City Focus: Los Angeles
Home to nearly 4mn people and California's most populous city, Los Angeles is the heart of the country's thriving entertainment industry that spans from video games, film and television to music production and recording. Though the city's name is synonymous with these industries, its economy is also driven by sectors like tourism, international trade, fashion, aerospace, petroleum, apparel and technology. The Global Financial Centres Index ranked Los Angeles as having the sixth most competitive financial centre in the United States and the 19th in the world.
2017 Fortune 500 Companies
In 2017, there were 53 Californian companies on the Fortune 500 list. Of those, three call Los Angeles their headquarters and represent the diversity of businesses that call the ‘The Movie Capital of the World’ home.
A construction and engineering firm, Aecom focuses on building, designing, operating and financing infrastructure assets in over 150 countries around the world. Aecom ranked 161st on Fortune’s list.
CBRE Group Inc
Coming in at 214th on the Fortune 500 list, CBRE Group Inc. focuses on providing commercial real estate services that harness the power of the industry's best technology and intelligence.
Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.
Reliance purchases bulk metal from mills before processing and selling it to machine shops and other businesses. The company secured the 320th spot on the Fortune list.
An ideal location to open for business
When considering a location for a business, the metropolitan area of Los Angeles offers unique advantages that set it apart from other areas.
Ready-made workforce and market
With nearly 10mn residents in Los Angeles County alone, the metropolis offers a ready-made market for a diverse array of services and products. Across the five-county area that includes Los Angeles County, as well as San Bernardino County, Ventura County, Orange County and Riverside County, there is a labour force of up to 9mn people. A large number of these possess at least a bachelor's degree.
As an international city, Los Angeles is well positioned to reach nearby markets such as Northern California, Nevada and Arizona. Destinations worldwide are easily accessible via the Port of Los Angeles, which together with the adjoining Long Beach port, is the western hemisphere's most important, and the key to trade with Pacific Rim areas and beyond.
Not surprisingly, Los Angeles offers dedicated resources for both advice and networking for companies hoping to extend their reach into international markets. The Foreign Trade Association is designed to foster, promote and encourage economic growth and international commerce worldwide – and in Southern California in particular.
The World Trade Centre Association Los Angeles is focused on bringing the talents of Los Angeles to the attention of the global market.
Businesses to watch in Los Angeles
The tech industry in Southern California spurred nearly $7bn in funding last year with startups launched, monetary support elicited from investors and top talent flocking to the region. Los Angeles County is home to some of the world's most innovative startups. Here are a few to keep an eye on for this year and beyond.
GOAT serves as a method of authenticating sneakers in order to weed out fakes. The GOAT platform enables sellers to list their sneakers and buyers to purchase authentic merchandise. It recently closed a $25mn funding round and is currently building its base team in Los Angeles.
Aimed at casinos, luxury residences and hotels, Keypr uses a cloud-based platform to transform both the guest experience and the hospitality industry itself. In 2017, Keypr raised $19mn in funding and added Mark Anderson, a former Fox and Sony executive, as its COO (Chief Operating Officer).
Local Roots Farms
Local Roots Farms designs farms that are fully controllable, hyper-efficient and can fit neatly into a standard shipping container. Able to grow the equivalent of five acres of farmland, the Local Roots Farms platform uses vertical shelving to maximize space and provides farms with the technology to change their produce distribution methods to better suit their individual needs. The company is based in Vernon, California, which is just south of LA's downtown area.
Founded in 2014 by Brett Crosby, a former executive at Google, and Brew Johnson, a real estate attorney, the PeerStreet platform empowers investors to more easily invest in real estate loans. The company, which raised more than $26mn in funding, uses its platform to allow both institutions and people to invest in real estate-backed loans directly. Its numbers as of late 2016 are staggering: the company facilitated more than half a billion dollars in investments with no losses to investors. It also grew almost 300% from 2015.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.