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  • 22 May 2018 4:18 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    We kicked off Janauary 2018 with author and speaker the Honorable Marie Corbett and her book January, A Woman Judge’s Season of Disillusion.

    She walked us through her confrontation of the limitations of the criminal justice system. It was very enlightening since Marie knows what she is talking about! She is a retired superior court trial judge whose legal career spanned thirty years. She was a superior court judge in Canada at a time when only 3% of judges were women. Not only was she an impartial arbitrator over criminal sexual assault cases, but she witnessed first hand the slights faced by women who challenge the status quo. Marie talked about scrutiny, critical parsing of words and terms, stereotypes foisted on women at trial, societal patterns, social & physical pathology, an adversarial system with rigorous cross-examination, and myths. If this sounds heavy, it was, but Marie was also able to inspire us. It all comes down to women being entitled to fully participate in life. Vote – Become Educated – Fight the Good Fight!
    There was a very robust question as the audience used this opportunity to glean answers from a highly educated and successful woman who was (and is still) a ‘dedicated crusader for social justice and reform of family law’,  who sat through the dramatic tapestry of cases inside her trial room and came to TBOWIT share her life lessons with us.   


  • 30 Aug 2017 3:46 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    I know that we here in the U.S. think that Outback’s Bloomin Onion® is downright delicious, but does the Bloomin Onion translate across cultures?

    The short answer is “yes”, but if you missed Kim Van Heuvelen’s August 24th presentation you missed learning how Bloomin’ Brands has translated the Outback menu, restaurant, and the idea of steak across the world. Ms. Van Heuvelen is the Manager of International Operations and her many passports are proof that Outback has been translated far and wide.  Kim walked us through three examples of Outback overseas:  China, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil.

    We learned about menu innovation & localization, restaurant design variations, cultural & diversity adaptations all in the name of introducing a “new” culture of food.

    Kim had some really great examples. Too many to list in this article, but here are a few. We learned about China’s fast moving culture which affects restaurant design, the revised menus of Saudi Arabia which also factors in Ramadan, and how Brazilians love their frozen beer mugs, Baby Back ribs on the Barbie, and Nutella on their Chocolate Thunder from down Under dessert.  Kim also incorporated how Outback hires for each country and when they use in-country experts.

    Kim started off her career in an Outback restaurant and has grown within the company as the company has grown around the world. Her knowledge of restaurant operations was obvious. As her many passports prove, Kim knows her Bloomin’ Onion and together with the rest of the International Team at Bloomin’ Brands, has learned how to introduce that flavor to many different countries and in turn adapt the Outback experience to local flavors. What a mouthwatering and eye opening presentation Kim gave!


    Kim has graciously shared her slide deck with us. Please find it here 



  • 02 May 2017 6:35 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Have you ever listened to someone and thought, “Wow, he/she knows his/her stuff!”  The audience at April’s TBOWIT luncheon thought this of presenter Andrew McIntosh, Co-founder of Cross Border Partners Advisory Services and Partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick. Mr. McIntosh being Canadian and working on Canadian projects keeps abreast of all things Canadian even spending time with the Canadian ambassador to the U.S.

    True or False:

    Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner?

    Canada and the United States have the largest unprotected border?

    Canada and the United States have the most integrated relationship in the world?

    All true!

    Here are some fun facts:

    $1.4 trillion (US) trade relationship

    600k jobs in Florida depend heavily on Canada trade

    35 U.S. states say that Canada is their biggest trading partner

    $50 billion (US) in real estate is owned in the U.S. by Canadians

    There are over 70 Canadian military officers in Florida alone

    The U.S. and Canada are strong allies joining forces on war efforts, drug trade, humanitarian aid, and more!

    2/3 of Florida strawberries start off as baby plants in Canadian greenhouses.

    Mr. McIntosh had more examples of the shared values and integrated systems, but it’s too much to write here. Having such close ties between these two great countries, how does the Canadian government and Canadian people view the first hundred days of the Trump administration? According to Mr. McIntosh there are three areas of concern:  NAFTA, border tax adjustment, the buy American policy.

