Bleak forecasts don't faze Trinidad Aguirre. In rapid time, he rose from office technician to Area President, South/West of Verizon Telecom.
Grace Lieblein began her ascent as a co-op student in the assembly division of General Motors, soaring to president and managing director of GM de Mexico in 2008.
At Microsoft, Henry Vigil has helped grow the company into the world's largest software maker. As senior vice president of Consumer Strategy and Partnerships, Vigil is the mastermind behind Microsoft's online advertising and audience strategies.
With a mountain of economic uncertainty resting on their shoulders, these corporate executives are among Hispanic Business Media's 2009 Corporate Elite, 25 leaders who have defied expectations and obstacles to rise to the top of their industries.
They survived the turmoil of 2008, but are keenly aware of the economic blizzard that awaits in the first half of 2009.
"Yes, we're facing a challenging economic environment, but the tech industry is still experiencing good performance," Mr. Vigil said. "The speed of the recovery depends on the collective work of people and businesses. Our focus this year will be on expense management and driving efficiencies. But, 2009 is also a year of opportunities, where products and services that provide value for a reasonable cost will be in high demand."
Not in our wildest dreams could we have predicted the precipitous fall in 2008 that saw the markets and housing prices dive more than 30 percent. But, while the stomach-turning events of '08 proved that predicting the economic future is tricky at best, without anticipating what lies ahead no business can prepare for the challenges that are likely to emerge.
Despite that mystery, members of the Corporate Elite agree that in 2009 flat will be the new "up" and competition to survive this pivotal period of razor-thin margins will be fierce.
Innovation in products, services, and systems will be critical. This should bode well for Hispanic-owned companies and those driven by Hispanic managers because innovation has become a part of the way many already do business.
The Hispanic consumer sector will continue to expand, with spending power predicted to top $1 trillion by 2010, according to HispanTelligence, the research arm of Hispanic Business Media. This will provide increased opportunities for trained and talented Hispanic employees as companies seek better customer relations with this emerging market, the Corporate Elite agree.
"I've very optimistic about the economy," said Verizon's Mr. Aguirre. "What lies ahead is a rapidly changing environment where there will be a convergence of the telephone, cable television, and Internet industries. We're in a race to develop products that allow consumers access to all of these things from the same device. Whichever company can develop those products fastest and most efficiently will be the final survivor. But the consumer demand for products is definitely there and this sector will continue to grow."
Mr. Aguirre is responsible for marketing, sales, and operations in 15 states, including huge Hispanic markets in California, Florida and Texas. In 2009, his main goal will be to drive up revenue.
The battle for technological supremacy, Mr. Aguirre believes, will benefit qualified Hispanics.
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