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Corporate Search Committees have New Message for Executive Candidates: Ethics and Ethical Leadership Matter

leadership

Corporate Search Committees have New Message for Executive Candidates: Ethics and Ethical Leadership Matter

As a firm that puts a professional in a job every three minutes of the workday, Korn Ferry continuously tracks what organizations are looking for in the way of future senior executive leaders.

In addition to helping corporate board search committees find executive leaders, using the criteria specified by the committees, we also spend a great amount of time carefully listening to CHROs and C-suite executives–and learning about the skills and leadership experience that are especially important to them. Our company’s success depends on understanding what businesses truly need to drive performance through their talent and leadership.

As MBA and other business leadership programs across the nation seek to ensure that the next generation of business leaders will fit those requirements, there are three points of guidance we can pass along from corporate search committees and the candidates themselves, as they consider which organizations to join.

A key priority of corporate search committees is to ensure that a candidate’s demonstrated leadership experience includes adherence to the highest ethical standards.

In today’s business environment, ethical leadership is more than a desired quality–it’s a must-have. Search committees expect this to be the case and will often further probe candidates to confirm that their previous leadership roles reflect these high standards.

The top candidates for senior executive positions are asking the same questions: “Has this organization demonstrated a commitment to ethics and ethical leadership? Have they applied the principles of ethical leadership consistently, even during very difficult times?”

The priority given to candidates who have demonstrated ethics and ethical leadership continues to be reinforced, as does the amount of background searches our teams have been asked to provide to ensure evidence of real ethics and ethical leadership.

There are even programs in place today to instill quietly well-regarded principles of ethical leadership in modern MBA curricula, often backed by nonpartisan philanthropic organizations or business programs like the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, Etisphere and the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund. That organization annually partners with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to honor a 2023-era CEO who emblemizes tenets such as empathy in the boardroom, business resilience and self-awareness; traits which recent McKinsey surveys dating back pre-pandemic reflect are in short supply.

Yes, unfortunately, there are also some corporate executives of today experiencing severe ethical lapses, causing damage to reputations, reduced business success, and loss of confidence among employees, shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders. The price for failing to practice ethics and ethical leadership can be extremely high–and last a very long time.

Given the guiding priorities of corporate search committees and the candidates themselves, this issue is serious and will be a vital criterion in companies’ assessments of business leaders in the future, as well as in candidates’ consideration of organizations they might join.

We do hope that MBA and business leadership programs take heed to the power and importance of ethics and ethical leadership as they prepare the next generation of business leaders.

 

infrastructure software development

Maximizing ROI of Businesses with Software Development Consulting Services

In this digital landscape, Software development is continuing to rise for the essential success of businesses in various industries. The complexity of software development can be challenging to navigate, especially for businesses without a specialized in-house IT staff or team. At this point, software development consulting services come into play.

Software development consulting provides enterprises access to specialized knowledge and direction from experts who are familiar with the software development process. These consultants offer a wealth of expertise and knowledge, assisting firms in making wise choices, maximizing their development efforts, and achieving their business goals.

Why are Software Development Consulting Services Important for Businesses?

The size of the US software consulting industry was estimated at USD 275.82 billion in 2022 and is projected to increase at a CAGR of 12.58% from 2023 to 2030. The software consulting services companies are growing continuously by upgrading their digital transformation processes and increasing their need to implement modernized software solutions to optimize complex business operations.

In times of financial growth, businesses profit from higher revenues and budgets, allowing them to spend more on consultants. With the continuous advancement of technology, and demand for software consulting services has increased. The necessary skills and software implementation are provided by consulting services to businesses to increase revenue and profitability.

The Benefits of Employing Software Development Consultants for your Company

Leveraging the benefits of software development consulting services offers you the opportunity to increase the business ROI. Therefore, employing a software consulting services company assist you in overall business project development. 

Give Insights into Best Software Process

Software development consultants offer comprehensive advice and suggestions for improving your business model, with an emphasis on reducing procedures, utilizing technology, and improving current systems. Their main goal is to match your existing procedures with your long-term firm’s needs.