    NAFTA does need updating since it’s 20 years old and Mr. McIntosh is relieved to hear that President Trump said just the day before that he looks forward to re-negotiating the deal. On border tax, Mr. McIntosh repeated what the CEO of FedEx said which was in paraphrase – this would create a trade war instantly. He followed up by saying that a border adjustment tax is really a tariff in disguise which isn’t needed since, as he gave quite the number of examples, the playing field between Canada and the U.S. is very fair. As far as the ‘buy American policy’ which is also termed a domestic content mandate, Mr. McIntosh would not want to see this play out as it creates an artificial world. Not only does it create an artificial world, but it harms established vendor/supplier relationships that are working really well. A program of this nature also leads to more red tape and high costs as an administration has to designate people to monitor business deals. Canada doesn’t have a ‘buy Canada’ program.

    Mr. McIntosh hopes that President Trump succeeds as the relationship between the two countries is so strong and so integrated. Mr. McIntosh is impressed by the cabinet that the President picked saying that the people chosen are strong leaders. Mr. McIntosh sees a role that Canada can play in President Trump’s plan to improve U.S. infrastructure. Canada is very good at public/private partnerships.

    No matter what the future holds for Canada/U.S. relations, we are better for hearing Mr. McIntosh’s insights and point of view. Mr. McIntosh fielded many questions from the audience and had more to say, but you’ll have to come to a future TBOWIT meeting to touch base with him. As a 2017 speaker, the TBOWIT Board gave Mr. McIntosh a membership to the organization. Now we can boast of one more subject matter expert among our numbers.

    Oh Canada!


  • 15 Mar 2017 4:43 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    “Inspiring!”, “Motivational!”, “Awesome!”, all adjectives heard from audience members describing Alba Rodriguez, Project Executive with Skanska USA Building and February’s TBOWIT luncheon speaker. Ms. Rodriguez found a niche in the architecture/construction world that led to a highly successful 33 year (and counting) career designing and building healthcare projects from hospitals to outpatient centers. For example, locally, she designed the Carillon Outpatient Center in Carillon Business Park, St Petersburg. As well, she has led the design of the Lee Moffitt Cancer Center for 18 years. One of her current projects is the La Guardia Airport in New York – wait for the finished project – it’s going to be a utopia of modern, open air and fresh light. With Alba gone are the days of utilitarian, white walls. Alba’s desire is to blend functionality with art and she does this well too earning prestigious American Institute of Architects awards as she has gone along.

     As good as this is, what makes Alba unique and why TBOWIT asked her to present was her leadership in taking her former company, GS&P, from a domestic construction firm to an international construction firm. The process started with Alba convincing GS&P leadership to follow her and her desire to build the Clinica Delgado in Lima, Peru. Alba took us on an in depth tour of the process behind her selection and successful completion of this project. Here’s a link to the hospital website so you can get a glimpse. It’s stunning! From this successful launch point, Alba has designed hospitals in the Caribbean and Latin America.

    As Alba spoke, she weaved in lessons learned from the challenges presented with each project and she talked about challenges both in terms of the scope of work, but also in dealing with different cultures and customers. One phrase she often repeated was, “Know your stuff”.  She gave an excellent tutorial not only on working with an international project, but how to work on an international project with inputs coming from multiple countries. For example, the hospital in Lima for which she out competed 4 non-U.S. firms, had financing from France plus local investors, equipment from Germany, granite from Italy and so forth. Did we also say that the project was measured in metric! Another key take-a-way from Alba, “Trust”. Alba credits her ability to establish trust with her various customers as one reason for her success. Whether Alba is wearing boots at a construction site or heels at a client’s office, she treats everyone with honesty and respect. Alba said that she gains satisfaction from seeing her drawings become real life and an even deeper satisfaction to give oftentimes very sick patients and their family beauty where they might not expect beauty.

    If we had an hour, we would rehash all of the take-a-ways from this wonderful example of a successful, female leader. In fact, it was disappointing when 1 o’clock rolled around as we could have stayed a lot longer. Alba has come a long way from being one of only 5 female architecture students in a class of 125 males. Everyone who steps into one of Alba’s creations might not know her name, but the walls and designs of her buildings sing her praises.


  • 30 Nov 2016 3:27 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    The short answer is A LOT. We had an amazingly insightful presentation at the TBOWIT August 2016 lunch with Cory Shade, EVP, General Counsel and Secretary of Perry Ellis International. I found it amazing because I did not know half of what it takes to protect one’s brand overseas. What a resource it was to have Cory share Perry Ellis’ experiences.

