity, gender identity, etc., which is why Special Olympics is a natural fit for companies that have taken an introspective look at their brand, leadership, and workforce and decided to champion the idea that everyone is equal.

How did Special Olympics adapt the way it works to address the challenges caused by the global pandemic?

Special Olympics has been supporting athletes through COVID-19 by pivoting to online spaces:

• Hosting virtual games, virtual workout classes, physically distant workouts in the park, virtual book clubs, and more.

• Launching School of Strength with WWE – an online fitness behavior change platform.

• Sharing best practices across the movement with global webinars every other Tuesday.

• Creating the go-to hub for COVID resources for people with ID: online workouts, tools for emotional well-being and mindfulness, printable health education posters, and fun activities like healthy recipes, how to start a podcast, coloring books and more.

Globally, people with intellectual disabilities are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from COVID-19. In the U.S., people with ID are almost 6 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

People with ID had fewer opportunities to stay socially connected and physically active during the pandemic, so we accelerated the launch of a fitness program called School of Strength featuring WWE Superstar Becky Lynch, which was featured on the TODAY Show. School of Strength has been so successful, we launched a Spanish version, Escuela de Fuerza, featuring Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees and Willson Contreras, formerly of the Chicago Cubs who just signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The pandemic showed us that we are able to shift priorities from an organization-wide perspective in a way that worked for grassroots stakeholders on the ground in nearly 200 countries. As the world figures out what the new normal is – post-pandemic and as social justice goes from being a movement to becoming an expectation – Special Olympics is here to remind people that diversity goes beyond gender identity, race, ethnicity, or sexuality; it also includes every kind of human diversity and gift.•

Timothy Shriver poses for a photo with members of the delegation from Venezuela during their visit to Healthy Athletes at Special Olympics World Summer Games Abu Dhabi 2019
“The next Special Olympics World Games are in Berlin in June 2023, where 7,000 athletes from 190 countries and territories will compete in 26 sports.”
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The Total Enterprise Reinvention Partner

EDITORS’ NOTE Overseeing a global business focused on clients in 19 industries in more than 100 countries, Muqsit Ashraf leads Accenture Strategy which helps clients tap new market opportunities, apply innovative technologies, and execute large-scale restructuring and transformation. He also is a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee. Prior to this role, Ashraf led Accenture’s global Energy industry practice. He has more than 20 years’ experience across the energy value chain, advising and partnering with global energy leaders at most of the large international and national oil companies, oil field and energy service companies, and independents, helping them redefine business strategy, lead large scale transformation programs, and drive innovation. Ashraf leads Accenture’s Global Energy Board of more than 40 global CEOs/ CXOs and has sponsored Accenture’s relationships in Energy and Resources with the World Economic Forum, the World Energy Council, and the World Petroleum Congress. Ashraf has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA from Yale University.

COMPANY BRIEF Accenture (Accenture.com) is a leading global professional services company that helps the world’s leading businesses, governments, and other organizations build their digital core, optimize their operations, accelerate revenue growth, and enhance citizen services – creating tangible value at speed and scale. Accenture is a talent and innovation-led company with 738,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Technology is at the core of change today, and the company is one of the world’s

leaders in helping drive that change, with strong ecosystem relationships. Accenture combines strength in technology with unmatched industry experience, functional expertise, and global delivery capability. It is uniquely able to deliver tangible outcomes because of its broad range of services, solutions and assets across Strategy & Consulting, Technology, Operations, Industry X and Accenture Song. These capabilities, together with Accenture’s culture of shared success and commitment to creating 360° value, enable it to help its clients succeed and build trusted, lasting relationships. The company measures its success by the 360° value it creates for its clients, its people, its shareholders, partners, and communities.

How do you describe Accenture’s culture?

The best way to describe Accenture’s culture is to begin with our company purpose –to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity – and our foundational strategy, which is to deliver 360° value to our clients, people, shareholders, partners, and communities. We define 360° value as delivering the financial business case and unique value a client may be seeking, along with striving to partner with our clients to achieve greater progress on inclusion and diversity, reskilling and upskilling their people, achieving their sustainability goals, and creating meaningful experiences for their customers and employees. We measure our success by how well we are achieving this goal.

Our people are at the heart of that effort; they bring our ambitions and commitments to life every day. They couldn’t do that without a culture of equality, which we believe drives innovation and creates an environment that

gives them a sense of purpose, belonging and acceptance. They are supported by a strong Code of Ethics, leadership essentials, resources and support networks that allow all our employees to be their best selves – personally and professionally.

Will you discuss your role and areas of focus?

I lead Accenture Strategy, where we focus on helping clients in 19 industries and more than 100 countries tap new market opportunities, apply innovative technologies, and execute large-scale restructuring and transformation programs. A lifelong consultant, I previously led Accenture’s global Energy industry practice. I have more than 20 years of experience helping leaders of large corporations in a half dozen sectors – with a particular focus in the Resources industries encompassing Energy, Utilities, and Chemicals – redefine their business strategies, drive innovation-led growth, and design and execute large-scale transformation programs.

Will you highlight the history of Accenture Strategy and the value of Accenture’s integrated model to its work?

Accenture Strategy is results driven: We work with boards, CEOs and C-suite executives to define and address their most pressing, strategic challenges in critical areas such as growth, profitability, technology, data- and AI-powered reinvention and transformation, mergers and acquisitions, operating model design, supply chain resilience and sustainability. With experience across the value chain of sectors, we help clients create and execute actionable strategies that come not just from knowing, but from the know-how of doing.

Accenture’s integrated model brings together our unique AI- and data-based insights with our deep industry expertise. This powerful combination allows us to help clients drive value in

Muqsit Ashraf
“The best way to describe Accenture’s culture is to begin with our company purpose – to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity – and our foundational strategy, which is to deliver 360° value to our clients, people, shareholders, partners, and communities.”

countless ways: more efficiently managing business functions, capturing the full potential of digital technologies, optimizing and enhancing the resilience of supply chains, and building sustainable operating models and cultures.

Will you provide an overview of Accenture Strategy’s capabilities?

Accenture Strategy has always existed at the intersection of business and technology. Our team combines deep industry expertise and advanced technology and analytics capabilities with human-centered approaches to help CEOs and their C-suite shape business strategies, accelerate growth, build a digital core powered by cloud, data and AI, and optimize operating models and operations to drive agility and resilience.

Our key capabilities span: technology- and AI-enabled transformation, the ability to create value faster and with certainty through our mergers and acquisitions advisory and expanded end-toend private equity services, the development of innovative growth strategies that are led with technology foresight, productivity acceleration and zero-based cost transformation that rethink priorities and reset cost structures, intelligent operating models for rapidly changing markets, and sustainability and energy transition services for a net zero future. In summary, we help our clients create resilient businesses, drive growth, and achieve their sustainability goals.

What have been the keys to the strength and leadership of Accenture Strategy, and how do you describe the Accenture Strategy difference?

Today, we are collaborating across our ecosystems and partnering with clients like never before. Together, we are harnessing the power of our industry and function networks to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity. In so doing, we are setting a new standard for differentiation.

This doesn’t diminish what has always made us stand apart. We apply deep industry expertise through a strategic lens, and develop leading, industry-specific insights for clients to help them navigate a constantly changing business environment. Accenture continues to develop gamechanging solutions for CEOs and every function of the C-suite – solutions that bring together unparalleled process and functional expertise and powered by full integration with Accenture’s Services – Technology, Operations, Strategy & Consulting, Industry X and Song.

How important is it for Accenture Strategy to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table when addressing client needs?

Accenture’s commitment to inclusion and diversity starts at the top with our Chair and Chief Executive Officer and our Board. We expect leaders at all levels of the organization to help create an environment that unleashes innovation, allows our people to perform at their very best, and underpins a culture in which everyone feels they have an equal opportunity to belong and build a career – regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and abilities.

Additionally, Accenture’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is also evidenced in our specialized training, networking support, flexible work arrangements, mentoring, mental health resources, equal benefits to same-sex couples where local law permits and more. We know that our focus on diversity is making a difference – for our people and our clients. By respecting our people’s cultures and unique backgrounds, we transcend geographies, drive innovation, and better support our clients everywhere in the world.

What are your views on the future of consulting and how has the role of a leading consulting company evolved?

I have been a consultant my entire career. When I think about the future of the industry, I often

think about speed – and more specifically – speed in volatile conditions. Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna once said, “You can’t overtake 15 racing cars in sunny conditions, but you can when it’s raining.” That’s sound advice for today’s business leaders – and today’s consultants.

Business leaders are now facing macroeconomic uncertainties, and political and business volatility. They are racing on a wet track. Winning means knowing how to navigate the challenges of today, but also preparing for future opportunities.

The consulting industry must be able to do both. For our part, Accenture Strategy is focused on helping our clients accelerate their reinvention in a world of uncertainty. Going forward, we will continue to help companies think outside of existing models, see around corners and build resilience, embrace change and shape new futures – as quickly as possible.

What are your priorities for Accenture Strategy as you look to the future?

My goal is to make Accenture Strategy the total enterprise reinvention partner for the C-suite by focusing on four imperatives:

1. Partner with CEOs to bring best-in-class industry insights together with cutting-edge technology foresight.

2. Leverage proprietary, industry-specific technology, data and AI – guided by our clients’ best interests – to achieve a differentiated, industry-specific impact.

3. Invest in the next-generation of dataled and technology-enabled Accenture strategists that lead in their industries and emphasize value creation.

4. Unite services across Accenture and our ecosystem partners to create winning technology-powered business strategies and deliver on the transformations required to turn those strategies into client success.•

“Accenture Strategy is focused on helping our clients accelerate their reinvention in a world of uncertainty. Going forward, we will continue to help companies think outside of existing models, see around corners and build resilience, embrace change and shape new futures – as quickly as possible.”
“Accenture continues to develop game-changing solutions for CEOs and every function of the C-suite – solutions that bring together unparalleled process and functional expertise and powered by full integration with Accenture’s Services – Technology, Operations, Strategy & Consulting, Industry X and Song.”
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Clients, Community, and Culture

EDITORS’ NOTE As Chairman of Global Brokerage, Bruce Mosler advises major tenants and investors on strategic real estate matters, managing key client relationships on behalf of the firm globally. Widely respected as one of the commercial real estate industry’s most influential and talented professionals, Mosler has leased millions of square feet worth billions of dollars throughout his career, has been a formative leader at Cushman & Wakefield for over 20 years, and has executed deals that have shaped the fabric of New York City. Mosler served as President and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield from 2005-2010, leading the firm from $800 million in sales to $2.1 billion and diversifying the company’s revenue stream by 30 percent through expansion of the business in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to this, Mosler was President of U.S. Operations and implemented a number of initiatives for the firm, including creating national leadership roles in industrial, retail and multifamily and creating the Cushman & Wakefield Alliance, a first-of-its-kind affiliate network of top independent, minority-owned-business, real estate companies operating as a unified team with Cushman & Wakefield. Earlier in his career, Mosler served as President of the Eastern Region at Galbreath Riverbank.

Mosler has enjoyed prolific, longterm relationships with a number of public and private companies and not-for-profit organizations over the years, overseeing real estate strategies for projects large and small, including Brookfield Properties, RXR Realty, Vornado, JPMorgan Chase, NYU University Hospital (The Langone Center), Citigroup, the Brooklyn Nets and MetLife, among others. Mosler is the recipient of a myriad of industry honors, including a two-time recipient of the Real Estate Board of New York’s (REBNY) Deal of the Year Award for ingenious brokerage. Well-known for his commitment to a number of civic causes, Mosler has been recognized with several philanthropic industry awards, including REBNY’s Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award and Louis Smadbeck Brokerage Recognition Award, the US Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation’s Commandant’s Leadership Award and the Leadership in Support of the Military Award by the New York Council Navy League of the United States in 2017. He received the 2018 Honorary Doctoral Degree by the Rabbinical College of America. Mosler sits on numerous boards, including serving as Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield’s America’s advisory council and, most notably, has directed much of his attention toward veteran and military issues. He

is the Founder and Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield’s Military and Veterans Program and the Co-Chairman of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. From 2011-2017 he served as Chairman of BENS (Business Executives for National Security), where he continues his engagement as Chairman Emeritus on their President’s Council. His previous roles include the DBB (Defense Business Board) and the Senior Civilian Advisory Board of the United States European Combatant Command (EUCOM). Mosler also serves on the Board of Governors of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and is a member of the boards of the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), Navy League of the United States, Police Athletic League (PAL), ISW (Institute for the Study of War), and Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), among other civic and charitable organizations.

FIRM BRIEF Cushman & Wakefield (cushman wakefield.com) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms with approximately 50,000 employees in over 400 offices and approximately 60 countries. In 2021, the firm had revenue of $9.4 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, and valuation and other services.

Bruce E. Mosler An Interview with Bruce E. Mosler, Chairman of Global Brokerage, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.
“In addition to our platform, it comes down to the people, and the experience and expertise that our people bring to clients. Another differentiator is leadership. The leadership of Cushman & Wakefield is fully committed to our clients, community, and culture.”

What have been the keys to Cushman & Wakefield’s industry leadership?

Culture is the baseline from which we drive our success. There is also a relentless pursuit of connectivity between Cushman & Wakefield and our community. Giving back is at the core of that belief. At Cushman & Wakefield, we know that the sustainable success of our firm depends on a vibrant and flourishing community. The thread that leads to our success is culture, community, and giving back which allows us to perform at the highest levels.

How do you define the Cushman & Wakefield Global Brokerage advantage?

It starts with a great platform. At Cushman & Wakefield, when you look at the totality and the depth of the services that we are able to provide to clients, such as our Global Occupier Services Group, our Valuations Group, our Consulting Group, our Workplace Innovation Group, to name a few – these are the differentiators. In addition to our platform, it comes down to the people, and the experience and expertise that our people bring to clients. Another differentiator is leadership. The leadership of Cushman & Wakefield is fully committed to our clients, community, and culture.

An example would be how Cushman & Wakefield responded to the pandemic. We immediately formed a Global Recovery Readiness Task Force with our professionals across the globe to develop best practices, products, and partnerships for the recovery process and to help landlords and tenants prepare for what was ahead. We had a unique perspective because of our experience with the 800 million square feet of buildings we manage in China, and based on what we learned in China, we implemented a safe return to the office, and we were one of the first during the pandemic to produce and share our lessons learned for free, including our award-winning Six Foot Office design concept, our Recovery Readiness operating manual and the emphasis of the importance of workplace innovation. This is the type of leadership that Cushman & Wakefield is known for.

How important is collaboration within the different service lines at Cushman & Wakefield?

It is not possible to overstate the importance of collaboration. We work with sophisticated clients and deal with complex transactions. Tenants want to understand the impact of the transaction to their balance sheet, which means

that each deal needs to be structured to the needs of the specific company, and this takes a comprehensive approach in order to serve the client in the most effective way possible.

We are always adding new services to meet the needs of clients, such as labor analytics, which helps to identify where our tenants’ workforce wants to be, and it is this type of innovation that keeps Cushman & Wakefield at the top of the industry. Clients in today’s environment are asking us what they should be doing and are looking for advice and counsel, and we have the platform, service lines, collaboration, and talent to meet their needs.

What are your views on the future of work and the hybrid workforce?

There is no question that technology has impacted a person’s ability to communicate and work remotely, but it is important to acknowledge that we are just at the beginning of understanding just how much it impacts the workforce. I believe that going forward the big change will be about how the workplace is designed in order to have an environment that motivates your workforce, such as air systems, buildings that are going to reach a carbon neutral footprint, and ESG standards – those are things that are here to stay.

Technology will allow for people to work one or two days a week from home, but we are still in the early days and are not finished with dealing with the pandemic. We need to acknowledge that the workplace has evolved, but we also need to acknowledge that collaboration and innovation comes from people working together under the same roof. This is the best way to illicit the best ideas and to develop how to implement those ideas.

Is there an effective understanding about the impact that office space has on workforce production and driving business performance?

I think that leadership is aware that their ability to recruit and retain their workforce, and to continue to compete in the war for talent, depends on their location and their office space design. We have seen a push toward locations that offer one-stop on mass transportation for accessibility, as well as a focus on design innovation around more conference capabilities and collaboration spaces.

Will you discuss Cushman & Wakefield’s Military and Veterans Program and how you define the mission of this initiative?

A number of senior leaders at Cushman & Wakefield knew that there was a great deal of diverse talent coming from our military. As a matter of fact, outside of recruiting from a wide range of universities, the most diverse talent pool that you can recruit from are those that are finishing their military service. It was a natural place for Cushman & Wakefield to look to build talent for the organization, so I feel it is important to note that we did not start this program for charitable purposes. We started it because we wanted to recruit from a very diverse pool of talent, knowing it would better our organization and bring a different type of leadership to the organization since these were experienced people who understood the importance of collaboration and teamwork.

We have continued to invest in the program over the past ten years and are proud of who we have brought into the organization and the impact that these talented and hardworking people have made at Cushman & Wakefield. We are seeing high performers come from the military ranks and look forward to continuing to build on the program. We are now rated a top ten military employer.

What has made the real estate industry so special for you?

I fell in love with it straight out of college. It provides a career where entrepreneurialism is at the core of success, where teamwork is a key part of the equation, and where culture and brand matter. I always wanted to be at Cushman & Wakefield – it took me awhile to get here, but Cushman & Wakefield always represented to me the best, and once I arrived, I knew that this was the place where I wanted to finish my career.

How important was it for you to have mentors during your career?

I can’t possibly put in context the importance of finding mentors and I was blessed to have mentors that took me under their wing early in my career. I believe that mentors bring wisdom, and if you want to accelerate your career, you must have wisdom. Wisdom brings context and wisdom brings experience which allows you to make better judgments and derive better outcomes for your clients.

Are you able to take moments to reflect on your accomplishments and to celebrate the wins?

It is important to take moments to celebrate successes since this means that you have achieved a positive outcome for your clients. I enjoy taking these moments with the team since it is a team effort.•

“Clients in today’s environment are asking us what they should be doing and are looking for advice and counsel, and we have the platform, service lines, collaboration, and talent to meet their needs.”

Innovation and Discovery

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Evan Flatow is President of Mount Sinai West (formerly Mount Sinai Roosevelt), part of the Mount Sinai Health System. Prior to this appointment, he served since 2006 as the Bernard J. Lasker Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chair of the Leni and Peter W. May Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of the Orthopaedic Surgery Service at The Mount Sinai Hospital. A nationally and internationally recognized leader in shoulder surgery, he has made many clinical, educational, and research contributions to the care of shoulder disorders. Since joining Mount Sinai in 1998, Dr. Flatow has established an internationally renowned shoulder service, training numerous shoulder fellows and residents. He, along with others, helped to develop a comprehensive shoulder replacement system that is widely used by shoulder surgeons around the world. Dr. Flatow established a tendon basic science research group at Mount Sinai, serving as principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health R01 grant based on a new animal model of tendon damage. Dr. Flatow spent the 11 years prior to joining Mount Sinai on the faculty of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Flatow has received numerous honors and awards, and has written or edited five books and more than 170 articles and book chapters. He has served as President of American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons, Chair of the Trustees of the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, and as Chair of the Publications Committee and of the Council on Education of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A 1977 graduate of Princeton University, Dr. Flatow received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1981. He completed a surgical residency at Roosevelt Hospital, and an orthopaedic residency and a year of shoulder fellowship under the direction of Charles S. Neer, II, MD, at ColumbiaPresbyterian Medical Center.

INSTITUTION BRIEF Founded in 1871 as the Roosevelt Hospital, Mount Sinai West (mountsinai.org/locations/west/about) is a full-service, 505-bed medical center, with a long history of clinical excellence. Mount Sinai West

has been home to the C.V. Starr Hand Surgery Center and one of the oldest teaching hand surgery fellowships in the country since 1952, and is renowned for multiple surgical specialties, its robust maternity service, and delivering the highest quality, patient-centered care. The hospital has a 24/7, state-of-the-art emergency department on 59th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues that sees more than 65,000 patients a year, and has been named a designated stroke center by the New York State Department of Health. It is also a teaching facility for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, preparing the next generation of physicians for their careers in medicine.

How do you describe Mount Sinai Health System’s culture and how critical is Mount Sinai’s commitment to innovation as part of its culture?

Mount Sinai’s culture is one of innovation and discovery. Our CEO, Ken Davis, and our Dean, Dennis Charney, are both renowned physician scientists. Unlike most medical schools which are embedded in a larger university, our medical school was formed by our hospital and our medical and graduate schools and hospitals report to one CEO and one board of trustees. This relationship and structure is incredibly valuable for transitioning discoveries from bench to bedside, but also our community of clinicians are directly in the pathways of discovery.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I’ve served for nine years as Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery, and then for the last nine years as President of Mount Sinai West, formerly Roosevelt Hospital, on West 59th Street in Manhattan.

As Chair, I focused on recruiting and retaining the very best orthopaedic surgeons, and supporting them in delivering timely, equitable, compassionate, and cutting-edge care to our patients, often in a team approach among several disciplines. For example, we built a multidisciplinary spine center with orthopaedic spine surgeons, neurosurgical spine surgeons, non-operative physiatry spine experts, and even a chiropractor, all working in an integrated fashion with the patient as the center of our care model. Further, we recruited one of the world’s top spine research scientists to join our

basic science labs and collaborate with our spine clinicians in developing treatments at the forefront of science and medicine. Spine is just one example among many areas.

As President of Mount Sinai West, I have been responsible for the application of system level strategy through renovation and expansion of our facilities and programs, growth of our outpatient footprint on the West Side, and development of an academic campus. We have some stellar programs that are unique centers of excellence for the Health System, such as kidney stone disease, movement disorders, adult epilepsy, and orthopaedic hand and upper extremity surgery. In other areas we are a major hub, though not the only site, for spine surgery, joint replacement, and mother-baby care. Of course, we also had to confront the immense challenge of COVID. Mount Sinai West had the very first patient admitted in the health system, and it is not over yet. It drew us all together not only here at Mount Sinai West, but across the Health System.

What have been the keys to Mount Sinai West’s strength and leadership in the industry?

I think two major things: commitment and purpose. First, our commitment is evident in the sustained, thoughtful way we have built up and sustained Mount Sinai West. I was born at Mount Sinai Morningside (then St. Luke’s Hospital), have lived all my life on the West Side, and was a surgery intern and resident at Mount Sinai West, then Roosevelt Hospital, from 1981 to 1983. Becoming President was like coming home for me. While there may always be some disagreements on policies and plans, I believe the faculty and staff at Mount Sinai West know that I and my leadership team will do all in our power to support them and advance Mount Sinai West as a leading center for patient care and a wonderful place to work.

Our purpose is evident in the determined and relentless way we execute our thoughtful, multi-year plans even while coping with the crises encountered every day. We have just opened a state-of-the-art breast center combining imaging, breast surgery, plastic surgery for breast reconstruction, genetic counseling, and oncologic services in one welcoming center, with an ambulatory surgery center soon to open so that women can have all their care in one comprehensive manner. We have broken ground on an entirely new vision for neuroscience in a center

Dr. Evan L. Flatow
An Interview with

combining clinicians and scientists in movement disorders and epilepsy in one integrated facility: neurosurgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists, and scientists, working together to usher in the most novel and effective approaches to some of our most recalcitrant problems, such as Dr. Helen Mayberg’s pioneering research in brain circuit therapeutics, holding up the possibility that techniques in deep brain stimulation and other modulations developed for Parkinson’s Disease might offer hope to those suffering from depression.

We live in a revolutionary period in medicine and science, in which molecular genetics, artificial intelligence, and many other exploding technologic advancements are opening up undreamed of opportunities to advance human health and well-being. At Mount Sinai West, we intend to stay at the forefront of discovery and innovation.

What was the vision for creating the new Center for Surgical Innovation at Mount Sinai and will you provide an overview of the Center?

Many academic medical centers have institutional facilities and laboratories to aid in the development of new therapeutics, such as small molecule agents, antibodies, and vaccines, but surgical and device innovation has not been similarly supported. So surgeons with ideas for doing things differently and better usually had to team up with a device company, many of which are located in the Midwest. For example, I worked most of my career with Zimmer, now Zimmer Biomet, based in Warsaw, Indiana. While we had several notable successes, there were several challenges. First, the constant travel to the Midwest was a strain on my time and practice, something many surgeons who are innovators are not willing to do. Second, these types of arrangements generally involve working with industry engineers to the general exclusion of Mount Sinai colleagues and scientists. Much cross-discipline synergy is thus lost. Finally, the “iteration time,” that is the time a device or retractor (a tool to aid the surgical approach, often to reduce tissue trauma through a “minimally invasive” approach) is modified until a repeat lab can be scheduled, is often long.

I have long dreamed of building a surgical innovation lab and ecosystem where Mount Sinai surgeons work across disciplines to develop new surgical technologies and practices. Mount Sinai Biodesign is an amazing program established by Dr. Bederson in the Department of Neurosurgery which now includes projects in most surgical departments. It serves as an incubator for new ideas and devices that might be conceived of and by surgeons, interventional radiologists, and neurointerventionists. The ability to talk through problems, rapidly develop 3D-printed models, and partner with the technology transfer team has led to several companies being spun off. Biodesign was a natural partner to develop the plan for the Center for Surgical Innovation. The Center will have 10 operating stations where cadavers, animals, or models may be used to develop or validate new surgical ideas. It will be simple to bring in robots and imaging devices for trials or the development of new approaches. There will be a material testing lab to evaluate new devices, for example to see if a device to fix a spine fracture can withstand the loads encountered. There will be a conference center on the top floor linked by video feed to the lab and to the main hospital operating rooms and interventional suites across the street.

How will the Center for Surgical Innovation at Mount Sinai benefit patients, contribute to job creation and economic growth in New York City?

The companies spun off will generate jobs in New York, contributing to economic growth. The innovative devices and approaches will result in better surgical care for patients with reduced morbidity through less invasive approaches.

You have been with Mount Sinai for more than 20 years. What has made the experience so special for you?

Mount Sinai welcomed me and let me pursue my passions: shoulder surgery, surgical education, and tendon science. At that time, I was not eager for leadership roles. But Mount Sinai in general, and Dr. Davis in particular, had other plans for me. Gradually, I learned the skills of team building and leading by example that have been so important to my career. I have been a service chief, a lab director, a department chair, and a hospital leader, all without leaving Mount Sinai. That is one of the greatest things about Mount Sinai – the investment in our people allowing personal growth and fulfillment. It has certainly made the experience special for me.

What do you tell young people interested in medicine about the type of career the industry offers?

I tell young people that there is no more rewarding or exciting career than medicine, in which every one of us can make a difference in peoples’ lives every day. The special excitement of surgical innovation is that one can help hundreds or thousands of other surgeons better treat their patients. Despite all the challenges we face, what could be more thrilling or rewarding?•

Mount Sinai West

The Future of Energy

EDITORS’ NOTE Robert Catell was formerly the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of KeySpan Corporation and KeySpan Energy Delivery, the former Brooklyn Union Gas. His career with Brooklyn Union Gas started in 1958. Following National Grid’s acquisition of KeySpan Corporation, Catell became Chairman of National Grid U.S. and Deputy Chairman of National Grid plc. He currently serves as Chairman of the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, and Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School. Catell received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York and is a registered Professional Engineer.

INSTITUTION BRIEFS Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (aertc.org) is located in the Research & Development Park at Stony Brook University and is a true partnership of academic institutions, research institutions, energy providers and industrial corporations. The Center’s mission is innovative energy research, education and technology deployment with a focus on efficiency, conservation, renewable energy and nanotechnology applications for new and novel sources of energy.

National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (nationaloffshorewind.org) is a nationally focused, not-for-profit organization that seeks to produce innovations that directly respond to the technical and supply chain barriers faced by offshore wind project developers in the U.S., build strong networks connecting technology innovators, investors, and industry, and increase U.S. content and job opportunities.

You serve as chair of the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium. Will you highlight the mission of the Consortium?

The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium is a nationally focused, not-for-profit organization collaborating with industry to fund prioritized research and development activities to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind energy in the U.S., address challenges and obstacles

facing the offshore wind industry, and maximize economic and social benefits, and to fund research to develop new technologies to reduce the levelized cost of offshore wind in the United States.

It is jointly funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A pool of $40 million has been provided to fund research projects through a competitive process managed by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, Research & Development Committee.

Since its inception in 2018, it has funded 48 research projects consistent with a Research & Development Roadmap which was developed with input from all of its stakeholders.

While the primary focus is research, it has supported the development of the supply chain and workforce development, with a focus on inclusion and equity in the workplace.

How much global electricity demand is met by wind energy?

Wind and solar generated over a tenth (10.3 percent) of global electricity for the first time in 2021, rising from 9.3 percent in 2020 and twice the share compared to 2015 when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed (4.6 percent). Of this mix, wind contributed 6 percent and solar 4 percent. Combined clean electricity sources generated 38 percent of the worlds’ electricity in 2021, more than coal (36 percent).

What are some potential future wind technologies other than turbines?

The main development in wind energy is primarily the size of the turbines, reaching 15MW in capacity. A threefold increase from the 6MW turbines installed by Deep Water Wind, now owned by Ørsted. This first U.S. offshore wind installation of 30MW offshore Block Island, Rhode Island, is the entire production of offshore wind in the U.S. We are anticipating 9GW in the very near future, just from the Northeast, and there will be more. We are on a trajectory of unprecedented growth if we get this right.

The future technologies will focus on the integration of wind energy into the electric transmission and distribution system. This will require more efficient transmission lines coupled with utility scale storage.

What are the challenges of using wind energy?

The real challenge to using more renewables is going to be consumer acceptance. The consumer wants reliable energy at a manageable cost. We are developing the technologies today that will assure renewable power can be a stable and reliable energy source and be available at a cost manageable to the consumer. We watched the public reaction when gasoline approached $5.00 per gallon in an election year. It drove interest in electric vehicles, and it was clear the pubic does not have unlimited capacity for energy costs.

The technical challenges of using wind energy are primarily related to its intermittency. While the wind, particularly in the offshore environment, blows all of the time, it blows with different intensities affecting the amount of power produced. The electric system requires a constant flow of electricity to maintain a reliable source of power to businesses and residences.

In order to make up for the intermittency of wind, there will be a need to provide storage of utility scale with combined cycle gas fired generation to meet the peaks and fill the gaps.

