As we start 2016, I wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for your support during 2015. We had an exciting year, filled with diverse presentations and opportunities for both learning and networking in our “after-hours” events.
We kicked off the year with a presentation by Commodore Richard Menhinick, of the Royal Australian Navy, giving us insight into CENTCOM’s analysis of current global threats and the crisis in the Middle East.
We took time during networking “after hours” to learn about the importance of protecting trademarks and brands when doing business globally and also how to protect ourselves—in our own interactive self defense workshop—and explored some of Tampa’s newest, trendier spots, such as the Edge at the Epicurean Hotel and the Oxford Exchange.
In May, we heard from author Holly Thomas about the importance of understanding the psychology behind people’s view of money and finances as we engage with them in business, and then closed the summer months with an introduction to Uruguay by a fellow OWIT member and Uruguay expert visiting from the Miami OWIT chapter.
The fall brought us an “insider’s” view into the opportunities and challenges in Cuba by Spanish counsel who has been advising European multinationals doing business in Cuba for over 20 years.
During our Annual International Business Awards and Scholarship Luncheon in October, we recognized Jeff Vinik for his incredible support to our community, helping launch Tampa as a true international city, while featured speaker Steve Griggs, the Lightning’s CFO, highlighted the important role of professional sports in a city’s growth and global image. At this event we were blessed with the ability to give out two scholarships, at both the undergraduate and graduate student level, to students pursuing international studies.
As the year drew to a close, we had our annual boat tour of Port Tampa Bay, and toasted the holiday season at Aloft with colleagues from TBIBC, FRAMCO and other international groups before stepping back in time and embarking on a Victorian Christmas Stroll at the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa.
Through our link to OWIT National, our members had access to multiple webinars throughout the year on a variety of topics to enhance our skill sets in the international and business settings.
We were extremely fortunate to add some new talent to our Board: Martha L. Arellano, Debbie Fallucca, Susie Hoeller, and Michelle Mauch, as long-serving members stepped off. We especially want to thank Eileen Rodriguez and Maddy Krasne for their dedication and support of our group for many years. Sadly, this year we also lost one of our own—Lisa Burdick Yoder-- who served our chapter indefatigably both on the Board and as our liaison to the OWIT national leadership, even as she battled cancer. We stand stronger today because of her efforts and devotion to our chapter for over ten years, and have dedicated to her memory our newly-instituted graduate scholarship. Lisa’s spirit of intellectual curiosity, awareness of international affairs and global leadership has been a great legacy to our chapter.
Like many groups, we have had challenges as a chapter, but we have marched on and continued to bring to our members programs that inform them about matters relevant to their global interests, and as a result have seen our numbers grow this year. All in all, as your outgoing President, I have much for which to be thankful, the greatest being the friendships of my fellow Board and TBOWIT members I have come to know over the years. There is an energy and excitement in our group that assure me our mission will be carried out--to enhance Tampa Bay through trade and international business.
This year we already have changes that promise to raise us to new levels. We look forward to hosting our membership luncheons in Capital Grille—a conveniently-located venue that offers great food as well as a sophisticated meeting space. Our in-coming President, Martha L. Arellano, is a dynamic woman leader and respected banking professional who has great plans for our continued growth and program enhancement. Martha will officially assume her role as President at the next membership luncheon meeting on January 28. I look forward to seeing you there. Finally we have recently added Sabina Zunguze to our Board, who brings with her expertise as an OWIT national officer. Personally, I can’t wait to see what else 2016 brings!
President / January 2014-2016