Category Archives: Global Advantage

Emerging Markets Summit

Emerging markets continue to yield exciting growth opportunities for organizations that are committed to long-term results.  Volatility and uncertainty remain the norm yet a focused, strategic plan, built on a market knowledge inventory that prioritizes risks and opportunities can often produce returns that exceed expectations.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending the Emerging Markets Summit sponsored by the University of Chicago’s GSB.  The robust program is sold out clearly indicating that interest in emerging markets is high and the tools to be successful in these markets are in high demand.

Does your organization have the right plan to be successful in emerging markets?

Cruising in the Caribbean

Working closely with Fulton 365, The Reilly Company helped Crocs build a retail resort presence in the Caribbean tied to the major cruise lines!

For years Crocs has had a significant presence on the island of Puerto Rico and built strong relationships with the local wholesale accounts. The classic Crocs are a natural for the year round sun and boating activities that are core to the brand. Upon completion of the Market Opportunity Assessment conducted by The Reilly Company in the spring of 2010, Crocs moved to restructure its’ local management team and hired Luis Santori as their new Business Manager for the Caribbean.

With his strong background in the retail and surf markets it didn’t take Luis long to recognize that significant growth opportunities exist for the Crocs brand throughout the Caribbean. Using the International Expansion Process facilitated by The Reilly Company, Crocs determined the best go to market strategy for the many diverse islands and qualified prospective partners to support the strategy.

Built into the retail expansion strategy was a key competitive element – direct marketing and promotional links with the major cruise lines operating in the Caribbean. The mastermind behind this strategy was Paul Fulton, CEO at Fulton 365. Since 1999, Mr. Fulton and the team at Fulton 365 have facilitated the opening of retail stores and operations in every major cruise ship port in the world. For more than a decade, they have developed relationships with top cruise lines, marketing and promoting products to nearly 70% of the world’s 16million annual cruise ship passengers.

Crocs will be featured on cruise ship marketing and promotions and Crocs store owners will benefit directly from port of call audiences ready to stock up on the great styles perfect for cruise destinations.

That is the kind of collaboration that can put your business expansion and profit maximization on cruise control!

Are You Satisfied With Your International Growth?


Do you have a strategy which will insure significant future international market share? Would it be useful to further enhance your international success by benefiting from the experience of others?

The Reilly Company has found that most businesses can show rapid returns by addressing the following areas:

  1. Developing a focused international plan based on complete information.
  2. Using market knowledge to develop a unique selling message.
  3. Teaching international partners to make money with your products and services.
  4. Developing a productive supplier/partner relationship.

The first step toward realizing these returns often involves an in-depth self analysis. Ask yourself how satisfied you are with:

  1. Your competitiveness in the marketplace?
  2. Getting new products to the marketplace?
  3. Your sales growth and profitability?
  4. Your effectiveness of strategic and operational planning?
  5. Managers having clear, and measurable goals?
  6. Your differentiation from competitors?
  7. Understanding of why sales goals are not met?
  8. How to integrate information from various business areas?
  9. The understanding of current and future market trends?
  10. The ability to identify and focus on the most profitable products?
  11. Your ability to sell what the customer needs?
  12. Understanding “early warning signals” and adapting to changing trends?
  13. You know what your best channel of distribution is?
  14. Your sales force/partners meeting future needs?
  15. Tracking the causes of unacceptable market share?
  16. Spending adequate time in the field influencing results?
  17. Your ability to allocate dollars/people to higher payback areas?
  18. Your comfort level in monitoring the business?
  19. Capabilities and development of key managers?
  20. Your senior management support for international operations?

Our work across a broad range of industries and geographies allows us to benchmark your performance in these areas against other successful companies. From there, action plans can quickly be developed and implemented that deliver results.

Let us show you how we have helped hundreds of companies improve profitability and increase share in international markets.

A Global War for Talent? – Part 2

In May I wrote about the serious disconnect between organizations looking for the talent they need to build their business and the pool of talent looking for new opportunities. This week I witnessed true engagement on the part of an organization committed to making the connection work for all.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is a leader in the oil and gas industry on a global scale. They have weathered the current economic storm better than most with a sound business strategy and the ability to marshal all of the necessary resources, particularly their human resources.

On Tuesday we participated, in support of one of our clients, in a meeting of the Hispanic Affinity Group at COP. Our client’s work with Fortune 500 companies interested in reaching out to the Latino community, both here and abroad, continues to reinforce the value that affinity groups bring to global companies – value that impacts recruiting the necessary talent and then retaining that talent.

Many companies short sell their efforts to build a meaningful pipeline of talent. “We’re not hiring now.” “Budgets have been slashed.” “We are focused on improving productivity.” Worse yet, companies fall into the trap that this is a “buyers'” market and believe they can be selective and don’t have to work very hard to find talent.

