Tag Archives: corporations

Consumer Confidence

Consumer Confidence In The New Year Will Influence Buying Decisions

Employment and real estate prices have regularly influenced our economy over the last century. Recently, they have negatively compounded the economic crisis and will most likely continue to be an issue as we fight through to recovery.

What will it take to change the direction of unemployment and low real estate prices? It begins with corporate confidence and consumer spending. Due to the challenges we currently face, many corporations have held on to large amounts of cash. Until corporations feel the worst is behind us and start deploying their large cash reserves, we will see a delay in our recovery. These large cash reserves will be used for research and development, marketing, and most importantly, hiring. Over time, people’s confidence will increase due to hiring, and as this happens people will begin to tap into their savings to start buying goods and services such as clothes, small home appliances, automobiles and vacations.

As more time goes on and we experience improvement with unemployment, people will begin to feel more confident and see the opportunity to invest in the markets. Doors will open for new opportunity for individuals to consider buying homes again. People who thought that owning a home was once out of their reach can now afford to buy. Home buying will certainly increase as we see unemployment decrease, which will benefit most of us — as long as we don’t get greedy again. Slowly, both will recover. Unemployment will most likely come down before real estate goes back up.

Everything is cyclical. Eventually, low unemployment and higher real estate prices will help the economy again. How long will it take? We don’t know. Recovery from a crisis such as the recent recession will take longer than we think. Be patient and use the knowledge we have learned from this recession to plan appropriately for the next crisis.

Man sitting at desk working on laptop.

CEO Series: Harry Curtin

Harry Curtin
Founder and CEO, BestIT

How did the recession affect the IT industry?
I think it really hurt IT. It really did, especially with larger corporations, I saw. It was almost like within a couple of month period that companies just shut everything off — especially large, multinational, Fortune 100 companies. You could talk to each one of them and they all had the same kind of story where “we have to cut it off,” and if they had a program they had been working on for a year, they just shut it down. I think there was a lot of fear, absolutely. The small- and mid-sized (companies), I think, really kept it up more than the large, to me. I think they felt a little bit more nimble. They stayed a little more positive, frankly. They were fighting through it more than the large companies. I think decisions from the top kind of cut everything off all the way down. It really hurt (IT) companies that were focused with larger companies, major projects. It changed them. It changed things a lot.

What signs of recovery are you seeing in your industry?
What I’m seeing right now is mostly that companies are taking a deep breath after everything and they’re looking at, “OK, maybe I’m not ready to do something today, but what should I be doing tomorrow?” They’re starting to plan for later this year, next year; (they) don’t want to let things get to the point where things are just falling apart. (They) want to stay on top of it, but what’s (their) next step? So they are really in the planning phase in my book, and they are opening up their ears and thinking about what they need to do next. Even though they may not be ready today, they are taking those initiatives to move in the right direction.

What are the benefits of IT outsourcing?
It allows you to focus on your core business. It can reduce costs greatly, if it’s done right. It can also create more of an efficiency in your business, because you aren’t focusing on an area that you aren’t an expert in. You can stay focused on what you’re really good at and just do it that much better, rather than being distracted by an area that’s not really a core. Our company, we outsource areas where it’s not our competency or something we want to do long term.

In terms of image, does the outsourcing of services still face challenges?
I think so. I think people in the late ’90s and early-2000s got a view of outsourcing that it’s shipping a job or a service overseas, which is not the case. That’s a piece of it, but lots of companies — I’ll use manufacturing as an example. You may manufacture a whole component, but maybe a piece of that is something you’ve never been able to manufacture correctly, you haven’t gotten the quality you wanted, you haven’t gotten the pricing right, and you essentially outsource that piece. Maybe it’s a local company down the street that does it … I think that if (people) are just looking at it as (work) goes overseas, that is not the right way. I think you need to look at what the solution is. (BestIT) is a U.S.-based organization; essentially when a company signs on with us, if it’s an extensive enough contract, we’re going to need to hire here. AZ Business Magazine March 2010So we’re going to be creating jobs, as well as they are going to be creating jobs for themselves, because now we’ve reduced what their costs are and they can hire in sales or project management — wherever they feel the gaps are in their business.If (people) look deep enough, they’ll find organizations that offer outsourcing that may not be what the typical outsourcing is.

What does an IT professional need in order to be considered part of the C-level team?
(There needs to be) a lot of hard work, a lot of focus, a great attitude — people that are really committed to helping support the business. And not taking this (job) as a nine-to-five, but also thinking out-of-the-box in terms of where can you take the business up to the next level, or what you can do yourself to help the business.