Prioritize Software Work

Software consulting companies develop a strategic plan for expanding enterprises, maintaining their crucial tasks, and avoiding pointless side projects. They arrange software tasks according to requirements, consider expected commercial results, and leave room for experimentation and quick iterations. This optimized process makes the path of software development and changes efficient.

New Technologies Update

Companies working together with a software development consulting firm have a significant advantage because they not only give you knowledge of the newest technologies for your business model but also take on the development duties to successfully apply them.  Incorporating cutting-edge technology into your current model with the help of a software development consulting firm grow your organization faster.

Providing training on how to use Software 

By giving training, the software development consulting company helps business users understand how to use recently introduced technology. This will help your team understand the capabilities of the software in-depth and share practical hints and hacks, ensuring a hands-on approach to software usage.

Even a software development company can assist you in tackling digital transformation without any interruptions by quickly resolving any challenges, resulting in little revenue.

Focusing on Business-Centric operations

You can gain a competitive edge by investing in software consulting services by streamlining business procedures, creating efficient technical strategies that produce positive results, optimizing efficiency while lowering costs, increasing the productivity of business users, and easily tracking software performance.

  • Changing the operational procedures
  • Developing a technical strategy that works
  • Boosting efficiency while minimizing time and money spent
  • Increasing employee output
  • Monitoring the operation of the software

Get a chance to select various experienced and skilled expertise 

A significant benefit of hiring a software development consulting company is getting access to various experts and teams with a variety of skills. These companies frequently have expertise in design, development, and deployment, which enables them to offer advice on the best tech stacks and methodologies, as well as comprehensive development and deployment services. This collaboration makes it possible to deliver excellent software in a shorter amount of time.

Improvement in Business Productivity 

Hiring a software consulting company for your business provides various benefits, such as streamlining operations and boosting employee productivity for businesses. Even you may efficiently plan and manage resources by accepting software development and usage paths and foreseeing the anticipated outcomes. This enables your staff to discover areas that may be temporarily postponed while prioritizing important activities, thus increasing overall productivity.

How a Software Consulting Firm Can Aid in the Development of Your Business?

A software consulting company is essential for developing a brilliant idea into software that is ready for the market and complies with industry requirements. Working with a software consulting firm has many benefits, one of which is its capacity to help you refine your project from conception to completion.

Software consultants provide all-inclusive assistance, from initial advice to in-depth analysis, so you may focus on your most important business objectives. At every level of your project, they offer advice and assistance, working directly with you to help you reach your objectives quickly and successfully.

Takeaway Points

In conclusion, utilizing software development consulting services can be instrumental in helping firms get the most out of their investments. In the software development lifecycle, these services offer valuable knowledge and direction, assisting businesses in making wise choices and maximizing the ROI of Businesses. Overall, This knowledge speeds up software development, cuts down on hazards, and raises the standard of the software.

gen Z business

A Leap of Faith: Moving to a New City for Business Opportunities

Introduction

Moving to a new city is a significant life event that brings a mix of excitement and uncertainty. When this transition is driven by business opportunities, it opens up a world of possibilities. Relocating for business can be a game-changer, offering the chance to expand your horizons, grow your career, and explore new markets. In this article, we’ll explore the challenges and rewards of moving to a new city for business and provide insights to help you navigate this exciting journey.

Research and Preparation

Before packing your bags, thorough research is essential. Start by researching the new city’s economic landscape, business climate, and industry opportunities. Understand the local market, competition, and potential clients or partners. Identify the cost of living, housing options, and the overall quality of life in your destination. This groundwork will help you make informed decisions about your move.

Networking and Relationship Building

Networking is a cornerstone of success in any new venture, and moving to a new city is no exception. Reach out to local business associations, chambers of commerce, and industry groups. Attend networking events and engage in online communities related to your field. Building a network of contacts and mentors can help you navigate the local business scene, access resources, and discover opportunities you might otherwise miss.