What do you envision for the future of solar energy in regard to its cost effectiveness and ability to compete with conventional fuels?

Solar energy will play an increasing role in meeting the renewable goals in producing electricity. The cost of solar panels has been reduced dramatically over the past few years. The reduction in cost, coupled with the increased efficiency of the solar cells, will allow solar energy to compete very effectively with conventional fuels.

What opportunities and challenges face the solar industry as solar is integrated into the grid?

The solar industry has a great opportunity to increase the amount integrated into the grid based on its reduced cost and increased efficiency of solar cells. More solar energy will be necessary to reach the goal of reduced reliance on fossil fuels. While the sun shines on the hottest day, the challenge the solar industry faces is its intermittency, as the sun doesn’t shine all of the time, and of course does not shine at night. As with wind, this will require the development of utility scale storage at levels not seen in the past, as well as back up generation.

Robert B. Catell

In addition, large scale solar projects require significant space to produce megawatts of electricity. Finding locations to site these solar projects without negatively affecting the environment will be challenging.

The other challenges are related to the supply chain and the production of solar panels from countries outside the U.S., increasing its cost and the uncertainty of this important renewable source.

What is the status of hydrogen energy and how can hydrogen energy reduce carbon emissions?

The production and distribution of hydrogen provides a great opportunity to reduce carbon emission since hydrogen is not a fossil fuel and burns while producing no carbon emissions. Production of hydrogen is a well-developed technology in the petrochemical industry, but not as a fuel to be distributed to businesses and residences.

A great deal of emphasis is being placed on hydrogen produced from natural gas or by the electrolysis of water in a cost-effective manner. At the same time, research is being done on the transmission and distribution of hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas in the marketplace. This is being combined with the study of the use of hydrogen as a power source in turbines and as a fuel for business and industry.

The federal government has provided billions of dollars to establish a number of hydrogen hubs to install hydrogen as a reliable replacement for fossil fuels.

What are the keys to meeting America’s demand for electricity while also addressing the need to protect the planet?

The key to meeting America’s demand for electricity while addressing the need to protect the planet will require a plan to incorporate renewables into the energy mix in an economic fashion while maintaining reliability of the electric system. This will require research dollars and demonstration projects to develop and demonstrate the technologies necessary to produce and distribute clean energy to the businesses and residences which rely on energy to meet their needs.

There have been great advances in energy efficiency to reduce energy demand, but that is being outpaced by the advances in heat pumps and electric space heating and, of course, the transportation sector. Every car manufacturer is in the electric vehicle game now and many models are sold out to 2024.

That is precisely why we have to advance offshore wind at this pace. The market is moving, the climate is demanding attention, and we have the means to make this all work.

Will you provide an overview of the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (AERTC) at Stony Brook University how you define its mission?

The Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stony Brook University has as its mission to do the research in collaboration with industry to develop the innovative technologies to produce and distribute energy while reducing carbon emissions. This will require a focus on those technologies which can provide the most benefits to the energy

consumer at a reasonable cost. Emphasis will be placed on energy efficiency and renewable energy with a need to provide education and workforce development so these benefits can be accessed by all members of society.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the energy industry in the future?

The biggest challenges facing the energy industry in the future, in addition to the development of the new technologies, will be to provide leadership and a trained workforce to install and maintain the new technologies. This will require changes in college curriculum as well as technical workforce training, all of which must be accomplished while providing opportunity to a diverse workforce.

You spent your career in the energy industry. What made the industry so special for you and what do you tell young people about the type of career the energy industry offers?

I was very fortunate to get a great and affordable college education at the City College of New York. My mechanical engineering degree allowed me to enter the energy utility industry at an entry level with a good future and opportunity to learn and grow. I found the energy utility industry particularly satisfying because it provided an essential product to the community and was a great partner of the community, supporting it in many ways.

Today’s energy industry offers that same career opportunity to young people with the ability to incorporate exciting new technologies into the energy mix and the ability to provide a cleaner environment for the future and quality of life to all members of the community.•

Rendering of an offshore wind farm

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Open Finance

EDITORS’ NOTE Simon Paris is responsible for Finastra’s strategic direction and growth. His leadership steers the company as it realizes its open platform vision, encouraging industry-wide collaboration to spark innovation and transform the next generation of financial services. Paris chairs the World Trade Board and is passionate about how technology and open trade can drive financial inclusion and improve people’s lives. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Everbridge, a critical event management (CEM) software company, and Thomson Reuters. A Fintech thought leader, he speaks regularly at large-scale events including the annual World Trade Symposium, Paris FinTech Forum and the Milken Asia Summit. He is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and has also been named in Bank Innovation’s Innovators to Watch list for 2018. Paris joined Finastra (formerly Misys) as President in 2015, was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer in 2017, and became Chief Executive Officer in June 2018. He brings more than 20 years of sales, management and global leadership expertise to the company, having previously held the role of President, Industry Cloud, at SAP. Earlier, he was a senior consultant with McKinsey & Company. Paris holds an MBA from the INSEAD Business School in France and a bachelor’s degree in business and European languages from the European Business School.

COMPANY BRIEF Finastra (finastra.com) is building an open platform that accelerates collaboration and innovation in financial services,

creating better experiences for people, businesses, and communities. Supported by the broadest and deepest portfolio of financial services software, Finastra delivers this vitally important technology to financial institutions of all sizes across the globe, including 90 of the world’s top 100 banks. Its open architecture approach brings together a number of partners and innovators. With a global footprint, Finastra has $1.9 billion in revenues, 8,000+ employees and more than 8,500 customers.

Will you highlight the history and heritage of Finastra and how the company has evolved?

Sure – and I will try to keep it short as this could be a long answer. Back in 2017, Vista Equity Partners merged two well-established financial services technology companies, Misys and D+H, to create Finastra. Between them, they had many decades of software and technology heritage, as well as the broadest, deepest suite of FS products and services. We named the company Finastra – Fin for Finance and Astra for star, i.e., a new Fintech star was born.

As we brought the two companies together, and targeted the business for growth at scale, we rationalized over 100 products to 17 growth areas (14 products, two marketplaces and one open platform), and now serve around 8,600 institutions in around 130 countries around the world, and employ more than 8,000 people.

What have been the keys to Finastra’s industry leadership and how do you describe the Finastra difference?

The driving, even the defining, vision when Finastra was born was our resolute

belief that the future of finance is open. We announced it in 2018, and it’s fair to say that not everyone across the industry was on board with the idea. Open banking back in 2018 had still yet to really take off, and there we were, talking about Open Finance, open APIs, open platforms, open ecosystems, and an open culture. But we knew that open was the only way to go to truly unlock innovation and the potential of people, businesses, and communities around the world. I’m delighted to say that we have recently changed our strapline to say, simply, “Finance is open.” We’re firmly in the future that we envisaged, and open really is our differentiator.

How critical is innovation for Finastra and how deeply is innovation embedded in Finastra’s culture?

I would love to say that our customers’ innovation all stems from Finastra but, in fact, we were sufficiently self-aware to realize that we could only hope to deliver a fraction of the innovation happening today in the industry. True innovation comes from everywhere and from collaborating to unlock it. In fact, we said, “Collaboration is the new Innovation,” so I suppose you could say that we applied process innovation to empower our customers to collaborate and co-create. Of course, this doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting for it to happen –we continue to innovate at speed with our world-class strong developer talent, agile product sprints, hackathons and so on, all underpinned by our investment into data science and services. The industry is in a constant state of innovation, and it’s such an exciting time to be in financial services software and technology.

Simon Paris An
“True innovation comes from everywhere and from collaborating to unlock it. In fact, we said, ‘Collaboration is the new Innovation,’ so I suppose you could say that we applied process innovation to empower our customers to collaborate and co-create.”

Will you discuss Finastra’s focus on redefining finance for good and its efforts to lift others?

It refers back to the notion of open finance and open collaboration as the catalysts for fairer, more accessible access to financial services. It’s always simpler to look at historic challenges and how open finance can overcome them – let’s take trade finance, for example. The SME sector employs most of the world’s population, yet it is critically underserved when it comes to access to finance –the trade finance gap is estimated to be $1.7 trillion. SMEs and MSMEs don’t have access to lenders that can provide affordable finance, or the tools to get invoices paid faster and free up their cash. There is no simple fix, but by using a collaborative ecosystem, you can create a marketplace that includes alternative lenders, fintech solutions that reduce the time for onboarding SMEs, and reduce the risks associated with shorter credit histories. Equally, when you think about financial inclusion and the fact a third of the world’s population is unbanked, you connect banks with third parties that provide financial education, or fintech solutions like mobile payments or digital wallets – all using an open platform –you can reach those that are living day-to-day with no bright financial future and help them understand and access finance that gives them more options and opportunities. Wouldn’t it be great if all companies collaborated to improve equity and economic prosperity for all?

Will you provide an overview of Finastra’s model for engaging with thirdparty fintechs?

Absolutely, we are enormously proud of our open platform, www.FusionFabric.cloud.

It’s home to over 200 collaborative and certified fintechs, each bringing their own innovative, complementary solutions to the platform where we can verify and onboard them, so that they have access to our 8,600 banking customers. Open APIs make it simple to integrate to existing Finastra solutions, and new functionalities and features can be expedited and delivered in an agile, iterative way. Our platform is a place to connect and for Fintech innovators to create, deploy, and monetize their solutions. We at Finastra are instrumental in that connectivity. It all comes down to shared innovation, once again.

How critical is it for Finastra to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to mirror the diversity of its clients and the communities it serves?

I’m glad this question has come up, as it is something very close to my heart. I’ve spoken fervently in the past about what I call “locker room antics,” middle-aged white men making middle-aged white decisions. I happen to be a middle-aged white man and I can do nothing about that, but what I can do is absolutely champion diversity and its benefits. I’m delighted to be in the minority of our executive team – 11 of my 13 colleagues are female or of non-white origin and our discussions and decisions come from a far wider view and representation of the world, much more representative of society. We have always championed an open culture as part of our open ethos, and I can say, hand on heart, that when people have the freedom to be themselves, the sense of purpose and engagement is tangible.

What do you feel is Finastra’s responsibility to be a good corporate citizen and a force for good in society?

As I mentioned, I believe that by being open, and working collaboratively across the industry, we truly have an opportunity to change the lives of people, businesses, and communities – we call it “unlocking their potential.” Moreover, we as leaders have the responsibility to drive this through. Profits are one part of the equation, but people and planet count just as much. You can already see the tidal shift –responsible investments, green energy, carbon offsetting (which we offer to all customers housed in our, or their, data centers), green lending, and more. Our ESG commitment is documented in our latest report which lists the ways, from the smallest donation to the biggest community transformation, that we try to help create more positive outcomes. When you channel your purpose into real outcomes, you attract both the type of people that are purposedriven, as well as the customers that are aligned on creating a better financial future.

What are you most excited about as you look to the future of the industry?

There are so many things, even against this most unsettled backdrop. I’m excited for the opportunity that embedded finance (or BaaS/Banking-as-a-Service) brings – for our customers to scale their reach, relevance, and revenue, and for Finastra to continue to be instrumental in bringing partners together, and for our banks’ customers that can benefit from seamlessly integrated banking, when and where they need it – contextual or conscious. I’m excited because our upcoming State of the Nation global survey of around 750 institutions shows an increasing appetite for, and belief in, open finance. And I’m excited to imagine what the future holds, and Finastra’s place in it. I feel incredibly lucky.•

“The driving, even the defining, vision when Finastra was born was our resolute belief that the future of finance is open. We announced it in 2018, and it’s fair to say that not everyone across the industry was on board with the idea.”
“As I mentioned, I believe that by being open, and working collaboratively across the industry, we truly have an opportunity to change the lives of people, businesses, and communities – we call it ‘unlocking their potential.’ Moreover, we as leaders have the responsibility to drive this through.”
A v e rtically in tegrated, in stitutional real e s tate in vestor, d e veloper, o p erator a n d le nder w ith d e cades o f e x perience a c ross e q uity a n d d e b t in vestments in re sidential, in dustrial a n d c ommercial p roperty Mack Real Estate Group, LLC 60 Columbus Circle, 20th Floor New York, NY 10023 212-484-0050 New York, NY | Los Angeles, CA | Seattle, WA | Phoenix, AZ | Raleigh, NC DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO SELL OR THE SOLICITATION OF ANY OFFER TO BUY ANY SECURITY, OTHER INVESTMENT OR SERVICE.

Putting People First

EDITORS’ NOTE John Shea leads the day-to-day responsibilities and strategic management for Octagon Sports & Entertainment Network’s collection of industryleading sports and entertainment marketing, talent management, communications, influencer, and creative firms including Octagon, R&CPMK, Futures Sport + Entertainment, FRUKT, Milkmoney and No2ndPlace. An industry veteran with more than two decades of experience in sports marketing, sponsorship, and advertising, Shea manages a team of 1,000+ employees across the globe working to help the agency network clients navigate, grow, and stand out across the sports, entertainment, and media landscape. Since joining Octagon in 1994 as Global President, Marketing and Events, Shea has been responsible for oversight of Octagon’s U.S. and international marketing practices and global marketing offices, including all partnerships, events, experiential marketing, strategy, content, technology, and creative offerings. In addition, he has led the agency’s marketing relationships with sports leagues, teams, and properties worldwide, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, LPGA, Premier League, UEFA, MLS, NWSL, FIFA, USOPC, and IOC. A graduate of St. John’s University, Shea was named one of Sports Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” – as one of the best and the brightest of the rising generation in sports business – in 2008 and 2009.

COMPANY BRIEF Octagon (octagon.com) is a preeminent integrated marketing and talent management agency in global sports and entertainment. The agency creates distinctive marketing campaigns for some of the largest brands and Fortune 500 companies across the globe and represents more than 1,000 of the most prominent and influential athletes, talent, and properties in the world. With more than 800 employees worldwide, based in 50 offices, in 20 countries, Octagon is positioned in virtually all areas of sports and entertainment.

Will you highlight the history and heritage of Octagon and how the firm has evolved?

Octagon is the leading global creative, integrated marketing, and talent management

agency in sports, entertainment, and culture. The company was founded in 1983, initially starting as a talent representation and management agency representing some of the top athletes and entertainers across the world, from 22-time major tennis champion Steffi Graf to two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry and 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, among thousands of others.

Over the past four decades, Octagon has evolved from one agency to a network of six encompassing R&CPMK, Milkmoney, Futures Sport + Entertainment, FRUKT and No2ndPlace, which collectively specialize in sports, entertainment and lifestyle marketing, and public relations for brands, athletes, and celebrities.

Our capabilities include brand consulting, marketing, communications, events, strategy, media rights consulting, and creative divisions, which develop integrated campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands and Fortune 500 companies, including Activision, Bank of America, BMW, Cisco, Mastercard, The Home Depot, Verizon, YouTube, and many more.

We have more than 50 offices around the world, and are continuing to expand our expertise and capabilities by pushing the boundaries of the industry with ground-breaking campaigns, experiential activations, influencer partnerships, brand communications and integrations, along with our unmatched talent management portfolio.

How do you describe Octagon’s culture and how critical is culture to the success of the agency?

Octagon and the entire Octagon Sports & Entertainment Network have always prided ourselves on putting our people first. Building a sustainable, people-first culture is a priority in our daily work, and a major reason that we attract and retain such great talent across our organization. We value the health, well-being, and happiness of each and every one of our teammates, because good, healthy, happy employees are at the core of the industryleading work we do for our clients.

Whether it is regular check-ins with colleagues across the company, highlighting extraordinary work and efforts by our teammates, providing mental health days to help our people recharge, or organizing staff viewing parties for major sports and entertainment events, Octagon, R&CPMK, and our network of agencies are committed to its employees and the culture that we collectively create.

Will you provide an overview of Octagon’s service offerings?

The service offerings and capabilities of our agency network are expansive, and we excel in many areas from representing the biggest and brightest stars to planning, shooting, and creating ad campaigns for some of the largest brands in the world.

In addition to our industry-leading talent management division, Octagon and our wider network of agencies advise more than 30 Fortune 500 companies on their marketing efforts, including Cisco, Coca-Cola, Expedia, Hasbro, UPS, and more. Our core competencies include brand and influencer marketing, communications, experiential marketing, sponsorship valuation and negotiation,

John Shea An Interview with John Shea, Chief Executive Officer, Octagon Sports & Entertainment Network
“Building a sustainable, people-first culture is a priority in our daily work, and a major reason that we attract and retain such great talent across our organization.”

content development, creative planning and production, digital strategy, event planning and management, wealth management, and more.

What do you see as the role of a sports and entertainment agency and how do you define the Octagon advantage?

Athletes, Entertainers, Influencers. Film, TV, and Music Innovators. Brands and Properties. These are the creators and cultivators of culture. So, while we represent some of the biggest stars in sports and entertainment, and we partner with many of the largest creators in the world, our Octagon Sports & Entertainment Network team knows that we also are the stewards of culture. As such, we are always focused on being ahead of the curve, playing smart, and creating captivating and purpose-driven work.

Our advantage doesn’t lie in one specific asset or our approach to one area of the business. It comes in many forms, including our exceptionally talented people, amazing clients, focus on collaboration, steadfast commitment to creativity, strong belief in community, and our resolve to always deliver the best. Additionally, we cultivate and incorporate the most up-todate data and insights to help tap into the emotion and attachment fans and consumers have for their favorite sports, athletes, artists, entertainers, and media platforms. We are committed to providing only best-in-class work for our clients, and our team stops at nothing to ensure they always deliver.

How did Octagon adapt the way it works to address the challenges caused by the pandemic and how proud are you to see the resilience of Octagon’s workforce during this uncertain time?

The global pandemic created significant challenges for every industry and business. Our business was no different. Fortunately, we tapped into the power of our people and relied on the expertise, resilience, and perseverance of our entire organization to overcome obstacles at every turn. As our clients faced mounting pressures to adapt their messages and execute quickly, our global team banded together to create innovative solutions and tactics to continue reaching audiences and make a substantive impact.

Whether it was a highly engaging live stream experience during the height of the pandemic, bringing professional tennis tournaments back

to the United States, safely staging red carpet events once again around the world, or helping fans safely return to arenas and stadiums, our team collaborated and delivered at every turn. I and our entire leadership team are incredibly proud of the hard work, creativity, innovation, and persistence that permeated through our global team to continue creating such incredible work.

What are your views on the future of work and how important is it for Octagon’s team to be in the office for collaboration and creativity?

We have long focused on our employees’ well-being and the need for flexibility from the traditional 9-5, so we have been preparing for the “future of work” for a long time. Aside from the busy travel schedule and often times atypical work week, our company has also offered work-from-home days and flexible scheduling for employees for many years, so our team is well equipped for the new hybrid and even remote working environment.

While we continue to embrace the new age of work, Octagon has also always valued collaboration and the power of community. In keeping with this theme, we have introduced in-office “team weeks” for our employees to come together for a few days during one week each month to meet in their local office to connect, ideate, plan, create, and enjoy the power of the in-person experience.

How important is it for Octagon to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table when addressing client needs?

Diversity and inclusion are not just important, but imperative to our mission as an agency network and the way we operate. It is critical to building effective client teams, as many of our clients charge us with helping them reach a diverse audience, and it is crucial to creating a smart, agile, pliable team that challenges the status quo and leans into the inherent benefits of differing opinions, experiences, and perspectives.

We have embraced the need to find and develop diverse talent throughout our agency. In the past year alone, nearly 50 percent of our new hires have been diverse candidates. We are committed to continuing to find the best, most diverse, and inclusive talent to further expand our team and better serve our clients.

Additionally, we have launched and grown a number of internal and external programs to continue to enhance DE&I throughout everything we do as an organization, from our Multicultural Marketing and Communications division to our HBCU accelerator programs for students interested in careers in sports and entertainment to our Career Development, Advancement and Transition division to developing and launching the first-ever HBCU invitational golf tournament in collaboration with the PGA Tour and our clients at SAS.

What do you see as Octagon’s responsibility to be engaged in the communities it serves?

Community is a key component of our agency network, and as such we remain committed to engaging with each of the communities our team enters. Whether it be in the market of one of our 50 offices, or through annual events we manage around the world, our teams remain dedicated to bringing a positive impact to each country, city, or neighborhood we touch.

How do you define the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

Over the course of my 30-year career, I’ve learned that being a true leader involves a collection of many skills and traits. First and foremost is articulating clear goals for the organization and our people. Additionally, communicating progress on a regular basis is critical, so that all staff – at all levels – are aware of developments and can celebrate and learn from our collective achievements.

Being available and approachable, an active listener and problem solver, and surrounding yourself with great people are also imperative to cultivating a successful business.

My leadership style is collaborative at its core, and I always encourage all staff to work as a team to collectively create solutions, grow opportunities, and deliver first-class work for our clients. Leading by example is paramount. No job should ever be too big or too small for any leader, and I aim to instill that principle in each team member across our six agencies around the world.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in a career in the sports and entertainment industry?

In business we are all selling ourselves, ideas, or specific products and services, so developing your own style and voice is important to finding success at any level. The earlier you realize and can achieve this in your career, the better.

Be bold. Be Brave. Be creative. Work hard and focus on learning as much as you can. Working in sports and entertainment can mean long hours, unusual schedules, and it’s not always the most glamorous, but the people you meet, the things you are able to do, and the sense of accomplishment you receive when you see the end result is a feeling largely unmatched. If you are committed to working in the industry, remain patient, and trust that your persistence and hard work will pay off.•

“We are always focused on being ahead of the curve, playing smart, and creating captivating and purpose-driven work.”

The Fusion of Excellence and Inclusivity

EDITORS’ NOTE In his role as System Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Montefiore Health System, Dr. Andrew Racine is responsible for Quality, Safety, and Patient Experience. In addition, Dr. Racine has responsibility for the 21-site Montefiore Medical Group. Dr. Racine joined Montefiore in 1992 as Chief of the Division of General Pediatrics where he was responsible for two large academic practices that include attending pediatricians as well as pediatric residents. Before that, he served as Associate Director of Pediatrics at Jacobi Medical Center and as a faculty member in the Division of General Pediatrics at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. On a national level, Dr. Racine has been active in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), serving as Chairman of the Advocacy Committee, and Vice President and President of Chapter 3, District II. He also serves on the National Committee on Child Health Financing of the AAP and has achieved national recognition for his work on the use of hospital data to measure the effect of policy changes on health outcomes. Dr. Racine has received numerous awards, including the Lewis M. Fraad Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Emily Fenichel Award for Leadership in the New York Zero to Three Field. He was inducted into the Leo M. Davidoff Society of Albert Einstein College of Medicine for excellence in teaching. Dr. Racine completed his undergraduate education at Harvard and holds combined doctorates in medicine and economics from New York University. He trained at Harvard’s Boston Children’s Hospital and went on to join the faculty of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He received board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics in 1987.

INSTITUTION BRIEF Montefiore Medicine (montefiore.org) is the umbrella organization overseeing both Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Montefiore Health System is comprised of 10 hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, employs more than 33,000 people, and has nearly 8 million patient interactions a year throughout four New York counties: the Bronx, Westchester,

Rockland and Orange. In addition, Montefiore recently ranked among the top 1 percent of hospitals in seven specialties by U.S. News & World Report. For more than 100 years, Montefiore has been nationally recognized for innovating new treatments, procedures and approaches to patient care, producing stellar outcomes and raising the bar for health systems around the country and around the world.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

As System Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Montefiore Health System, I have a broad range of responsibilities that include responsibilities for medical affairs, quality and safety, patient experience, graduate medical education, bioethics, the primary care ambulatory footprint of our system, and continuing medical education initiatives. As the Executive Director of the Montefiore Medical Group, our 21-site primary care network caring for 300,000 patients in the Bronx and Lower Westchester, I am also deeply involved with our

efforts to keep our population of patients as healthy as possible over the long term. Finally, Montefiore Health System’s reach extends well into Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley so the coordination of care across these many communities is a top priority for our system.

How do you describe Montefiore’s culture and how critical is culture to Montefiore’s industry leadership?

Our health system originated and has thrived in the most ethnically, linguistically, culinarily, materially, and spiritually diverse urban environment in the world and our culture is a vibrant manifestation of that inheritance. If there were ever to appear a codicil on the inscription engraved at the base of the Statue of Liberty, it would well read, “Come to the Bronx.” The health system’s strengths reflect the strength of the communities we are part of and our culture is one, celebrating the unique blend of characteristics that make up our workforce. As the health system has expanded in more recent years to encompass a larger footprint north of New York City, we have evangelized this fusion of excellence and inclusivity and each new addition to the Montefiore system has found this

Dr. Andrew D. Racine
Montefiore Health System

recipe to resonate with their own aspirations for how to organize healthcare delivery.

Will you highlight Montefiore’s leadership in addressing behavioral health among its pediatric populations?

Well before national pediatric audiences began to appreciate the signal importance of behavioral health as a determinant of health status in children, Montefiore pioneered a unique integrated co-location model of primary care delivery that included screening and provision of behavioral health services to all pediatric patients beginning in infancy. The realization of the importance of attachment in the first months of life led to important re-design efforts to include our OB-GYN colleagues in identifying new mothers so that we could begin our counseling and interventions even before delivery. We were the first large health system in the country to bring such a model to scale throughout our entire primary care enterprise that includes not only 18 Federally Qualified Health Centers, but also the largest comprehensive school-based health program in the United States. The Montefiore leader who pioneered these efforts has subsequently gone on to become National Director of Zero to Three’s HealthySteps program where she has taken the Montefiore model and disseminated it throughout the country.

How do you leverage social determinants of health data to advance care for children and families?

The delivery of healthcare services, while important, represents a small contribution to the health status of individuals or populations. Far more influential are the conditions in which people grow-up in, work, play, and live. Education, housing, food security, access to clean air and good nutrition – these elements are of paramount importance in determining who will or will not be able to lead healthy lives. Those of us charged with providing healthcare need to develop systems that provide us with adequate awareness of these social conditions. We have developed screening and referral mechanisms directly linked to our electronic medical record so that any practitioner interacting with a patient – be it in a primary care environment, at a subspecialist visit, on the inpatient service, or in a behavioral health context, has an up-to-date lens through which to view the entire person so we can adjust clinical decision-making accordingly. Our screening and referral platform is one of the few in the country to operate in a challenged population at scale. To date, we have screened more than 150,000 unique individuals, secured important community-based referrals for many of them, and continue to follow-up on these referrals –and we’re just getting started.

You recently launched the Community Health Worker Institute at Montefiore. Will you discuss this initiative and how you think it represents the future of care delivery?

The President and CEO of Montefiore Medicine, Dr. Philip Ozuah, has made it an

explicit priority of our health system to commit itself to the development of wealth in the communities who come to us for care. This is very much in keeping with the realization that the material living conditions of patients has an outsized influence on their health status. Part of that investment in the wealth of our community includes human capital investment and we know that to link our patients to community-based resources successfully often involves the use of trusted intermediaries who know the patients, often come from our own communities, and many who have shared lived experiences and are experts in the available resources. These often-untapped experts provide us with a ready solution to fulfill our dual mandate. By recruiting neighborhood residents to our Community Health Worker Institute, we have fashioned a system that provides skills, a career path, and a boon to our patients all at once.

How is Montefiore’s workforce evolving to meet patient care needs, particularly among pediatric subspecialties?

The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) is among a select group of pediatric facilities in the country that has recruited and that trains pediatricians in every major clinical subspecialty. This provides us with the ability to address any pediatric healthcare need from the most general to the most sophisticated medical and surgical interventions. No child in this borough of 1.4 million people or in our communities north of the Bronx need travel any further than CHAM to receive the highest quality care. We are one of only six centers in the United States to undertake the use of Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS) technology for children in acute liver failure to help avoid liver transplantations when possible. We have also pioneered the use of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR T-cell) in children allowing us to treat youth who have failed conventional therapy for certain blood malignancies. As the science of clinical care for children evolves, CHAM continues to evolve with it, providing state-ofthe-art therapies including solid organ transplant services for some of the most vulnerable populations in the country. Taking comprehensive care a step further, as our Community Health Worker Institute grows, we look forward to incorporating more of our trained CHWs into the teams providing these high-end specialty care services.

Will you discuss the value and importance for Montefiore to have a leading medical school with Albert Einstein College of Medicine?

Montefiore’s partnership with Albert Einstein College of Medicine is integral to our success as a healthcare system. The discoveries to which we have access from our basic science colleagues to those involved in translating those discoveries to bedside applications enable us to position ourselves as pioneers on the cutting edge of clinical medicine, ready to deliver that expertise to a wide spectrum of people in need. As important, the commitment we have to

training the next generation of physicians in the art of healthcare delivery helps Einstein attract the brightest applicants from all over the world who are drawn to the Bronx specifically for the breadth of clinical scenarios they will encounter and for the privilege of being able to join in the care of some of the most worthy patient populations anywhere.

How critical is it for medical schools to transform their curriculum to best prepare the future leaders in medicine?

Medical schools are having to confront the realization that future physicians must continue to be prepared in traditional disciplines of anatomy, cell biology, physiology, pathology and the like, and the explosion of information in these fields, while at the same time have a greater appreciation of the social aspects of healthcare delivery, the financing of this sector, and the increasingly important role of information technology in the delivery of care. These factors make the training of medical students a daunting challenge. The leadership at Einstein is continuously re-evaluating and testing the design of their curriculum to ensure that our medical school is prepared to meet this challenge now and into the future.

You joined Montefiore 30 years ago. What has made the experience so special for you?

This will sound like a cliché, but sometimes clichés bear within them an essential truth. I came here for the people and that is why I have stayed – and I mean both the people I work with and the people I serve. There is no more vibrant, no more essential urban environment anywhere than the Bronx and individuals who come here and stay do so because they share in that assessment. That makes this a very special community unlike anything you are likely to find anywhere else.

What advice do you offer young people interested in building a career in medicine?

