Some observers see more of a plus-minus relationship. In 2007, Hispanic purchasing power will reach $875.5 billion, which represents 9.7 percent of the toal U.S. purchasing power, according to HispanTelligence(r). Corporations take notice when that much money is in play.
But buying power has yet to equal greater corporate power. The National Society of Hispanic MBA reports that Hispanics hold approximately 4.5 percent of managerial jobs; the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility says that less than 1.7 percent of corporate board seats are occupied by Hispanics.
High visibility comes with the territory at Wal-Mart. And Eduardo Castro-Wright, 51, who became CEO of Wal-Mart's U.S. stores division last September, has it.
But the spotlight is hot as Mr. Castro-Wright must refurbish Wal-Mart's tarnished domestic image, successfully take some stores upscale, profitably target ethnic shoppers – also known as Hispanics and African Americans – and reverse the company's trailing sales performance compared to Target. If all that occurs, shareholders in the Fortune 500's No. 2 company may also see a spike in Wal-Mart stock, which has languished for five years.
These are tall tasks for the ex-chief of Wal-Mart's profitable Mexican operations. The native of Ecuador now controls 3,300 U.S. stores [which also have more than 150,000 Hispanic employees and contracts with 750 Hispanic suppliers worth $1.1 billion dollars].
It's too early to say how Mr. Castro-Wright is doing. But more than a bonus is at stake. Some observers think he could be a successor to CEO Lee Scott if Wal-Mart USA turns around.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts with Crístobal Conde, 46. He is one busy and happy CEO. Why? Imagine that your company controls the back-office processing that keeps transactions for the leading banks, governments, and stock exchange, among other entities, flowing. Plus, you provide essential if invisible IT, business, and professional services for more than 25,000 customers across 50 countries.
Chilean-born Mr. Conde does that, and this expertise supports a revenue stream to SunGard that BusinessWeek said is like "water from a hose." That's why Silver Lake Partners, a private equity group, paid $11.3 billion to take SunGard private in 2005. That year, the Wayne, Pennsylvania company, which no longer has to post earnings publicly, had revenues of $3.6 billion and net income of $454 million.
Silver Lake money has increased staffing from 10,000 to 16,000 and raised new product launches from 10 per year to 53 in 2006. But, the CEO says, "The firms that own us are tough masters. If we are free from the quarterly review, that is only because we work for the private firms on a monthly basis now."
If Mr. Conde has one worry, it is that not enough Hispanics are entering the IT sector. But he is optimistic that the pace will pick up, he says, as corporations understand that Hispanics "bring a different dimension to the debate and have the ability to cross cultures and languages in a way that adds real value."
Retention, not just promotion
Maria de los Angeles Crummett, the dean of International Affairs at the University of South Florida, says that enticing Hispanic customers is not enough. Corporations must find, hire, retain, and promote individuals, she says, such as those in the Corporate Elite, or others such as COOs Richard A. Gonzalez at Abbott Labs and Ralph Alvarez at McDonald's. "Once they are in, the newcomers can work themselves up the corporate ladder, not because they are Hispanic, but because they are there, capable, and able to make a positive difference."
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