    Perry Ellis International has over 30 brands including:  Perry Ellis®, Original Penguin® by Munsignwear®, Laundry by Shelli Segal®, Rafaella®, and on. Plus, Perry Ellis has licensing trademarks from third parties, including:  Nike®, and Jag® for swimwear, and Callaway®, PGA TOUR®, and Jack Nicklaus® for golf apparel.

    Perry Ellis International garners approximately $3.3B in global retail sales. To reach this point and to grow the company one has to begin with strong brands and expand strategically with strong justification of the trademarks. Cory works hard with her team and the other departments at Perry Ellis International to protect the company’s brands with both offensive and defensive filings because it’s all about the name, brand equity = your strength. A business’s most valuable asset is its trademark. Think of McDonald’s (golden arches), Coca-Cola (colors, bottle, font), or Kleenex.

    There are four basic pillars which all tie into financial considerations

    • ·         Choose a strong mark
    • ·         Use the mark
    • ·         Monitor/Watch mark
    • ·         Enforce against mark

    For each pillar Cory expanded the thought and gave great examples and in-depth details. I would write them here, but my notes are too chock full to type; it would take a long time. The best way to end is to say that as you expand overseas, you will need in-country experts because there are many layers and there are a lot of financial considerations.

    Let’s say it together, “Use your mark, Monitor your mark, Enforce your mark.” 


  • 26 May 2016 2:50 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    We are blessed to have Susie Hoeller, J.D., CITP, as a TBOWIT Board Member and if you missed TBOWIT’s May 2016 luncheon, you missed a highly educational presentation on TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Susie is a wealth of knowledge on the subject of TPP.

       Susie was able to break down this complex geo-political strategy and trade deal into meaningful segments and talk about Florida's opportunity to grow. Susie specifically mentioned the benefits to exporters, small businesses, supply chains, food safety, and services exporters. She also mentioned TPP's effects on e-commerce & digital freedom, intellectual property creation, environmental protections, first-ever disciplines (to avoid unfair competition), prioritizing of good governance, sustainable development & capacity-building. Susie also dedicated a portion of her presentation on criticisms of TPP including:  no anti-currency manipulation provisions, no climate change provisions, wage level disparities, & etc.  It was a very balanced presentation with lots of good nuggets of information.      

       In Susie's own words,

    "It is not perfect but there is no doubt that it will create new, higher paying jobs in Florida (nearly 50,000 by 2025 as projected by the Business Roundtable) and enable Tampa Bay businesses, large and small, to pursue success in exporting their goods, services, digital content and other intellectual property."

    Susie ended her presentation with a fun pop quiz involving the flags of the countries involved in TPP. Guess what! China is not one of them. Thank you Susie for taking this daunting trade agreement and making it accessible to us with humor and grace.


  • 24 Mar 2016 2:33 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Who was and is the first female harbor pilot in Florida?
    You would know the answer if you attended the TBOWIT March 2016 luncheon.
    It’s none other than Captain Carolyn Kurtz!

    To celebrate Women’s History Month we asked Capt. Kurtz to come and tell us her story. It was a great way to celebrate Capt. Kurtz and women’s history month, but in the end it was the audience who benefited as we learned A LOT about Capt. Kurtz, about being a harbor pilot, and about Port Tampa Bay.

    Not only was Capt. Kurtz the first female to pass the pilot test in Florida, but she was only the eighth female in the entire U.S.  In present time, there are about 1,200 pilots and only 30 are women, but there are more females entering maritime schools.

    What does a harbor pilot do?
    A harbor pilot takes charge of a large ocean going vessel close to a port and brings the vessel safe to berth and vice versa. These vessels are longer than a skyscraper!

    How does a pilot get onboard?
    A pilot gets a boat ride to the vessel, a rope ladder is dropped, the pilot climbs the ladder and voilà – the pilot is on board. Sounds simple, but with waves and wind, it can be tricky!

    What is a typical work schedule?
    2 weeks on (24/7) & 2 weeks off

    Capt. Kurtz during part of her presentation showed a really cool slide deck of pictures that were taken of a few recent jobs. It was impressive!