Establishing Legal and Financial Foundations

Setting up your business in a new city requires legal and financial considerations. Familiarize yourself with the local regulations, permits, and licenses needed to operate. Consult with legal and financial professionals who are familiar with the city’s laws and tax requirements. Ensure you have a clear understanding of the financial implications of your move, including any relocation expenses, taxation, and funding options.

Adapting to Local Culture

Every city has its unique culture and business etiquette. It’s essential to adapt to the local customs and values. Take the time to understand the local culture and norms, and respect them in your business dealings. Building relationships based on mutual respect and understanding will enhance your reputation and open doors to new opportunities.

Embrace Change and Be Resilient

Moving to a new city for business is not without its challenges, and this includes the logistical aspects of relocating your physical assets and office space. You may encounter setbacks in coordinating with a moving company, face unexpected hurdles related to transporting equipment, or experience moments of doubt about the logistics of the move. It’s crucial to embrace change, stay resilient, and maintain a positive attitude, not only in your business strategy but also in managing the practical aspects of the move. Remember that challenges, whether they involve the moving company’s scheduling or navigating the intricacies of a new location, are opportunities in disguise, and every obstacle you overcome will make you more resilient and resourceful.

Stay Connected with Your Roots

While embracing your new city, don’t forget your roots. Stay connected with your home base, whether it’s through remote work, maintaining relationships with existing clients, or periodically visiting your original location. Balancing your connection to your old and new environments can help you maintain stability and continuity in your business.

Conclusion

Moving to a new city for business is a bold step that can lead to tremendous growth and success. It’s a journey filled with opportunities to learn, adapt, and thrive. By conducting thorough research, building a strong network, understanding local regulations, and staying resilient in the face of challenges, you can navigate this transition successfully. Embrace the adventure, and remember that the path to success often leads through uncharted territory.

 

business

4 Things Everybody Gets Wrong When Starting a Business in China

Starting a business is a brave and bold move. It requires effort and you may even have to sacrifice an average of 70 hours a week, for probably the next 2-3 years, in order to get the thing running smoothly. This, in essence, is what most startups fail to recognize and understand. Some say success doesn’t come overnight and to some extent this holds water. So, if you are looking to open a new chapter in life and start a business, here are some problems faced by startups that are considered wrong when starting a business.

1. Business Name

This is a mandatory requirement and if you have in the past had another startup, you know this is required. So, for those starting up a new business, or for those venturing into this world for the first time, a Business Name is necessary. Once you have registered a Business Name, you may go a step ahead to getting a logo for your new business as well as acquiring a domain name. All these three should be unique and not like any other registered business. This will be the trademark of your business and if in doubt over the name, logo or domain selected, there are sites that can help you know if the one you select or create has already been taken. By failing to do so, you may end up registering using either a business that closed or one that never took off, eventually bringing confusion to prospective customers when simply searching for your business.

2. Business Plan

This is another necessary requirement. Failing to have an established business plan is like planning to fail. One thing that a new start-up again may confuse is a Business Plan and a Business Structure. These are two different things. First, doing some research and deciding whether to be a Sole Proprietor, venture into a Partnership or register a Company, should be the first step into knowing what business plan to have. Once you have decided on the type of business, you can then lay down the plan. Contained in a Business Plan are aspects of funding as well as what type of business venture to undertake. It will also entail how you plan on spending, so as not to over or underspend.

3. Business Structure

A business structure is different from the Business Plan. While new startups confuse this, they eventually lack a management scheme and gradually finish to poor management. So, a Business Structure is what entails what every employee in the business is to do. From the executives, accountants, superintendents, junior staff to all other working employees. When deciding on what structure to have, it is advised to seek the knowledge of professionals and experts in the field as such, professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and even some businessmen may help you understand and decide on the best business structure for your business.

4. Business Location

This is a vital element. For those looking to register a business in China, failing to understand the laws of the land could lead to problems. Again, this is among the biggest problems faced by startups. You will need to understand laws relating to taxes, registering the business as well as the many different laws within the country. So, the laws in different countries are different, and to avoid problems during startup, it is similarly advised to seek the counsel of those experienced in the field or do thorough research.