There has been a great deal of attention recently paid to issues of burnout among physicians and about how difficult the work has become with the advent of EMRs, the effects of the pandemic, the financial pressures that physicians experience together with all the traditional demands involved with the practice of medicine. These issues are real, but what we must not forget is that the practice of medicine is a marvel and a privilege not afforded to many. When I taught pediatric residents, at the beginning of their introduction to the ambulatory environment I would remind them that they are about to walk into an exam room to meet someone who most likely has very little in the way of material resources, who may come from a social environment of significant challenge, but that individual will turn to them shortly and present them with the most precious thing they possess in all the world and will entrust them with the chance to help care for that child for years and years. That is a gift of such extraordinary magnitude, it’s quite difficult to put it into words. A career in medicine is not for everyone, but as Shakespeare had Henry V remind us, “The fewer men, the greater share of honor.” It is an honor to do this work.•


Advancing Equity and Inclusive Growth

EDITORS’ NOTE Shelley Stewart is a leader within McKinsey’s Private Equity & Principal Investors Practice, where he serves a range of clients on growth, marketing, and sales topics. He has worked with companies across the industrial and technology sectors, helping them identify opportunities for accelerated growth, design go-to-market models, improve the effectiveness of sales forces, and leverage digital routes to market. In addition, Stewart leads the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, a think-and-do tank focused on catalyzing cross-sector action to build a more inclusive, dynamic economy. Stewart is a member of the Economic Club of New York and is on the board of directors of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and the Brooklyn Community Foundation. Before joining McKinsey, he worked in the financial services industry in a variety of roles at an investment banking firm, and subsequently cofounded a private investment firm.

Stewart earned a BA in economics from Boston College, an MPA in political economy from Harvard University, and an MBA in finance and management from Columbia University. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of New Haven.

FIRM BRIEF McKinsey (mckinsey.com) is a global management consulting firm committed to helping organizations accelerate sustainable and inclusive growth. It works with clients across the private, public, and social sectors to solve complex problems and create positive

change for all its stakeholders. The firm combines bold strategies and transformative technologies to help organizations innovate more sustainably, achieve lasting gains in performance, and build workforces that will thrive for this generation and the next.

How do you describe McKinsey’s culture and values?

At McKinsey, we have a dual mission to help our clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance and to build a great firm that attracts, develops, excites, and retains exceptional people. To do this, we focus on building a culture that is inclusive and nonhierarchical – one where colleagues are encouraged to bring themselves and their differing perspectives to the table in efforts to reach the best outcome for the Firm and our clients.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I am a senior partner and leader within McKinsey’s Growth, Marketing and Sales and Private Equity practices, where I help companies on a variety of topics, including go-tomarket strategies, channel excellence, salesforce productivity, digital enablement and more.

Additionally, I lead the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, our think-and-dotank focused on improving economic outcomes for Black lives and fostering inclusive economic growth globally. In this capacity, I focus on publishing research, convening stakeholders, and developing practical tools that companies, organizations, and governments can use to advance equity and inclusive growth.

What have been the keys to the strength and leadership of McKinsey’s Growth, Marketing and Sales Practice?

One of the biggest strengths of our practice is our acute focus on helping clients grow their organizations. We believe that growth is fundamental to the sustainability of our economy overall. It is essential to increasing living standards for all and establishing a more inclusive economy. It is also what will fuel our investments in a greener economy over the long term. Thinking about our work with clients in this way creates added purpose and therefore rigor in how we serve them and provide impact.

You mentioned your leadership of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility. What is the mission of the Institute and what do you hope to achieve?

The mission of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility is to help private-, public-, and social-sector leaders take coordinated action to accelerate Black economic development. We focus on effecting change in three areas – developing objective research on the economic drivers of racial inequalities; convening cross-sector leaders to promote coordinated action; and creating tools that help organizations implement solutions on an institutional level. Our hope is to inspire and sustain action that leads to inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity.

Will you highlight some of the work taking place at the Institute?

Since inception, the Institute has published over 20 publications highlighting the economic opportunity of addressing racial inequities. Our landmark piece, The Economic State of Black America , took a close look at the extent of

Shelley Stewart III
“At McKinsey, we have a dual mission to help our clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance and to build a great firm that attracts, develops, excites, and retains exceptional people.”

racial disparities across the five major roles Black Americans hold in society, and the broader economic impact of addressing those disparities: employees, residents, consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs. This body of work has allowed us to launch a series of initiatives to address challenges across these dimensions.

In 2017, we co-created our signature convening event, the Black Economic Forum, with our partners the Executive Leadership Council and Sigma Pi Phi (The Boulé). The annual event brings together hundreds of Black executives to discuss cross-sector initiatives to improve Black livelihoods. Additionally, this year alone we’ve presented our research on a variety of economic mobility topics at over 40 industry events to ensure we’re reaching key decision-makers with our insights.

We’re also directly working with dozens of organizations across healthcare, financial services, education, and other sectors on efforts related to economic mobility and inclusive growth.

How critical is a coordinated effort to drive sustainable change in the work of the Institute?

The causes that stifle economic mobility for Black Americans are deeply rooted and quite pervasive throughout our economy and society, and thus are complicated to address without coordinated action. The Institute represents a diverse mix of experts and researchers across areas critical to economic mobility, such as talent management, education, healthcare, financial services, entrepreneurship, strategy, and more. This breadth of expertise allows the Institute to provide a perspective informed by real world experience and data, influencing organizations towards action on the drivers and potential solutions of racial inequity.

What do you see as the role of equity and inclusive economic growth in the future of consulting?

Sustainability, inclusion, and growth are three terms that are synonymous with business today. As industries continue to evolve to the new and next normal, organizations will look to advisors with a keen focus on how these forces interlock and self-reinforce one another.

I believe equity and inclusivity will become an even more essential piece of the growth puzzle – one that our industry can’t ignore when counseling clients. As one example, according to McKinsey research, Black consumer spending is set to reach $1.7 trillion by 2030, yet their needs remain drastically under-met. At the same time, our research shows that 45 percent of all consumers believe retailers should actively support Black-owned businesses and brands. These figures are compelling for any executive interested in growth, let alone equity in business. As we continue to unearth insights on the commercial and socio-economic opportunities to drive racial equity in business, it must impact the future of the consulting industry and force us to bring the most holistic, leading-edge insights to our client partnerships.

How can organizations like McKinsey have an impact by counseling its clients with this lens in mind?

McKinsey’s purpose is to help create positive and enduring change in the world. We do this by bringing distinct insights and service to our clients, which include top global institutions that can impact economic mobility. Building on McKinsey’s unique assets and capabilities, the work coming out of the Institute allows us to

better serve clients by considering how organizations can achieve growth while positively impacting under-served populations and addressing some of the equity gaps we see hindering full economic potential. For many organizations, these topics enable growth that is novel and distinct from opportunities that had previously been considered, while still in line with their core offerings.

For example, according to research from the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, approximately 8.3 million Black Americans live in food deserts, lacking easy access to fresh food in their communities. This creates massive human development challenges for the individuals in these communities. At the same time, it also presents huge commercial opportunity for organizations to provide better food access to Black consumers. We’ve used McKinsey’s proprietary retail models to showcase the potential profitability of opening brick and motor grocery stores in Black communities that also address this access issue.

Additionally, we know that today the average Black family has roughly an eighth of the wealth of the average white family. A lack of access to financial services, specifically banking and insurance products, is both a cause and a result of this large gap in wealth. By working with organizations across the financial services ecosystem, we can highlight the opportunity to increase financial inclusion in Black communities and help accelerate actions companies are taking to address this wealth disparity.

These are just a few examples of the synergies between inclusion and growth that we are helping organizations identify and move towards.•

“The mission of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility is to help private-, public-, and social-sector leaders take coordinated action to accelerate Black economic development.”
“Building on McKinsey’s unique assets and capabilities, the work coming out of the Institute allows us to better serve clients by considering how organizations can achieve growth while positively impacting under-served populations and addressing some of the equity gaps we see hindering full economic potential.”


As a global leader in commercial real estate, we make the most of every opportunity life o ers—for our people, clients, communities and planet. With

4.8 billion square feet under management and 50,000 employees in 60 countries, we make an impact around the world.

Explore more at cushmanwakefield.com.


Improving Clinical Care

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Michael Ast is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and the Chief Medical Innovation Officer at HSS in New York City. His clinical practice focuses on rapidrecovery, short-stay and outpatient joint replacement surgery. He is also nationally recognized for his expertise on the clinical and business aspects of joint replacement surgery performed in ambulatory surgery centers. Dr. Ast grew up in Staten Island, New York, and attended Temple University in Philadelphia, where he graduated magna cum laude in Biology and Phi Beta Kappa. He completed his Medical Degree at Temple University School of Medicine and returned to New York for his residency training in orthopedic surgery at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center and a fellowship in Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement surgery at HSS. Before returning to HSS, he previously developed and directed one of the largest and most successful outpatient joint replacement programs in the northeast.

INSTITUTION BRIEF HSS (hss.edu) is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked number one in orthopedics (for the 13th consecutive year) and number three in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2022-2023), and named a leader in pediatric orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” (20222023). HSS has a main campus in New York City and a growing network of related facilities. In addition to patient care, HSS is a leader in research, innovation, and education. Through HSS Global Ventures and the HSS Education Institute, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally. HSS is the official hospital for a number of professional sports organizations and teams including the New York Giants, New York Mets, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, UFC, US Rowing, US Biathlon, US Lacrosse, and USA Basketball. HSS is one of only three hospitals in the United States designated as a Medical Center of Excellence by FIFA.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I have dual roles within HSS. My first is that I am a practicing orthopedic surgeon and Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery. My clinical practice focuses on hip and knee replacement surgery and specifically on rapid recovery and ambulatory hip and knee replacement where patients are discharged on the same day of their surgery. I also serve as the ViceChair of the HSS Innovation Institute and the Chief Medical Innovation Officer. As the Chief Medical Innovation Officer, my role is to help guide the clinical value of our innovation endeavors. In partnership with Jordan Harmon, our Chief Innovation and Commercialization Officer, and the rest of our Innovation Institute team, I try to ensure that the Institute’s projects focus on providing enhanced clinical value to our practitioners and patients while remaining practical to implement in clinical practice.

At HSS we have two ways that we develop innovation. First, we help physicians, providers or other individuals in the field develop their ideas and bring the next generation of treatment options to fruition. We call this “inside out” innovation. Second, we partner with world class organizations to help them develop and test their newest innovations within our fields of expertise. We call that “outside in” innovation.

How valuable has it been to have your background as a surgeon with both academic and private practice experience to understanding the challenges of a clinical practice and how innovation can offer solutions?

Having practiced in a private practice setting and practicing now in an academic setting has allowed me to see through both lenses, helping me, along with our team, guide solutions to problems that exist across the spectrum and can be practically implemented in any practice environment. It also allows me to better understand the challenges that are different and the ways that design or implementation of treatment options may need to vary depending on the setting.

Will you discuss the importance of data integration and analytics to help achieve the goals of the HSS Innovation Institute?

One of the organization’s strengths is the amount of clinical data produced within our organization on an ongoing basis. Access to this data, along with partnering with our HSS Center for Analytics, Modeling & Performance, allows us to test new ideas, devices, algorithms, and other innovations at a level of speed and clinical relevance that few other organizations can match.

What makes HSS so special for you and how do you define the HSS difference?

Will you discuss the mission of the Innovation Institute?

The mission of the Innovation Institute is the same as the mission of our organization, which is clinical excellence, education, research, and innovation. Our goal is to help develop and bring to market the next generation of innovative devices, techniques, and pathways to address complex care so that our practitioners can continue to get our patients back to what they love to do in life.

How is HSS bringing innovative technology to market to advance patient outcomes?

I started here as a patient, and understanding the patient experience from start to finish reminds us that our singular focus is improving clinical care. I take great pride working in a mission-driven organization that truly focuses on clinical excellence, education, research, and innovation and feel honored to have a role in this great organization. Without question, the difference here is the people and the culture. Culture as a Strategy and Leadership by All, two focuses of our organization, can be seen every day in every hallway, every operating room, and every patient interaction. Having lived it from all sides, including as a patient, the family member of several patients, a surgeon, and as a leader reminds me every day of what an incredible organization this is and how grateful I am to be a part of it.•

Dr. Michael P. Ast An
Interview with Michael P. Ast, MD, Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Chief Medical Innovation Officer, HSS
“Without question, the difference here is the people and the culture.”

A Culture of Innovation

EDITORS’ NOTE Jordan Harmon has spent his career in a variety of roles spanning consulting, operations, process improvement, population health, value, strategy, and innovation. He is currently Chief Commercialization Officer for the HSS Innovation Institute. His focus is on creating new ways to enhance experience, effectiveness and value of patient care in the fields of digital, analytics, delivery and payment of healthcare services. Harmon is also Director at Costs of Care Inc., a global NGO that curates insights from clinicians to help delivery systems provide better care at lower cost. He currently serves as a mentor for Digital Health CT, an accelerator focused on the convergence of digital technologies within the healthcare sector to improve efficiency and make healthcare delivery more precise. He was most recently Vice President of Strategy at CityMD and Summit Medical Group, where he focused on population health and value. Harmon holds a BA in business administration from Mount Union College and an MHA from The Ohio State University. He also holds a Six Sigma Green Belt from the University of Michigan.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

As Chief Innovation and Commercialization Officer at HSS, the role affords me an opportunity to lead the HSS Innovation Institute with my partner, Dr. Michael Ast, Chief Medical Innovation Officer at HSS. HSS has an innovative team of clinicians and staff that have developed a culture of innovation over several decades. The HSS Innovation Institute partners with HSS leaders in life science, medical device, and care delivery innovation to further our mission of sharing our knowledge and expertise with the world. Our goal is to not only improve the care at HSS, but help others throughout the world take better care of their patients through novel innovation and partnerships.

Will you discuss HSS’ commitment to innovation and how innovation is embedded in HSS’ culture?

Innovation at HSS has been at the root of the culture and teams for nearly 160 years.

In 1969, HSS surgeons and biomechanical engineers developed the first modern knee implant and later performed the first total condylar knee implant surgery. So, the commitment to innovation has been part of the culture and lifeblood of HSS. Innovation continues to enable advances in surgical devices, techniques, and new ways to address disease at HSS through our teams of researchers, clinicians and biomechanics. HSS performs the highest volume of joint replacement surgeries in the world with the best outcomes, which allows us to innovate at a greater pace due to our focus and precision. The Innovation Institute helps enable these innovators throughout the institution to expand our reach through these new inventions and collaborations.

Where are some of the areas where innovation is taking place at HSS?

Across HSS, there continues to be extraordinary collaboration and focus on being the best that has allowed us to be at the forefront of innovation today. A few years ago, we partnered with an Italian-based medical device company, LimaCorporate, to develop the first design and additive manufacturing (AM) 3D printing facility for custom complex implants on a hospital campus. We are now able to custom print implants for patients when needed, allowing HSS surgeons to custom fit these implants in unique circumstances. We have also been at the forefront of next-generation wearable technologies to test, develop and utilize these for clinical care. Our partnership with Teslasuit, a U.K.-based company offering a full-body haptic feedback and motion capture suit, will allow our rehab teams to develop and utilize this technology for improving mobility following surgery no matter where patients may be. Finally, our scientists have been at the forefront of new discoveries in autoimmune disease therapeutics creating new ways to treat lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis through novel technologies which have now been launched into commercial ventures.

Will you highlight your efforts to create new ways to enhance experience, effectiveness, and value of patient care in the fields of digital, analytics and delivery of healthcare services?

HSS is dedicated to enhancing our patient care through innovation and innovative technologies. One of those solutions has been the adoption of wearable technology and incorporation of HSS care pathways into those solutions to support patients no matter where they are. Our clinical teams have utilized this data in coordination with traditional outcomes data such as patient reported outcomes to better understand how patients recover from surgery, prevent injuries, or even move throughout their day. We also launched the first in kind Innovation Center for AI Robotic in Joint Replacement with our partner Zimmer Biomet. This unique collaboration will allow HSS surgeons and Zimmer Biomet teams to develop tools to help guide surgeons using the robot for surgery to enhance care. It will utilize predictive modeling and machine learning from thousands of data points to improve surgical outcomes for surgeons and patients around the world. The Center will be at the forefront of this new way of combining data, robotics and clinician insights and will capitalize on our surgeon expertise and knowledge to help improve patient outcomes no matter what the location.

How do you engage HSS’ workforce in the efforts of the HSS Innovation Institute?

The staff and clinical teams at HSS are the reason innovation has been successful in the past and is the reason we continue that success into the future. Our partnership with our surgeons, clinicians, and researchers has been a true commitment to collaboration and culture of innovation. Many of the best ideas and partnerships come from clinical teams inside HSS because of their pursuit of continuous improvement. We have found unique ways to engage and support these new innovations in all areas of the organization which allows us to have a far greater reach than doing it alone. Innovation is driven throughout departments at HSS, rather than only through the Innovation Institute. That unique engagement is what makes HSS a great place for innovators and allows them to be part of the continuous strive to push the boundaries of what is possible. For any organization, the team and culture are the reasons innovation succeeds and creates deep impact in the industry. •

Jordan S. Harmon

Defining Entrepreneurship

EDITORS’ NOTE Uri Levine (urilevine.com) is a passionate entrepreneur and disruptor, and a two-time “unicorn” builder. He co-founded Waze, the world’s largest community-based driving navigation app, which was acquired by Google for $1.1 billion, and is a former investor in Moovit – “Waze for public transportation” – which Intel acquired for $1 billion in 2020. He is Co-Founder/Chairman or Board-member at Feex, FairFly, SeeTree, Fibo, among others. He is also a world-class speaker about entrepreneurship and disruption. Levine earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Tel Aviv University.

What was your vision for creating Waze in 2007 and how did you define the mission of the company?

We had the same vision and mission from the frst day – to help drivers avoid traffic jams –and the eureka moment was the realization that drivers ahead of me on the road know exactly what I want to know and what’s happening on the road ahead of me. The Waze magic is crowdsourcing the map and traffic information

through all of the drivers, so it is essentially a social network of drivers for drivers.

Will you highlight some of the recent startups you have founded and how these companies are disrupting inefficient markets and improving under-functioning services?

While I am involved in about a dozen startups, each of them solves a different problem worth solving. I would like to highlight two of them:

Pontera essentially helps people to retire richer. About 100 million Americans have 401K retirement plans, which is awesome, but when you ask them how they invest the contribution in their 401K plan, the vast majority don’t know. They might have set it on their first day of employment and haven’t revisited it since, even if they have a financial advisor. The result is that the return is too low on those default accounts and may not provide enough to retire on. Pontera is the bridge to retire richer.

Kahun is an Israeli MedTech startup that builds the world’s largest map of clinical knowledge containing more than 30 million medical insights. This provides for the replication of clinical reasoning at scale, overcoming the major “black box” problem preventing AI solutions from mass adoption by medical institutions. Kahun has essentially developed a clinical reasoning solution that can be understood and trusted by physicians. Its engine performs clinical reasoning at scale by basing its decisions on the company’s proprietary map of over 30 million evidence-based medical insights. Kahun’s algorithmic engine utilizes this map in real time to generate clinical insights tailored to each specific patient. Insights are referenced and backed by links to originating knowledge.

Kahun’s first application is a comprehensive clinical assessment chatbot. The tool employs the same reasoning expected from trained providers, asking all the right questions and dynamically calculating the best next questions. The questions are tailored to each specific patient in order to take in all the pertinent findings, rule out rare diseases, or urgent conditions. The process takes three to five minutes, leaving no stone unturned, and provides physicians

Uri Levine
“Most people would know me as an entrepreneur, but I’m also a teacher and a mentor, so I feel equally rewarded when building something or guiding someone to build it. The book satisfies my teacher/ mentor personality by helping entrepreneurs and other business leaders to increase their likelihood of being successful with the help of my tips, insights, and the stories I bring to the book.”

with a clinical summary including recommendations for further evaluation. Since Kahun is solely based on medical evidence, it provides physicians with a gold-standard clinical assessment, saving precious interview and documentation time while offering an opportunity to improve the overall level of care.

What interested you in writing the book, Fall in Love with the Problem – Not the Solution, a Handbook for Entrepreneurs , and what are the key messages you wanted to convey in the book?

Most people would know me as an entrepreneur, but I’m also a teacher and a mentor, so I feel equally rewarded when building something or guiding someone to build it. The book satisfies my teacher/mentor personality by helping entrepreneurs and other business leaders to increase their likelihood of being successful with the help of my tips, insights, and the stories I bring to the book. It guides them in the process of building a startup, launching a new product, or going global to new markets with their company.

At the end of the day, if someone is becoming successful as a result of reading my book, then I will be happy and ask that they too pay it forward and teach/help/guide someone else and assist in making them successful as well.

Do you feel that entrepreneurship can be taught or is it a skill a person is born with?

Yes, to both. Part of entrepreneurship we are born with – the attitude towards change, risk, and fear of failures, being a troublemaker, not taking no for an answer and being passionate. Part of it can be easily taught, and this is what I’m trying to do – setting the needed cornerstones in my book.

You commit your time and expertise to supporting the next generation of thinkers and innovators with an academic workshop titled “How to Build a Startup.” What led to this effort and how has the workshop evolved?

It would be more accurate to say I devote part of my time for it  – I also build more startups. It started with the teaching passion to guide entrepreneurs and evolved into the book and a series of presentations I run all over the world – to boards, managements, conferences, and academia.

What do you see as the keys to effective leadership?

I would separate leadership from management, and leadership that is required from a startup’s CEO versus a more mature company’s CEO. Peter Drucker said that leadership is about doing the right things, and management is about doing things right. I have a very different observation for it. People like and choose to follow a leader, not the one they have to, but the one they want to. Leadership is about creating the

sense that people would like to follow you and it becomes a combination of multiple things –they trust you, they trust you to do the right things, to make the hard decisions, and to lead them to the right place.

It is a different story in a startup, as it requires dynamic and frequent changes on the one hand, and perseverance on the other hand. So, looking at the following behaviors for a startup CEO will increase the likelihood of being successful: Never give up, make hard decisions swiftly, adopt quickly, listen, and understand the users will be the key behaviors.

Did you always know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to create companies?

Yes, my first-grade teacher told me after the Waze successful exit that she was not surprised.

You have founded many disruptive companies that are changing industries. Do you enjoy the process and take moments to celebrate the wins or are you always looking at what is next?

There is an underlining assumption that the next one is not a kind of a celebration. Well, I’ve found my balance. I’m always working and always enjoying my time at the same time. Even when on vacation, I’m always available for my CEOs. It is my self-fulfillment to create value and be meaningful.

What advice do you offer to young people beginning their careers during this unprecedented time?

I don’t think that this time is any different than any other time. If you want to have a successful career, find something that you love and that you’re good at. Try to get there before the age of 30. While searching, try to learn some of the major skills that will help your career wherever you go, like working in teams, leading people, sales, and by far, persistence –success is a result of hard and long work, but also a lot of luck.•

“Part of entrepreneurship we are born with –the attitude towards change, risk, and fear of failures, being a troublemaker, not taking no for an answer and being passionate. Part of it can be easily taught, and this is what I’m trying to do –setting the needed cornerstones in my book.”
“It is a different story in a startup, as it requires dynamic and frequent changes on the one hand, and perseverance on the other hand. So, looking at the following behaviors for a startup CEO will increase the likelihood of being successful: Never give up, make hard decisions swiftly, adopt quickly, listen, and understand the users will be the key behaviors.”

Creating Experiences at Work That Matter

EDITORS’ NOTE For 25 years, Sanjay Rishi has helped large, global businesses leverage technology to achieve their ambitions. He has deep expertise in complex businesses, transformational change, and the development of disruptive technologies. His JLL Work Dynamics team across the Americas leverages data to build, manage and improve spaces that can transform how people work every day. He is also a member of JLL’s Americas Executive Committee, which sets the direction and strategy for JLL in the region.

Rishi joined JLL in 2018 from IBM, where he ran the Cloud Consulting Services business. Prior to that, he was Chief Information Officer and Group Vice President of Strategic Planning for Johnson Controls Automotive. He has also held roles as a Partner for PwC and Vice President for IBM Global Strategy. He currently serves on the board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Rishi holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering, an MS degree in management systems, and a PhD in management.

FIRM BRIEF JLL (jll.com) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for its clients, its people and its communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $19.4 billion, operations in over 80 countries, and has a global workforce of more than 102,000 as of

June 30, 2022. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I am privileged to lead a team that focuses on helping our clients use office strategy and technology to make the most of their workplaces and inspire their people. It’s invigorating to work at the intersection of corporate real estate and the workplace, which is evolving so rapidly and plays such a defining role in organizations’ ability to attract and retain talent.

What have been the keys to JLL’s industry leadership and how do you describe the JLL difference?

At JLL, our vision is “shaping the future of real estate for a better world.” Having that leading vision guide everything we do truly is the JLL difference. When I think of leadership – whether it be an individual or an organization – I like to think in terms of “The Three I’s.” A transformative leader needs to Imagine, Invigorate, and Influence. It’s about Imagining what is possible – it requires risk taking; Invigorating – allowing people to be inspired and energized by the opportunity to learn, to embrace emerging capabilities including technology; and lastly we have a responsibility to Influence society and communities.

Our motivation to “shape a better world” sets us apart from the industry and is a driving force in everything that we do.

you highlight JLL Work Dynamics’ products and services?


Simply put, we create experiences at work that matter – for our clients and their employees, customers, and partners. JLL Work Dynamics helps clients drive strategic value from their corporate real estate portfolios, innovating, and delivering a full suite of products and services that blend human, digital, and experiential elements to build, manage, and improve spaces that transform how people work. Together, those services and products help our clients manage 1.6 billion square feet of real estate around the world, and we have averted more than 112,700 metric tons of CO2 by advising clients on renewable energy projects. Our team of more than 45,000 local and global specialists helps clients to enhance the performance of their real estate portfolios and realize their ambitions of a more sustainable built environment.

How is JLL Work Dynamics blending human, digital, and experiential elements to build, manage and improve spaces that transform how people work every day?

We encourage our clients to see the workplace as a tool for attracting and retaining employees and promoting culture and creativity, rather than an operating expense. That means focusing on the human experience and prioritizing people’s individual preferences as well as their overall health and well-being. As just one example, among our own employees we’ve piloted a digital portal called The Hub that integrates directly with employees’ calendars to block time for stress-reducing micro-habits.

Sanjay Rishi
“Simply put, we create experiences at work that matter – for our clients and their employees, customers, and partners. JLL Work Dynamics helps clients drive strategic value from their corporate real estate portfolios, innovating, and delivering a full suite of products and services that blend human, digital, and experiential elements to build, manage, and improve spaces that transform how people work.”

Through The Hub, team members have access to customized, on-demand wellness services like yoga and meditation that match each individual’s interests and needs.

What are your views on the future of work?

As the pandemic subsides, the learnings and experiences of working remotely will remain top-of-mind for companies and workers. Our understanding of what constitutes a workplace has been fundamentally and permanently redefined. And as technology makes talent more portable than ever, culture becomes increasingly important to attracting and retaining talent. Business leaders need to double down on the human element to harness the evolved flexible, dynamic nature of work. We’ve observed the following trends in recent years which I believe will continue to drive the conversation about workplace for the foreseeable future:

• Workplace flexibility as the new normal

• Digital transformation to drive solutions to quickly changing business needs

• Sustainability strategies that translate environmental goals into actions that create real value

• Physical and mental well-being sustained by a regenerative workplace.

How critical is it for JLL to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?

JLL is deeply committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I firmly believe that building an active pipeline of diverse talent, starting with entry-level positions, is the most effective way to advance more people of color and women to the C-suite in the long term. We have visibly moved

the needle on succession planning, recruitment, and equity to accelerate our efforts to build a leadership team and greater workforce that are representative of the communities we serve.

One approach we’ve taken to make JLL more accessible to those early in their careers is recognizing that commercial real estate’s commission-based salary model can be a huge barrier to entry for some candidates from marginalized groups. In 2022, we announced new programs designed to reduce these inequities, including a $4 million investment to fund entry-level compensation for racially diverse and female sales professionals to help supplement the industry’s traditional commission-based salary structures. Additionally, JLL’s U.S. Capital Markets business launched a college loan repayment program wherein all new hires for Capital Markets with student loans will receive annual loan repayment support.

What do you see as JLL’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to be a force for good in society?

As an organization that influences real estate and workplaces, we feel a real sense of responsibility towards the environment since the built environment accounts for almost 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change will affect us in every way possible, across every industry sector from transportation to utilities and beyond. It will affect how and where commerce takes place and will transform global supply chains.

At JLL, we recognize the urgency of the climate crisis, and we’re working to deliver solutions to help our clients redesign and

retrofit buildings to reduce their carbon footprints. JLL is also one of only a handful of global companies across all sectors to be recognized for bringing net-zero commitments in line with climate science. As part of this commitment, we’ve pledged to reduce our absolute emissions by 51 percent by 2030 and 95 percent by 2040.

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership?

Teams, not individuals, lead organizations to success. I also believe that empathetic listening has never been more important, and in times of uncertainty like the one we find ourselves in today, being transparent and vulnerable, and yet decisive, is the call of the hour. Soft skills like listening and building morale are as important as the business skills required for effective leadership. In this new era of hybrid work, my leadership philosophy has shifted to integrate soft skills and new behaviors around creating a consistent culture of care and empathy for our employees, regardless of where work happens.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in a career in the real estate industry?

Technology is embedded in everything we do, in our personal lives and our work lives. It is an essential component of virtually every industry, and real estate is no exception. I’d advise young people that having technology expertise and an understanding of how that translates to the commercial real estate industry will certainly give them an advantage in our field. In the post-pandemic world, few domains have the opportunity to make an impact like the domain of work.•

“At JLL, our vision is ‘shaping the future of real estate for a better world.’ Having that leading vision guide everything we do truly is the JLL difference.”
“As the pandemic subsides, the learnings and experiences of working remotely will remain top-of-mind for companies and workers. Our understanding of what constitutes a workplace has been fundamentally and permanently redefined. And as technology makes talent more portable than ever, culture becomes increasingly important to attracting and retaining talent.”

Creating inspiration since 1927.

