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Lawrence Allen Named Interim Co-Chair of the Dallas Chapter

I have the pleasure to confirm that Lawrence Allen has been appointed Interim Co-Chair of the Dallas Chapter. Marco Oropeza has been Co-Chair however he needs to step down for several months (Sept/ Oct.) to take care of personal and job-related issues.
We are pleased that Lawrence has accepted the responsibility and will work closely with Co-Chair Fernando Castillo to develop activities and continue to build the Dallas Chapter.

Lawrence has lived and worked in Dallas Texas for the past 12 years, following a 22-year executive career with Fortune 500 companies in the Asia Pacific Region.

He is currently leading Market Entry Services in the U.S. for international clientele, bringing 30 years of first-hand international market entry experience earned with some of the world’s great brands, among them: Nestle, Hershey, Libbey Glassware, Conair, and Heidrick & Struggles. 

Lawrence has led 3 market-entry start-ups in the Asia Pacific Region: Supply Chain Director for Tools of Vidal Sassoon, set up Hershey’s China WFOE Subsidiary, and became the first Managing Director Asia Pacific for Libbey Glassware. For the past 15 years, he has been recruiting for top firms, including Heidrick & Struggles, where he was their Beijing office Partner-in-Charge. 

In 2020, Lawrence did his part to alleviate the COVID-induced learning loss in America by starting his own remote school:  Singapore Academy USA, enabling American students to plug in—live and interactive—to Singapore’s #1 STEM education system and vast array of tutoring centers.

Lawrence has authored numerous books, including a non-fiction market entry treatise on branded CPG market entry: “Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle For The Hearts, Minds, and Taste Buds of China’s Consumers” (HarperCollins/AMACOM 2010). A first-hand account from the front lines of the 30-year global chocolate industry’s battle for the emerging chocolate market in China.

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Miami Dragon Slayers Victorious at the Barcelona Festival

Miami Dragon Slayers Victorious at the  Barcelona Festival
IERG Executive Member Fernando Vela, Partner/Director PL Trade Finance, recently competed in the 4th Barcelona International Dragon Boat Festival in Barcelona, Spain.   It was held at the Canal Olympic de Catalunya which was built for the 1992 Olympic Games.  This is where the Miami Dragon Slayers dragon boat team, headed by Captain Debbie Schelmety, came home with the Gold Medal in the 500-meter races, and the Bronze medal in the 200-meter races, slightly missing the Gold and Silver medals by 100s of a second.  But that’s what this sport is about – Teamwork and fairness in all competitions.  The Miami Dragon Slayers are 20 hearts beating as one on the water.
The Miami Dragon Slayers was established in 2004 as a recreational dragon boat club. Over the years it has developed into one of Miami’s premier racing teams that competes throughout Florida, the U.S., and internationally. 
Their membership is an internationally diverse group of men and women that range from college students to established professionals to ever-green retirees and breast cancer survivors. A few places that members hail from are the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Europe, the United Kingdom, and of course, the United States. 
The Miami Dragon Slayers has also represented Miami winning medals and international recognition at the Vogalonga Race in Venice, Italy which was 26km (16.2 miles) and includes racing on the Grand Canal.  This race had over 2,000 paddle-style boats and over 7500 participants on the water.

The Miami Dragon Slayers also competed in Paris, France where they took the Gold after paddling through the Seine River, passing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  This race was 33km (20 1/2 miles.)  Most races are only 500 meters so this was definitely another challenge.

Off the water, the Miami Dragon Slayers support the community by volunteering as a team, and individually, at food banks, cancer runs/walks, community marathons, beach clean-ups, and youth camps. 
Dragon boating is fun, provides healthy exercise, and is for ages 16 and up. If interested, contact Fernando or Debbi at [email protected]
Congratulations and quite an honor to represent Miami and the USA.

SYNERGOS Interviewing Potential Partners

Ignacio Barros | Managing Director | SYNERGOS



New IERG Member of the  Florida Chapter, Ignacio Barros will be meeting from 1/23 and 1/27 in Miami with candidates interested in being partners of the international management consulting firm SYNERGOS, where Ignacio is Managing Director. 

SYNERGOS was founded in 2006 and has offices in several countries in Latin America with an organization of 60+ professionals while Ignacio is based in Lima, Peru, and is responsible for the expansion plan.

The local partner to be selected should be based in the US and be an entity or person who wants to be a partner, not an employee, and who has a good network in the business community of Hispanic origin in the states of preferably Florida and/or Texas. This person may come from the corporate world or the consulting world. 