    Vital Stats



  • CEO of BestIT
  • Founded BestIT in 2004
  • Owned an investor relations firm with a focus on small-cap technology firms
  • Worked as an investment adviser at Charles Schwab
  • Worked at Oracle Direct Sales for Oracle Corporation
  • Attended Buffalo State College
  • www.bestit.com

Thunderbird Uses Faculty, Students And Alumni To Advise Businesses That Want To Go International

As the world emerged from World War II, a visionary leader in the U.S. Air Force named Gen. Barton Kyle Yount dreamed of creating a business school that would focus exclusively on international management.

That dream was realized April 8, 1946, when Thunderbird School of Global Management received its charter, with Yount as the school’s first president. The campus opened on the site of Thunderbird Field, a historic airbase established to train American, Canadian, British and Chinese pilots during the war.

Today, Thunderbird is home to a strategy consulting unit called the Thunderbird Learning Consulting Network, which advises clients on their global business challenges.

Traditional strategy consultancies offer advisory services built on industry knowledge and client-led solutions. This has some upsides because it allows participants to replicate successful business models adopted by other clients. But the traditional model also has some drawbacks because it can force participants to fit a “round” strategy into a “square” organization.

More and more business schools also offer their own version of consulting services to corporations. The academic model normally involves teams of enthusiastic students who generate innovative ideas. The Thunderbird Learning Consulting Network takes the traditional academic model of solely student-led projects a step further.

By melding the talents of a pool of strategy consultants, world-class faculty, MBA students, alumni specialists and the world’s top advisers, the Thunderbird network provides globally integrated advisory services to clients in virtually any market.

The Thunderbird Learning Consulting Network works with organizations looking to grow their business nationally and internationally that need the support of experienced professionals who have done this many times before.

If an organization is challenged with getting its products onto the shelves of a supermarket in India, if it is looking for the right partner across North America, or if it is looking to know what its competitors are up to, the Thunderbird network attempts to shed light on how best to move in the right direction.

The network also helps customers execute their strategy and provides them with the right tools to take on their strategic challenges. These tools range from providing intelligence on the industry playing field — such as competitors, potential partners, market size and pricing — to a defined go-to-market strategy or simulation tools aimed at mapping potential market-development scenarios.

The Thunderbird Learning Consulting Network has been working closely on a wide range of projects with businesses in Arizona such as Fender and P.F. Chang’s to small upstarts. P.F. Chang’s, for example, came to Thunderbird wanting to benchmark its corporate social responsibility strategy with the best in class.

Along with focusing on the protection of a company’s intellectual property rights, the Thunderbird network also teaches clients how to carry on the work once the engagement is over, focusing on knowledge transfer and not just project execution.

In addition, the combination of practical consulting skills and the theoretical thinking and academic research brought by faculty ensures that the network tailors its solutions to the clients’ specific business challenges.

This can be done because the Thunderbird Learning Consulting Network can pull resources from almost anywhere on the planet. Thunderbird has 38,000 alumni scattered around the globe and across most industries.

So if a client needs to know more about solar energy suppliers in Indonesia or Native American business ventures in Colorado, there will almost always be an expert on hand from Thunderbird’s network who can give first-hand insight.

Examples of this broad expertise were plentiful at the 2009 Thunderbird Global Reunion in Macau in November. Alumni from all over the world came together to celebrate their successes and share global business knowledge.

Events such as these lead to new opportunities for the Thunderbird Learning Consulting Network, both in terms of new sales and new methodologies for future projects. So even on an airport runway in Macau, there is a piece of Arizona working to improve the way business is done.


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010


Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Grant Scholarships

Times Are Tough For Everyone, And Students Trying To Fund Their Educations Are No Exception

With college tuition constantly on the rise, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation is doing its part to help deserving Hispanic students throughout the Valley pay for their educations.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization whose main goal is to provide scholarships to Hispanic students attending Arizona post-secondary schools. The foundation also supports philanthropic efforts within the Latino community.

“As chairman of the board for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AZHCC), one of the accomplishments that I am most proud of is the establishment of a scholarship program,” says Robert Espiritu, who works in acquisition marketing for American Express’ International Business Unit.

Espiritu developed the scholarship initiative in 2008, during the 50th anniversary of the chamber’s Black and White Business Awards Ball — the longest-running black-tie event in Phoenix.

In order to commemorate the anniversary, Espiritu developed the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation Scholarship Program, which now has grown into a permanent component of the awards.