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Live Healthy

EDITORS’ NOTE Bo Boulenger is responsible for Baptist Health’s 12 hospitals and more than 200 outpatient facilities and physician practices spanning four counties, as well as Miami Cancer Institute, Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute, Miami Neuroscience Institute, Lynn Cancer Institute, Marcus Neuroscience Institute, and Lynn Heart & Vascular Institute. With more than 35 years of experience in healthcare administration, Boulenger began his career with Baptist Health in 1985 at South Miami Hospital in strategic planning focusing on opening new outpatient ventures, including home healthcare and radiation oncology. In 1994, he was named CEO of Homestead Hospital, and in 2006 he became CEO of Baptist Hospital. Boulenger was named “Ultimate CEO” (2008) and South Florida’s “Power Leader” in Healthcare (2013) by the South Florida Business Journal. He received the Citizen of the Year Award (2003) from Homestead Civitan Club and was honored with the Fire Starter Award by the Studer Organization. Boulenger is a member of the Florida Hospital Association’s (FHA) Board of Trustees, where he is Chair-elect and chairs the Policy Committee and the FHA Political Action Committee. He serves on the American Hospital Association Health System Committee and is a member of the Florida Council of 100. He has also served on numerous boards, including American Hospital Association – Section for Metropolitan Hospitals, Governing Council YMCA of Greater Miami, South Florida Healthcare Association, Vizient Southeast, South Dade Chamber of Commerce (former Board Chair) and Vision Council of South Dade. Boulenger earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Washington University in St. Louis.

INSTITUTION BRIEF Baptist Health (baptisthealth.net) is the largest healthcare organization in South Florida, with 12 hospitals, more than 26,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities, and physician practices spanning across MiamiDade, Monroe, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Baptist Health has internationallyrenowned centers of excellence in cancer,

cardiovascular care, orthopedics and sports medicine, and neurosciences. In addition, it includes Baptist Health Medical Group; Baptist Health Quality Network; and Baptist Healthcare On Demand, a virtual health platform. A not-for-profit organization supported by philanthropy and committed to its faith-based charitable mission of medical excellence, Baptist Health has been recognized by Fortune as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America and by Ethisphere as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.

Will you highlight Baptist Health’s history and heritage and what have been the keys to Baptist Health’s consistent strength and leadership in the industry?

Baptist Health was founded by a group of committed, like-minded religious and civic leaders who wanted a faith-based, not-for profit hospital for their community. Their mission, which still guides us today, was to provide the highest quality, most compassionate care to the people of South Florida. As far as what has made Baptist Health a leader in our industry, I can say without reservation that our success resides in our great people and strong organizational culture. We deeply value our employees, our physician partners, and our volunteers. They are why we are the most preferred health system and they are how we have been able to serve our mission every day for more than six decades. Baptist Health has grown from one 270-bed community hospital to a four-county, 12-hospital system that delivers excellence every day to every patient in a very sustainable manner. And by creating and maintaining this culture of excellence in all domains, we are proud to have become the place that people want to work, physicians want to practice, and consumers want to seek care.

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving. We are challenged to stay ahead of that evolution through our commitment to excellence – whether that’s through research and innovation, technology, or above all else, our people. At Baptist Health, our people are experts in their fields. This expertise, combined with the best technology and medical innovations available, allow us to provide the highest level of care to our community and ensure that nobody ever has to leave home to get the care they need.

Will you provide an overview of Baptist Health’s network of hospitals and outpatient facilities?

Baptist Health is the largest healthcare organization in the region, with 12 hospitals, over 26,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and more than 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices. With a presence across Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties, we offer internationally renowned centers of excellence in cancer, cardiovascular care, orthopedics and sports medicine, and neurosciences. We have a team of world-renowned physicians and extensive virtual options to offer seamless care and welcome patients throughout any stage of their healthcare journey. South Florida is the gateway to the Americas, and Baptist Health also has a robust international division providing care to more than 14,000 international patients each year. We are among the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation, with an annual operating revenue of $5.1 billion.

Bo Boulenger An Interview with Bo Boulenger, President and Chief Executive Officer, Baptist Health South Florida
Baptist Health South Florida professionals (above and opposite
Baptist Health Hospital in Doral, one of the 12 Baptist Health hospitals in South Florida

Our goal has never been to be the biggest; rather, the best and most convenient option for the communities we serve. With that in mind, we plan to expand access to care for our patients and meet them where they are. We are neighborhood-based in that wherever our patients live or work in South Florida, they know they have a trusted healthcare option nearby – whether that’s an urgent care center, a diagnostic imaging center, a physician’s office or a hospital. We grow to meet the needs of our communities. In the last few years, we opened a new hospital, freestanding emergency rooms, and a medical complex. We’ve also expanded some of our hospital campuses to accommodate growing needs for services – like cancer care, orthopedics, neurosciences, and cardiac and vascular care.

How has the role of a hospital evolved and what will the hospital of the future look like?

Maintaining your health and vitality will always be of utmost importance. As our community grows, so do its health and wellness needs. Outpatient care and follow-up care for patients will always intersect with the overall hospital experience – and we’re growing to expand that access.

Healthcare systems all started with a hospital at the core, and historically have been very hospital-centric. Baptist Health evolved relatively quickly from a hospital to an outpatient and an Institute-driven organization. We will always need hospitals, especially with an estimated 10,000 Americans a day aging into the Medicare demographic,

but as we saw in the pandemic, consumers prefer care at home or near where they live. We will continue to expand and innovate the most convenient care offerings so that we will remain the provider of choice for our community.

With the growth of large health systems, how important is size and scale to address the future challenges in healthcare and will the independent, community hospital be able to survive?

That’s an important question. At Baptist Health, we talk a lot about “smart growth” and expanding in a way that is beneficial to both the organization and the community. As a 12-hospital system with many outpatient sites, we can leverage our scale and our network, which has certainly been beneficial for all. We have seen tremendous advantages to our size and scale in improving quality, lowering costs, and investing in innovation. I can’t imagine how challenging it must be for stand-alone hospitals to meet the needs of our growing communities.

Will you discuss Baptist Health’s commitment to being engaged in the communities it serves?

Our mission is to care for the entire community and to be the best at meeting their healthcare and wellness needs. We serve this mission in many different ways. In 2022 alone, we provided $487.9 million in charity care and community benefit across South Florida.

We offer free health screenings, educational programs and wellness classes throughout our communities and partner with many organizations, clinics and groups to make it happen. A motto of ours is “Live Healthy,” and through these dedicated programs, strategic partnerships and community activations, we help the community to do just that. We’re all about keeping people healthy, and we have to be deeply engrained in our communities in order to do that.

How critical is it for Baptist Health’s workforce to mirror the diversity of its patients and the communities it serves?

For people to feel comfortable receiving care, it must be delivered with empathy and compassion, and it must meet individuals’ emotional and spiritual needs. A diverse workforce helps us provide a care environment that optimizes healing and health for patients and their families. It is not difficult for us to have a diverse workforce since the community itself is so diverse. We are frequently recognized by Fortune magazine as a top 100 national employer and our top priority is to foster a vibrant team that is an accurate reflection of our multicultural community. We have a long-standing history of being recognized as a top employer for DE&I, having been highlighted by Fortune, Working Mother, and Modern Healthcare magazines, to name a few. We are also frequently approached to lead national research trials due to the diverse demographics of our community.

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

If you ask anyone at Baptist Health what sets us apart from other organizations, I can almost guarantee that they will say our culture. And a strong organizational culture is rooted in leaders who keep their focus on people – every decision they make, every goal they set or plan they create. To be an effective leader, you must be a careful steward of the talents, values, and hopes of the men and women you have the privilege of leading. Patient engagement and satisfaction is the reason that we have been so successful, and our great organizational culture is truly the root of that; it’s our DNA and the glue that holds us all together and keeps us motivated.

As far as my management style, I like to keep things simple and lead by example. I’m a strong believer in empowering people –I don’t micromanage. Having myself worked my way up the ranks, I have a deep respect for the individual contributions of all who work in our organization. I’m passionate about our mission and the purposeful work we do, and I never forget that we exist to care for and serve our community. When you look at challenges through that lens, things become more clear.

What do you tell young people about a career in medicine and the opportunities that exist in the industry?

I encourage young people to consider working in healthcare as it gives you an opportunity to do purposeful work with people you enjoy every day. It may be mentally, physically and emotionally challenging work, but the rewards are there every day. Healthcare delivery will continue to evolve and change, and we need future team members with the resilience and skills to take us to the next level.

My biggest piece of advice is to never stop learning and to be open to change. “How we’ve always done it” has no place in healthcare – you need a high tolerance for ambiguity to work in this industry. I would advise young people, as I do my own children, to never turn down an opportunity or additional responsibilities. I’ve held many different roles during my years at Baptist Health and have learned and evolved as a leader through each one. We as healthcare professionals have the ability to make a difference through medicine, both on the clinical and non-clinical sides, and that’s both an honor and a huge responsibility. And most of all, work hard, be consistent and treat everyone with respect.

Do you take moments to reflect and celebrate the incredible work that takes place at Baptist Health every day?

Almost every day I learn about something – a patient experience delivered by a team member or an innovation by a bright mind – that makes me proud. I like to share these stories with our team to celebrate our mission and purpose. In this industry, it is not difficult to find inspiration or be reminded of the power of empathy. I truly believe that our success as an organization is a product of our team’s shared compassion and commitment to each other and the community.•

Will you discuss your focus on expanding Baptist Health’s footprint and where you see continued opportunities for growth?

The Hightower Way

EDITORS’ NOTE Bob Oros joined Hightower in 2019 and has more than 25 years of leadership, strategic, and operational experience. Before joining Hightower, Oros was CEO at HD Vest. Prior to HD Vest, he served as executive vice president and head of the RIA segment at Fidelity Clearing and Custody. Earlier in his career, he held various leadership roles at firms including Trust Company of America, LPL Financial and Charles Schwab. Oros is a frequent contributor to panels and thought leadership pieces covering the evolution of the wealth management industry. He is a board member of the Financial Services Institute and a former board member of Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and the Foundation for Financial Planning. Oros holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University.

FIRM BRIEF Hightower (hightoweradvisors.com) is a wealth management firm that provides investment, financial, and retirement planning services to individuals, foundations, and family offices, as well as 401(k) consulting and cash management services to corporations. Hightower’s capital solutions, operational support services, and size and scale empower its community of independent-minded wealth advisors to grow their businesses. Based in Chicago with advisors across the U.S., the firm operates as a registered investment advisor (RIA).

Will you discuss the history of Hightower and how the firm has evolved?

Hightower was founded as a service platform in 2008, during the financial crisis. The firm recognized a growing opportunity to support financial advisors who wanted to leave large financial services institutions where they were being encouraged to sell proprietary products, creating conflicts of interest. These “breakaway advisors” were increasingly looking for greater independence, as well as opportunities to operate as fiduciaries to better serve their clients. Hightower’s business model catered to these individuals specifically and provided them with the necessary toolkit to succeed as a fiduciary advisor. That was chapter one.

As the industry evolved and those original founders started to think about long-term strategy

of their businesses and succession, Hightower started to pivot towards an emerging opportunity. In 2016, Hightower purchased its first registered investment advisor (RIA) business and – with much intention – shifted its business model to an acquisition approach. For context, RIAs are firms that advise clients on holistic financial planning, along with managing their investment portfolios. With an owned model, Hightower could offer clients more stable, consistent advice and a higher level of service – and that’s proven to be true ever since. In other words, investors and clients benefit from the scale of a large organization while receiving a boutique experience through each individual business. This shift ensures that clients, and the generations following them, will have access to sophisticated counsel from professionals they’ve built strong relationships with and who truly understand their entire financial picture. On the business-owner side, the model benefits advisors by providing growth incentives. By joining Hightower’s business and not just using its platform, these advisors become a part of something bigger and can participate in a financial stake through ownership of Hightower stock. They also have more opportunities to advance their skills, careers and grow their practices.

All of this contributes to a culture of longterm institutional stability. With the old model, advisors were independent, but without a long-term plan. With chapter two, advisors have become a permanent part of the organization. While this ownership structure is not for everyone, firms that do recognize the value in it ultimately benefit a great deal. We think of this as one plus one equals five.

Since I joined Hightower four years ago, we haven’t brought in any of the original breakaway business and have fully focused on finding the right RIAs to invest in and alongside and to support by providing valueadded resources to grow organically. Today, 97 percent of our revenue comes from advisors who have chosen to stay at Hightower, specifically through long-term affiliations. We have carefully hired to support this growth –our M&A team has grown from 3 to 19; our marketing team has grown from 4 to 21 – just two examples of investing in our business to support our businesses.

What excited you about the opportunity to lead Hightower and made you feel it was the right fit?

I’ve been in financial services for 30 years, in many different roles, and have seen this industry rapidly evolve – more so than I could have ever imagined when I was starting out. Up until about 15 years ago, RIAs were essentially a cottage industry, but now, firms are concluding that they need to evolve their businesses to provide a robust set of value-added services to support their clients in multiple aspects of their lives. The industry has matured and that has led to businesses with real enterprise value to be monetized. In a previous role, Hightower was a client. I saw the firm evolve through good and difficult times. I saw an opportunity to lead an organization that could stand out and provide a model for the wider industry and truly do something differentiated.

I love the acquisition model for two reasons. First, firms are already independent. They’ve embraced the structure – and fiduciary mindset – and are operating with the basic leadership and infrastructure in place which allows us to assess the quality of the business and philosophy of the founders. And, as that first round of RIA founders retire, it’s becoming clear that succession and consolidation can be challenging. I believe that this is the best model to solve for these problems because it frees up advisors to do what they do best: serve clients and grow their businesses.

How do you define Hightower’s mission and values?

At Hightower, we are on a mission to transform the wealth management industry by looking beyond clients’ investment portfolios and financial plans to address their total emotional, physical, and overall balance and well-being – what we describe as “well-th.” Our vision statement is “Partnering with you to achieve a life of well-th.” In the past, financial advice centered on investments, but we believe, when done right, it encompasses much more: family, community, health, experiences, and generations. This is where emotional connections are created.

With the changing behaviors and wants of clients, the evolution of technology and the consolidation of the RIA industry, advisors must demonstrate and evolve their value continually. Beyond general financial management, they must serve their clients in every aspect of their

Bob Oros

emotional, physical, and overall balance sheet, from helping them through a divorce to starting a new business to planning for their legacy. You must be able to show up during these critical moments that matter. To ensure that our advisors have all the tools they need to fully support their clients, we have invested in an array of value-added services, including business development consulting, leadership and team development, talent acquisition, marketing support, technology, investment management resources, compliance, accounting, payroll, and human resources, just to name a few.

Ultimately, we want to provide advisors with the suite of tools, services, and support needed to serve their clients at every life stage, and to add value in new and unique ways.

What have been the keys to Hightower’s success and how do you describe the Hightower difference?

Culture is a key differentiator for most great companies. Last year, when many companies were issuing return-to-work mandates, our team conducted an employee engagement survey to measure sentiment and identify how we could improve and build on Hightower’s culture, throughout the pandemic and beyond. By and large, results showed that employees didn’t want to lose their newfound sense of freedom and flexibility. Most didn’t want to go back to the office five days a week and felt like they were more productive at home. Following the survey, employee focus groups showed that they all wanted and needed different things to gain their own definition of balance – some wanted more in-office time, some wanted less. Listening to our employees is what informed and inspired the Hightower HIGHFlex program –our new work-from-home/office/anywhere paradigm that provides Hightower employees with flexibility to work remotely several days a week; have unlimited paid time off, as needed; a chance to work from anywhere for four weeks out of every year; expanded maternity/paternity leave; and an opportunity to gather in person with the entire Hightower team at the office two days/month for high-impact interactions. Since we launched the program, we’ve seen excellent results in retention and recruiting – and we’ve captured some great images as employees show off their Hightower “flag” as they take advantage of the one-month-from-anywhere – from San Francisco to Amsterdam.

In addition to our strong culture, there are four strategic pillars we focus on: organic growth, M&A, value-added services, and sharing our collective wisdom. Firms that have a proven ability to grow organically, or what some refer to as same-store sales growth, are highly valuable. That is our number one strategic priority. New client relationships are our lifeblood and provide a new source of lifetime value as well as a new source of referrals. We will continue to evolve our value-added services to meet advisor needs based on demand and aspiration. If we believe it makes sense to bring a new service in-house, we’ll either acquire an existing firm, partner with someone best in class, or build it ourselves. For example, last April, we received

our national bank charter for the Hightower National Trust Company which offers corporate and administrative personal trust services for Hightower advisors and clients. I believe we’re one of the few – if not the only – RIAs to operate a national trust company. And to highlight that concept of “collective wisdom” – we operate as a community and that means advisors count on each other for best practices, big ideas, and small details – so they can run their business the way they choose to, with the bench strength of others who have gone through similar situations.

Our commitment to our advisors is unwavering, and we will always focus on those four key pillars.

Where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth for Hightower and will growth come from acquisitions as well as organic growth?

Because we’re so active in the M&A space, people naturally equate Hightower with acquisitive or inorganic growth, but that’s not actually our primary focus. As I mentioned above, organic growth is Hightower’s number one strategy for how we build both our advisory businesses and the firm. In our industry, organic growth is often defined different ways. We measure it according to pure same-store sales growth, excluding market gains/losses and acquired assets. It comes down to net new assets – are you bringing in new clients or gaining more assets from existing clients? We think the greatest value we bring is the ability to serve more clients with sophisticated advice. In 2021, Hightower grew 9 percent organically. That’s twice the industry average and that’s not even mentioning the growth experienced by the top quartile of our advisory businesses which grew north of 20 percent collectively. What is even more impressive is that 75 percent of that growth came from net new clients to the firm.

While there’s no single golden ticket to put a firm on the right growth path, there are a variety of patterns of behavior we look for that express it. When bringing new businesses into the Hightower community, we’re looking for founders that are growth-minded and have built RIAs that can clearly demonstrate their longterm value, whether it’s in how they execute marketing endeavors, pursue referrals, or the kinds of clients they cater to. Whatever it is, these growth-minded firms have a few traits in common – they articulate clear goals around business development and have systems in place to measure their prospect opportunities. There are different routes advisors can take to successfully grow their practices, but the one aspect we see across all the business we bring in is that they’re relentless about whatever path they’re following. It must be consistent to get our attention.

When we identify a company for a potential acquisition, it has to be the cultural right fit. We won’t just acquire a firm to increase our AUM; neither side will ultimately be happy. Our intention is always to forge long-term relationships, so it must make sense from both a business and cultural perspective. We are choosy

in who we bring in, and we spend a great deal of time learning about a potential new firm and giving them insight into our business and practices. We began Q4 with 131 advisory businesses in 34 states. While we expect to grow that number, it is about quality, not quantity.

Will you highlight Hightower’s focus and investment in research and insights?

Hightower’s Investment Solutions group serves as a resource to Hightower advisors who seek support with investment portfolios, asset allocation ideas, thought leadership, relationship building, client acquisition, and more. Two and a half years ago, we brought in Stephanie Link, a nationally known expert in macroeconomic and investment topics, to serve as our chief investment officer and portfolio manager, and to build out our Investment Solutions group.

Since Stephanie joined Hightower, the assets under management (AUM) by her team have grown from $800 million to over $3 billion, as advisors work with her to invest client assets. In many cases, the Investment Solutions team has worked hand-in-hand with advisors to help win business from larger endowments or clients – advisors are able to show the benefit of boutique-level service with institutional-level investment management. Stephanie and her team also make themselves available for fireside chats, webcasts on what the markets are up to, and individual client conversations, in collaboration with advisors. In addition, they create content that can be white-labeled for advisors to share with clients – in short, the Investment Solutions team is a resource advisors can choose to leverage in various ways. We continue to focus on how to improve our services, driven in part by input from our advisors on what they need.

Several months ago, we brought on another key investment leader, Robert Picard, an industry veteran, to lead alternative investments – an important role, and one we wanted to fill with someone eminently qualified. The Investment Solutions group now provides expanded access to best-in-class, privatemarket investments, preferred opportunities, and custom-portfolio consulting.

Will you discuss Hightower’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Financial services is notoriously behind in diversity; this is not a sustainable model and at Hightower, we are dedicated to leveling the playing field, investing in both hiring and promoting employees who come from underrepresented backgrounds and providing firmwide activities that foster a more inclusive workforce. We recently rolled out a program called “The Hightower Way” because we believe that culture doesn’t happen by accident. Key to the program are twice/week “huddles” – small group meetings of 10 or so that everyone in the firm must commit to. During these huddles, we discuss themes that are key to the Hightower Way, including our “Committment.”

At Hightower, our innovative and unique professionals are the foundation of our success, valued as thought leaders and trusted partners


delivering excellence. We commit to a transparent, people-first environment where talent is maximized through our diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. We nurture a spirit of belonging, are energized by challenges, celebrate our successes, and achieve individual and collective well-th goals. We use our huddles to bring these words on paper to life, sharing examples and ideas. We believe those proactive measures are one step forward.

We’ve reimagined our careers page on the website to reflect the energy of the company and have expanded internship opportunities which give us a tremendous jump-start in developing our next-gen talent pool. For the summer of 2022, Hightower received over 8,000 applicants and selected 25 interns, many of whom come from varied backgrounds, for placements in Chicago and New York.

We’re also proud to be a place people want to work and we want to be sure to highlight that to encourage diversity – we just launched what we’re calling our “Hype” video which gives a fun glimpse into our culture while telling the underlying story of who we are.

What do you see as Hightower’s responsibility to support the communities it serves and to be a force for good in society?

Truly great companies that have enduring value also are forces for good. Giving back to the community is personally close to my heart and something I’ve seen expressed in the hearts and minds of our entire Hightower family. One organization I’ve gotten close to over the past year is EEqual, a for-youth, by-youth nonprofit working to overcome student homelessness by raising awareness and increasing access to higher education. I joined the board last year, and it has offered an amazing way to see the dream and vision of one highly motivated college student become a resource that will have tremendous impact. That belief in “next gen” was the inspiration to launch an investment fund at Central Michigan University’s School of Business Administration to provide opportunities for students to gain real-world experience managing a portfolio while becoming familiar with Global Investment Performance Standards. Selfishly, this also gives me more opportunity to work with and engage students at my alma mater – I think “hands-on” giving is as important as financial contributions.

The Mental Health Association of Chicago is another organization I am deeply committed to, and I recently joined the board. The nonprofit’s mission around providing mental health support, awareness and education is becoming ever more crucial in the world we live in; it’s something that impacts all demographics. Our focus on “well-th” includes providing our advisors with tools and resources to support their clients and families who are struggling, and as a Chicago-based company we wanted to do all we could to make an impact here.

As a firm, Hightower regularly provides both financial support and sweat equity to benefit many incredible nonprofits. In February, we hosted a donation drive for Something Good In Englewood, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated

to providing socio-economic opportunities in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago. We donated in the wake of Hurricane Ian to World Central Kitchen – doing boots-on-theground work in an area where we have several offices and many clients.

We are proud that many Hightower advisors have been recognized for their efforts to give back and support communities in need. In 2021, we joined the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP), the nation’s only 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity solely devoted to supporting the delivery of pro bono financial planning. As an Impact Partner, Hightower advisors gain access to FFP opportunities throughout the year, such as the organization’s Retirement Resilience program which serves at-risk seniors, and the Financial Planning for Cancer program, serving families affected by cancer. It’s become a great resource for those advisors interested in expanding their pro bono services – and again, follows our theme of providing hands-on support along with financial contributions.

What do you see as the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

I believe in fostering a collaborative, inclusive, and transparent culture. At Hightower, we have structured our business so that advisors are stakeholders – both financially and professionally – and we want to create an environment where everyone feels as if they’re continually learning, growing, and contributing to the overall success and culture of the organization. I spoke earlier about “The Hightower Way” – that was an effort that spanned the company and considerable resources in terms of money and time invested because we believe so strongly in a culture of inclusion; one piece of that for me is just walking around and talking to folks and hosting monthly “Breakfast with Bob” sessions with a cross-section of employees. I’ve even been known to fix the coffee maker – and I’m secretly pleased to get asks like that because I believe it means we have a culture of communication and collaboration.

We also recognize that retaining happy employees is key to creating long-term success and continuity. I was proud to have played a role in developing our HIGHFlex permanent hybrid work model designed to help employees advance their careers while living their best lives. We have also made a concerted effort to make our Chicago headquarters a place people want to work from – with collaborative meeting spaces, rooms to rest and meditate, candy tubes and regular snacking options, and special celebration days – we’ve had everything from baristas to burritos.

I think we do better as a firm when we’re open and learn from one another. Across our entire community, we’re always finding creative ways to build and strengthen our connections – we do this through storytelling, through “well-th stories.” In these, we capture a cross section of advisors and home office talking about what well-th means to them – a renewed appreciation for life after a health

scare, the ability to be there for family – the stories are wide-ranging. We had fun with this concept during our intern program; we encouraged the group not just to learn from the executive teams, but to tell us their stories – who they are, where they’re from, what they’re learning, and their hopes for the future. We then communicated this with our wider community through a humor-filled ‘Intern Diaries’ weekly series on our website which documented their summer of learning, new relationships, and life-changing experiences, while illustrating the professional and personal benefits of the program – it was my guilty pleasure, must-read every week.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in building a career in finance?

First of all, careers don’t need to be linear. Be willing to take risks and try different opportunities. These are all tools in your toolbox. I think the most important thing is to find someone whose career you’d like to have and then learn from them. Through our internships, we really want to give young people exposure to specific skills and disciplines, whether that’s financial services, marketing, or IT, to name a few. Our interns shadow employees so they really get a sense of what the job looks like and what skills they need to be successful. And ask questions, prepare, and make sure you use the time when you have it to ask those questions. I’ve been so favorably impressed with the students who have come through our program and their drive; we even hired our first high-school intern based solely on the fact that she wasn’t afraid to speak up and engage.

I also believe that our duty as a leader in financial services is to help with “financial literacy” – explaining concepts that may seem difficult in ways that can be approachable and understandable. We’re trying to remove the “jargon” so that people understand what financial advisors really do, and I hope that goes a long way to opening eyes about the profession in general. We’re experimenting on Instagram and on TikTok, we’re working with influencers and trying to maximize partnerships – so that we can engage with people where they are instead of waiting for them to drop by an office or visit our website. We need to make financial education and support accessible for all.

One of our key missions at Hightower is to develop the next generation of wealth management talent. To create a more balanced and equitable future, the industry needs to not only recruit diverse young people, but also spark their imaginations and generate enthusiasm for the profession. That’s why a key tenant of Hightower’s program is engaging interns with storytelling; hearing how professionals found their way to the industry shows interns that there are both conventional and unconventional routes to success. The phrase “thinking outside of the box” is certainly trite, but I think it’s what characterizes our level of success and growth, and there’s no place I’d rather be than sitting in this seat, at this firm, during this time.•


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The Hometown Auction House

EDITORS’ NOTE Jay Krehbiel joined Hindman in 2017 and served as CEO from 2019 through 2022. Krehbiel has led the continued expansion of Hindman, including the opening of offices in Boston, Detroit, San Diego, Miami, Washington DC, and New York City and has also played an integral role in promoting the digital growth of the company. Krehbiel serves on the Board of Trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is the Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. He also serves on the boards of the Irish Georgian Society, the American Friends of the National Gallery of Ireland, and St. Chrysostom’s Church, and previously served on the boards of The Taft School and The Newberry Library. He has a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Northwestern University.

COMPANY BRIEF Hindman (hindman auctions.com) is a leading fine art auction house connecting cities nationwide to the global art market. With offices and salerooms throughout the country, Hindman conducts over 140 auctions annually in all major fine art and luxury collecting categories, while offering buyers and sellers an exceptional experience across multiple selling channels and price points. Hindman’s team of experts is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of ethics and integrity in the industry. Driven by this client-first approach, Hindman provides collectors, fiduciaries, and institutions with a comprehensive suite of services including auctions, appraisals, private sales, and art advisory. Hindman was formed through the merger of two premier auction houses, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers (est. 1982) and Cowan’s Auctions (est. 1995). Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2022, Hindman has established itself as a market leader by providing outstanding service and achieving record results. Hindman is headquartered in Chicago with 15 additional locations serving clients coast to coast. With industry-leading technology, over $100 million in annual sales, and a team of 175 experienced professionals, Hindman is well positioned to handle a range of auction and appraisal projects.


The team at Hindman celebrated our 40th anniversary this past October. In 1982, Leslie Hindman founded Hindman (then Leslie Hindman Auctioneers) to be Chicago’s auction house, something that was missing in the local landscape. Leslie had previously worked for Sotheby’s and saw how everything was being shipped to New York, whereas many of the other great cities of the United States had a hometown auction house. Leslie started with three employees. The first auction, held on a Saturday evening, had a room of over 300 people packed in to buy art and antiques, and the firm was off and running.

Fast-forward 40 years, and the firm has dramatically changed. Fifteen years ago, Leslie opened our first office outside of Chicago, in Naples, Florida. She had been selling property for families moving from Chicago to Naples, and felt that someday they would have property to sell down there. It was an immediate hit. Palm Beach followed two years later, and with that our strategy changed.

Leslie realized that many cities lacked what she had brought to Chicago – a hometown auction house. The expansion continued, at first to many smaller cities in the Midwest, and more recently across the country.

The business model has continued to evolve. With the advent of the internet, our company has become a global platform for selling art, jewelry, and antiques. No longer are we selling Milwaukee property only to a Milwaukee audience, with perhaps a few dealers who flew in from out of town, but now we are selling property from across the country to bidders around the world. We are continuing to build our office network – we just announced our

opening in Boston, Miami, and New York City –as we seek to be the nation’s premier, uppermiddle market auction house.

I would just add, over the past 40 years the business has changed in more tangible ways, too. The first auction was held in a room packed full of bidders. That doesn’t happen anymore, as everything has moved online or to the phones. Those who have been with us for a long time miss the excitement of the full sale room, but that is progress.

Will you discuss Hindman’s
and heritage and how Hindman has evolved?
Fine art, furniture and decorative arts offered at Hindman, including PierreAuguste Renoir’s ‘Les Fleurs,’ 1913, which sold for $400,000 in the auction house’s September 2021 American & European Art Sale

What have been the keys to Hindman’s ability to stay relevant and achieve growth over four decades?

Leslie has always told the team that we must be laser focused on serving our clients, and that has been the secret to our success. From my perspective, an auction house’s most important assets are the collective knowledge and skills of the team that works there, and the reputation of the firm. The former clearly enhances the latter. By always telling our team to be focused on the client’s needs, we allow them to bring their best selves to every project. That improves the chances for success which builds our reputation, giving us more opportunities.

Will you provide an overview of Hindman’s business and how you define the Hindman difference?