    As Capt. Kurtz explained in the maritime industry, the pay is equal and the job of a pilot is a lone pursuit. Any failure or success is attributed to the licensed person and not on anyone’s gender. Of the thousands of jobs that she has had only a handful have been negative experiences most of which were due to ignorance and confusion and were not mean or malicious. In anything, the crew members are curious and make for interesting encounters.

    Of course we want to hear one of these negative stories! Actually, the story can be entitle Success is the Best Revenge. Early in Capt. Kurtz’s career when she was a chiefmate, she received some pushback from a captain. Eventually, she left that company. Years later when Capt. Kurtz was a harbor pilot here in Tampa, she got the job to bring in a vessel for this same captain. The captain’s face could not register the fact that Capt. Kurtz brought in his vessel safely, called out the speeds, knew where that vessel was at every moment in that channel, and made a text book perfect docking. That captain had to give Capt. Kurtz her due!

    Another funny story, had to do with the time Capt. Kurtz piloted a disabled vessel that had had an engine fire and there was no operable toilet. That’s a story you have to hear in person so you can laugh along.

    Capt. Kurtz has a long bio which I will past below. Just know that Capt. Kurtz is the real deal. If you ever get the chance to shake her hand – do it!


    (picture - Capt. Kurtz bottom left with the TBOWIT Board) 



    Captain Carolyn Kurtz is one of the few pilots working for the Tampa Bay Pilots Association. Originally from New York, Captain Kurtz graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1986. She immediately joined Maritime Overseas Corporation as third officer, obtained an unlimited master’s license in 1993 and sailed until 1994. In 1995, she became the first woman to enter the training program to become a harbor pilot in the State of Florida. She graduated in the  class of 1986 with only 10 percent female, which helped prepare her to be the sole woman during months at sea, including the Persian Gulf in 1987-88 during the Iran-Iraq War.

    The Homeland Security Department acknowledged her skill with an appointment to its Navigation Safety Advisory Council, made up of civilian maritime professionals. Captain Kurtz has previously served as an FHPA director and was co-manager of the Tampa Bay Pilots Association from 2007-2009. She has been recognized as a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts; and in 2010, received the “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” Award from the Jewish Museum of Florida. She is also a guest instructor at MITAGS and Maritime Pilots Institute. In 2012 she was the recipient of the Tampa Bay OWIT's Person of the Year.

  • 28 Jan 2016 12:38 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    This thought provoking topic was presented at TBOWIT's January 2016 lunch by Dr. Thomas L. Ainscough, Associate Professor, Marketing at USF St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business. CSV, corporate shared value, goes above and beyond a company’s typical CSR, corporate social responsibility position. CSV is social responsibility that is grafted into all parts of a corporation enhancing corporate success.  In the past, a company would throw some money into being a business that had corporate social responsibility. Studies named by Dr. Aisncough showed that the benefit to the bottom line was negligible at best and varied across industries.

    CSV is an all-encompassing position that a company takes to promote citizenship, philanthropy, and sustainability.

    CSV means:

    • ·         Corporate shared values with economic and social benefits
    • ·         Joint corporate and community value creation
    • ·         Integral to competing and to profit maximization
    • ·         Company specific and internally generated
    • ·         Realigns the entire company budget.

    That’s great you say! How does it work in the real world?

    Dr. Ainscough gave an interesting case study involving Cisco vendor system in Hong Kong. Cisco’s statement reads, “We expect our suppliers to meet the same high standards on ethics, labor rights, health, safety, & environment that we apply to our own people.”

    Cisco applied their CSV to this particular supply chain in five areas:  Design/Development, Planning/Ordering, Sourcing/Making, Delivering, & End of Life. For example with Design/Development, Cisco works with and checks the following with their vendors:  Improvement in energy efficiency, Reduction of product packaging, and Design ease of recycling. Cisco is not just concerned about the production process, but also the people. Some of the items that Cisco checks for in a vendor include:  How many overtime hours are worked, How many consecutive days without a break, & How many toilet breaks allowed. There are over 1,400 items involved in Cisco’s CSV plan with vendors. A similar check is done throughout each area of Cisco’s operation across all business units.

    CSV is corporate shared values threaded throughout a company’s budget shaping how a company forms and operates. Studies cited by Dr. Ainscough show that the stock valuation of companies with a CSV plan in place outperform the S&P 500 over a ten year period. It’s worth checking out for your company and your people!


