Tag Archives: business perspective

GPEC Profile: Mike Tully, President And CEO Of AAA Arizona

Mike Tully
President and CEO, AAA Arizona

As president and CEO of AAA Arizona, Mike Tully has a keen interest in getting the state back on the road to prosperity. That probably explains why for the past seven years Tully, who joined AAA Arizona in 1998 as chief financial officer, has been a member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s Finance Committee.

“GPEC’s role in our community is critical,” Tully says. “Attracting high-quality jobs to our state improves our health and economic performance, and makes the state a more attractive place for residents, as well as people moving to our beautiful state. As a membership organization representing nearly 800,000 people, AAA has a vested interest in the livelihood of Arizona.”

In addition to Tully’s position on the Finance Committee, AAA Arizona has a representative on the GPEC board of directors. That’s just part of the relationship.

“From a business perspective, we have used GPEC as a resource when we evaluated expansion opportunities, moving a large portion of our California operations to Arizona,” Tully says. “GPEC was invaluable in our ultimate decision, which resulted in nearly 800 new jobs being brought to our state.”
GPEC’s mission to create a competitive, vibrant, diverse and self-sustaining regional economy is critical to all of Arizona’s industries, Tully says.

“Ensuring that Arizona continues to improve the diversity of high-paying quality jobs is more obvious than ever, as seen by our recent recession,” he says. “Our precipitous decline as the No. 1 job growth state to No. 50 is symptomatic of our lack of industry diversity.”

Tully has been instrumental in driving the tremendous growth of AAA over the past decade, including expansion of its membership, financial services, insurance and travel operations. Prior to joining AAA, Tully owned an export finance company that arranged structured trade finance transactions for exporters throughout the United States.

The AAA executive has deep Arizona roots, having earned his Bachelor of Science degree in finance in 1987, and a master’s in business administration in 1991, both from Arizona State University. In 2007, he graduated from the advanced management program at Harvard Business School. Tully also holds a CPA certification.

As for travel trends in Arizona, Tully says the future remains murky.

“Our short-term forecast is flat, although shorter trips and drive trips continue to be popular,” he says. “While business travel is picking up in many areas of the country, it has yet to rebound in the Southwest.”

Likewise, international travel to Arizona continues to be weak, which hurts even more because international travelers generally spend four to five times the amount of money as domestic visitors.

www.aaaaz.com

Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

Barbara Lockwood, APS

Valley Forward: Barbara Lockwood

Barbara Lockwood
Director of Renewable Energy
Arizona Public Service
www.aps.com

Barbara Lockwood is a chemical engineer who doesn’t consider herself an environmentalist at heart, yet there she is — director of renewable energy for Arizona Public Service.

“It’s not something that’s innate in me,” Lockwood says about the environment. “I got into it from a business perspective. What makes sense to me is that we as a global economy are all tied together on one planet. What truly makes the world go around is our businesses and our connections. Accordingly, to sustain that and be viable long term we must do everything we can to protect and sustain the Earth. I truly believe our businesses run our society.”

At APS since 1999, Lockwood is responsible for renewable energy programs, including generation planning, customer programs and policy. Lockwood began her career in the chemical industry at E.I. DuPont de Nemours in various engineering and management roles on the East Coast. Later she moved into consulting and managed diverse projects for national clients throughout the country.

Lockwood, who joined Valley Forward in 1970 and now is a member of the executive committee, holds a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from Clemson University and a master of science in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“I’m a chemical engineer and I stepped into the environment right out of college,” Lockwood says. “It was a hazardous waste treatment operation.”

Although much has changed since Lockwood launched her professional journey, “renewable energy was a natural progression of my career.”

All sources of renewable energy, including solar, wind and biomass, should remain part of Arizona’s energy portfolio, she says. Lockwood mentions a biomass operation near Snowflake that generates electricity primarily by burning woody waste material from nearby national forests.

Lockwood calls Arizona “the best solar resource in the world,” and expects greater use of that renewable energy in the years ahead.

“We’re definitely working on that,” she says. “Solar is the resource of choice in the sunny Southwest.”

The main benefit of renewable energy is what you don’t see.