The role of an auction house is to bring great property to market and sell it successfully. We think we do that well, but not for everything. We serve what we call the upper-middle market – property from $5,000 to $500,000 is our sweet spot, though as a full-service house, we sell plenty of property below that and sometimes sell items above that range.

I mention full-service because that is what we feel sets us apart. We know that when a family is selling property from an estate there isn’t much use for someone who comes in and just takes the five best pieces from a collection and leaves the family to deal with the rest. We would advise against that

for two reasons – first, the better pieces can often provide a “halo effect” around the rest of the collection, drawing additional attention and bidding interest, and second, it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of trying to clean out a home. While Hindman isn’t the venue to sell everything, we will help you find a home for everything, whether it is sold with us, sold through a more specialized, local consignment shop or auction house, or whether items are donated or disposed of.

How did Hindman adapt the way it works to address the challenges caused by the global pandemic?

The pandemic only accelerated trends that were well underway. In particular, online bidding exploded as our clients sat at home with our app on their iPhone, bidding furiously on paintings and jewelry. While the first half of 2020 was a time of great uncertainty for us, by the end of the year we had achieved our second-best year ever. Those trends have continued in 2021 and 2022.

How critical is it for Hindman to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table when making business decisions?

I have talked a lot with the team about inclusivity as it is critical to the success of the company. There are two key themes around that which I have been thinking a lot about these past few years: first, I want employees to feel free to bring their whole selves to work, and second, we are all so much more than meets the eye

One of the great joys of work is that you build relationships which go beyond just the work tasks at hand – you make friends and build connections. You only do that if you can engage with colleagues beyond just whatever you are working on, so that requires respectful dialogue and inquiry, and a willingness to respect when someone doesn’t want to share information.

When meeting people, I always seek to understand their stories. I grew up with a mother who immigrated to the United States and I promise you, if you spend two minutes talking with her, you know immediately that she is not really from the United States, even though she has been here 60 years this year, and has been a citizen for the last 25 years.

As a rapidly developing firm that is eager to welcome new views and talent, we encourage team members to appreciate and respect different backgrounds and stories. Our ability to put clients first wouldn’t be possible without the range of experiences that inform how we approach our work, and these varying perspectives and skills are an important factor in our success.

What do you see as Hindman’s responsibility to be engaged in the communities it serves?

Hindman and the team are engaged in so many ways in the 16 communities that we serve. We did a survey recently of all of the groups that our team is involved with and I was astounded by the breadth and depth of engagements.

As I mentioned, our goal is to be the hometown auction house for each of the 16 cities we serve, and part of that is getting involved with the local institutions. Our focus is generally aligned with our business, which is to say art and design, but that can take you in so many different ways. We have been proud supporters of arts education initiatives, for example, which of course covers the arts, but it also focuses on childhood development, helping young people reach their full potential.

As Hindman recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, did this provide an opportunity for the Hindman team to take a moment to reflect on its accomplishments?

I partnered with Leslie five years ago and I stepped into the CEO role three years ago. We have almost tripled the firm in those past five years and I am proud of what this team has accomplished. Still, I think about the first 35 years, and I am blown away with what it took to get us to where we are from the beginning.

We had an incredible legacy and foundation to build upon, and that all goes back to Leslie. She set a tone of excellence for the firm. She worked harder than anyone. She had the drive and vision to create something from nothing, with no support from family – just a vision as to what she could achieve. That to me is incredible and far more difficult than what we have done. I am proud of all she has accomplished, and I am proud to be her partner in our continuing evolution as a firm.

To the other 173 people at Hindman beyond Leslie and me who make this all happen, every day, I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you. You bring an incredible passion and energy to the work we do. The auction business is tough, and you make it all seem easy.

What are your priorities for Hindman as you look to the next 40 years?

We have expanded significantly over the past few years, and this will continue to be a top priority for us. At Hindman, we believe there is a place for a nationwide auction house focused on the foundation of the auction market - core collectible property at a range of estimates, and it is our aim to be that house. We now have a presence throughout the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and the Mountain States. I can see us expanding more firmly to the West Coast and to Texas in the years ahead. I’m excited to be collaborating on this expansion with Alyssa Quinlan, Hindman’s former Chief Business Development Officer, who I’m pleased to have passed the reins to as our new Chief Executive Officer.

Additionally, I want to continue to build on our expertise and reputation in the categories of property we sell so that Hindman becomes the auction house of choice, whether you are buying or selling paintings, jewelry, antiques –whatever it is that you have been collecting, because at Hindman, we believe that everyone is a collector at heart.•

Recent important sales at Hindman included ‘Casting Spells: The Gertrude Abercrombie Collection of Laura and Gary Maurer’ in September 2022, which doubled its expected total sale estimate. The Gertrude Abercrombie painting featured here, ‘Shell and Drapery,’ 1952, sold for $106,250

The World of Classical Music

EDITORS’ NOTE In his nearly five decades as a respected classical musician and conductor, Gerard Schwarz has received hundreds of honors and accolades. Over the years, he has received nine Emmy Awards, 14 GRAMMY nominations, eight ASCAP Awards, and numerous Stereo Review and Ovation Awards. Internationally recognized for his moving performances, innovative programming, and extensive catalog of recordings, the American conductor serves as Music Director of the All-Star Orchestra, Eastern Music Festival, Palm Beach Symphony, and Mozart Orchestra of New York, and is Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Mostly Mozart Festival. He is Distinguished Professor of Music – Conducting and Orchestral Studies of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and Music Director of the Frost Symphony Orchestra. His considerable discography of over 350 albums showcases his collaborations with some of the world’s greatest orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Tokyo Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, and Seattle Symphony Orchestra, among others. In 2017, The Gerard Schwarz Collection, a 30-CD box set of previously unreleased or limited release works spanning his entire recording career, was released by Naxos. Schwarz began his professional career as co-principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic and has held Music Director positions with the Mostly Mozart Festival, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and New York Chamber Symphony. As a guest conductor, he has worked with many of the world’s finest orchestras and has led the San Francisco, Washington National, and Seattle Opera companies on many occasions. He is also a gifted composer and arranger with an extensive catalog of works that have been premiered by ensembles across the United States, Europe, and Korea. Schwarz is a renowned interpreter of 19th century German, Austrian, and Russian repertoire in addition to his noted work with contemporary American composers. He completed his final season as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony in 2011 after an acclaimed 26 years – a period of dramatic artistic growth for the ensemble. The City of Seattle named the street alongside the Benaroya Hall “Gerard Schwarz

Place” in his honor. His book, Behind the Baton, was released by Amadeus Press in March 2017.

SYMPHONY BRIEF Palm Beach Symphony (palmbeachsymphony.org) is South Florida’s premier orchestra known for its diverse repertoire and commitment to the community. Founded in 1974, this 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization adheres to a mission of engaging, educating, and entertaining the greater community of the Palm Beaches through live performances of inspiring orchestral music. The orchestra is celebrated for delivering spirited performances by first-rate musicians and distinguished guest artists. Recognized by The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County with a 2020 Muse Award for Outstanding Community Engagement, Palm Beach Symphony continues to expand its education and community outreach programs with children’s concerts, student coaching sessions and master classes, instrument donations, and free public concerts that have reached more than 56,000 students in recent years.

Did you always know that you had a passion for music

and where did this interest develop?

I have had a passion for music since I was a young boy. There was a pivotal point where my whole world changed when I was 12 years old. While performing the Sibelius Second Symphony at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, the music was so touching that I decided there was a possibility I would become a professional musician. I thought music could become the most important part of my life.

How do you define the role of a Music Director and has the role evolved over the years?

Music directors are different with every orchestra in every country, especially in Europe. Essentially, the role is to inspire the orchestra and conduct great concerts. Furthermore, they pick soloists and programs to conduct. In the United States, the role often is more involved –we collaborate with guest conductors and guest soloists to help with the programming, and we work with every department of the orchestra’s administration from marketing to fundraising. We aren’t the primary person involved, but we just make observations. Our responsibility, of course,

Gerard Schwarz An Interview with Gerard Schwarz, Music Director, Palm Beach Symphony
Gerard Schwarz conducting the Palm Beach Symphony (above and opposite page)

is musical so it relates with the performances, the quality of the orchestra, and guests.

What excited you about the opportunity to join Palm Beach Symphony and made you feel it was the right fit?

When I was a guest conductor with the Palm Beach Symphony, we did Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. I was immediately taken aback with the collaborative, dedicated attitude of the musicians. They clearly wanted to produce a great concert. I was also very impressed with the audience in Palm Beach. We all know of Palm Beach as a very special place in our country, but I had no idea that it had such a strong cultural identity and desire to have a wonderful orchestra in its community. The combination of the excellence of the orchestra, the wonderful administration and board, and the committed audience made it a natural fit for me. So, when I was offered the position, I did not hesitate to accept. It has been quite a wonderful time that will happily be continuing for many years.

How do you describe the Palm Beach community’s commitment to arts and education?

It seems to me that the Palm Beach community has a tremendous thirst for art, whether it be through the Norton Museum of Art, through the ballet and opera, or especially through the Palm Beach Symphony. People who live in Palm Beach care about education. They care about educating the children in the community. They care deeply about being involved in cultural activities. Not every community is like that. Some cities feel like there’s not enough interest by enough people. But in Palm Beach, one feels that there’s hardly a person who isn’t involved in the arts in some fashion. This is unique and very special. One can look to cities like

New York to see a similar involvement. But Palm Beach is extraordinary in that way.

Will you discuss Palm Beach Symphony’s commitment to music education and its initiatives in this area?

We have a tremendous commitment to educating the youth of our community. One of our programs is accepting donated instruments which are then repaired and given to deserving students throughout Palm Beach County. We also hold an annual TV program, and we are creating a library of educational television through our association with South Florida Public Television. We also go into the city, into the schools, and into the communities and give short concerts for the students in their own environment. Additionally, we bring them into the Kravis Center to hear the orchestra in our home. We have an extraordinary staff, including Director of Artistic Operations, Olga Vazquez, that helps us make this an important part of who we are.

What do you feel is Palm Beach Symphony’s responsibility to the community it serves and to be engaged in the community?

Every orchestra must be engaged in the life of its community. Some of the ways we engage are through education, exposure, and performances. We try to go out into the community as well as bring the community to the orchestra. I believe that we are working very hard in this area so that we can be identified as an important part of Palm Beach.

You have been a leader with some of the most respected and renowned orchestras during your career. Will you discuss these experiences and how your career has evolved?

I’ve been very lucky in my life to have conducted some of the greatest orchestras in the world and to have been the music director in some

of the great cities of the world. In each case, I have grown as an artist and learned from those experiences. The great thing about being a conductor is that as wonderful as we can be as young musicians, experience and the depth of understanding – not only of the music, but about the community we serve – comes with experience and with longevity. Luckily, I have that and hopefully I can bring all of those experiences from Los Angeles, New York, Liverpool, and elsewhere to Palm Beach.

You devote your time and expertise to teaching the next generation of industry leaders. What has made teaching so important to you and what are the key messages you want to convey to your students?

As a conductor, in a sense you’re always a teacher. You’re guiding the orchestra, but at the same time, you’re teaching. At this time in my life, to have the great honor of working with incredibly gifted young students is very gratifying. What I try to bring and teach them is a great love of the art and a great love of performing for a large and diverse audience. It is very exciting to share many of the experiences and knowledge I have gained from my years of working with orchestras with these incredibly gifted young people.

How concerned are you about the reduction of arts and music programs in middle schools and high schools, and how important is it for music to remain a part of the curriculum in schools?

Of course, I’ve been concerned over many years now about the reduction of education in public schools. That said, I do believe that we are headed in a very positive direction right now with many schools understanding the great value educationally of teaching music. As a result, finally, we are seeing an uptick in music education programs in schools, and I think that is for two reasons: one is because of the intrinsic value of the music itself. For the educators, the students do better in every subject if they actually play a musical instrument. Second, we look for large numbers in our orchestras or bands or choruses, and as a result this is very attractive, I think, to many of the leaders in the public schools. But I think the most important thing for me, of course, is the great value of great music. For an educator who may have little interest in music, it really does help with math, science, and every other subject –we’ve seen that countless times. So we have the saying, “You want to fix schools in the United States? Then teach everybody music.”

You have achieved many accolades and awards during your career. Are you able to enjoy the process and take moments to celebrate what you have accomplished?

I’m always happy to celebrate my accomplishments, but what’s really important to me is the future. Everything I do is geared towards how we can better serve our communities; how we can increase the audience; how we can bring this great art form to more people; and how we can educate more people. So, though it’s wonderful to receive honors, it’s much more rewarding to actually be involved with seeing the progress that we all are trying to make with exposure and education in the world of classical music.•


Automating Engagement

EDITORS’ NOTE Randall Crowder is passionate about new venture creation and the innovative spirit that fuels entrepreneurs and advances in technology. As an active investor and entrepreneur, he understands what it takes to successfully launch and grow a new business. He regularly publishes articles and speaks on entrepreneurship, venture capital, healthcare, and the rise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Over the past decade, Crowder has led over 40 angel investments and deployed over $60 million across 14 companies as a venture capitalist. He is a co-founder and Managing Partner at TEXO Ventures where he focused on tech-enabled health services and he is the sole founder and Managing Partner at Nove - Ventures where he focuses on investing in existing companies looking to leverage blockchain technology. Prior to TEXO, he led the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN) to becoming one of the most active angel networks in the country. Crowder also founded and launched Texas Venture Labs (TVL) at UT in order to give the next generation of investors unique experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Before getting involved in venture and entrepreneurship, Crowder was a Captain in the United States Army and is both Airborne and Ranger qualified. He served over six years active duty and deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he was awarded two Bronze Stars for his actions during combat operations. Crowder holds a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from the McCombs School of Business. He is also a Kauffman Fellow and member of the Young Entrepreneur Council.

COMPANY BRIEF Phunware, Inc. (phunware.com) is the pioneer of Multiscreen-as-a-Service (MaaS), an award-winning, fully integrated enterprise cloud platform for mobile that provides companies the products, solutions, data and services necessary to engage, manage and monetize their mobile application portfolios and audiences globally at scale. Phunware’s Software Development Kits (SDKs) include location-based services, mobile engagement, content management, messaging, advertising, loyalty (PhunCoin & PhunToken) and analytics, as well as a mobile application

framework of pre-integrated iOS and Android software modules for building in-house or channel-based mobile application and vertical solutions. Phunware helps the world’s most respected brands create category-defining mobile experiences, with approximately one billion active devices touching its platform each month when operating at scale.

Will you highlight the history and heritage of Phunware and how the company has evolved?

Phunware was founded in 2009 by Alan Knitowski, Luan Dang, and Alan Kane. Ironically, I was actually one of the first people to hear the Phunware pitch as I helped Alan raise his first $1.5 million seed round. Back then, the mission was simple – help large brands transition from web to mobile. However, there was nothing simple about the value proposition.

In 2009, less than 3 percent of internet content was consumed on mobile and many brands were just figuring out what to make of the web. Fast forward to today and that number is over 60 percent with the majority being delivered through native apps. Phunware has built mobile apps for everyone from the NFL, NASCAR, and Fox to the Olympics, hospitals and even a U.S. president. Phunware raised over $100 million as a private company from marquee investors like Cisco, Samsung, and WWE before going public on Nasdaq in December 2018 under the ticker symbol PHUN.

do you define Phunware’s mission and purpose?


Our dedicated team of pioneers deploy cutting-edge technology to help any brand in any industry better engage, manage and monetize their stakeholders in a mobile-first world. We tech-enable contextual engagement by leveraging data and unifying disparate thirdparty solutions to deliver the right content in the right place to the right person at the right time. By automating engagement, we help our customers not only make more money, save more money, or get more out of their money, but also delight their stakeholders by enhancing real world experiences.

Will you provide an overview of Phunware’s solutions and how you describe the Phunware advantage?

Although Phunware began as a custom mobile development company, we now offer a robust enterprise platform so companies can standardize critical operations on our mobile cloud infrastructure and realize the true promise of digital transformation. In addition to having more than a decade of experience in mobile, we are most proud of five distinct competitive advantages that represent specific solutions designed to reimagine engagement:

1. Modular Application Framework. Our customers can deploy complex mobile ecosystems by licensing proven software rather than writing custom code. This gives them the unique ability to rapidly deploy mobile applications that can be easily updated to address feature enhancements as well as the evolving

Randall Crowder
“Our dedicated team of pioneers deploy cuttingedge technology to help any brand in any industry better engage, manage and monetize their stakeholders in a mobile-first world.”

demands of platforms like Apple iOS and Google Android. We have also pre-integrated all of our features and capabilities by industry to provide out-of-the-box solutions that take the guesswork out of deployments.

2. Location Based Services (LBS). You can’t engage what you can’t locate and we have the best location software in the world. When you are outside, you can use GPS and satellites to locate a mobile device, but we bring this capability indoors. We can deliver proximity, sub one-second real-time blue dot indoor positioning, navigation and wayfinding functionality that is ADA-compliant across any facility or campus, while seamlessly switching between indoor and outdoor environments. These capabilities are so powerful they can even help venues handle real-time emergency response scenarios by contacting and dynamically routing people to safety, while simultaneously guiding first responders to an identified threat or emergency.

3. Software Development Kits (SDKs) & Application Program Interfaces (APIs). Some customers already have a well-established mobile strategy, so we also offer the ability to integrate our features into existing mobile applications. This capability is central to our strategy to establish indirect channels where we can take advantage of partner relationships and scale more rapidly.

4. Interoperability. No matter the industry, our customers work with any number of partners in order to effectively run their businesses. That’s why working with Phunware can be a force multiplier. We are not one mobile application to replace them all, but rather one mobile application to rule them all. Our cloud platform can deliver interoperability-as-a-service and seamlessly unify disparate third-party solutions inside of one mobile application with one secure, single sign-on (SSO).

5. Blockchain. Everything outlined so far is all about engagement, but if engagement is so valuable then there is an opportunity to not only incentivize engagement, but also authenticate who is being engaged. These are perfect examples of where blockchain is more effective than many existing solutions. With PhunCoin and PhunToken, we are the first public company to launch digital assets that are

being designed to deliver these capabilities to enterprises in a compliant manner. We have also launched PhunWallet as our own native, persistent mobile application to manage this dual token ecosystem.

Will you discuss the shift to a mobilefirst world and how digital transformation is impacting businesses across all industries?

Last year, people spent a third of their waking hours on their phones according to the App Annie State of Mobile 2022 report. That’s almost five hours per day. Let that sink in for a moment.

Statista estimates that an astounding 90 percent of the global internet population uses a mobile device to go online. Advancements in technology and improvements in form factors have made mobile so ubiquitous we don’t even say mobile phone anymore; we just say phone because what else would it be? With consumers spending 3.8 trillion hours on their phones, any organization that doesn’t have a mobile strategy is being left behind. However, just knowing that is not a strategy.

We live in a very connected world, yet somehow, we remain disconnected from it. Recall the last time you walked into a grocery store and ask yourself if technology sprang into action to serve you. Where are the holograms from the movies? Why isn’t augmented reality (AR) a thing? Does your phone even come out of your pocket other than to remember what your partner texted you to not forget?

We got excited about the rise of IoT, but we lack the software layer to connect people on their phones to the internet of things in realtime to meaningfully drive digital transformation forward.

How has blockchain technology enabled the creation of a decentralized data economy, unleashing contextual engagement opportunities for Fortune 500 brands?

Crypto is a house of cards built on hubris, fraud, and confusion, but blockchain remains one of the greatest innovations the global economy has ever seen since the Medicis commercialized double-entry accounting. Just like the dot-com boom when wantrepreneurs either cashed out or flamed out, market corrections like the one we’re experiencing now are

important because what emerges from the ashes of failure are companies like Phunware that are accountable to their shareholders and will usher in lasting change that realizes blockchain’s true potential.

Just like Bitcoin proved two parties could transact in a trustless manner without an intermediary like a bank, brands and consumers do not need data oligarchs in the middle who profit from the exploitation of consumer data without consent. A decentralized data economy, which Phunware is helping to create, will put consumers in charge of their data and enable brands to efficiently reach the consumers who are most willing to pay attention.

What would you tell leading brands about the most effective ways to engage, manage and monetize their global audiences and communities?

Often referred to as the Father of Modern Advertising, John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Since the dawn of commerce, brands have been trying to reach consumers. Advertising can actually be traced back to ancient civilizations, but it’s still widely defined as “the action of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements.” While platforms have evolved over time, the intent has always been the same: drive awareness in the hope that increased awareness can be monetized.

In the early 2000s, personal computers enabled brands to more easily reach consumers with one of the most obvious examples being the proliferation of AdWords by Google. This was just another iteration of the same hypothesis that a brand can effectively brainwash consumers by saturating them with content anywhere they are at any time with very little discretion in order to drive awareness in the hope that the consumer thinks of the brand when it’s time to buy. Yet, consumers have been conditioned to ignore things like banner ads, pop-ups and billboards. We DVR shows to fast-forward through commercials and we subscribe to streaming services to avoid them altogether.

We have limited attention spans and are living in an on-demand world where we want what we want, but only when and how we want it. Phunware is uniquely suited to deliver this kind of on-demand experience because our enterprise cloud platform enables brands to source, curate, and take action on information from the virtual world in order to inform and enhance real world experiences.

Whether it’s launching our Smart Hospitality Solution for Atlantis to help guests explore every inch of the 140 acres that make up Paradise Island in the Bahamas, which generated more than half a million dollars in booking revenue in the first few months, or delivering a next-generation Smart Workplace Solution for Norfolk Southern to reimagine the office experience, Phunware’s platform is a mobile concierge for any industry so that any brand can contextually engage anyone.

“With consumers spending 3.8 trillion hours on their phones, any organization that doesn’t have a mobile strategy is being left behind.”

What needs to be done to provide consumers with full sovereign control over their personal data?

From GDPR to CCPA to corporate policies, there has been a dramatic shift in favor of increased privacy and stricter regulations when it comes to accessing the kind of data that technology companies need in order to make brand engagements more targeted and personal.

Self-sovereign identity (SSI) recognizes that an individual should own and control their identity, but blockchain may be our best hope to achieve this since it can shift identity and credential management from the client-server model, Web2, to a peer-to-peer model, Web3. However, many of the most popular Web2 platforms would cripple the Web3 infrastructure that has been commercialized to date. Technology companies like Phunware will have to find innovative ways to bridge the gap between external data on the existing web and blockchain-based applications on mobile.

For example, we acquired Lyte Technology to explore the ability to deploy a decentralized oracle network that could function symbiotically with PhunWallet. Instead of housing high-performance computers in centralized warehouses called data centers, what if we could deliver the same capabilities by creating a mesh network across high-performance computers distributed all over the world that process mobile data at scale?

As Buckminister Fuller once said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” To provide consumers with full sovereign control over their personal data, we must build a decentralized data economy that allows individuals to determine when, where and why to provide access to their credentials, but we’ll likely need a centralized effort to ensure success. We need benevolent centralized organizations with the resources and sense of urgency necessary to commercialize these decentralized ecosystems and capabilities.

How critical is it for Phunware to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table when addressing client needs?

Very. At Phunware, 42 percent of our workforce is from underrepresented groups and

I just oversaw the replacement of an archaic “Men and Women” bathroom sign in our new office with one that reads simply, “All Gender.” But I can’t take credit for this because it was an oversight brought to my attention by one of our all-star executives, Suzy Elizondo. I have so much pride in her, but I am also proud we are building the kind of culture that celebrates not only our differences, but also identifying areas where we can improve.

Having served in the military during combat operations, I understand intimately what it means to lead a diverse workforce. The United States Armed Forces are all-volunteer and proudly diverse because people of all demographic, cultural, ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds come together to serve one purpose: defend this nation. Of course, there is still plenty of work to be done to further diversity and inclusion both in the military and at Phunware, but I have seen firsthand how different perspectives and experiences can be brought to the table if leaders are wise enough to ensure enough seats.

What do you see as Phunware’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to being a force for good in society?

At Phunware, as with most technology companies, we can reach and therefore serve the global community. We want to transcend traditional boundaries and transform the digital human experience to better connect all of us through technology not only to each other, but also to the brands we love today and the ones we may discover tomorrow. Having been born in 1980, my generation grew up analog, but we were young enough to learn and embrace digital as we came of age. We remember what it was like to self-organize and self-actualize without technology. We must not trade our humanity for convenience.

While there is a lot of talk about engaging in the virtual world, make no mistake, the metaverse is a marketing gimmick that will not live up to its promise for years to come due to hardware challenges, bandwidth constraints, form factor issues and general consumer acceptance. The next step in engagement is not to create a virtual world to escape the real one, but rather to tech-enable the real world to make it a better one.

How do you balance the short-term, quarter-to-quarter pressures for financial results with the need to make long-term investments for the company’s future?

Carefully. And sometimes on one foot with a headwind, while balancing a teacup on my head. Being a public company is not easy. You have to not only master the business of being in business, but also the business of being public. Admittedly, we have faced challenges in the process of growing. We went public via a SPAC before SPACs were cool, we didn’t have a bank take us out and we raised virtually no money.

Although we now find ourselves fighting in the trenches of microcap hell, I believe we remain a small cap company masquerading as a microcap. I truly believe we would be raising money at a pre-money valuation of at least $500 million if we were private today with what we have to offer. However, this kind of value imbalance is not uncommon in the public markets because we aren’t a household brand yet.

You could have invested in Amazon under $100 for a decade and taken advantage of at least four market crashes when the stock price fell by at least 60 percent, while they built an unbeatable competitive advantage for an on-demand economy years before anyone knew what an on-demand economy was or why they needed it. We are getting more disciplined about how we leverage cash to minimize dilution and in 2023 we will remain laser focused on our core competencies around enterprise software.

We are investing in and building an unbeatable competitive advantage for on-demand experiences and we’re at an inflection point. In 2021, revenues grew 50 percent from Q2 to Q3 and over 150 percent from Q3 to Q4. We ended the year with a much stronger balance sheet and did 312 percent YoY growth in Q1 of 2022 and 282 percent in Q2. We will continue to be opportunistic about inorganic growth opportunities, but are bullish about a $50-million+ pipeline that we’re seeing an increase in activity from as the world works to move past or at least co-exist with COVID-19.

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

Effective leadership is like air: it’s hard to picture, but you know when it’s not present. I think most leaders rarely stop to think about what makes them an effective leader because they are focused on being effective, not necessarily leading. I make the distinction because there’s no room for ego and a leader must be able to delegate. A leader must be accountable not only to those who are being led, but also to any limitations a leader may have. This kind of authenticity is a cornerstone to my management style.

I have no problem leading with purpose and by example, but I don’t have to be right. It’s more important to me that I get it right. I would never waste my time driving in circles if I could just pull over and ask for directions. I strive to surround myself with the smartest people possible and create an environment that welcomes constructive collaboration as well as failure. Effective leaders only serve at the pleasure of those who are willing to follow them.•

“Technology companies like Phunware will have to find innovative ways to bridge the gap between external data on the existing web and blockchain-based applications on mobile.”

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A Digital Native Credit Union

EDITORS’ NOTE Charles Krawitz is a key member of Alliant’s executive leadership team. He is a highly regarded innovator, creating longterm value for Alliant’s members through his commercial real estate, loan trading and fintech initiatives. Krawitz has more than 30 years of experience in financial services with financial institutions including ABN AMRO, KeyBank, and Fifth Third Bank. In addition to other honors, he was named to the Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame in 2020 and selected as a Manager of the Year finalist by Gallup in 2021. Krawitz earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois, a master’s in regional and urban planning from the London School of Economics, and was awarded an executive scholar designation in general management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

ORGANIZATION BRIEF Headquartered in Chicago and founded in 1935, Alliant Credit Union (alliantcreditunion.org) is one of the 10 largest credit unions in the U.S. with more than 700,000 members and over $18 billion in assets. As a digital credit union, Alliant’s mission is to provide members consistently superior financial value while simplifying and enabling how people save, borrow, and pay.

Will you provide an overview of your role and areas of focus?

I’m passionate about my role at Alliant because it provides me with the opportunity to innovate and positively impact the financial well-being of so many. As Alliant Credit Union’s Senior Vice President, Chief Capital Markets Officer, and Head of Commercial Lending, I focus on four key areas of responsibility: loan trading, fintech partnerships, commercial real estate lending and, more recently, overseeing our relationships with key corporate partners to bring best-in-class financial products and services to their employees. We are a digital native credit union, which means we serve our members through easy-to-use electronic channels focused on achieving laudatory experiences.

The willingness of Alliant to try new and innovative ideas that are not the norm in the

broader financial services space is one of our biggest differentiators, and a significant part of my leadership role. Shaping and implementing strategy to achieve impactful results in service to our members is at the core of my responsibilities. I am required to be an effective enterprise leader and that means being able to identify opportunities, design plans, secure resources, inspire colleagues, and achieve results. By working with and through others, I have been effective at instilling a destination-driven mindset. People don’t work for me; they work with me, and together we make great things happen for our members and partners.

Will you highlight Alliant Credit Union’s history and how the business has evolved?

Alliant was originally formed in 1935 as the United Airlines Employees’ Credit Union, and for the last 87 years it has been a business built on the idea of people helping people. In 2003, we expanded our membership beyond United Airlines and took on the name Alliant. Since our inception, we have served borrowers and savers across the country; those roots have allowed us to become a fully digital financial institution over the years, something our members have appreciated more and more every year.

We have long embraced innovative opportunities to serve our members including fintech partnerships that lean into our digital approach and provide membership expansion opportunities aligned with our mission. Through such partnerships, we have experimented with lending to fund a wide range of projects including solar, personal term loans, home equity loans, and more. On the commercial real estate lending front, we have pursued well-located properties owned by highly experienced investors and built a portfolio that totals nearly $2 billion. Our typical transaction is a term loan secured by stabilized institutional caliber property, but we also provide capital to niche lenders that pursue bridge and construction loan opportunities.

How do you describe Alliant Credit Union’s culture and how critical is culture to the success of the organization?

We have the tight-knit culture of a small company. Everyone’s influence and

input is welcomed, and Alliant as an organization is not hierarchical in nature. People are encouraged to move outside of their lanes and try new things. In this way, each employee is well positioned to contribute to the broader business.

As a well-known and regarded credit union that routinely finds new and better ways to serve our members, we have inspired our peers to be similarly venturesome. We take our leadership in the credit union space seriously, and routinely distribute loans through participation sales to other credit unions. That collaboration strategy provides other credit unions with the opportunity to experiment with new products, diversify risk, and enhance returns – all activities that benefit their members as well.