  • 16 Dec 2015 1:48 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    Even though it was a grey, rainy day, the TBOWIT group had fun this past November 19th on the Bay Spirit as we took a tour of Port Tampa Bay. PTB's Raul Alfonso, CCO, Wade Elliott, VP of Marketing & Business Development, as well as TBOWIT's own Christyna Doege, Marketing Coordinator, led a lively tour of the Port.  Guests were filled in on all of the exciting developments at the port and got to see some vessels working at various terminals. Never one to disappoint, Christyna gave useful insights on all of the passing terminals along the way. Who knew so much was going on at the Port! Guests left full of information and full of good food and beverages.


      Here are two fun pictures. One is of the Carnival Paradise coming down the channel carrying all of those lucky passengers on a cruise. It so happens that Christyna knew someone on board the ship who took the second picture of some of the attendees as the two ships passed each other. Fun!




  • 16 Nov 2015 3:58 PM | TB OWIT (Administrator)

    To me Cuba is a mysterious place. I have heard a lot about the island, but at the same time I do not know much about it. Do you have the same feeling? All that has changed for me after attending the special TBOWIT luncheon with José María Viñals, Partner and Director of International Operations at Lupicinio International Law Firm, Head of Cuban Desk and his presentation Cuba Today: Current U.S. Regulations and how they align against the reality of law and business climate in Cuba

    If you want to know what you can and what you cannot do in Cuba – he is your man! Since Mr. Viñals, has worked with companies doing business in Cuba for 20 years, he has boots on the ground knowledge of what companies face doing business in Cuba.

    Did you know that Cuba imports 98% of their food and even though Cuba is famous for their rum and cigars, they have to import the rum bottles and cigar boxes? For every dollar exported, Cuba imports 3 dollars – a huge problem! For example, they import steel and all farm machinery. Also, they import about 100k barrels of oil per day from Venezuela. On top of that, 43% of the Cuban economy is tourism.

    This is interesting – an investor can own 100% of his/her company in the special economic zone, Mariel.  One catch, is that the Cuban government is trying to rebuild industry so, your business has to be a priority to the government. To encourage growth, a company is tax exempt for the first 8 years and after 8 years, the company pays 15% of profits. In Mariel, a company is tax exempt for the first 10 years and then the company pays 12% of profits.  The client base is pretty stable in that the company derives its approval to exist from the Cuban government and the client is also the Cuban government.  The country has a large, well-educated and qualified workforce.  Cuba is considered to be a secure legal country after enacting a 1996 investment law which tied legal certainty to attracting FDI.  A company is protected from direct and indirect meddling and Cuba is obliged to follow foreign arbitration. Cuba has signed onto 62 international treaties and follows the dictates of arbitration courts in Paris and Stockholm.

    What are the cons? Why are companies afraid of Cuba?
    According to Mr. Viñals, a company cannot just go there and do anything. The business has to be aligned with the priorities established with the Cuban government. If you change your board, the company needs prior approval. To hire an employee, a company has to go to a Cuban agency which selects 3 to 4 candidates. The US sanctions are the biggest hindrance. The sanctions affect investment power as well as technology since your product cannot have or use more than 10% US technology.

    Here is another interesting facet, all of Cuba’s expenses and income are rounded into one global government account. Therefore, another hindrance to doing business in Cuba is the need for the company to have large amounts of solvency. Mr. Viñals gave the following example. There was a Russian company who hadn’t been paid for a while. The company met with Cuban officials who explained that they would be paid, but for the moment money had been diverted to help restore the island after a hurricane and the Russian company would just have to wait. The Russian company was eventually paid.

    Another deterrent is the currency situation. There are two currencies - a local peso and a convertible peso and the country has 5 official exchange rates! It’s rather confusing so imagine if you were the accountant because the government wants each company to show its profits in both currencies! The government also wants a 5 year forecast!

    This is just a small sampling of what Mr. Viñals had to offer in his presentation. There was so much offered. If we could have sat there all afternoon, we would have.

    Mr. Viñals ended by saying the following –

    What can you do in Cuba right now?

    1)      Protect your brands and copyrights – register them with the government
    Do some market research – get to know Cuban values
    3)      Get your foot in the door with some type of business even if it’s not your core business

    4)      Opportunity, Opportunity, Opportunity.


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