5. Nature of The Business

While you will be required to state the Nature of The Business when registering it, it is an essential aspect in determining how things will be run and what is to be done. In other words, this is a sure way to set yourself apart from other ventures depending on the type of business you carry on. Note that, this is also an aspect in the Business Plan, and because of that it should be a well-researched type of business to avoid huge competition. Though competition is good, you will need to offer something new to the Nature of the Business so as to keep the light on.

So, considering this factor carefully and staying in line with them, you will be on the way to having a fruitful business and even though it may take time, it is worth the wait. It is also recommended to do more research over the matter of opening a business to have enough knowledge when you do so.

pandemic

Pandemic Thinking: How to Keep your Head in the (Long) Game

The COVID-19 pandemic is crippling and toppling many U.S. small businesses. Often called “the backbone of the economy,” small businesses that are managing to survive face an uncertain future.

As states start to reopen, consumer spending is in steep decline while unemployment skyrockets and many people remain hesitant to venture out. But RJon Robins, founder/CEO of How To Manage A Small Law Firm (www.howtomanageasmalllawfirm.com), says some entrepreneurs find their businesses in trouble because they had the wrong mindset toward customers all along.

“Small business owners everywhere are infected by pandemic thinking,” Robins says. “But they were infected with this thinking before the pandemic. It’s only now the strategic weakness of short-term, fear-based, transactional thinking in all different kinds of businesses is becoming more obvious. Pandemic thinkers ask the wrong question, ‘What can you do for me today?’ Rather than, ‘How can we work together to build a long-term mutually-profitable relationship?’

“Business owners who built long-term relationships with customers and clients can weather this storm. Those who didn’t think this way before can adopt elements of this kind of thinking and they’ll start seeing the benefits almost right away.”

Robins offers small business owners three tips on how to develop long-term relationships that benefit both customers and businesses:

When first meeting, look ahead at the relationship 10 years from now. “The scale of a person’s thinking has a lot to do with whether they win the game,” Robins says. “Look for all opportunities to be of service, even in some small way, to earn the right to call the person a client. Every deal doesn’t have to be a grand-slam. Just get on base. Just get into the game. That way you can discover opportunities to be of greater service and have a client for life.”

Show you care.  “A lot of people don’t know how to show that they care. Ask yourself when is the last time you called to check on a former client to find out what’s happened in their life or business since the last time you did business together?” Robins says, “What are their plans for the future? What can you take off their plate and help them with today even if what they need is just someone to help them think things through? Good relationships built over time are especially evident during the pandemic. Ironically, though, a pandemic is a perfect time to begin a marketing campaign like this and besides, you probably have a lot of free time on your hands anyway.”

Have a long-term business plan. “A business being run without a 12-month, forward-looking budget is like a car being driven with a windshield covered in mud, and on an unfamiliar road with no particular place to go,” Robins says. “A business that is being run without weekly cash-flow projections is like a person stumbling around in the dark in an unfamiliar house. To take an active, consistent interest in your clients and develop programs encouraging them to keep coming back, it helps to have a long-term written plan for your own business.”

“Businesses generate revenue by solving problems for their clients and customers,” Robins says. “And right now there’s an abundance of problems, which is another way to say there’s an abundance of opportunities. Whether you already have or decide to begin developing great long-term relationships with clients, it’s an investment that will pay long-term dividends.”

________________________________________________________

RJon Robins is founder and CEO of How To Manage A Small Law Firm (www.howtomanageasmalllawfirm.com), the leading provider of management services  for the solo and small law firm market. In 2019, How To Manage a Small Law Firm was named by Inc. as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately-held companies in the country for the fifth consecutive year. A graduate of American University and Nova Southeastern College of Law, Robins is a member of The Florida Bar and The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

processes

Want to Ride the Coming Gig Economy Boom? Map Your Processes First.

