May 19, 2020

City Focus: San Francisco

Luna Guthrie
4 min
City Focus: San Francisco

San Francisco is renowned as Northern California’s center of commerce, finance and culture, and this is far from a recent accolade. In spite of how the city has hosted many modern advancements in technology, its reputation as a mecca for innovation goes back centuries.

San Francisco was named in the 1700s after St Francis of Assisi, a notably astute and valiant friar with a knack for opening minds and growing ideas. Even in these early days, the city and its people demonstrated a flair for energy, prolificity and aspiration. The patron saint of merchants and stowaways, among other things, could not have been awarded a more apt namesake.

If there’s one thing San Francisco does, almost by instinct, it’s reinvention. Even the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906 couldn’t hold back San Franciscans: the city was rebuilt at record speed, to the specifications of its citizens, who were eager to get back to their everyday lives. Since the construction of San Francisco’s now-famous façade, the city has been a magnet for emerging trends and grassroots dreams, welcoming new cultural waves every ten or twenty years whilst still retaining its eclectic past.

New Waves

Throughout its history, the city has proven itself to be a nucleus of developing culture: the Gold Rush of 1849 established a hardy banking and finance district which was later paid homage to by the San Francisco 49ers football team; the beat generation of the ‘50s established a keen literary following that exists to this day; Haight Ashbury served as commune to the pilgrims of the late ‘60s hippie culture. However, most recently, it has served as the breeding ground for Silicon Valley. A capital for both the ‘Dot Com Bubble’ and the social media whirlwind, San Francisco is the stomping ground of many an internet startup, and a veritable hive for entrepreneurs of all kinds. The Bay Area is home to the USA’s largest concentration of venture capital firms, with annual VC investments averaging $6.5bn.

Today, San Francisco provides the backdrop to hundreds of big businesses, spanning every industry. From movie wizards LucasFilm and Industrial Light and Magic, to global food producers Del Monte and Diamond, businesses flock to the city to make their mark. While the giants of the social media world, including WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, and of course Google, call San Francisco home, its major role in the high-tech world does not mean that it is reserved for the elite.


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Notably, 66% of San Francisco’s population is employed by the city’s many independent businesses, giving way to numerous coalitions and networks aimed exclusively at supporting and nurturing the city’s SMEs. A thriving community of small and family businesses provides the cultural backbone of the city, with independent clothing and furnishing boutiques, cafes and restaurants, bookstores and handmade gift shops attracting both locals and visitors on a daily basis.  

The torrential commercial success that has come to define San Francisco is far from coincidental, thanks to its unique combination of people and places. Boasting upwards of 300 schools, and more than 35 colleges and universities in the Bay Area alone, the city’s educational landscape is vast, and its results clear: the population is the second most densely college-educated in the country, with more than 344,000 graduates in residence. In turn, it is an employment hotspot, with a diverse service economy that spans almost every industry, and an abundance of work opportunities for citizens of all backgrounds and trades.

In this way, San Francisco has nurtured a delicate balance that sees it function as a self-sustaining hub of talent and innovation, giving locals the tools they require to gain sellable skills, which they can then put to use within the city’s thriving economy.


Such is San Francisco’s worldwide appeal to businesses and individuals alike that tourism counts for a major portion of the city’s income. Welcoming upwards of 24mn visitors every year, local companies have a steady stream of custom in the form of tourists, who are eager to experience everything the city has to offer. The likes of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island prove endlessly appealing to visitors hoping for an insight to San Francisco’s rich history; the bounty of parks, waterfronts and picturesque landscapes – complete with the trademark fog – offer plenty of space for exploration and relaxation; its famed nightlife and boutique shopping ensure that good times are had, and that the perfect souvenirs are taken home. The promise of a ride in the iconic cable cars, and the chance to see the sights from favourite movies and television shows, sees tourism on the rise every year, with travellers injecting almost $10bn into the local economy in 2018 alone.

San Francisco continues to show the societal and economic resilience that it has developed a reputation for, as a place that can’t be held back: not by financial recessions, or natural disasters. Whether as a place to visit, live, study or go into business, San Francisco shows no signs of slowing down.

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for 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.

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