SYNERGOS'S success has been due to their emphasis on implementation, unique value proposition increasing operational profitability of their clients, and the professionalization of their management. Their focus and highlights of services are:

1. Operations

  • Manufacturing
  • Supply chain
  • Support functions
2. Organization
  • Operating model design
  • Leadership and talent
3. Procurement

4. Sales and Marketing
  • pricing 
  • Field implementation of sales forces
5. Full potential transformation
  • Change and implementation
The three main differentiators that could be pivotal for entry into the US market, are:

1. Implementation: SYNERGOS does not only propose solutions but accompanies their clients until the resulting solution is in place. And this involves leading and managing people's resistance to change.

2. SYNERGOS can have a hybrid fee scheme, with a significant success fee involved.

3. They are experts in  Latin America so clients in the United States should be those who have (or want to have) a relationship with the South of the continent. 

Mentor Program

Raji Ramanan  | Championing Mentor Program

Raji Ramanan is our Chapter Co-Chair for IERG New York Chapter. Like many of us, Raji has had some very challenging international assignments to her credit and is looking at providing assistance to upcoming International assignees in assisting and orienting them with their new overseas assignments. 


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Key Challenges for Expanding Global IERG Member Client Companies

Hedley Lawson
Hedley Lawson - Key Challenges for Expanding Global IERG Member Client Companies

In today’s digital age and with the continuation of business diversions, like COVID-19 and remote working teams, crossing international 


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NOW the general public starts to learn and understand what is going on with the supply chain

Jean-Pierre Degembe - NOW the general public starts to learn and understand what is going on with the supply chain.

For all of you that deal with supply chain/procurement/logistics, this is NOT news as for over 1 year now we have to manage a very disturbed global supply chain.
And yes, this is GLOBAL. This has been a perfect storm development and still developing. Last week “NBC Today Morning Show” has done a live report from POLA which is a good summary of the situation in the USA.

Back during the summer, I posted on LinkedIn a note “do your Christmas shopping in July”. 

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Habits of Successful Strategic Business Owners

Hedley Lawson
Hedley Lawson | Global Managing Partner | Aligned Growth Partners, LLC

One thing has not changed over the years for business owners. While owners are the boss, they still spend too much time on the day-to-day operations of their business. Under those circumstances, when do they have time to become the strategic leader that their team and their customers need and expect?

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Secret Side Effects of Playing Golf, Says Science

Jean-Pierre Degembe - Secret Side Effects of Playing Golf, Says Science

Knowing the world, the environment we are all in for the last few months (I do not want to say years yet), and how so many peoples have been impacted by stress; I think a well-being note might be a good one to share. 
I have been in the sporting goods industry around the world (EMEA / Asia Pacific / USA) most of my professional life and particularly in the golf industry.

This month I would like to share this article with the group (just published in Aug).  
For those of us that are playing golf that research is giving us more excuses to go and play (like if we needed some…)  BUT for those of you who are not (yet) maybe it will give you some good reasons to start.  
But for me personally, the social aspect has been the most important and I witnessed this globally.  I worked with people around the world, and I cannot tell you how much a round of golf with customers, manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers has help to build relationships, trust and generate more business.  It also allows me to meet and know the people in a different environment where they can express themselves with fewer barriers and eased so much the cultural differences.
One last point; I see it as well with the juniors. Playing with my son (12) allowing us to have a great time together but also with other dads and their kids during some games. And what is better than having your children going to play outside with their friends for 4 plus hours, enjoying, socializing, and being active at the same time.

The Maryville Academy here near Chicago takes care of a lot of children who need support, and being a volunteer at the golf academy I saw the positive effects golf has on them as well. There are not many other activities that can offer this.

GlobalVue™ 40+ country ranking chart

Bill Edwards | Chief Executive Officer, Global Advisor and Board DirectorEdwards Global Services, Inc.

