City Focus – New York
In our latest City Focus feature, New York comes under the microscope as it builds on its reputation as an international business destination.
As the most populous region in the United States with about 8.6 million residents in the city and 20 million people in the metropolitan area, a wide variety of sought-after talent and entrepreneurial visionaries contribute to New York's economy.
Vast amounts of businesses have headquarters or branches in New York for all sizes and manners of operations, making New York State the third-largest economy in the United States with a majority of the economic development taking place in the city and downstate. New York is among the top twenty world economies with an annual gross metropolitan product exceeding $1.5trn and recent figures put the unemployment rate at 4.3%.
The economy of New York
While New York has always been a global and national economic powerhouse, the city has recently experienced the largest economic boom since World War II. An unprecedented 4.4mn total jobs are held city-wide which accounts for three quarters of the entire state's 11.5% job growth over the last eight years. The city's economy and that of the entire metropolitan area are incredibly diverse with activity in finance, technology, tourism and hospitality, entertainment, healthcare, manufacturing, and professional services to meet the needs of such a large population.
The financial services industry, securities in particular, remains a bedrock of New York's economy on account of the New York Stock Exchange which is the most influential securities exchange in the world. Over 90% of New York state's investment-related jobs are located in downtown New York with the remaining 10% in the metropolitan area. Despite this geographic concentration, the city's financial industry activity has a major influence on the entire state's economy.
New York may be best-known for its role in the financial industry but economists postulate that "Silicon Alley" will surpass its west coast counterparts given the technology-fueled business revolution taking place. With fast growth in the technology sector in Brooklyn and Manhattan in particular and the city serving as a major international port and travel hub, New York has unique advantages over Silicon Valley and the other technology meccas out west. Technology jobs have subsequently risen 25.5% since 2010 (compared to 31% for non-tech jobs) and predominantly fueled by billions in venture capital.
The business of the arts
New York has historically been a prominent world landmark for publishing, media, and entertainment.
As the second-largest film and television production region in the country and world leader in independent film production, the film industry contributes almost $9bn to the city's economy alone. With the steady presence of TV and book publishing alongside digital media and the growing presence of the video games industry, all types of media serve as a cornerstone of New York's economy. The generous tax incentives for film and TV production, with a proposed tax credit for video game and digital media production, have consistently made New York attractive to investors and entrepreneurs.
Companies to watch
Silicon Alley is making a rapid ascent in the city. Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech giants have satellite offices in New York and VCs have invested over $1.2bn in New York-based startups, with the former helping to stabilize the startup ecosystem that is quickly growing and thriving in the city. Startups are forming, incubating, and getting venture capital in mass numbers but there are other large technology companies to look out for that are New York natives.
Despite representing less than 5% of the company's total workforce, the computer titan is still the largest tech employer in New York with 20,000 employees in the city. As a New York tech institution, 9,000 of these employees are in engineering roles.
The digital marketing giant that posted over $10bn in revenue in the 2018 fiscal year has a substantial presence in New York with over 1,000 employees in the city. Roughly one-third of them are in engineering roles with the majority being non-tech.
Thriving on New York's rich diversified economy and talent pool, Planted is a Brooklyn-based startup that builds teams in other startups and established companies by matching them with professionals in non-tech roles. Seeded by Great Oaks Venture Capital, Planted is expanding its New York operations and looking to expand to other markets.
Troops is a software developer building workflow automation tools designed to integrate with the most popular tools such as Salesforce, Slack, and G Suite. The founders credit New York's diversity and quality talent for their success. The fast-growing startup has raised $7mn in Series A funding from Felicis Ventures after $2.6mn in seed money from First Round Capital.
New York is often not considered "business friendly" relative to other states and cities due to onerous taxes and regulations. The city has its own income tax and a variety of vague local business taxes, including S corporation status being recognized by New York State but not the city.
New York City real estate is among the most valuable and sought-after in the world, with Midtown Manhattan holding the world's the largest central business district and almost 400mn square feet of commercial office space. Commencing or moving operations to New York is difficult and costly as a result but many business leaders find the tradeoff of the voluminous talent pool and attractive location to be worth it.
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.