Who sets workflow parameters in your business? Is it a control-heavy CEO? Department heads? The HR people who bring in the muscle? If it’s any of those three, your organization is overlooking the experts on what it takes to achieve goals and innovate: employees.

Trends in hiring options show big potential for companies to boost performance and nail objectives by augmenting permanent staff with project-oriented contractors. Project-based hiring promises greater efficiency and a chance to attract expert talent on a case-by-case basis, giving your workforce more power and flexibility. But to call this a move toward outsourcing is to simplify the job that business leaders and HR professionals face first.

Embracing new ways of hiring will depend on taking a fresh look at how work gets done inside your organization. In other words, to slot the right workers to the right projects, those projects need concise definition, so the right people can be found. The tool for that task is culture. Build transparency and acknowledgment into your company culture to fully identify and hone your job processes.

Transparency Helps Outline Job Breakdowns

The key to contracting specific projects to specific talent is, well, being specific. If you’re looking for a full-time employee to cover a number of tasks, the old, broad job description model still works. But if you’re looking for a series of experts to carry projects over the finish line, you’ll want to pinpoint what you want those people to do, for how long, and to what end. You can use your permanent and rotating staff to help draw those outlines.

Since you may have many microhires, the best way to manage knowledge of the processes they’ll follow is to let everybody on your staff know those boundaries. A project may wend its way through several departments and dozens of desks. When your whole team knows what everyone does and why, anyone will be able to point a person or a process in the correct direction.

Transparency brings this information to every manager and employee. In your regular team-building interactions, create a role-and-goal component. On its face, this is simple. What does each person in the company do? Why do they do it? What do they hope to achieve? At meetings or in internal communications, quiz the whole staff, from the CEO to direct reports, on these items. This is the beginning of mapping workflow and processes, and it should be a perpetual effort, as new people come in and new goals need to be met.

Acknowledgement Reveals What Works

With multiple contractors cycling through your workforce, you’ll want proven processes to guide them. Who decides what works? In a supportive culture, everyone should have a say. Analysis of growth and market share will back up how well the company machinery is working.

In your initial process mapping, you’ll survey each employee and departmental reps on how they do what they do, and how efficient and effective they think those methods are. Then, you can confirm or reject process steps via their outcomes. To keep all of this front and center with employees, use an acknowledgment system that is open to everyone.

For instance, if Kate finds a way to skip a step and hit a goal more efficiently, a colleague might notice and call attention to her improvement. Then, the department manager may take note and decide to implement that process across the board. This is why an open recognition system is important. When peers and those up and down the ladder see which current practices or new innovations aid in job performance, they can adopt them as well or encourage others to do so.

Contractors Help Pay It Forward

Have HR or department heads document your evolving processes, so that there is a map of best practices at any given time. Your hiring and onboarding procedures for contractors will reflect these tasks and techniques. You’ll also include these temporary hires in your roles-and-goals education, to whatever degree is relevant. This may seem like overkill, but it will create stability in what is necessarily a fluid situation.

Now you’re ready to use those expert contractors to their full potential. The new skills and talent they bring to the table will further innovate your job processes. And their knowledge of your internal structure will make them ideal candidates for future projects.

But keeping contractors informed and in the feedback loop does more than just positively affect your workflow. It helps reinforce forward-looking company culture. An organization’s culture is a living thing that transcends who is on the payroll at the moment. A strong culture that highlights how work is best performed will serve whomever you hire, well into the future.

___________________________________________________________

Chris Dyer is a recognized company culture expert among leadership speakers and consultants. He has channeled what he has learned in his business research and as Founder and CEO of PeopleG2, a leading background check company, into his best-selling book, The Power of Company Culture (Kogan Page, 2018).

strategies

Five Strategies That Can Take Your Business From Pretender To Contender

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

That quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, summarizes why some businesses and other endeavors fall short and end up in the scrap heap of lost dreams.

The importance of preparation for success in business is much like it is for professional sports teams trying to win a championship, says Paul Trapp (www.eventprep.com), founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc., a full-service meeting planning and management company, and co-author with Stephen Davis of Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams.