Here is our latest GlobalVue™ 40+ country ranking chart which charts and determines the best countries to conduct business in. 
For two decades, the GlobalVue™ report has equipped developing brands with the resources and analytics necessary to make educated decisions when it comes to global business expansion, ranking 44 countries and territories based on 12 business, economic and political factors. Country rankings are determined by the following:
  • Corruption index
  • Ease of international brand entry
  • Ease of starting a new business
  • Economic stability
  • Legal concerns for international brands
  • Long term investment risk level
  • Market size (customers)
  • Overall country rating
  • Overall ease of doing business
  • Political stability
  • Projected 2021 GDP growth
  • Projected coronavirus recovery 
This quarter’s report shows higher rankings for Canada, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates and a lower position for India, Japan, and the Philippines. The main factor in ratings was COVID-19 response, with a key indicator being the percentage of the population that is vaccinated.
“We’re seeing GDP growth of higher than 5% for many countries as they come back from the crippling effects of the pandemic,” said William Edwards, CEO of EGS. “These numbers reflect promising coronavirus recovery and vaccination progress, an improved business climate, and a positive economic outlook as we continue to bounce back from a devastating year.”

Implementing Artificial Intelligence Successfully

Hedley Lawson
Hedley Lawson | Global Managing Partner | Aligned Growth Partners, LLC

Artificial Intelligence is a common-place strategy these days, and many believe that companies are using AI to automate customer service, recruiting, store data, and perform other functions.

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Hedley Lawson

Hedley Lawson
Hedley Lawson | Global Managing Partner | Aligned Growth Partners, LLC

IERG Executive Member and frequent contributor to our monthly IERG newsletter, Hedley Lawson brings decades of experience as a senior corporate executive and board
and management advisor to his role as Global Managing Partner for Aligned Growth Partners, LLC. In his role, Hedley leads the firm’s global strategic, operational, and organizational excellence advisory and consulting practice, as well as its M&A and Executive Search practices. Hedley and his firm, along with Alliance Partnerships, serve publicly listed, not for profit, and privately held high technology, medical device, banking and finance, food and wine, construction and development, and other lines of business from offices in the Northern California Wine Country; San Diego, California; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas; Singapore; Malaysia; China; New Zealand; The Netherlands; and Germany.  

Hedley’s executive leadership experience includes serving as Vice President Global Human Resources for Multi-Fineline Electronix, Inc. (MFLEX) where he was responsible for MFLEX’s global human capital and strategic planning. In his first year with the company, he doubled its workforce in China from 10,000 to over 20,000 employees. Subsequently, he led the global executive team’s strategic planning through a global recession, resulting in record revenue, operating income, margin growth, and ROIC. The company was subsequently recognized by Business Week and Fortune Magazines as one of America’s fastest growing corporations. Hedley also served for 20-years a member of the senior executive leadership team in the positions of Senior Vice President Human Resources and Quality Management and as Corporate Vice President for the Americas for SOLA Optical USA and SOLA International, Inc.  
Hedley serves on the board of Give Sight Global and has served on boards of directors and company advisory boards, including: the board of directors for Operation Eyesight Universal; the advisory board for Pahlmeyer and Wayfarer Wineries; and a member of the Wells Fargo Bank Northern California Advisory Board. He has also served on numerous not-for-profit boards of directors and as a Gubernatorial Appointee, State of California, Department of Rehabilitation Employer Outcomes Committee. As well, he was a Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Appointee to the Blue Ribbon Committee for Civil Service Reform; a founding member and President, Board of Directors, North Bay Employers’ Coalition on Healthcare; and as a board member and Chair of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committees for the Luther Burbank Center for the Performing Arts.  
A frequent public speaker, Hedley has delivered over 125 keynote speeches and seminars to trade conventions, annual business and leadership meetings, and university business schools. For over 25 years, Hedley served as a Contributing Editor and author for Jobson Medical Information, LLC, a New York-headquartered, global business Publishing Corporation. Additionally, he also served as Contributing Editor for Optical Synergy, an optical laboratory trade group, and as a Contributing Editor for The Alliance, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based medical device and services organization.   
Hedley holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Sonoma State University, and a Master’s degree with a double major in human resources management and organizational development from Golden Gate University, San Francisco. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania Financial Management and Executive Leadership programs. In addition to IERG, he holds membership in the Private Directors Association (PDA), the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), and Marin Sonoma Impact Ventures.