Espiritu also decided on an unconventional way to raise money for the scholarships.

“The idea I had was to ask the audience for pledges for scholarships,” Espiritu says.

The donations began with companies who had pre-committed to donating money and continued from there. “It was kind of spontaneous; I just wanted to ask people if they wanted to join the donation …” Espiritu says.Soon, “call-outs” were made from attendees pledging various amounts to the scholarship fund. Those who pledged then came on stage and stated their pledge amounts.

The 2008 event turned out to be a huge success. Donors big and small, from individuals to corporations, banded together to raise nearly $110,000.
“The generosity on the part of our corporate citizens and individuals has been amazing and gives me great faith that even with this down economy we still have the support from our community,” Espiritu says.

Despite the difficult economic climate, an additional $35,000 was raised in 2009. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Qwest Communications, Humana, Wells Fargo, APS and SRP were some of the larger corporations to contribute at this year’s ball.

“To date, the AZHCC Foundation has raised approximately $140,000 in scholarships for deserving and aspiring Latino students,” Espiritu says. “I want to personally thank all of our donors for their contributions. Without them, all of this would not be possible.”

On May 19 of this year, 60 Latino students were presented with the scholarships at a private dinner at the Wrigley Mansion. Scholarship recipients ranged from first-generation college students to graduate students.

“To be awarded such esteemed honors means that my hard work paid off. But I still have so much more to do to prove that I am worthy of such recognitions,” says Annalili Chacon, a recipient of the scholarship and a Barack Obama Scholar at Arizona State University.

Cosme Madrid, a student at ASU, also received a scholarship.

“I wanted to apply for this scholarship simply because it applied to who I was. … I learned that the chamber of commerce supports Hispanics to get a higher education and so I went for it,” he says.

Madrid adds that being selected a winner “is a great feeling because it shows the hard work that I have done throughout my high school career to get to where I am and to receive this scholarship.”

Both recipients are grateful for the financial relief the scholarships provide and are better prepared for the road ahead.

“It is so important for us to reach out and help future generations of students, and for the Hispanic chamber especially to be able to assist our Latino students,” Espiritu says. “These students will become our future leaders and the goal of AZHCC’s scholarship program is to help facilitate the development of our future leaders through education.”

Jeff Roberts Opus West

Jeff Roberts – Vice President Of Real Estate Development At Opus West

About 10 years after its Phoenix headquarters opened in 1979, Opus West came up against a major recession in the Valley. It survived that test and is weathering today’s economic downturn with the same tactics.

A division of the Minneapolis-based Opus Group real estate development company, Opus West is going head-to-head with Arizona’s moribund economy with its corporate structure, diverse product base and a development philosophy that has served it well.

“We are vertically integrated and that allows us to react quickly in good times and bad,” says Jeff Roberts, vice president of real estate development.

Opus West has in-house property management, construction, design and development services. Presently, the company’s design-build staff is opening new revenue streams by offering its services to outside clients, such as corporations and governments.

The company still looks for opportunities and is more likely to find them within its broad line of products — retail, industrial, office and residential, including condos, apartments and senior housing.

As part of its approach to development, Opus West does not hinder its flexibility with a sizeable property portfolio and keeps its land inventory low, Roberts says.

“In the late ’80s and early ’90s (recession), many companies accumulated a large portfolio and were much more affected, while we had built our buildings and sold them for a profit,” he says. “That makes us much less subject to market cycles.”

In these tough times, Opus West is again focused on finishing existing projects to get new tenants moved in, taking care of existing tenants and keeping the door open to build-to-suit projects for tenants that are willing to commit, Roberts says. Projects on its plate include the 263,000-square-foot mixed-use Tempe Gateway building in downtown Tempe and the 170,000-square-foot Mill Crossing shopping center in Chandler.

One bit of good news Roberts sees in today’s economy is a “reasonably strong amount of large tenant activity” as companies move for economic reasons or to take advantage of a down market and upgrade to nicer space. Roberts expects little new construction in 2009.

“I don’t look at it as a year where there will be any major projects,” he says. “It will be a year of people working through leasing up what they’ve got and, hopefully, a year we hit bottom and see things heading back up. The big question is whether the economy picks up enough where we can get some significant net absorption.”

Roberts has more than 17 years of real estate experience in eight different cities. Prior to joining Opus West, he was an asset manager for Beta West in Denver. Roberts holds a bachelor of science degree in real estate from Arizona State University.

www.opuscorp.com