What have been the keys to the growth of Alliant Credit Union’s commercial mortgage portfolio?

When I joined Alliant in 2017, I immediately made customer service our paramount focus. The goal was to attract lending opportunities through high-caliber commercial mortgage brokers by impressing them with our acumen, responsiveness, and creativity. I was fortunate to bring long-established relationships with commercial mortgage brokers to Alliant and to parlay my personal connectivity into quick wins. These early successes were critical to telling our story on a national basis and reinforcing our relevance with respect to a wide variety of property types. We quickly became a top-of-mind lender and, by offering highly competitive terms, a true “go to” source of capital. Our strategy focused on high-quality customer service, knowing what high-quality borrowers were looking for, and delivering it to them.

Where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth for the business?

There’s a misperception in the financial community that credit unions aren’t interested in participating in complex lending transactions, so once that myth is dispelled, there will be a lot of opportunity. In particular, we are expanding our network of niche lenders in the loan-on-loan space. Over the past five years, we have had a lot of success forging relationships with lenders like Trez Capital, MidCap Financial, and others. The positive outcomes from these partnerships demonstrate our real estate wherewithal and

Charles Krawitz
An Interview with Charles Krawitz, Senior Vice President and Chief Capital Markets Officer, Alliant Credit Union

highlight our reliability. As we continue to engage in loan-on-loan opportunities, we are confident that we will further our reputation as a capable, competent counterparty that understands and responsibly underwrites our participation in complex transactions.

Likewise, there is great opportunity to expand our membership base through Select Employee Groups (SEGs). By way of our SEG program, we bring the benefits of a digital credit union directly to large employers and their expansive employee base by offering emergency savings programs that involve matching funds along with other targeted products that enhance participation and produce positive financial outcomes. These programs not only hold great promise for the growth of Alliant itself, but for the thousands who work for our SEG partners.

Will you discuss Alliant Credit Union’s commitment to innovation and where innovation is taking place in the business?

From the moment we embraced becoming a digital credit union, we made innovation a part of our DNA. We are in constant conversation with cutting-edge firms and seek to partner and collaborate in ways that allow us to best serve our members. Most recently, this approach has resulted in Alliant making equity investments in fintech lenders and expanding our commercial real estate platform to provide loans on RV parks, selfstorage facilities, and other property types.

Currently, we are focused on creating new products to combat financial insecurity. We are partnering with large organizations that prioritize financial wellness for their employees. We offer an exclusive digital Emergency Savings Program (ESP) designed for employees to enjoy cash incentives from their employer, which is augmented by Alliant.

The turnkey program offers a dedicated savings account and nationwide banking with digital and personal access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The ESP even offers cash incentives provided by Alliant for reaching savings goals on a quarterly basis. These supplemental deposits increase enrollment and challenge participants to save more for their future needs. It’s no coincidence that Alliant offers one of the highest savings rates in the country at 20 times the national

average, along with the highest cash-back credit card in the U.S.

How critical is it for Alliant Credit Union to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Diversity is an essential part of any successful business, but even more so to a business accountable to its members. To effectively serve a diverse membership base, you need a range of different kinds of people in positions of influence. As Alliant has a wide array of members across the country, we are focused on ensuring that our team makeup reflects those populations.

We are currently at a 50/50 split of men and women in the company, 43 percent of our executive leadership are women and 40 percent of our employees are people of color. Furthermore, we view inclusion as a way of thinking and doing that promotes understanding, acceptance, and growth throughout our organization. Good ideas come from conversations where all voices feel heard and respected and, to ensure this happens, we have created a few rapidly growing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), such as ALL (for LGBTQIA+ team members), EMPOWER (our Black Professionals Network) and INCLUDE (a women’s group), with each meeting regularly to network, brainstorm, and problem-solve.

What do you see as Alliant Credit Union’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to be a force for good in society?

Serving our members and communities is as important to Alliant as shareholder performance is to a publicly traded bank. Our member-first philosophy means we are committed to making a positive impact on the financial health of individual people and communities.

As a digital credit union, we are particularly sensitive to access to technology, which is essential to fully participate in today’s world both economically and socially. Unfortunately, millions of people in this country lack access to basic technology such as computers, smartphones, and internet access or lack the skills needed to use digital devices. The disparity between those who can access these technologies and those who cannot is known as the digital divide, and as a digitally focused company, Alliant

is dedicated to bridging this gap to create digital equity for all.

Through the Alliant Credit Union Foundation, we work toward this digital inclusion goal by making partnerships with like-minded organizations, delivering digital skills training courses to impacted communities, and calling upon our community leaders to champion affordable internet access reform.

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership?

In my experience, the best leadership comes from people who truly value others. I like to surround myself with smart, capable, motivated people, and I encourage them to share their opinions and ideas with me. As an industry, I believe we would do well to move away from a more hierarchical structure and toward a model that gives everyone a voice –great ideas can come from anywhere. I know from experience that if you create an environment that uplifts everyone around you, good things will happen.

I am also very dedicated to mentorship and taking that a step further into sponsorship of those I mentor. It gives me great satisfaction to watch people succeed. There is no better feeling than getting a text from a former mentee thanking me for my help and sharing their accomplishments. I like to think I am a good leader because I am effective at shining the spotlight on others.

What advice do you offer to young people beginning their careers during this uncertain time?

It’s tempting to think that another job or another company will be different, when the reality is that we are all facing the same challenges in an uncertain world. Leaving at the first sign of trouble sometimes means missing out on valuable experience. My advice is to look for opportunities within your organization to keep learning and find mentors to help guide you. I see a lot of Millennials and Gen Z’s leaving a position without ever fully committing themselves to their current roles. Admittedly, I probably did this a bit too much when I was younger. However, in my experience, when change comes suddenly and unexpectedly, those who stay positive and stay the course can learn and grow together with their companies, coworkers, and leadership. •

“We are a digital native credit union, which means we serve our members through easy-to-use electronic channels focused on achieving laudatory experiences.”

Leading With Alignment

EDITORS’ NOTE With more than 30 years of experience investing in both traditional and alternative asset classes, Christopher Zook is a regular contributor to major media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg. He is actively involved in public policy and frequently serves as a resource to state and local officials. Prior to starting CAZ Investments in 2001, Zook served in senior leadership positions with Oppenheimer, Prudential Securities, Lehman Brothers and Paine Webber. He is former ViceChairman of the Deacons and serves on the Finance Committee at Second Baptist Church. He has held leadership positions on a variety of charitable boards, including his current role on the board of Elizabeth Ruth’s Home, an organization helping adults with autism. He previously served as President of the Board of Trustees of Avondale House and President of The Children’s Fund. A lifelong Houstonian, he is a graduate of Texas Tech University where he was recently honored as a Distinguished Alumni.

FIRM BRIEF CAZ Investments (cazinvestments.com) curates unique and exclusive opportunities for their global network of investors. Since its inception in 2001, it has been dedicated to finding the best opportunities for investing the principals personal capital while also providing their ecosystem with the ability to co-invest alongside them. Individually, they are small, but collectively they are the equivalent of a large institutional investor, with superior access and buying power. With over $4 billion in current assets under management, their global network consists of approximately 2,400 co-investors spread across 47 states and 13 countries.

What was your vision for founding CAZ Investments and how do you define the firm’s mission?

Our mission is to curate unique investment opportunities for our network of investors. The reality is most individual investors don’t have access to high quality alternative investments –in private equity, private credit, private real estate, etc. – as they are crowded out by institutions with much larger check books. When we started CAZ Investments in 2001, the idea was to create an “insti-vidual” where our network of

investors could lock arms as a unified front and command access to opportunities. When we launched in 2001, it was just my family and our shareholder families, but our network has since grown to 2400 investors globally, and many independent advisors/ family offices who represent them. We currently have over $4 billion in assets under management.

CAZ Investments has a clear set of guiding principles. Will you highlight these principles and explain how embedded they are in CAZ Investments’ culture?

At CAZ, we lead with alignment. Our network of investors know they are investing alongside the Team that rides the elevator every day. Our Team and our core shareholders have personal capital on the line in every vehicle so our investors can rest assured that we are fully committed to their success. In addition, we have created an investment ecosystem where, in many cases, CAZ does not get paid unless our investors make money on the opportunity. This combination creates the ultimate alignment between our investors’ success and our own.

The idea behind our philosophy is to create “raving fans” of our investors through every interaction. To deliver on that imperative, it is key for us to hold ourselves to a standard of excellence and innovation which, for us, means we focus on three main pillars:

First, we challenge the conventional, thinking outside the box to find ways to disrupt the status quo and change our industry for the better. We have an acronym we use internally: CANI – Constant and Never-ending Improvement – and our Team embodies that in all we do.

Second, we find what matters and endeavor to see the forest, not the trees. It is easy to get lost in the investment whirlwind, but we know that to be exceptional, we need to avoid the “noise of the crowd” and focus on what is really going to drive results. Similarly, we want to face the future and remain proactive to see what is likely to drive the economy and investment results. We focus on finding tailwinds that will produce outstanding risk-adjusted returns.

Finally, in every investment we make, we make painstaking efforts to understand all the potential risks. It may seem counterintuitive to try to find ways to “blow up” a new opportunity,

but we know that if we can live with the worstcase scenario, the upside will take care of itself. We typically review over 1,500 opportunities each year and only a few investments will separate themselves as worthy for us to invest in personally. When that happens, we will provide a way for our partners to come alongside us. Over the past 20+ years, this curation process has resulted in less than 0.2 percent of opportunities to be approved.

What have been the keys to CAZ Investments’ growth and how do you describe the CAZ Investments difference?

We have a saying among our Team that “good alignment usually leads to good decisions, and bad alignment usually leads to bad decisions.” Investors rarely encounter a firm that has so much of their personal wealth in the investments they put forth. CAZ is immediately differentiated because most sophisticated investors want to know that we are in the boat together. This creates trust and, more importantly, facilitates better due diligence for opportunities we source.

We further attribute our growth to a continued focus on our guiding principles and growing our Team with people who exemplify those values. Any CAZ Team member can attest that our hiring process is one of the most extensive – and intensive – hiring processes they have experienced. We believe our Team is world-class, and we go to great lengths to ensure we maintain a culture of excellence and dedication to our investors.

When you combine these elements with our strong track record and dedication to aligning our interests with those of our investors, you get our recipe for success.

You are a respected authority and voice in the market on GP Stakes. Will you discuss your focus in this area?

We have invested more than $3 billion in GP stakes, becoming one of the largest allocators in the world. A “GP stake” means we own a piece of a private asset manager. By owning a piece of the asset management business itself, we are focusing on the broader trend of private investments as an asset class, which is expected to soar from $9 trillion to $14 trillion by 2025. Take private equity, for example. It has outperformed public markets every year for the past 35 years, making it highly sought-after. The problem is that to invest in most private market funds, investors must meet very high

Christopher Zook

minimums which eliminates the vast majority of individuals, and pay hefty management fees, regardless of whether or not the asset actually performs well. That is if they can get in at all. That led us to ask a new and crucially important question: What if, instead of just investing in private equity funds as an LP client, we found a way to own a piece of the actual companies who are managing them and become part of the GP ownership? Let’s become beneficiaries of the operating businesses that are managing numerous funds and participate in the fees they generate across a highly diversified set of investments.

The asset management businesses we own are structurally designed with an advantage. Private funds typically charge annual management fees that are contractually obligated and not dependent on performance. As the owner of a GP stake in the manager of the fund, that means those are fees we are earning, regardless of how long it takes for underlying funds to be invested or harvested. Plus, assuming these outstanding firms do a good job managing the fund, there is also additional upside from the share of profits that these managers receive. The combination of these contractual fees, with optionality that comes from delivering strong results, provides that positively asymmetric risk profile we have yet to find anywhere else. We see strong downside protection – less than 20 percent potential downside on average –with more than 300 percent potential upside. With returns that positively asymmetric, it is incredibly compelling and difficult to replicate. Through GP stakes, we get the opportunity to partner with world-class investment firms, which are extraordinarily profitable, and benefit from the dynamic growth of the asset class.

Since first investing in the space, we’ve accumulated GP stakes in more than 45 top-tier private asset managers in private equity, private credit, and private real estate and continue to look for additional opportunities.

Will you discuss CAZ Investments’ focus on building a diverse and inclusive workforce?

I am quoted many places saying that the most important personal traits that will lead to success are work ethic and attention to detail. If someone possesses those traits, we want them on our Team; if they do not, we will not hire them. From there, we demand our Team possess impeccable integrity and a willingness to create raving fans of our partners and those they work alongside. Our high standards can make it difficult to find someone quickly, but the right people are well worth the wait.

As a result of this rigorous process, we have an incredibly diverse and inclusive workforce that does their best every day to represent our Guiding Principles. One of our biggest constraints is finding enough of the right people, so we are constantly hiring in just about every department within our firm. We have an amazing culture, built by our remarkable Team, and we will continue to look for superstars.

Did you always know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to build your own firm?

I started working when I was 12 years old and enjoyed the excitement of getting paid for that hard work. In 1991, at 22 years old, I set a goal to start my own investment firm within 10 years, so I think I have always had an innate desire to be entrepreneurial.

Gradually, that passion for work turned to the investment business. Since high school, I have been investing wherever I could find opportunity. In fact, I was able to help put myself through college by trading commodity futures. What has always made investing fun for me is finding a theme – a way that the current status quo is changing or being disrupted – then finding a way to make money from being right.

As CAZ and its network have grown, our opportunity set has gotten larger, and we are constantly gaining access to opportunities that are exceedingly unique and exclusive. That has provided the perfect breeding ground to place ourselves on the front lines of a lot of the investment themes we pursue. That is what makes it feel like fun, not like work.

Beyond that, I knew that starting my own firm would give me the chance to create a firm that is built to redefine the opportunities that are available to investors. A firm that is based on alignment, which enables our partners to invest alongside of us with confidence.

You devote your time and resources to philanthropic work. What has made philanthropy so important to you and how do you decide where to focus your efforts?

We have a phrase we like to use at CAZ: Doing well while doing good. Serving our community is a huge part of our identity as a firm that goes well beyond me. In fact, when considering new Team members, philanthropic work is often a great indicator of the type of individual you are bringing into your culture. Many of our Team members were already serving on the boards of various nonprofit organizations prior to joining CAZ. By hiring the right kind of people for our Team, that focus on giving back comes naturally.

For me and my family, one of our primary areas of focus is freedom. People around the world have learned how precious freedom is and what it means to lose it. We are doing all we can do to preserve freedom as we believe it is the foundation on which opportunity is built.

It is the belief of my family and our Team that we all have a responsibility to make a significant, positive impact for others. We have many opportunities to elevate those around us, and we find life a lot more fulfilling that way.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in building a career in finance?

You are only limited by how hard you are willing to work, your attention to detail, and how much you are willing to learn. Success leaves clues, and it is critical to study those that

exhibit excellence in their work. That doesn’t just apply to when you are first getting started in your career. The markets and investing landscape shift daily and one should constantly be focused on growth to not just keep up, but to excel.

At every step throughout growing CAZ as a firm, we have been fast to seek guidance from those who are experts in areas where we want to grow. We’ve consistently pursued training for our entire firm from experts in virtually every field. I’ve also learned not to underestimate the value that a company library provides. We have created a reading list of some of the best business and personal development books for all our Team members to read, and it continues to grow as we find new resources.

Aside from my wife, the person on this earth who has the most impact on my life is Tony Robbins. I started reading his materials when I was 21 years old and have been learning from him ever since. I am forever grateful for his guidance. In every field, and every area of our lives, there are tremendous resources available for anyone who is willing to pursue excellence and wants to grow. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting your career or if you have achieved significant success; never stop seeking the next thing you can learn. Just like our firm, we would encourage everyone to pursue constant and never-ending improvement.

What are your priorities for CAZ Investments as you look to the future?

We maintain a singular massive goal that drives our entire Team to a specific, measurable, and central objective. Within the next 20 years, we plan to create over $20 billion in profits for those that invest with us. That is a goal we feel perfectly represents our commitment to cultivating success, not just for ourselves, but for our investors as well. It can be all too common to find people in the financial services space who are in it for themselves first and for their investors second. At CAZ, we want alignment with our partners to permeate everything we do, including the goals we have set.

In the short term, we are extremely excited about the opportunities we are finding in both GP stakes and professional sports, both of which are providing opportunities to our network that are among the best we have ever seen. We talked about the irrefutable tailwind from the growth of private assets already. The other indisputable trend that exists today is “cordcutting.” That trend is one by which we can make significant returns from the ownership of professional sports Teams, which are benefiting immensely from the disruption to the traditional advertising model.

We are always looking for the next significant opportunity. Every day, we wake up looking for the best place to invest our capital. The world is changing rapidly, and we will continue to look for tailwinds that will provide us and our investors with differentiated opportunities to make excellent returns.•

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Living an Earned Life

EDITORS’ NOTE Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is the author or editor of 35 books which have sold over two million copies, been translated into 30 languages, and become bestsellers in 12 countries. His two New York Times bestsellers are MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, which was the Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year. In February 2016, Amazon.com recognized the “100 Best Leadership & Success Books” in its “To Read in Your Lifetime” series, and two of Goldsmith’s books, Triggers and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, were recognized as being in the top 100 books ever written in their field. His other books include: Succession: Are You Ready? – a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and The Leader of the Future  – a BusinessWeek bestseller. Goldsmith’s professional acknowledgments include: Harvard Business Review and Best Practices Institute – World’s #1 Leadership Thinker; Global Gurus; INC and Fast Company magazines – World’s #1 Executive Coach; Institute for Management Studies – Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching; American Management Association – 50 great thinkers and leaders who have influenced the field of management over the past 80 years; BusinessWeek – 50 great leaders in America; Wall Street Journal  – top ten executive educators; Economist (UK) – most credible executive advisors in the new era of business; National Academy of Human Resources –Fellow of the Academy (America’s top HR award); and World HRD Congress (India) – global leader in HR thinking. At a recent Thinkers50 ceremony in London, he was recognized again as the World’s #1 Leadership Thinker and #1 Executive Coach. Goldsmith served on the Board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for 10 years. He has been a volunteer teacher for U.S. Army Generals, Navy Admirals, Girl Scout executives, International and American Red Cross leaders – where he was a National Volunteer of the Year. He holds a PhD from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management where he was the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Goldsmith teaches executive education at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

How do you define the role of an executive coach and how do you approach the work?

My role is very straightforward. I help highly successful leaders get even better. Our Stakeholder Centered Coaching process measures

results in terms of positive change in leadership behavior – not as judged by the leader, but as determined by the leader’s key stakeholders.

There are many people who say that they are executive coaches. Is the term overused and is it challenging to differentiate in the industry?

I agree that the term “executive coach” is highly overused. A way to differentiate executive coaches is to ask the question, “Who are your clients?”

My clients are all very comfortable with having a coach and with stating that I am their coach.

I was very proud of the fact that 27 major CEOs publicly endorsed my previous book, Triggers, and talked about having me as their coach. I always wonder why any coach cannot identify his or her clients. How many of the top 10 tennis players have a coach? Ten. They are all more than happy to identify their coaches and thank the coaches for their role in improving performance.

What are the keys to identifying the roadblocks that prevent people from achieving their best performance?

My biggest selling book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, addresses this very issue. Any human, or any animal, will repeat behavior that is followed by positive reinforcement. The more successful we become, the more positive reinforcement we get.

We can easily fall into what is called “The Superstition Trap” – I behave this way, I am successful, therefore I must be successful because I behave this way. This can create two problems:

1. We are all successful because of doing many things right and in spite of making mistakes. I have never met anyone who was so wonderful that they had nothing in the “in spite of” column.

2. The behavior that led to our success in the past may not lead to our success in the new, and rapidly changing, world of the future.

What interested you in writing your new book, THE EARNED LIFE, and what are the key messages you wanted to convey in the book?

A key message is that we need to be constantly re-earning our lives. We never “get there” and live in a land where everything is

perpetually wonderful. One type of book always has the same ending, “…and they lived happily ever after.” This is called a fairy tale.

As Bob Dylan wrote, “He who is not busy being born, is busy dying.”

Will you discuss the steps to living an earned life?

To live an earned life, we need to align our:

• Aspirations – our higher purpose that has no “finish line.”

• Ambitions – our goals that we are focused on achieving.

• Actions – our enjoyment and engagement in day-to-day life.

What do you see as the biggest stumbling blocks for leaders?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks can be our need to “win” or “prove that we are right” when it is not worth it. Peter Drucker said, “Our mission in life is to make a positive difference, not to prove how ‘smart’ or ‘right’ we are.”

One of my amazing clients noted, “For the great individual achiever, it may be ‘all about me’. For the great leader, it is ‘all about them.’”

How do you define the keys to effective leadership?

I am not an expert on all elements of leadership. The leaders that I work with become more effective because they have:

• Courage – They have to “look in the mirror” and face difficult feedback.

• Humility – They have to admit they need to improve and ask key stakeholders for help.

• Discipline – They need to do the hard work – over time – that is required to achieve lasting change.

Did you always know that were interested in this type of work and what has made the work so special for you?

I had no idea that I would be interested in this type of work. When I was young, this type of work did not even exist. I have been inspired by great teachers and mentors like Frances Hesselbein, Alan Mulally, Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis.

You have achieved great success in your life and have impacted many lives. Do you take moments to reflect and celebrate your accomplishments or are you always looking to the future?

Both. I strive to do my best to enjoy today and be grateful for my many blessings. I also strive to “be more” and try to keep making a contribution in the future.•

An Interview with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith


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NOTE Shundrawn

Thomas is a professional investor and corporate executive with over 25 years of impactful leadership in financial services. He is the Founder and Managing Partner of The Copia Group (TCG). Prior to founding TCG, Thomas served as President of Northern Trust Asset Management and served as a member of the executive management group of Northern Trust Corporation. Prior to joining Northern Trust, he worked at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in sales, trading, and research divisions. In 2017, Black Enterprise Magazine identified Thomas among the Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America; in 2021, he became a member of ThinkAdvisor’s 2021 class of industry luminaries; and InvestmentNews honored him with a lifetime achievement award for leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion. He serves as a Board Director of Reinsurance Group of America and as a trustee for the Financial Accounting Foundation. He also supports a range of philanthropic causes including serving as a trustee for Rush University Medical Center and Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry. Thomas received a BS degree in accounting from Florida A&M University and an MBA degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

COMPANY BRIEF The Copia Group (copiagroupllc.com) is a diverse-owned investment advisor that provides debt and equity capital solutions to privately held, lower middlemarket companies. TCG seeks to turn critical challenges into high-return opportunities that deliver impact and scale and believes that full inclusion provides the greatest long-term value for its clients and communities.

What was your vision for creating The Copia Group and how do you define its mission?

It starts with our name – Copia – which is the root of the word cornucopia, meaning abundance or plenty, and it informs everything we do: our vision, mission, business strategy, and approach. I believe that there is boundless untapped opportunity in the private markets, particularly lower middle-market companies, a traditionally underserved segment of the market. At the same time, I also believe that

The Four Cs

private markets can be an unrivaled force for good. When I consider the way private investing is evolving and the increased interest in sustainable investing, coupled with the rise of women and diverse-led businesses, I’m excited about the opportunity we have to invest in great businesses and drive impact at scale. Our commitment to create value for our investors, portfolio companies, and communities we serve is core to our mission.

Did you always know you had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to build your own business?

We tend to think of an entrepreneur as someone who starts a business, but being an entrepreneur starts with an idea. Entrepreneurs translate an idea into something that has tangible value – such as a product or a service. They are typically intellectually curious, problem solvers, people who question the status quo. I knew from an early age that I had many of these qualities.

I started my first business at the age of 12. I grew up in a working-class household and was always looking for ways to contribute. We had a small house with a large backyard – cutting the grass took several hours because our lawn mower didn’t have a bag, and I had to rake up the clippings. I made a deal with my dad: If he agreed to purchase a new lawn mower, I would help pay for it by cutting other lawns in the neighborhood. He agreed – and that’s how I started my first business. In the winter, I supplemented my income by shoveling snow for the same neighbors. As an adult, I regularly pursued entrepreneurial endeavors – whether forming an independent publishing house after writing my first book or starting the ETF business at Northern Trust. When I look back at the arc of my life, I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit and approach.

How do you describe The Copia Group’s culture and how critical is culture to the success of the firm?

Culture is incredibly important. When you consider companies of any size and scale, most characteristics, over time, can be replicated, but culture is not one of them. As we seek to attract talent to The Copia Group, culture is one of the first things we talk about and, inevitably, most questions tie back to how will they affect our culture. To us, culture is about shared values

and beliefs. Ultimately, companies are a collection of people, and people make up the culture, so culture is never a static thing – it’s always evolving because you bring in new people over time.

During my time at Northern Trust, I would ask groups to describe themselves and the culture today. Then, I would ask them to think about how we need to adjust our behavior for us to continue to manifest our shared values and beliefs. I think this is an effective way to understand culture and recognize how we can influence it, both positively and negatively.

Will you provide an overview of The Copia Group’s investment approach and what you feel is The Copia Group difference?

At The Copia Group, we believe that scalable businesses, managed in a socially responsible way, have the potential to generate superior results. We deliver value by providing enhanced access via our four Cs – capital, counsel, colleagues and clients.

First, we provide flexible, bespoke capital that limits the dilution of existing equity owners. By offering what we refer to as “partnership” capital, we provide funding solutions that are both customized to the business needs and structured to optimize returns.

We combine these financing options with counsel from our proprietary executive network, access to colleagues to attract and develop top professionals, and lastly, clients. We help our partners grow their existing client base and expand into new markets and segments.

Ultimately, we believe that full inclusion provides the greatest long-term value for portfolio companies and the communities we serve, so we are targeting 50 percent of our portfolio investments to gender and ethnically diverse business owners, a thesis that is well-positioned to capitalize on both long-term demographic changes and the rise of women and diverseowned businesses.

Will you highlight The Copia Group’s social impact themes?

We’ve partnered with Morningstar Sustainalytics to develop a proprietary socialimpact framework that focuses on lower middle-market companies. Driving impact requires taking specific measurable steps to deliver societal benefits, and we believe companies that invest in resources aimed at the greater good are forward-thinking and have a higher

Shundrawn A. Thomas
An Interview with Shundrawn A. Thomas, Founder and Managing Partner, The Copia Group

propensity to deliver superior results for investors. So, our focus on driving impact isn’t merely an afterthought or a “nice to have,” it’s central to our investment model, and we believe our social impact framework distinguishes us from other private investing firms.

How critical is it for leading companies to build diverse and inclusive workforces to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table when making business decisions?

It’s not just critical; it’s essential. First, companies are in the business of solving increasingly complex problems, and there is a preponderance of research showing that cognitive diversity – which has a high overlap with gender and ethnic diversity – can greatly influence outcomes. We’re better and more successful when we bring people together from different backgrounds and perspectives.

Secondly, as I said before, culture is one of the only true competitive advantages businesses have and, in high-trust cultures, there are greater levels of engagement, ideation, and productivity. These are the companies that are going to be the most successful.

Here in the U.S., we have a great deal of diversity, but, unfortunately, most of us live in monolithic communities, with people of the same ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. In practice, the workplace is one of the most diverse environments we encounter in our daily lives. When we talk about improving society, business has a powerful role to play because it can help our communities become more interconnected. I believe that when we embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we become both better professionals and better people.

What do you see as the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

There are a few different qualities. First, humility is key. When someone is humble, they are teachable. As we advance in our career, it is important that we continue to listen and learn. This is especially important for leaders of an organization. Second, transparency. When you reach a high enough level, it’s tempting to want to present a carefully constructed façade, but for people to connect with you as a leader, you need to be authentic and honest, to say how you really feel and talk about your successes, but also

about your failures and shortcomings. Third, you must be able to reproduce your quality of leadership. The best leaders are thinking about how they can build the leadership capacity of those around them.

From a leadership standpoint, I see myself as a visionary and a coach. I love working with others to develop a compelling vision and then translate that plan into achievable goals. I also strongly prefer to work with people who are self-motivated and want to be empowered; I don’t like being micromanaged, so I don’t micromanage others. As someone who has benefitted from having great teachers and coaches, I believe that greatness comes from learning and benefitting from other people’s knowledge. Lastly, I’m a highly engaged leader. I don’t like leading from behind a computer screen. You grow when you’re engaging and learning from other people, and the reverse is also true.

You commit your time and resources to philanthropic causes. What has made philanthropy important to you and how do you decide where to focus your efforts?

I’ve been extraordinarily blessed. My parents have been wonderful role models. They taught me the importance of faith, family, and community. I grew up in an environment where we were always serving of others. I developed an orientation toward giving and serving, and I carried that into adulthood. At first, I couldn’t afford to give much financially so I gave my time. As I progressed in my career, I gave both financially and by sharing my time and expertise. My wife and I have always been aligned on values, and we’re committed to helping others. Education has been an area of focus, and I’ve served on boards that support public schools in Chicago and nationally. I serve on the board of my alma mater, Florida A&M University, a Historically Black University, where we have established an endowed scholarship. My wife and I also give to organizations focused on helping people in underserved communities. As a child, I remember struggling at my magnet school because I was nearsighted and couldn’t see the board, but my family couldn’t afford glasses. So, we support organizations that tend to the social, emotional and health needs that can prevent young people in lowincome communities from flourishing. We’re also big supporters of the arts. Unfortunately,

community programs that touch the arts are becoming nonexistent in big cities, and we’re focused on preserving them.

Where did your interest in writing books develop and what are the key messages you want to cover through your books?

I’ve always expressed my creativity through writing. Some of my earliest memories are of writing poems and short stories. My first three books were faith based. For my first book, I had been doing volunteer work with a friend, teaching financial literacy skills in churches and faith-based organizations. What I found was that people’s commitment was uneven. But when I retooled the program to tie personal finance to faith-based principles, participants became much more engaged with the program. People don’t act on what they know; they act on what they believe – and we were finding out what people believed and helping them to act on that.

More recently, I wrote a book about career fulfillment. I’ve found that most people are unhappy at their jobs, and a big part of that is because they are holding wrong beliefs. My book, Discovering Joy in Work: Transforming Your Occupation into Your Vocation, is about helping people adjust their belief in work by thinking, “What kind of environment will help me to flourish?” If we can figure that out, we can make decisions that will allow us to live our best lives.