Investing in Employee Wellbeing

Hedley Lawson
Hedley Lawson

During the early 1980s, while I headed the North American Human Resources team for SOLA International (presently Carl Zeiss Vision), we implemented an employee Health and Wellness program called Healthways.
Our goals in creating the program were simple, yet profound:
  • To focus our initiatives on all employees and all of their family members.
  • To reduce the prevalent use of hospital emergency rooms in favor of using one’s personal physician.
  • To provide on-site inoculations for employees and their families, reducing the risk of contracting a medical issue or quite simply, the seasonal flu.
  • To encourage physical fitness programs from daily walks or jogging to sponsorship of recreational activities.
  • To provide frequent information on healthy eating and healthy living.
  • To support the formation of teams that competed against one another in programs, one of which was called “Waist Reduction,” similarly named to our manufacturing best practice “Waste Reduction” program.
  • To improve employee attendance and to reduce our health insurance premiums.
We were in time and in commitment light years ahead of other companies in the establishment of this type of program. A few of the following results were profoundly significant:
• Our attendance patterns were significantly improved.
• Our employee’s families were healthier, improving employee’s work attendance and their children’s school attendance.
• Our employees had even more fun at work.
• And we reduced our annual medical insurance premium to a rate 25 percent below all other employers in the U.S.

After a few years, we introduced semi-annual, at work physical screenings and blood testing. From this, several employees found they were diabetic or may have other medical issues that required immediate attention. Other initiatives followed, all met with gratitude by employees and the greatly improved recruitment of new employees who saw our initiatives as leading edge and personally valuable. Our annual turnover was unmatched by other companies in our region, and our employees became our recruiting ambassadors.

Decades later, other employers have been exposed to the growing evidence that the benefits of employee mental and physical health and wellness programs can dramatically increase employee wellbeing. Yet few companies today have reported broad and meaningful investment in employee health and wellness programs other than larger corporations.

Implementing an employee health and wellness, or employee wellbeing programs, requires close collaboration between company leadership, human resources, finance, benefit providers, insurance brokers and local health providers. Equally important, it requires a commitment from company leadership and ownership.

The evidence then and now is overwhelmingly in favor of taking the leap and implementing such a new program. If your company or your client companies do not have such a program today, take the time to contact your insurance carrier or broker, and work directly with employees to gain their insights in terms of personal and family needs, for assistance to develop and launch your program. Whoever you choose to assist you, get started now: the benefits to your company, your employees, and your client companies will be greatly valued.

Hedley Lawson
Global Managing Partner and IERG Global Business Leader
Aligned Growth Partners, LLC
(707) 217-0979

The Real Estate Market Post Covid-19

Cristiano M. Teixeira 

The real estate market, like any other, has its ups and downs.  When the whole economy is doing well, companies are growing and people are earning extra bonuses.  As a result, companies rent more office space, and people buy bigger homes. 
That is the normal cycle of things in life.  It is not every day that there is a pandemic.  History shows us that one pandemic happens, more or less, every 100 years or so. 

For the past 13/14 months the world has experienced one of these pandemics.  This time caused by this virus called Covid-19.  Little we knew in March of 2020 what we were about to face.  Everywhere in the world people were forced to stay inside their homes.  Companies were not allowed to open their offices.  Their employees were to work from home, anticipating a movement that a lot of us always wanted: to stay home and work from there.
However, not everyone was ready for that.  Actually, most people, I would say, were not ready.  A lot of people live in condos.  Other people do not have space in their home where they could call it “office” or the now famous “home office”.  Some of us have newborns at home, and some others have large families living with them.  So working from home, especially when it is the only option you have, became a major challenge for everyone. 
Because of this, a lot of people considered buying a bigger home, and some others decided to move somewhere warmer.  And Florida seemed to have it all.  Cheaper real estate, especially if compared to San Francisco and NYC, and warmer climate all year round.  As a result, the Florida real estate market, especially residential, is in high demand.  After a few years of slow sales, due to the oversupply of condos, as well as an economic crisis in Latin America, South Florida residential real estate market reinvented itself.  Demand for single-family homes, especially the ones close to the water or with a sizable lot, simply skyrocketed.  And as the demand increased, the prices went up.  All of a sudden, all these houses that were stuck on the market for a few years, were sold within a few days, for top dollars.  Now that there are not many single-family homes available anymore, that demand is shifting to the condo market.  The prices are still somewhat attractive, but the pressure to raise them is on. 
A lot of people are worried about where this whole demand will leave us.  Some say that it will be impossible for the regular person to buy a home (that is already a problem in major cities everywhere in the world).  Some others think that it will be impossible to live in places like Miami due to the increase of cars and the lack of a good public transportation system.  All of this is true but the real estate market is not stopping any time soon. 
Historically Americans, especially from colder places, choose South Florida for two reasons: weather and a tax break.  But this kind of demand is very specific and does not affect the market that much, as most of these buyers buy their second homes in Florida, spending some time down here, but not living.  However, what we have seen is something completely different.  People are actually moving, buying their primary homes in South Florida.  How many of you who live in Miami have seen cars with New York or Massachusetts license plates lately?  Also, not only people but now companies are moving their headquarters or regional offices to Florida.  Not only because their employees are moving down, but also because they realized that it is much more cost-effective to work from sunny Miami, all year round, than it is to work from their Wall Street offices.
We still do not know where all this will take us.  We have not reached the end of the pandemic yet.  There are signs of it, but it is still uncertain what will life be like after all this.  But one thing is certain: real estate will never be the same again.
So if you are in the market, either to buy, sell or rent, take advantage of the moment.  Research, study, talk to your local real estate agent.  After all, our home is and will always be the safest place for our families.”  