“Every single significant opportunity in life is a Super Bowl if you really want to be successful,” Trapp says. “The New England Patriots frequently reach the Super Bowl, but they don’t get there if they don’t practice with purpose every week, watch countless hours of video, and rise above the inevitable pain and struggles that come with high-level competition.

“Being prepared for every situation along the way leads to earning their biggest opportunity, and it’s the same way for a business looking for big opportunities to grow. The key to mastering the art of preparation is constant practice.”

Trapp and Davis offer five strategies for businesses to take their preparation to the next level:

Become a disruptor. “You want your business to stand out from the competition,” Trapp says. “To do that, ask yourself, ‘How can my company disrupt the industry? How do we position ourselves in the marketplace so that people will go out of their way to do business with us?’ ”

Attract the right talent. Picking the right person – one who can be a long-term employee vital to the company’s success – should be a slow and strategic process. For a business owner, hiring people is very much like investing,” says Davis, who is EventPrep’s founding owner/president/COO. “Before you offer someone a job, do research, check references, and ask many questions. Do people you are considering have the attitude and motivation to succeed? Would they be a good fit with your existing culture?”

Establish a winning culture. “A business culture is created at the top and cascades downward,” Davis says. “It takes great effort and dedication to build a winning business culture where everyone feels valued as contributors. It goes beyond the professional relationship to the personal – showing compassion for employees in times of need, and recognizing exceptional efforts with tangible rewards.”

Befriend Murphy. As in Murphy’s Law – ”Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Although all businesses encounter problems in a variety of ways, Trapp says, a strong organization can properly prepare in a way to withstand them and solve them quickly. “Because Murphy is going to show up in any number of forms,” Trapp says, “when preparing to do anything, there has to be a list of solutions in place before a problem ever happens.”

Recognize and seize opportunities. “The key to seizing an opportunity is identifying a need greater than your own – that of your customer,” Davis says. “Imagine you meet someone who can help you solve a need because he or she has the tools and experience to give you what you really need. Think about what real estate agents do for home buyers. They ask specific questions about what the clients are looking for, relate to their excitement about finding the right kind of home, and create a vision of that.”

“Preparedness is the key in any and all situations,” Trapp says. “The only way you learn and grow as an individual, and as a business, is to perfect your unique abilities and a team’s winning strategies through repetition.”

__________________________________________________________

Paul Trapp is a founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc. (www.eventprep.com), a full-service meeting planning and management company that supports 16 franchises across the U.S. He is co-author of the book Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Trapp is a former senior military leader who served as chief of recruiting for the Army National Guard and holds over 30 years of experience in contract management, event planning, and organizing conferences, seminars, and meetings.

Stephen Davis is a founding owner/president/COO of EventPrep, Inc., and co-author of  Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Davis is a multi-state operations director who focuses on conference development, implementation, management, and conference design. He currently serves as a chief warrant officer and CID special agent in the Army Reserves. Davis deployed twice in support of the global war on terrorism. In 2016, Davis and Paul Trapp launched  Federal Conference, Inc., which provided professional event planning and management services to the government and commercial marketplaces. Federal Conference, Inc., twice was an Inc. 500 award recipient and executes over 3,000 events annually around the world.

geopolitical

How to Successfully Conduct Global Business During a Time of Geopolitical Instability

The way organizations approach global commerce is undergoing a radical change. Geopolitical instability is slowing growth in a volatile global economy as organizations are forced to adapt their tactics, making complex decisions that increase operational costs and, if mishandled, make them less competitive in an unforgiving business landscape. So, what can organizations do to navigate this ‘new normal’? As an association whose members deal with small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at the local level on a regular basis, we at the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) released our second annual WTCA Trade and Investment Report: Navigating Uncertainty, in partnership with FP Analytics. The report focuses on how cities around the world are optimizing trade and investment opportunities despite challenges, both economic and political, and how SMEs benefit from these strategies

The report shows that the majority (83%) of business leaders interviewed believe that global economic uncertainty will stay at its current elevated levels (30%) or get worse (53%) in the coming year. However, 69% of business leaders polled are cautiously optimistic about the coming year, as the report shows that resilient cities—defined as those that outperform their countries during economic downturns—have Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a percentage of GDP twice as high as non-resilient cities.