“It reduces polluting emissions because it is a clean source of fuel, and it offers a stable price,” Lockwood says. “What’s more, it can create jobs in Arizona.”

Lockwood touts APS’ Green Choice Programs as a way to improve the environment. Green Choice involves such things as converting to compact fluorescent light bulbs, renewable energy resources such as solar and wind, and high-efficiency air conditioning.

She also touts APS.

“The company is committed to renewable energy, and I came here because of that reputation,” Lockwood says.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 Offers Companies A New Way To Conduct Business

Those unable to offer a clear definition of Web 2.0 are not alone. Even computer industry experts have a hard time agreeing on exactly what it is.

“The reason why there are so many different opinions is because the term is so comprehensive,”says James Windrow, director of interactive strategy for Scottsdale-based I-ology, an Internet strategy firm. “It’s misused so often to include absolutely everything, all new technology that’s been developed for the Internet for about the past four to five years.

“The way I define it, and I use Web 2.0 and social media interchangeably, I define Web 2.0 as just technology that’s used to facilitate communication or collaboration amongst different people.”

David van Toor, general manager and senior vice president for Sage CRM Solutions North America, a business software company with offices in Scottsdale, looks at Web 2.0 technology from a business perspective.

“It’s describing, really, the concept that it’s the way that businesses can derive value from treating the Internet as a technology platform and as a business platform,”he says. “To me, it’s a way of conducting business – a different way of conducting business.”

Although the term implies some major redo of the Internet experience, “in reality, it’s just the next version, it’s the next step, it’s an evolution of the process,”according to Tyler Garns, director of marketing for Infusionsoft, a business software company in Gilbert.

The tools that come under the vast Web 2.0 umbrella have led to online communities and social networking, video sharing, blogging and wikis. If you post a page on MySpace or Facebook, watch and comment on a YouTube video, review a product on Amazon or glean information from Wikipedia, you are taking advantage of Web 2.0 technology.

Some businesses have fully embraced Web 2.0. When General Motors stock took a major dip in October, CEO Rick Wagoner appeared in a short YouTube video to state his company’s case. Cable giant Comcast is effectively using the social networking and micro-blogging site Twitter as an element of its Comcast Cares program. Go to Sage’s Web site for ACT! (www.act.com), its popular contact and customer management software, and you can join discussion forums, access an executive’s blog or suggest a feature for a future product update.

“I don’t need a marketing team to communicate with customers now,” van Toor says. “I can do it directly on the blog. I don’t have to force my customers to go through a service department to reach me.”

That’s part of the big change brought about by Web 2.0. In the past, the Internet experience was pretty much a one-way conversation. There was some modest interactivity, but many companies were satisfied using their Web sites as online brochures. Today, businesses are able to engage customer and employee collaboration as never before. Corporate executives are instantly accessible. Active participation results in lightning-fast dialog and feedback.

Another important point is there is now a type of corporate transparency never available before.

“The way that businesses today are leveraging that is they’re opening up their companies and being fully transparent,”Garns says. “What that allows the customer to do is to have a direct view into the company. And when they see things they like, they then trust the company much, much more.”

Windrow points to a change in the way Web 2.0 impacts a company’s ability to control its brand message. In the past, he says, businesses sought complete control.

“In today’s Web 2.0 world, that’s just not the case,”Windrow says. “Now the brand message has left the control of the company and is firmly with the consumers. They are controlling what’s being said about companies. They’re controlling what information is being shared. And they’re actively seeking ways to punish companies that they feel are socially irresponsible in one way or another, or reward companies that they feel are acting in the best interest of consumers.”

That’s why it’s especially important for businesses to offer consumers direct communication options.

“If you invite them to your business and to your sites, and allow them to communicate there in the way they want to, then you can respond to them in a way you can’t if they do it on other people’s chat rooms or places like Amazon,”van Toor says.

Selling, in particular, has been dramatically impacted by the Internet and Web 2.0 technology. According to Garns, today’s consumers educate themselves. They read reviews, hop into forums and find out what others are saying.

“By the time you go to purchase a product or service, you know exactly what you want and you know the price you want to pay,”he says. “When you walk in the door, you’re ready to negotiate. And so the business that you’re buying from has now been cut out of the sales process.”