What advice do you offer to young people beginning their careers?

I believe that self-awareness is foundational. I advise young people to spend time understanding themselves – how you’re wired and where you thrive. Do all the assessments and personality tests. I also encourage them to see where the world is going. Often, people focus on whatever’s hot at the time, not on how things might evolve and potentially affect their career choices. Also, we tend to focus a lot on “what” and very little on “who.” It’s hard to be successful at anything if you don’t have good mentors and teachers. As young people make choices about their jobs and careers, they need to think about: Who am I working with? What kind of culture is right for me? Lastly, successful people develop a mastery. I’ve found that in today’s environment, with people frequently changing jobs, it’s much harder to develop depth or mastery because everything is transactional.•

“So, our focus on driving impact isn’t merely an afterthought or a ‘nice to have,’ it’s central to our investment model, and we believe our social impact framework distinguishes us from other private investing firms.”
505 Park Avenue at 59th Street, New York, NY 10022 • 212-838-7500 www.Sherry-Lehmann.com

A Purveyor of Flavor

EDITORS’ NOTE With more than 25 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods space, J.R. Rigley has been President of The Watkins Co. since 2013. Rigley joined the company in 2005 as Vice President of Sales and Marketing and was promoted to Executive Vice President in 2008. He had previously been with spice and flavoring company, McCormick & Company, after launching his career with Procter & Gamble. During his decades in consumer goods, Rigley has developed extensive expertise in many business disciplines including operations, manufacturing, retail, sales, business strategy, team building, product marketing, HR, and leadership. He received a BS in economics from Towson University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

What have been the keys to Watkins’ longevity and ability to remain relevant for over 150 years?

It’s simple – we stay focused on our consumer’s needs. We pivot and adapt quickly to changes in consumption habits and are well-positioned to leverage emerging trends that come with new generations entering the kitchen. With each unique flavoring or spice, we want our latest generation of cooks to trust Watkins in their favorite recipes just as their great-great-grandparents did. And trust is not something we take lightly. We have spent the past 154 years working to establish trust in a way that is difficult for other brands to match, and it’s been something that has resonated exceptionally well for Watkins with both our retail partners and consumers.

flavors and colors. We steer clear of GMOs, corn syrup, and gluten and maintain control of our manufacturing right here in Winona, Minnesota. That quality can be found in every product that bears our name and combined with our history, it’s proved to be quite a winning combination.

Will you provide an overview of Watkins’ business and product offerings?

Watkins is a leading manufacturer of spices, extracts, and other gourmet flavoring products. Our extensive portfolio consists of products such as our renowned Pure Vanilla Extract and All Natural Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla, a robust selection of organic herbs, spices and blends, baking decorations, and now, for the first time in our history, bitters.

COMPANY BRIEF From the bluffs high above the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota, comes the purity of The Watkins Co. (watkins1868.com). For over 150 years, Watkins has been heralded as purveyors of flavor, with an unwavering commitment to crafting awardwinning gourmet flavoring products from highquality, natural ingredients, without the use of artificial flavors and colors, GMOs, corn syrup or gluten.

Will you highlight the history and heritage of Watkins?

In 1868, J.R. Watkins and his horse and buggy brought products directly to his midwestern neighbors, which is when The Watkins Company was born. As early as 1895, flavoring items, including vanilla extract, black pepper, and cinnamon, were introduced to the product lineup.

Today, Watkins is known as a purveyor of flavor – we are truly experts and have a 154-year legacy to back that up. Built on quality and authenticity, our legacy remains strong, evident by the fact that across several categories, from spices to extracts, Watkins is one of today’s fastest-growing brands.

We also take incredible pride in our home state of Minnesota. We continue to manufacture here and hold some of the industry’s most rigorous quality standards to provide consumers with an unmistakably premium Watkins experience.

Watkins’ longevity as a brand can also be attributed to our commitment to quality. For Watkins, quality means leveraging our relationships worldwide to source premium, allnatural ingredients that are free from artificial

Consumers can purchase our product at their favorite grocers, as well as online. Watkins also serves the food service industry, including national restaurant chains, professional chefs, and bakeries that use larger quantities more applicable to a professional kitchen setting.

An Interview with J.R. Rigley, President, The Watkins Co.
A selection of Watkins products

How critical is innovation for Watkins’ business and where is innovation taking place in the company?

Innovation is critical in any business, and we are always excited to push the flavor envelope at Watkins. Within our R&D department, you’ll find some of the world’s most experienced and talented flavor masters. It is here they experiment using spices, herbs, pure oils, and botanicals to create unique blends which are simply unmatched. Our new 1868 Organic Grilling line is an excellent example of what they can create. This completely new line of organic seasonings, rubs, and marinades targets the needs of today’s griller.

Perhaps one of the most exciting examples of innovation in our 154-year history was our recent foray into the world of spirits with a new line of bitters. Flavoring is literally ingrained in Watkins’ DNA, so breaking into this category was a natural progression for our brand. Building on our rich flavor heritage and being a leader in the gourmet extracts and flavors category, we knew we had the expertise to create a great product, and this is one that many of our consumers have been asking for.

Will you discuss Watkins’ commitment to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?

Watkins is intent on full inclusivity with a focus on diversity. We aim to represent our community and work at all levels to create a talented team that provides the best input for the overall direction and success of the company.

What do you see as Watkins’ responsibility to the communities it serves and to being force for good in society?

One of our core values at Watkins is contributing to our communities’ overall quality of life. We are always looking for ways to give back in the United States, Canada, and around the world. Watkins currently partners with several charitable organizations, including Feeding America and World Central Kitchen. We make product donations to the Feeding America network of food pantries, food banks, and meal programs, supporting over 40 million people annually. Most

recently, we have partnered with World Central Kitchen to drive awareness around World Food Day and the organization that delivers meals to the front lines of humanitarian, climate, and community crises around the globe.

At Watkins, we also support our employees in their individual efforts to do good in their communities. We encourage our employees to become involved in charities and organizations they are passionate about and offer paid time off for volunteering.

What do you feel are the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

I believe that effective leadership is centered on a position of empathetic opportunities. This means having a clear understanding of every team member’s goals and skill set. The leader’s focus is to understand what their employees hope to accomplish and to help them achieve these goals, whether personally or professionally. Clear communication at all levels of the organization is also essential for moving forward, individually and as a company.

What are your priorities for Watkins as you look to the future?

We are thrilled that Watkins is in a highgrowth position within our core business. We have spent years strengthening our foundation, including the development of our people. We have the infrastructure for growth, rounding out our product portfolio to meet the needs of our customers and deepening our relationships with our distribution partners. As we continue to grow, we are devoted to increasing and maximizing distribution, improving our capacity abilities, raising consumer awareness, and, most importantly, helping our employees achieve their goals.•

The Watkins Co. headquarters in Winona, Minnesota
Watkins Organic Grilling Flavoring Products

The Healing Power of Art

Did you always know that you had a passion to be an artist, and will you discuss your artist journey?

My passion for the arts was “inherited.” My mother and sister were both accomplished artists. When I was in college an art teacher pulled me aside and suggested that I choose art as a career. That set me on my path.

How do you define the mission and purpose of your art?

I have often said that artists have the right and even the obligation to comment on society. Thus, my first choice as a topic was to highlight our ecology and global warming by painting the beauty of green leaves, beautiful trees, and grassy shores. My first five solo shows in Paris were about the ecology and global warming. Last year, coming out

of the pandemic, finding peace seemed a more important message. At the two solo shows in Manhattan the topic was, “There Will Always Be Light.”

I would love it if we could develop a coalition of artists who would paint to highlight the dangers of global warming.

What role do you feel art can play in improving wellness and reducing stress?

The arts can play a tremendous role in our lives. Think of the last time you saw a beautiful sunset – you took a deep breath, sighed, relaxed, and felt a calming. It is the same with a painting, sculpture, and music –harmful stress, tension, and fear are all calmed. A recent research project concluded that an experience of visiting a museum can reduce your blood pressure measurably. The arts are calming to many – beauty begets beauty.

When I start to paint, I bring many images that I have seen and experienced. I interpret the color scheme and a design where movement lies. I then will let my creative brain do the work.

Experiences have often led to creative output. On a drive from Avignon north through Provence, I was enamored with the small, treelined roads (called allée in French). My result was five paintings, one of which won a firstplace prize at Silvermine Arts Center. This is an example of loving an experience and letting go and allowing your creative brain to take over. I note frequently that Claude Monet was quoted as having said that 90 percent of a painting is done without a brush in your hand.

When I see the outcome of my paintings, I sometimes like it and sometimes know that it needs work. I remember Picasso’s words, “let the paint talk to you and tell you what to do.” For me, I like to see special colors come together. I say they “sing” together. This is called simultaneous contrast and this color technique was the inspiration for the Impressionists. It is when you put certain colors next to each other, they will modify how your brain sees each color.

For me, the color is my joy in a painting; the gestural stroke is the passion in a painting.

Is it challenging to balance your time between your love for creating and producing art with the need to focus on the business side of being an artist?

I am delinquent in merchandizing my own works. I spend all my time actually painting. For all of my seven exhibitions in Paris, four in Connecticut, and two in Manhattan, I have been given an invitation to do a solo exhibition. This gives me the freedom to paint what I feel and see. I couple an image that I see with my knowledge of color and design, then let my creative brain go to work.

What advice do you offer to young painters hoping to build a career as an artist?

For young painters, I tell them the arts record today’s culture and they must be a part of that. I suggest to beat your own drum, listen to your heart, and observe, observe, observe. No work of art is created in a vacuum. What you see and feel will allow your creative brain to do the work. •

Jan Dilenschneider
Allée – 40 x 30-inch oil on canvas (above); Elegant Birch Trees – an oil on canvas diptych, 40 x 30-inches each side. With colors that sing. (top) POSTED WITH PERMISSION. COPYRIGHT © 2023 LEADERS MAGAZINE, LLC LEADERS 158 VOLUME 46, NUMBER 1
An Interview with Jan Dilenschneider


Clockwise from above:

Waterscape – Reflections on beautiful clean clear water.

30 x 30-inch oil on canvas

Golden Light Through the Trees – There will always be light.

36 x 24-inch oil on canvas

A Stream Into the Mist

24 x 24-inch oil on canvas

Marvelous Organic Shapes – Homage to the beautiful green leaves. Jan Dilenschneider’s attempt to get people to fall in love with nature again. 36 x 48-inch oil on canvas

Golden Rushes on Blue Water – An example of simultaneous contrast. You can see the colors sing.

24 x 24-inch oil on canvas


The Caribbean Way

EDITORS’ NOTE Adam Stewart is Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, the company founded by his father, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, the legendary hotelier who passed away on January 4, 2021. He previously spent more than a decade as Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SRI. His efforts have been recognized by numerous hospitality industry awards including being named the 2015 Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Hotelier of the Year. In addition to his responsibilities as Executive Chairman, Stewart continues his leadership role in the family’s extensive hospitality, media, automotive and appliance business holdings, including his position as Executive Chairman, The ATL Group, comprising the Jamaica Observer, the country’s leading daily newspaper, and ATL Appliance Traders, a chain of domestic and commercial appliance outlets combining exclusive distributorship of the world’s top electronic brands with exceptional customer service throughout Jamaica. Deeply committed to the region, he is the President of the Sandals Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization aimed at fulfilling the promise of the Caribbean community. He was recently appointed to the Executive Committee of the World Travel & Tourism Council. Stewart has been personally recognized as the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s Hotelier of the Year 2015, World Travel Awards’ Rising Star, Caribbean World’s Travel and Tourism Personality of the Year, and received the Distinguished Alumni Torch Award from FIU and The Gleaner Company’s Jamaica 50 under 50 Award. Stewart graduated from the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University in Miami. An avid adventurer and lover of the sea, Stewart was inspired to share his passion for the Caribbean and launched the region’s premier tour company, Island Routes Caribbean Adventures, offering unique and exciting tour and adventure experiences throughout the region. Island Routes has since transformed from a small island outpost to a multiple World Travel-Award-winning company offering hundreds of adventures in 13 countries. In 2020, Stewart played an integral role in managing the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his guidance, Sandals Resorts International implemented the respected Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness at

Sandals® Resorts and Beaches® Resorts to ensure guests’ and team members’ safety. Additionally, he consulted with industry groups, government entities, health organizations and international associations alike for the betterment of the travel industry. His work guaranteed Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts was at the forefront of providing a safe and enjoyable destination for international travelers.

COMPANY BRIEF World-renowned Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts (sandals.com; beaches.com) has transformed from one brand and one resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica to become one of the most well-known and award-winning hospitality names in the world. With four brands and 24 properties in eight countries including Antigua, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Curaçao and Turks & Caicos, and a ninth location coming soon to St. Vincent, Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts is the undisputed leader of Caribbean vacation experiences and remains fiercely committed

to the region, dedicating itself to innovative resort development that in the words of founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart, “exceed expectations” for guests, associates and the people who call the Caribbean home.

Will you highlight the history and heritage of Sandals?

The story of Sandals is one of ingenuity, innovation, and drive. Today, Sandals is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and it’s simply incredible to be part of what my father, the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart, built. The first Sandals – Sandals Montego Bay – opened in 1981, and like so many with the entrepreneurial gene, my father saw the spark of promise and was relentless in his vision to create the Caribbean’s first-ever true super brand, and he succeeded. It began with one hotel on one island and over the next four decades and countless innovations – from the invention of the swim-up pool bar to the first-ever Over-the-Water suites in the Caribbean – we evolved into the all-inclusive leader with 24 resorts.

My entire life, my father was on a journey to make the Sandals experience better and

Adam Stewart An Interview with Adam Stewart, CD, Hon. LLD, Executive Chairman, Sandals Resorts International
Sandals Montego Bay, the resort company’s flagship resort, opened in 1981

better. And together, we did. Our brand, although perhaps not the largest resort chain in the world, is one of the most well-known, award-winning, and influential. For any brand, this would be remarkable, but for an idea developed in the Caribbean, it is a singular confirmation that what is born in the region can make a global impact. It is a beacon and a continued source of pride for the Caribbean people who have played an enormous role in its continued success.

Sandals continues to expand with new properties and new markets. Will you discuss Sandals’ growth plans and where you see opportunities for the future?

We always look through a future lens. It’s part of our DNA. We are charting forward on an ambitious expansion plan from the debut of our 16th resort, Sandals Royal Curaçao, last year, which represents our eighth destination in our portfolio, to the return of a completely re-conceptualized Sandals Dunn’s River, and new developments at Sandals Halcyon, Beaches Negril, Beaches Turks & Caicos and more. But growth for growth’s sake has never been our modus operandi; this is about continued reinvention of our best-in-class resort experience and always with a guest and island-first mindset. What is the next innovation of the all-inclusive experience? We believe – and have been preparing for – the idea of getting closer to place. This notion, the seamless marriage of resort to the destination in which it lives, is what has driven us to our latest expansion plans. And our commitment is to our home, the Caribbean. The region is vast and diverse, and no one knows it better than we do. Helping our guests discover it through immersive opportunities and giving them access

to authentically connect to the destination is just the beginning.

Will you discuss bringing Sandals Dunn’s River back into the Sandals family in Jamaica and what guests can expect from the property?

Sandals Dunn’s River was the last project my father and I collaborated on and it has very special meaning to our family. My father grew up on the very beach where the resort is situated and it is also an homage to the natural beauty of our beloved Jamaica. Adored by couples since its initial addition to our portfolio in 1991, Sandals Dunn’s River will return as a brand-new

resort, undergoing a thoughtful, top-to-bottom restoration – designed to embrace the essence of Jamaica, its curving rivers, lush forests, and majestic banyan trees – with amenities, accommodations and culinary concepts brought forward by our brand’s uncompromising quest for innovation. Debuting in May 2023, the resort will bring to life some of our newest innovations including the addition of brand-new Tufa SkyPool Butler Suites, which will feature glass panels spanning the length of oceanfront balconies, and the Coyaba Swim-Up Rondoval Butler Suites with Private Pools, our iconic, standalone villas reimagined with vast open-air rooftops with water pulled and circulated from natural reserves.

Sandals has a culture focused on continuous improvement. How critical is this focus to make sure Sandals is meeting evolving guest needs and expectations?

As a family-owned company, we are driven by exceeding expectations, for our guests and for our team members and for our communities alike. Investing in the future guarantees opportunity – for the Caribbean, for our people and for the brands.

Owning our hotels and being an integral part of the communities where we operate makes a real difference. The ability to move on a dime to make things better and better and treating staff and customers like family has had the biggest impact on guest service, and I think that’s the real Sandals difference. We have an authentic and meaningful connection with our guests, some who have enjoyed more than 1,000 room nights with us, which has earned us a repeat rate of close to 50 percent. They are our anchors and our best brand ambassadors.

How do you define the Sandals difference and what have been the keys to Sandals’ industry leadership over four decades?

The all-inclusive concept, and there are many variations, is the fastest growing segment of the hotel industry and Sandals not only helped

The all-new Sandals Royal Curaçao
Coyaba Rondoval Village at Sandals Dunn’s River, which will house 12 distinct stand-alone villas featuring a private river pool offering guests swim-up access

create that demand, but set the benchmark for best-in-class.

We’ve always said that although we didn’t invent the all-inclusive concept, we certainly perfected it. The key is never resting on our laurels. We were founded by a consummate dreamer who never accepted no; he believed in the power of possibility and that drove his fervor, to not only create a best-in-class product, but to delight and exceed guest expectations.

This legacy comes through today with experiences that continue to up the ante on what it means to be all-inclusive, to fully embrace a destination, its unique treasures, and its people, and immersing our guests in that magic. The programs and experiences commitment to evolve.

Will you discuss Sandals’ investment in its workforce and its focus on training and service standards?

Generosity is the essence of hospitality. It is the Caribbean way. It’s why we invest deeply in education and ongoing training for our people, forge innovative ways to care for the environment, and recognize that the real measure of tourism’s success is the ability of Caribbean people to live healthy, meaningful lives.

The Sandals Corporate University was created over a decade ago and has been a vehicle for change within the Sandals corporation directly impacting our 15,000-plus growing team members. The basis of the Sandals Corporate University is equity inclusion for workers of all levels, putting them on a path to success that will result in more employees being promoted from within and climbing the ranks to achieve their goals, regardless of their economic and educational background.

My father, who built one of the only true superbrands to be born out of the Caribbean, had no formal education himself and was incredibly passionate about providing access and opportunity. We knew preparing the next

generation for the industry that is going to be the catalyst for not only Caribbean tourism, but to the development of the region, would be the perfect way to honor him. The Gordon “Butch” Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism will be the world’s leading Caribbean hospitality enterprise together with two of the finest academic institutions – FIU and the University of the West Indies – who have recognized that together we will achieve more for the future leaders of the Caribbean and across the globe. We’re re-imagining, re-inventing, and re-energizing tourism and we’re using this new university to act as a source of energy for the entrepreneurial vision and capacity.

raise families here as we do in exceeding the expectations of guests who visit our hotels. Being part of the community is in Sandals’ DNA. Forty years ago, my father began with a policy that each hotel adopted a school. Many decades and labors of love later, that work has expanded exponentially and been formalized under our philanthropic arm, The Sandals Foundation.

When we come to a destination, we create a marriage with the community – from the creation of supply chains that impact everyone from farmers to taxi drivers to the development of programming in schools. Curaçao being a new island for Sandals, we also saw this as a great opportunity to expand our impact. When we opened the doors of Sandals Royal Curaçao, we also announced the launch of our newest philanthropic program, Future Goals – a unique program that turns fishing nets sourced from the ocean and recycled plastic waste into soccer goals for children in partnership with the Netherlands’ AFC Ajax professional soccer team and local Curaçaon plastic recycling company, Limpi. This program is two-fold, giving children the tools to play a sport they love and, in the process, teaching them about protecting our planet – which truly is a “goal” in and of itself.

Will you elaborate on the mission of The Sandals Foundation and how the work of the Foundation has evolved?

What began as a singular promise to give back to the destinations in which we operate is now in eight islands across the Caribbean, with close to 30,000 volunteers and $79 million invested in projects, touching the lives of over 1.1 million people and counting. The Sandals Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and all costs associated with its administration and management are supported entirely by us so that 100 percent of every dollar donated goes directly towards funding impactful initiatives in three key areas including education, community outreach, and the environment.

Everything we do has meaning. Last year, we identified and initiated 40 projects across the eight Caribbean destinations where we operate to help transform communities and improve local lives. The projects are focused on six vital areas: Conservation Efforts and Tours, Investing in Food Security, Small Business and Community Market Support, Supporting Local Artisans, Music Education and Entertainment, and Hospitality Training and Certification. And we still have so much more work to do.

Your father, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, was a pioneer and visionary in the hospitality industry. What impact did he have on your life and how is his legacy continuing to impact Sandals today?

What do you see as Sandals’ responsibility to the communities it serves and to being engaged in the community?

The Caribbean is our home, and we bring the same passion and perseverance to supporting its health and the well-being of our neighbors and team members who live, work, play, and

Even with his tremendous professional success, my dad was a family man at heart and my greatest gift was to be his son. Perhaps the most important lesson he taught us was to “give all you have to what you love and never stop.” He was magic. A dreamer and a doer who fiercely understood the promise of possibility. I am blessed to carry on his legacy of innovation, and honor him, our organization, and our team members worldwide, not merely by what we’ve accomplished – although I am very proud of that – but by what we will do next.•

Sandals Resorts’ newest program, Future Goals, repurposes plastic waste and fishing nets lost at sea into soccer goals for local primary school children in Curaçao and beyond
Sandals Dunn’s River will be home to Jamaica’s largest pool with its design inspired by the natural curves of the Dunn’s River


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Uzo Aduba Stand Up To Cancer Ambassador
Stand Up To Cancer is a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Photo By Matt Sayles
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A Place Where Legends Belong

EDITORS’ NOTE In 2008, Christopher Cowdray was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Dorchester Collection. His vision is to create the ultimate hotel management company, which now comprises nine hotels in Europe and the Americas as well as luxury residences in London and Dubai. He has an extensive international career managing hotels in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and London.

COMPANY BRIEF Dorchester Collection (dorchestercollection.com) is a portfolio of the world’s foremost luxury hotels and residences. The unique properties are all legendary in their own right, with rich heritages and worldwide reputations as places offering the most sought-after experiences of good living, charm, elegance and unparalleled standards of service. The current portfolio includes the following hotels: The Dorchester, London; 45 Park Lane, London; Coworth Park, Ascot, UK; Le Meurice, Paris; Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris; Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan; Hotel Eden, Rome; The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills; Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles; and The Lana, Dubai opening in 2023. Luxury residences include Mayfair Park Residences, London; The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai; One at Palm Jumeirah, Dorchester Collection, Dubai; AVA at Palm Jumeirah, Dorchester Collection, Dubai and ORLA, Dorchester Collection, Dubai.

Will you highlight the history of Dorchester Collection and how the business has evolved?

Dorchester Collection has always been about connecting to a legendary way of life. We promise our guests a place where legends belong.

Our company is the world’s leading luxury hotel management company, operating a collection of individual hotels – each with its own distinctive character. Our hotels are landmarks within their respective destinations and enriched with a deep heritage, celebrated for our place in an ever-changing world. Since our founding in 2008, we’ve grown to nine hotels in the world’s top culture capitals including London, Ascot, Paris, Milan, Rome, and Los Angeles, and coming in 2023, The Lana in Dubai, and a hotel in Tokyo in 2028.

We’ve also expanded into the residential space, as our guests are increasingly looking

to bring the high level of service, discretion, and bespoke amenities that they’ve come to love in our hotels into their homes. We manage and service five ultra-luxury residences: Mayfair Park Residences in London, AVA at Palm Jumeirah, One at Palm Jumeirah, ORLA and The Residences in Dubai.

What have been the keys to the strength and leadership of Dorchester Collection and how do you describe the Dorchester Collection difference?

We stay true to our identity: we are treasured by guests, cherished by employees, and celebrated worldwide. We are the hotels where people come to experience and connect with a certain way of life.

Our anticipatory approach to hospitality offers guests exceptional service and memorable experiences in each of our iconic hotels. We’ve been deliberate and thoughtful in our approach which is reflected in how we’ve grown the portfolio, with each hotel offering a unique experience that is specific to the destination, yet familiar – with our outstanding service remaining as one of our key common threads throughout the collection.

Our difference is also our people. We are a group of celebrated Michelin-starred chefs, expert concierges, thoughtful housekeepers, and pioneering executives, who are all proud to be working toward the same goal of creating unforgettable stays for guests – no matter how short or long – and creating a home-away-from-home for them in each of our destinations.

Will you provide an overview of the properties and are there common characteristics between the properties?

Our extraordinary guests and remarkable employees create the legendary moments that make up a significant part of who we are as a collection of hotels. In London, we have our flagship property: The Dorchester. The hotel is steeped in British history, character, and charm, and is currently undergoing an extensive renovation and restoration. While interior architect Pierre-Yves Rochon has redesigned the hotel entrance and The Promenade, Martin Brudnizki has reimagined the newly named Vesper Bar with a “roaring thirties” theme. The Promenade now features a selection of contemporary artworks by British artists paying tribute to the adjacent Hyde Park and gardens.

Across the street, we have 45 Park Lane, our Art-Deco jewel rooted in a longstanding tradition of celebrating contemporary British artists, offering guests a discreet private residence for their London stay. Also in the UK is Coworth Park, a Georgian manor style country house located on 240 acres of Berkshire parkland, with its newly and highly successful relaunched restaurant, Woven by Adam Smith.

In Paris, we have two palace hotels: Le Meurice and Hôtel Plaza Athénée – both destinations in themselves, with Le Meurice overlooking the Tuileries gardens and next to the Louvre, and Hôtel Plaza Athénée at the heart of Paris haute couture on avenue Montaigne with its acclaimed restaurant by Jean Imbert.

Next to Villa Borghese and overlooking the Ancient City of Rome is Hotel Eden, which was completely restored in 2017 and offers the ultimate in Roman hospitality. In Milan, there’s Principe di Savoia where old world Italian charm and tradition meets the contemporary and modernity that Milan is known for.

Across the pond, there’s The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air – both legendary

Christopher Cowdray An Interview with Christopher Cowdray, Chief Executive Officer, Dorchester Collection
The Promenade at The Dorchester in London

hotspots with lush tropical gardens, offering guests the absolute best in Los Angeles living.

Coming in September 2023 is The Lana, a Foster + Partners designed tower in Dubai’s vibrant Burj Khalifa district, with a spectacular rooftop pool and unparalleled views over Dubai and the Arabian Gulf. This will be our first hotel in the Middle East.

I was recently in Tokyo, where we announced a new hotel within ‘Tokyo Torch’, the highest building in Tokyo and our first foray in Asia. Opening in 2028, this hotel will be the gateway to Tokyo and Japan, with a panoramic view of Tokyo Bay, the city center, as well as Mount Fuji.

Our hotels all serve as landmarks of their distinctive destinations. They are part of the local fabric – special places for locals and visitors alike, each offering an incredible standard of care and hospitality not found elsewhere. Our properties are where stories are written and legends made. Today, as we continue to grow our collection and the relationships within it, Dorchester Collection remains committed to our guests and to the enduring way of life they have helped us create.

How critical is it for Dorchester Collection to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?

We have our “We Care” philosophy, which is built on our strong commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging to ensure all employees feel valued and respected. Part of our ongoing work is to ensure we are actively recruiting and hiring diverse talent and creating a team that is reflective of different ethnicities and cultures. We have the talented Eugenio Pirri as our chief culture and operations executive, and a large part of Eugenio’s role is to continue to broaden and deepen our diversity within Dorchester Collection. We are already a group representing 67 different

nationalities and we hope we continue to expand upon that.

What do you see as Dorchester Collection’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to being a force for good in society?

We see ourselves as an integral part of the communities in which we operate, and in each of our destinations, we work to ensure we are engaging in community empowerment initiatives and being a source of betterment and progress. Community outreach and support initiatives are key in all the destinations we

operate in and we see this as a main pillar of our responsibilities as a global industry leader.

What has made the hospitality industry so special for you and a place where you have wanted to spend your career?

Hospitality is so much more than an industry sector, it is an emotion and an experience. Being hospitable is to be engaging, to make others feel at home, and to leave an indelible mark on those you interact with. At Dorchester Collection, we strive for all guests and employees to feel this way, to be a part of something that makes them feel good and special, and being a part of that on a global scale is why I love this industry and why I love what I do.

What do you see as the keys to effective leadership and how do you describe your management style?

To be an effective leader, you must be empathetic, agile and solutions-oriented, keeping the larger vision in mind to ensure that we are all working toward the same goals. My management style is collaborative. In an industry that is always evolving and at a company that continues to grow on a global scale, I recognize how much I have to learn from those around me, and how much value my team brings to me.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in a career in the hospitality industry?

Working in hospitality will change your life. You will have a deeper appreciation for people, places, and the world around you. My advice is for young people to embrace the industry head on, and learn as much as you can from every facet of it. Dedicate yourself to enhancing the customer experience, and your passion and curiosity will lead you down the right path. •

Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris
Presidential Suite Pool at Hotel Bel-Air

A Trilogy Model

EDITORS’ NOTE Recently named a 2019 Top CEO by Glassdoor, Peter Strebel is Chairman of Omni Hotels & Resorts, a position he assumed in May 2022. In this role, Strebel provides strategic counsel to the company, and continues to elevate the vision of Omni regarding longterm goals and objectives for the brand. A 30-year-plus veteran of the hospitality industry, he works with teams to continue to enhance the existing high-level of guest service as well as oversee the growth and expansion plans the brand has in the pipeline. As the company’s former President, Chief Marketing Officer, and Senior Vice President of Sales, Strebel was responsible for guiding the company through the pandemic crisis, leaving the brand in a prime position to capitalize on the rebounding trends and changes in the industry. He also was instrumental in creating and driving innovative branding, communications, marketing and business development strategies to increase awareness, capture market share and build revenue for the luxury hotel brand. Strebel also formerly served as Senior Vice President of Operations for the company where he oversaw the development of brandwide property standards, guest rooms and other operational areas for Omni’s growing convention collection and resort portfolio. A long-term Omni veteran, Strebel rejoined Omni in 2009 as Area Managing Director and General Manager of the company’s flagship property in midtown Manhattan, the award-winning Omni Berkshire Place. During his previous tenure at Omni, he had a successful 10-year career in sales and marketing positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately leading to his appointment as vice president of sales and marketing. In between his time with Omni, Strebel served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the Wyndham Hotel Group and was promoted to President of the company before returning to Omni. Strebel sits on the board of directors for AHLA, as well as the board of trustees for the Incarnation House in Dallas, Texas. Strebel graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor of business administration degree.