Despite their differences in location and culture, resilient cities have a set of commonalities that allow trade and investment to thrive. These characteristics include diversified economies and strong service sectors. In fact, resilient cities on average saw the share of services in GDP grow by 3.3% over the last five years; more than double the pace of non-resilient cities. Their populations are largely educated, with many inhabitants having college or other advanced degrees, as well as diverse, with higher rates of foreign citizens. On average, foreign citizens represent 11.6% of resilient cities’ populations, which is one-quarter higher than that of non-resilient cities. These cities also tend to have strong transportation infrastructures, including both airports and public transit options. 

Building Resilience 

The report also identified specific tactics used by resilient cities that organizations, including business and civic leaders looking to improve their own city’s resilience, can mirror. 

In resilient cities, key stakeholders are prioritizing direct diplomacy, meeting face-to-face to navigate obstacles created by regional or national governments. By cutting through political red tape, organizations have been able to create new meaningful relationships with each other and strengthen existing ties. The ability to engage in a direct dialogue creates efficient business interactions that are beneficial to all parties. For example, World Trade Center (WTC) Arkansas has organized multiple diplomatic trade missions with Mexico. As a result, its exports to Mexico are growing 3.6 times faster than to any other country. 

Cities are also proactively building programs to attract and retain skilled foreign citizens. For example, Twente, located in the eastern Netherlands, is evolving from a region focused on machine-building and textiles to one with an economy driven by high-tech systems. To retain young, skilled workers from across the globe, WTC Twente created an Expat Center that offers a range of services, including Dutch language courses, visas and work permits, housing, and support for families, as well as social events with the goal of enticing technically-skilled foreign workers and their families to integrate into the community for the long term.

Turning Obstacles into Opportunity

Economic turmoil affects everyone, but not always in the same way. For some, the current geopolitical reality presents opportunity. City leaders are adapting to these geopolitical changes and establishing themselves as cost-efficient and low-risk trade and investment partners to capitalize on the situation. FDI is being redirected towards these agile cities who have recognized the advantages created by this global uncertainty, and supply chains are shifting and realigning based on new benefits. Competition for FDI is escalating (global FDI slowed 27% over the last year, according to the OECD) and the private and public sectors need to work hand-in-hand to create attractive fiscal and tax environments, and institute policies that will attract business. 

Cities are also increasingly investing in both high-tech industries, and SMEs to ensure they are able to attract FDI at a time when this investment comes at a premium. These high-tech industries will lead to future growth and play a central role in the next industrial revolution. Additionally, partnerships with major research institutions are being used to create new technology and modernize existing tech. For instance, in Delaware, private agriculture technology or “ag-tech” companies have partnered with universities to pioneer better technology in seeding, pest management, antibiotic reduction, and biopharmaceuticals. 

SMEs are well suited to adapt quickly in the face of change and evolving economic realities, which enables them to capitalize on changing conditions. However, their size can prevent them from competing on a global scale. To combat this, programs that help SMEs move forward given limited resources can be critical in encouraging and nurturing growth opportunities. As an example, WTC Toronto created the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP), a six-week program that connects SMEs with export and business experts to train them on developing export plans fit for the global market. This program has now been adopted by several other WTC members in Canada, including Vancouver and Winnipeg. 

At the moment the global economy is relatively unpredictable, and increasing risks for businesses have made sound strategic business planning more difficult at a time when it is absolutely vital. Knowledge, preparedness, and agility are key traits cities and businesses need to acquire in order to achieve success and growth. Despite the prevailing conditions, with a strategic approach and tactics proven to increase resilience, organizations can optimize current trade and investment opportunities and set themselves up for success now and in the future.

To review the full 2019 WTCA Trade and Investment Report: Navigating Uncertainty, including commentary from WTCA Members, visit www.WTCAReports.org