Cristiano M. Teixeira is a real estate adviser with Elite International Realty, in Miami.
After working as a senior executive in two real estate development companies in Brazil for over 15 years, Cristiano has been acting as an adviser and sales associate at Elite International Realty in Miami.  His focus is mainly residential, in the high-end segment of the market, but he also works with commercial real estate, more specifically triple net properties as well as empty lots for future residential developments.
You can find more information on Cristiano and his properties at, or by visiting his LinkedIn profile at or by writing him at [email protected]

Do you have Artificial Intelligence (AI) discussions at Board Level?

Jesper Skou

By deploying the right AI technology, your business may gain the ability to save time and money by automating and optimizing routine processes and tasks, increase productivity and operational efficiencies, make faster business decisions based on outputs from cognitive technologies.  


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Interim CEO- Could Be The Board’s Blessing

Maybe in a huff, the Board “Had enough” and decided to take the CEO’s head off.  Or maybe, the CEO had enough, and leaped at another opportunity. And, then there are unforeseen health situations, life being what it is. In some situations, there may be an unsettled company issue, which needs to be worked through, and it is not the ideal time to recruit your A Player. And the Board wants to take the appropriate time to pause, and get the house in order. Lastly, there are circumstances where there is an immediate need for a particular skill set, but not a permanent need.

So let’s assume we “got here” by whatever reason, and now the Board has to be the rudder and calm the waters. Few times, where the Board has worked on this in advance, there may be an Independent Director who can step forward, and keep the ship afloat. But not typically. An increasingly familiar alternative is to bring in an Interim CEO. It has its advantages, and disadvantages. The good news, is that there is a robust inventory of executives who take on these Interim CEO lives.

The good news: the right Interim CEO has a unique biology, and can fly in Sunday night, and show up at 7:30 AM Monday. The Board sends out the appropriate email message to the organization. The right Interim CEO will demonstrate work ethic by being the first person in the office (everyday). And she/he holds a Staff meeting at 8:00 AM on Day 1 and sets the agenda for the day/ week/ month. And holds a Town Hall meeting at Noon, and hopefully communicates that she/he is there to help, and needs no honeymoon period. Let’s all get to work.

So, for the Board, there is no permanent commitment. But what about the view from the Interim CEO?  The Interim, can tackle some tough issues that have been the gorilla in the room. In one Interim CEO engagement, I found that I had a Chef-of-Staff, at a cost of over $200K. This was not the White House. When I queried the VP’s confidentially, the general response was “We all were wondering how long this would take you.” Your Interim CEO can be a disrupter, in the positive sense of the term, and clean up these messes. Don’t be spooked in the reference process if you hear “there was some collateral damage.” That may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Certainly do reference checks, but don’t expect God to be available.

Be prepared to pay top dollar. When you go for Lasik surgery, I don’t think you’ll rush to the surgeon who advertised $499 per eyeball. Same for Interim CEO’s. Keep the compensation package simple and consider a flat monthly, all-in, retainer. Rather than the typical salary + bonus + equity. Your Cap Table is probably already tapped out. So think in terms of 1.5X-to 2.0X (base only) what your CEO is making. The right Interim CEO is living a grueling life 24X7. You get what you pay for. I had one Board wince at my fee, remarking that it was a lot more than the present CEO was making. My polite and respectful response, was “I guess you got what you paid for.”

So go for experience, and an Interim CEO with a stomach for the challenge. Someone who has all the right skills, and yet has the sensitivity to respect the sacred cows.

Mike Lorelli was a PepsiCo president, twice, followed by five private-equity CEO engagements. He serves on several boards. Reach him at [email protected]

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