COMPANY BRIEF Omni Hotels & Resorts (omnihotels.com) creates genuine, authentic guest experiences at 60 distinct luxury hotels

and resorts in leading business and leisure destinations across North America. With more than 25 iconic golf courses and 16 award-winning spas featured in dynamic locales nationwide, every Omni proudly opens its doors to share the true spirit of its destination. Reflected through local color, personalized service, unique wellness options, signature restaurants and creative culinary offerings, Omni leaves a lasting impression with every guest and a heightened level of recognition and rewards delivered through its Select Guest loyalty program. As a founding member of the Global Hotel Alliance, Select Guest is further expanded through the DISCOVERY® loyalty program offering members additional global benefits. Omni is committed to reducing hunger and is on a mission through its Say Goodnight to Hunger initiative to provide millions of meals each year for food banks to feed children, families and seniors in communities in which it operates. Omni Hotels & Resorts is the official hotel of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions.

How do you describe Omni Hotels & Resorts’ culture and how critical is culture to the success of the company?

Family culture is the key to our success. Omni Hotels & Resorts operates as a family and believes in a trilogy model, which is, we look out for our associates, our customers, and our owners.

What have been the keys to Omni Hotels & Resorts’ industry leadership and how do you define the Omni difference?

The Omni Hotels & Resorts’ industry leadership is based on its ownership model. Omni is one of the very few hotel companies that own and operate the majority of their assets. The difference is that most of the other companies are highly segmented and franchised. They have many different operators involved in each piece of real estate unlike Omni which has the same owner, operator and brand. This enables Omni to move quickly and be more nimble.

Will you highlight Omni Hotels & Resorts’ current developments and plans for growth?

Omni Hotels & Resorts current developments include Omni PGA Frisco Resort, Omni

Peter Strebel An Interview with Peter Strebel, Chairman, Omni Hotels & Resorts
View from a terrace at the Omni Berkshire Place in New York City

Fort Lauderdale Hotel, Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU, and Omni in Pontoque, Mexico. Key restorations and major redevelopments include The Omni Homestead Resort, Omni Charlottesville Hotel, Omni Severin Hotel in Indianapolis, Omni Tucson National Resort, Omni Interlocken Hotel in Denver, Colorado, and Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate.

How did Omni Hotels & Resorts adapt the way it works to address the challenges caused by the pandemic?

Omni Hotels & Resorts developed a “lose less” strategy to deal with the pandemic. Due to our size and ownership, we were able to reopen quicker. All of our resorts were reopened by Memorial Day weekend of 2020. As a result, we survived and prospered and still maintained a profit in 2020. Our ownership model and close ties to our associates resulted in a retention rate of over 50 percent.

What are your views on the current state of travel as it recovers from the pandemic?

Travel is back. In fact, group travel is experiencing an increase because as companies are doing more work from home, employees need to build that camaraderie and culture. Group travel is going to continue to be on the rise because companies need to get together in person for meetings. I believe that being contained for two years has made people realize that family and friends are extremely important and that’s going to be the impetus for more leisure travel. On the other hand, business travel will probably never get back to where it was because technology has come into play on some less important meetings.

How critical is it for Omni Hotels & Resorts to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?

It is very critical for Omni Hotels & Resorts to have a diverse and inclusive workforce. We are very customer centric and by having an inclusive workforce that represents our customers, we are aware of all their

needs. Sustaining an inclusive workplace that represents Omni’s many different viewpoints, cultures, and backgrounds creates a welcoming environment for all.

What do you see as Omni Hotels & Resorts’ responsibility to the communities it serves and to be a force for good in society?

Even though we are a global brand called Omni Hotels and Resorts, we operate on the street, in a city, in the town. Many of our employees are from the community. We work with many of the local catering and social businesses. Our communities support us by having their weddings and bar mitzvahs, events, and meetings at our hotels, and visiting friends and relatives. We give back through our national

platform called Say Goodnight to Hunger. Omni is committed to helping the local communities in which we are located, so these donations will directly benefit food banks in the 42 communities where Omni Hotels & Resorts’ 50 properties operate.

How do you describe your management stye?

My management style is collaborative. You have to manage up, down, and across, and you have to figure out your strategy for each three disciplines. My management mantras are passion, focus, energy, and drive.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in building a career in the hospitality industry?

When you follow your passion in life, you’re happier overall. I was always fascinated by travel, and I started out walking from school to my uncle’s deli, passing the travel agencies to pick up the brochures. My parents took us on a lot of trips, most of them were by road, but I loved to travel. I started out at an entry level position after college as a desk clerk sitting at the front desk at midnight, saying, “I want to get ahead, I want to be somebody, I want to be the boss.” And it’s been a phenomenal career for me both personally, professionally, financially, spiritually, and emotionally. It’s been a real big success story for me, and what’s nice about it is that my dad always said, “you can be anything you want to be.”

Employees who have drive and proficiency will surely stand out. If you push beyond your job description, you will be immediately noticed as a superstar, opposed to those who are just looking at it as a job versus a career versus a calling. The hospitality industry is still one of the few industries where you don’t need a college degree to rise through the ranks by showing that passion and proficiency.•

Rendering of a ballroom at the Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU
Omni PGA Frisco Resort

A Lifestyle Brand

EDITORS’ NOTE Establishing his career in the early 1980s, Dennis DeGori has become one of the most successful owners and innovative operators within the U.S. nightclub and cabaret industries. Over the course of three decades, DeGori, a native of Long Island, New York, has created, owned and/or operated over two dozen clubs from New York City to Las Vegas and from Chicago to Miami, including some of the nation’s highest-profile, most profitable, and award-winning nightclub/cabarets. In 2012, DeGori moved to Miami, Florida, where he created the 11 USA Group, and his long-envisioned concept of E11EVEN became a reality. Two years following, in 2014, DeGori opened the doors to E11EVEN Miami, South Florida’s most sought-after destination that has catapulted the nightlife scene to new heights and established itself as one of the most unique and recognizable nightclubs in the world. Throughout his career, DeGori and the venues he has owned and/or operated have been recognized by leading industry institutions. From personally being inducted by E.D. Publications as the 8th member of the coveted Gentlemen’s Club Hall of Fame to Nightclub & Bar Media Group naming E11EVEN “Best New Concept” and one of the “Top-10 Nightclubs in America,” DeGori continues to revolutionize the nightlife industry to new heights.

COMPANY BRIEF Made in Miami and known worldwide, the E11EVEN name is synonymous with forward-thinking hospitality, groundbreaking innovative entertainment experiences, and living life to the fullest. The E11EVEN brand made its debut in 2014 when E11EVEN Miami (11miami.com), the award-winning ultraclub, opened its doors in downtown Miami. E11EVEN Miami ranked number nine on the “100 Best Clubs in the World” list by the International Nightlife Association in 2019, and today stands as the highest-grossing nightclub per square foot globally. Today, the E11EVEN ecosystem includes: E11EVEN Life, a hat and apparel division that sells over $1 million in branded caps a year; E11EVEN Vodka, a women-owned, ultra-premium spirit in which E11EVEN licensed its intellectual property; E11EVEN Sound by DAS Audio brings sound back to the forefront of the nightclub sensory experience and can be found in venues in 13

countries; E11EVEN Hotel & Residences and E11EVEN Residences Beyond are sold-out twin 65-story high-rise towers in downtown Miami with 850 units which are connected by a sky bridge, and the property boasts a pool club, Chopra Spa, and 5-star dining; E11EVEN Crypto launched to create various NFT collections starting with the sold-out 11 Captain’s Club on the Ethereum blockchain; E11EVEN Music is a record label and artist/producer management company that first artist 11APE was born meta-primate number 11 in the Bored Ape Yacht Club; and the newest venture Giselle Miami, in partnership with The Restaurant People, that comes January 2023 and will bring an exciting world-class culinary experience to the rooftop of E11EVEN Miami.

What was the vision for creating E11EVEN and how do you define the purpose and mission of the brand?

My vision for what would one day be known as E11EVEN first came about in 1992 when I was visiting a nightclub called The Palladium on West

14th Street in New York City. At that time, I was operating another iconic club in New York City called ‘’Stringfellows Presents Pure Platinum.’’ The Palladium was initially opened and operated by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell of Studio 54 fame and then taken over by Peter Gatien, another New York City nightclub industry titan. Stringfellows was a revolutionary and famous nightclub/cabaret I opened in 1991. At the time, I envisioned a melding of a nightclub, cabaret, and a Broadway type of operation that would transform multiple entertainment concepts. I had it in my “minds-eye” from that point forward until I was able to realize my vision 20 years later when I opened E11EVEN Miami, the world’s first ultraclub. E11EVEN is an experience that can only be defined by experiencing it in person. The guiding principle at E11EVEN Miami is to create a unique and captivating experience from hour-to-hour and day-by-day. Each person leaves E11EVEN with a different experience proving true to our original tagline, “E11EVEN Miami, it’s exactly what you think it is!”

Today, E11EVEN has become a lifestyle brand with a mission to increase the presence of E11EVEN by continuing to expand our verticals into other categories on a global scale.

Dennis DeGori An Interview with Dennis DeGori, Founder, E11EVEN
50 Cent (above) and Travis Scott (top) performing at E11EVEN Miami

Will you provide an overview of E11EVEN Miami and how the ultraclub is positioned in the market?

Located in Downtown Miami, Florida, E11EVEN Miami opened in 2014 and is the world’s first and only ultraclub. The venue has received accolades, including being awarded “Best New Nightclub Concept,” perennially voted among the top 10 nightclubs worldwide, and becoming the highest-grossing nightclub per square foot globally. E11EVEN plays host to some of the most spectacular live shows ever performed inside a nightclub with world-class aerialists, acrobats, and contortionists. Bringing the highest level of performance art, choreographed to original music against the backdrop of state-of-the-art sound and

allowed the guest’s experience to dictate our daily operations. E11EVEN is not judgmental but inclusive – open format and open-minded. We are willing to meet our guests’ expectations and never try to dictate expectations. We embrace our guests upon arrival with a “welcome home,” whether it’s your first experience at E11EVEN or your 100th. We are guest forward thinking; everything else will always follow. So, I define E11EVEN Miami’s success by the positive experience that our guests have.

I attribute the success of the E11EVEN concept to quite a few things, including operating in the middle of a Miami growth explosion and having a team that has made it all happen. From my co-founding partners, Michael Simkins

Road. The concept that I was creating was on 11th Street in Miami. Further, at the time, my daughter Johanna was 11 years old, as was Justin, the son of Marc Roberts (co-founding partner). It was undeniable that it should be called, E11EVEN. The concept and the brand were born; E11EVEN is a true lifestyle brand. E11EVEN can be worn (E11EVEN Life sells $1 million in branded caps annually). E11EVEN is Vodka (E11EVEN Vodka). E11EVEN is music (E11EVEN Sound by DAS Audio and E11EVEN Music). E11EVEN needs to accept new types of payments (E11EVEN Crypto). E11EVEN is 24/7 (we like to say 24/11). E11EVEN is home (E11EVEN Hotel & Residences).

Where do you see growth opportunities for E11EVEN?

E11EVEN translates into many segments of our community. E11EVEN is genuine. E11EVEN is fun. E11EVEN is an immersive experience. E11EVEN is unique. E11EVEN is both unexplainable without a personal experience but E11EVEN, once experienced, is exactly what you think it is. E11EVEN is hospitality at its best. So, hospitality is its obvious best opportunity. Unique Hotel & Residences, with vibrant hospitality offerings, is a natural opportunity. Any concept that ensues from the original club operations lends itself to an opportunity.

How important has it been to build the E11EVEN team, and will you discuss E11EVEN’s commitment to training and customer service?

lighting technology, E11EVEN MIAMI is known for presenting unforgettable up-close-and-personal performances by some of the biggest names in the music and entertainment industry. Stars such as Drake, Miley Cyrus, Usher, Cardi B, Post Malone, Daddy Yankee, and Nicky Jam have taken the stage in front of guests, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting, Kendall Jenner, Demi Lovato, Gigi & Bella Hadid, Dwyane Wade, Vin Diesel and more.

E11EVEN Miami delivers a one-of-a-kind five-star hospitality experience throughout all aspects of the 20,000 square-foot space, truly revolutionizing the VIP experience in the nightlife industry.

E11EVEN operates in a very competitive and robust Miami entertainment market, bridging multiple entertainment offerings. We strive to be fun, creative, and undeniable day in and day out.

E11EVEN is introspective, always with an ear to our audience and never focused on what other operators are or are not doing. E11EVEN is adaptive, never dictating to our audience but always striving to exceed our guests’ expectations.

What have been the keys to the success of E11EVEN Miami, and how do you define the E11EVEN Miami difference?

E11EVEN, from day one, strived to be immersed in the Miami culture. We have

and Marc Roberts, who helped build the club and the brand, to my operating partners Gino LoPinto, Daniel Solomon, Frances Martin, Derick Henry, and Ken DeGori, and top management all the way down the line, we have created a true family. Everyone loves what they do which shows whenever you walk through our doors. Will you highlight the brand extensions for E11EVEN?

Almost from day one, I envisioned E11EVEN as a lifestyle brand. E11EVEN was conceived as a brand that had no limits. The name itself reflects the intent of the concept. I was not looking to be constrained by the name of the brand. At its core, my concept was to have a brand name that was not transparent, that did not suggest what the operation would be; not a nightclub, not a cabaret, not a theatrical offering, nor any other hint of what may define the concept. After six months of naming considerations and striving to be creative yet non-committal, the name became undeniable. I spent four months with my architect and design team, Tom Telesco & Associates, while simultaneously working with my licensing attorney, Lou Terminello. In the end, Telesco & Associates was located at 1111 Bay Harbor Drive. Lou Terminello had his office at 1111 Lincoln

E11EVEN is nothing without our family. Every employee goes through a rigorous interview screening and then an in-depth two-week training program. We instill, first and foremost, the E11EVEN culture in our team, and we have promoted from within since day one. We accept only the best and promote those committed to enhancing our guest’s experience. We build an atmosphere of respect and focused engagement on our staff’s needs so that they can create a new experience for our guests every day. Our total focus in training is guestforward. We are committed to guest service, and our points of service are reinforced daily in our departmental pre-shift meetings.

Did you always know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to build your own business?

Yes. I have been in the hospitality industry for nearly 40 years. Initially, I worked for a company opening new clubs around the nation. As such, I had to take the lead and needed an entrepreneurial spirit as I always operated from the perspective that “This is my club! This is my business!” For the past 20+ years, I have owned, opened, and operated various nightclubs with various formats and themes.

What are your priorities for E11EVEN as you look to the future?

My priority for E11EVEN is to always ensure that our guest’s experience is at the forefront of everything we are doing, and anything we do in the future. Our guests truly do dictate our path forward. We recognize that the E11EVEN brand has expanded exponentially over the last several years, and we will continue that growth for years to come while always staying true to the brand as conceived.•

Performers at E11EVEN Miami

Timeless Glamour

EDITORS’ NOTE With more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Octavia Marginean-Tahiroglu brings a wealth of knowledge to her new role at The St. Regis New York. She is a longstanding member of The St. Regis New York family, having served as the Hotel Manager since 2015. In 2021, MargineanTahiroglu successfully led the hotel’s reopening, welcoming travelers from around the world back to the beloved property. Prior to joining The St. Regis New York, she served as the General Manager of The Tribeca Grand Hotel and the Deputy General Manager of The Soho Grand Hotel. She began her work with Marriott International in 2004 with The Westin New York at Times Square, and first joined The St. Regis New York in 2006 as the Front Office Manager. Marginean-Tahiroglu attended Hunter College in New York where she received her BA degree in sociology. She is currently enrolled in the MBA Program at Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College.

The St. Regis New York (stregisnewyork.com), originally founded by John Jacob Astor over a century ago, is considered to be one of the finest hotels in the world. The majestic Beaux Arts exterior, elegant public spaces, exquisitely designed guest rooms and suites, and unparalleled, bespoke service have preserved its legendary status for more than 100 years. The hotel is also home to the famed King Cole Bar, the birthplace of the original Bloody Mary. Ideally located in the heart of Manhattan at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street, The St. Regis New York is steps from the city’s finest shopping, restaurants and museums.


Will you provide an overview of The St. Regis New York and how the property is positioned in the market?

Born of a distinctive legacy, The St. Regis New York was conceived by Colonel John Jacob Astor IV more than a century ago, and the timeless glamour of Astor’s vision still defines this cherished landmark today. A hotel crafted

for modern connoisseurs desiring the finest experiences imaginable, The St. Regis New York has defined bespoke luxury from 1904 to the present and features 171 luxurious guestrooms and 67 expansive suites. Our famed King Cole Bar still stands as one of New York City’s most iconic watering holes, serving up the Red Snapper, the original Bloody Mary, under the watchful eye of Maxfield Parrish’s Old King Cole Mural. Standing at New York’s best address on the corner of 5th Avenue and 55th Street, the hotel is one of the city’s premier luxury hospitality experiences with a legacy of exceptional service and standout signature rituals and traditions.

The St. Regis New York has a strong suite product. Will you highlight this offering and do you see this as a differentiator for the property?

Our suites continue to be an exceptional point of differentiation for The St. Regis New York. With 67 suites across multiple categories including the exceptional Presidential, Imperial, and Royal suites and our designer suites – the Bentley Suite and Dior Suite –over a quarter of our guest room offerings are classified as suites. Equipped with our St. Regis Signature Butler Service, our spacious suites allow guests to feel as if they are staying in their very own Manhattan apartment with key design elements including original crystal Waterford chandeliers and elegant crown moldings as well as beautiful, large-format photographic artwork, vibrant-hued fabrics, and stunning beveled mirrors.

How has The St. Regis New York approached its food and beverage offering and what are the keys for a hotel to be successful in this area?

We offer two separate culinary experiences, Astor Court and the King Cole Bar,

Octavia An Interview with Octavia Marginean-Tahiroglu, General Manager, The St. Regis New York The lobby of The St. Regis New York
Royal Suite living room

which has a devoted following. The King Cole Bar is home to Maxfield Parrish’s famed Old King Cole Mural, which has been present for many historic events including the creation of the Bloody Mary cocktail by St. Regis bartender Fernand Petiot in 1934. We thrive to honor the hotel’s heritage and founder, John Jacob Astor, through our food and beverage offerings. The signature rituals and offerings such as the Bloody Mary and nightly champagne sabering are all innate to our history, but offered in a modern way.

Will you discuss The St. Regis New York’s focus on offering personalized service and a customized guest experience?

At The St. Regis New York, we offer our guests a range of bespoke services, but the hallmark is our St. Regis Butler Service –available to each and every guest. Building upon more than 100 years of legendary service, The St. Regis Butler acts as a dedicated personal assistant, managing and facilitating a virtually unlimited array of guest requests, none of which are too little or too grand. Available 24 hours a day, The St. Regis Butler is one of the hotel’s most visible representations of its famed level of service and attention to detail.

How critical is it for The St. Regis New York to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to mirror the diversity of the guests it serves?

Marriott International is committed to inclusion and diversity and we drive that locally here, at The St. Regis New York. We are proud to have associates who represent over 80 countries from all continents who can communicate with guests in different languages in addition to understanding in-depth cultural nuances.

How do you define the role of the general manager and what are the keys to being effective in the role?

The general manager is ultimately responsible for the oversight of a property from a revenue generating and a cost efficiency perspective; in short, profit and loss responsibilities. The role demands passion for what we do. We are stewards of our stakeholders and have their best interests as our north star. Successful leaders find their inner voice and are authentic in their leadership as they set up goals, delegate, inspire, and develop people.

Effective communication and a good understanding of people support the building of strong teams. Through good communication, leaders have the ability to clearly translate the vision and the mission of an organization. Decisiveness is also a very important trait of a general manager. In order to make sound decisions, general managers constantly work on improving their critical thinking, finance, and project management skills. We are professionals who are very determined to make every day count.

Do you feel that there are strong opportunities for women to grow and lead in the industry?

Absolutely. The industry overall has seen a significant increase in its female representatives in executive and C-level roles. At The St. Regis New York, there are no barriers for female career growth. We have a strong female representation as our Director of Human Resources, Director of Finance, Director of Sales and Marketing, Director of Rooms Operations, and me are all women. We walk the talk at The St. Regis New York.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in building a career in the hotel industry?

The best way to break into this industry is to take advantage of opportunities where you can deeply understand the operations of a hotel. This knowledge will be the foundation for endless success. Find joy in every role you decide to take. Focus on the skill of resilience so you can overcome obstacles quickly and reach your career goals. Know there is no experience in this industry that is not relevant to your career. Make yourself bountiful in your experiences. Do not ever surrender. Always look forward. Do not regret your decisions.

King Cole Bar
The St. Regis New York Roof Ballroom

Memorable Moments

EDITORS’ NOTE Deborah Yager Fleming joined Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach in March 2004 after having served as Vice President, Sales & Marketing, at Island Outpost where she managed marketing campaigns for 12 boutique hotels. She also garnered valuable experience in New York at Leading Hotels of the World where she held senior management positions and implemented the design of worldwide sales strategies and innovative marketing programs.

PROPERTY BRIEF With a lushly landscaped 4.5-acres of seaside bliss, world-class restaurants, curated amenities and spacious rooms and suites, all with balconies and water views, Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach (acqualinaresort.com) is at the center of Miami’s Sunny Isles Beach providing an exclusive experience and an ultra-luxurious beach lifestyle. The property is the recipient of the coveted Forbes Five Star Award and the AAA Five Diamond Award. Acqualina was recognized by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association – as a confirmed GBAC Star accredited facility acknowledging Acqualina’s increasing best practices and protocols for sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Acqualina is Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED™ with Forbes Travel Guide

Will you provide an overview of Acqualina Resort and how the property is positioned in the market?

Acqualina is a family run, luxury beachfront resort located on 4.5 acres in pristine Sunny Isles Beach, Miami and features 98 guest rooms and suites and 188 residences with views of the Atlantic Ocean. At Acqualina we are committed to providing a great living experience in a gorgeous Mediterranean Villa lifestyle environment with plenty of amenities for our guests to enjoy. We feature four destination restaurants, an awardwinning spa, three oceanfront swimming pools and an innovative children’s program. Our grounds feature outdoor living room settings and umbrellas with our signature red color on Seashore Paspalum grass just steps from the sea. We have a Dream Maker Culture empowering our team members to personalize experiences. This has garnered many awards including the number one Luxury Beachfront Hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.

Acqualina Resort has a strong suite product. Will you highlight this offering and what guests can expect from the suites?

Acqualina is known as a great family resort experience. We have 36 two-bedroom suites and 4 threebedroom suites. These suites feature large living rooms, kitchens, oceanfront terraces, and many have their own private offices. We recently enhanced all of the rooms and suites at our resort by introducing new bathrooms with Veno Oro Marble and Molteni Vanity Cabinets and, most recently, we introduced new furniture to offer a modern fresh look that blends with our beautiful signature classic pieces. We have replaced the sofas in every room and suite with a modern Italian design by Ideal Casa. Our accommodations all feature new desk chairs and side tables in bronze metal with glass tops.

The suite’s dining areas have a Spin Dining Table with a central steel column covered with full-grain leather in a spiral pattern with visible stitching. The upper part of the column is in visible stainless steel and the tabletop is made of transparent tempered glass. The new wood dining chairs have an enveloping backrest. Our kitchens feature Italian Lapitec stone counter tops with waterfall bar areas. The new bar stools are characterized by a curved oak structure with a sinuous design.

Acqualina is a brand that continuously looks for ways to improve and implement new services and amenities for our customers to enjoy, from design to food to activities, and this is what

Deborah Yager Fleming
Suite living area (above) and a
overlooking the
An Interview with
Costa Grill

differentiates us, coupled with our friendly and heartfelt service.

How has Acqualina Resort approached its food and beverage offering and what are the keys for a resort to be successful in this area?

We believe in partnering with great restaurant operators that are iconic, share the same service philosophy, and whose cuisine is appealing and approachable for an everyday experience. We are excited to welcome the acclaimed Avra Estiatorio of New York and Beverly Hills with a spectacular new restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean which opened in November within our community. Avra’s cuisine is inspired by the seaside tavernas dotted all over Greece’s coast and more than 200 islands. The menu offers iterations of fresh fish as well as rarer Mediterranean gems like fagri and lithrini. Designed by STA Architectural Group, Avra spans 12,000 square feet and has a 330-seat main dining room. The airy space is chic yet inviting with its floor-toceiling windows, high ceilings, white color tones and brass finishes. Diners will be able to hear the waves crashing while they eat alfresco and savor oceanfront views.

Avra marks the fourth waterfront restaurant at Acqualina, joining Il Mulino New York for authentic Italian cuisine, Ke-uH for exquisite Japanese fare, and Costa Grill for Floridian beachside dining. We know our customers look for the best of the best restaurant experience and we want to offer just that without having to go off property. Our guests have told us that we are a true culinary destination and this together with our beachfront experience and five-star service is very special.

Will you highlight the strength of the spa offering at the property?

Our luxurious 20,000-square-foot two-story Spa overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and provides guests and outside clients with a tranquil sanctuary. The Acqualina Spa combines the best of ancient and modern therapies with the latest and finest skin care advances. Our skilled spa therapists have vast knowledge and deliver treatments that leave you wanting to return. Some guests have told me they do not want to leave Acqualina so that they can go to the spa every day.

Our spa includes separate women’s and men’s relaxation lounges featuring Himalayan salt walls, heat experiences areas, which include crystal steam rooms, arctic ice fountains, experience showers, and Finnish dry heat saunas. Spa guests may also enjoy the co-ed spa pool and terrace, jet pool, and Roman waterfall spa overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

These days we know how important it is to offer results-oriented treatments; therefore we have enhanced our extensive treatment menu with new facial treatments designed to target recovery and results. Our Collagen Sculpting Facial and Ultimate Performance use Swissline’s foundation in cellular therapy and biotech innovation. With skin-identical ingredients including hyaluronic acid, pre-and probiotics, and niacinamide, the facial products are 92 percent pure collagen and 97 percent identical to the skin’s own collagen, making them extraordinarily effective in lifting and firming. We also arranged for Apprize Beauty to offer aesthetic beauty and IV treatments.

Each IV therapy is customized to meet guests’ particular needs. Morpheus8 treatments are also available and provide a natural look to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage. Will you discuss Acqualina Resort’s focus on offering personalized service and a customized guest experience?

Our success is largely built on extending personalized service to each of our guests. We have GEMs (Guest Experience Managers) assigned to each arriving guest who customize the services based on our guests’ needs. We encourage our team members to identify what would make a guest’s experience extra special. We believe it is critical to provide our team members with the tools, resources, and training they need to be successful, and also to recognize each of our team members for their efforts and contribution. We have a WOW story initiative providing memorable moments for our guests that are celebrated on our Employee Together App. Our employee engagement program is at the cornerstone of our management philosophy and the opportunity to acknowledge each of our team members is paramount to us.

How critical is it for Acqualina Resort to build a diverse and inclusive workforce to mirror the diversity of the guests it serves?

Equal representation in our workforce as well as our leadership is very important to us at Acqualina. We continuously take measures to make sure there is equality and have always embraced diversity and gender equality and want our team members to reflect this. At Acqualina we celebrate individual differences and embrace diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing equal opportunities in all aspects of employment.

What do you see as Acqualina Resorts’ responsibility to the community it serves and to being engaged in the community?

Acqualina is committed to the community in which we operate and supports the Miami Chapter of the I Have a Dream Foundation. The Foundation empowers children in low-income communities to achieve higher education and

fulfill their leadership potential by providing them with the skills, knowledge, and habits they need to gain entry to higher education and succeed in college and beyond. Each year, the principal owners of Acqualina, Stephanie, Jules, and Eddie Trump – no relation to the former U.S. president –host a major charitable gala where South Florida philanthropists join our Dreamers for a magical evening filled with dreams and opportunities ready to come true.

The I Have a Dream Foundation guarantees the Dreamers with an academic tuition at a Florida state university for a four-year degree or at an accredited trade school. The program adopts an entire class of Dreamers from early elementary school in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood.

Do you feel that there are strong opportunities for women to grow and lead in the industry?

Women certainly are inspired by companies that trust, empower, and encourage new opportunities and allow them to make a difference. The hospitality industry is always looking for new ways to delight customers and create experiences that will provide everlasting bonds, encouraging repeat business and loyalty. It’s about taking an organized approach to getting results and knowing how to keep moving the goal post to achieve greater success. It’s about an attitude and willingness to get the job done.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in building a career in the hotel industry?

Be patient and put in the work, and it will pay off. Managers are keen to promote individuals that are reliable, engaged, and care about the company’s mission. It’s a wonderful industry where one can connect with people, be inspired daily, and be surrounded by individuals that can provide guidance on how to build a career that would be the best path. It’s an industry full of memorable moments where one can enjoy being a part of making dreams come true.•

A newly renovated suite kitchen

The Art of Personalization

EDITORS’ NOTE Ashish Verma was previously with the Lowell Hotel in New York, where he served for seven years as General Manager. Prior to the Lowell, he served as General Manager at the famed Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans and has held senior positions with luxury hotel companies including Orient-Express Hotels, Millennium Hotels, Hyatt International Corporation and Oberoi Hotels International. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in political science and economics from Punjab University in Chandigarh, India; a graduate degree in Hospitality Administration from the Oberoi School of Hotel Management in New Delhi, India; and a Master of Business Administration from IMHI Cornell-ESSEC in Paris, France.

PROPERTY BRIEF Located in the heart of Manhattan on 44th Street, The Chatwal, New York (thechatwalny.com) is one of the most centrally-located luxury boutique hotels. A landmark building by architect Stanford White, and designed by the famous Thierry Despont, this 76 guest rooms and suites (many with terraces) iconic jewel boasts numerous custom amenities, such as Georg Jensen designware, Christofle silverware, Bernardau