Our experience shows us that, in many cases, the exact opposite is true. Real talent will always be selective about the organizations they work for and will do the hard work (research, qualifying, networking) necessary to find the right opportunity. They understand that companies are being selective about hiring (if hiring at all) but also have a keen sense of a company’s real level of engagement. They want to see organizations actively promoting career opportunities. They want to see organizations continue to support community outreach. They want to work for organizations that will work just as hard as they do to find the right fit.

COP is re-energizing their support of affinity groups and looking to make them more strategic and visible in terms of hiring, retention and community involvement. The day after their Hispanic affinity meeting they were out in full force at our client’s local diversity recruiting event. Key COP staff (including senior level executives) were manning the company booth, volunteering in the career help center and delivering a workshop focused on Hispanic careers in the oil and gas industry.

COP continues to scrutinize their headcount and manage their resources as diligently as any other organization in the current environment. Their actions this week, however, demonstrate their long term commitment to making the connections to the talent they will need going forward.

Is your organization ready to compete with COP for talent?

Starry Eyed in China


Our clients routinely ask us about opportunities in China. Usually it is with eyes glazed over and pupils shaped like dollar signs!

“Of course we have to be sourcing in China. Of course we have to be manufacturing in China. Yes I need a Chinese website. And of course, if I could just sell one sku to every person in China I could retire tomorrow”…

All of the above may, or may not, be true. What is most certainly true is that China is a very complex place to do business that is, and will be, an ever greater opportunity for organizations that are prepared and realistic. Realistic about the investment in time, effort and resources.

When it comes to doing business in China the old adage – “look before you leap” rings true. Many of the pitfalls and potential hazards of rapid expansion to China were outlined recently by John Rogers, President of the MidWest US-China Association.

China really is “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as he has traveled to the country over 50 times advising clients and working directly on projects. He correctly points out that China is really multiple markets with an incredible amount of diversity in terms of language, customs, geography and cultures.

In our work with clients considering expansion to China we often have to pull back on the reigns just as they are leaving the gate. This is where a solid understanding of a businesses’ strengths and weaknesses combined with a consensus on the critical success factors can save real time and money. From there a complete market knowledge inventory can be developed and an accurate opportunity assessment completed. At that point, armed with a rational strategy, the business can begin to tap into available resources and the necessary contacts for success.

Turkey – Crossroad of Opportunity


I recently attended an overview of the economy in Turkey hosted by the Consulate General of Turkey here in Chicago. Many of our clients routinely lump their Middle East activities in with their European structure and management teams. While this may make some geographic sense it can lead to misconceptions and missed opportunities.

Turkey alone represents a unique opportunity for any organization committed to building a presence in a market situated between and within multiple markets – Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Some of the eye opening facts about Turkey include:

  • 15th largest economy in the world; sixth largest in the EU.
  • Highest growth rate among OECD countries for the last six years.
  • 63 million mobile users (in a country of 77 million people)!
  • 11th largest internet user population in the world.
  • World’s 4th largest Facebook user population!
  • 6th largest automotive manufacturer in Europe.
  • Largest bus manufacturer in Europe.
  • Europe’s largest television exporter.
  • Turkey is expected to transport 10% of the world’s oil and gas supply when on-going projects are completed.

While trade volume with the United States has almost doubled since 2004, the USA still ranks behind Russia, Germany and China as a supplier to the local Turkish market. It may be time for more US companies to re-think their strategy when it comes to Turkey.

A Global War for Talent?

Tomorrow I will be supporting one of our clients at their premier annual career conference for Hispanic talent. Given the current economic climate they are expecting a solid turnout of professionals with mid to senior level experience in every major functional area. Turnout on the exhibitor side remains weak, however, reflecting the restricted levels of hiring going on in general.

While these are obviously extraordinary times I am not so sure there isn’t a wider, more fundamental, and longer term, disconnect between organizations looking for talent and the pool of talent available.

As President of a small, privately owned, commercial contractor I was a member of a professionally moderated advisory council of other owners/C-level executives. We met on a monthly basis to review strategy, discuss issues and hold each other accountable. What I remember most about each meeting however was the inevitable discussion around the following universal dilemma – “there is all this talent out looking for a job and yet I cannot seem to find the people I need for my organization…”

Based on that experience, and my involvement with a non-profit organization assisting Fortune 500 clients with their diversity hiring needs, I am convinced that the Global War for Talent is often an internal civil war pitting recruiters vs. hiring managers, strategy vs. cost containment, comfort zones vs. risk taking, etc.

True talent always succeeds (either at your organization or elsewhere). Organizations focused on the critical success factors in their business will always find the necessary talent.

The talent is out there…are you man enough to find it?

Global Business…Does it ever stand still?

Apparently it does on our blog site…

After revamping The Reilly Company website to better leverage the web 2.0 reality, we have been at a stand still in terms of updates, etc.

Our intention here is to share our experience with other committed professionals that understand, appreciate and accept the premise that doing business internationally is not just about cultural sensitivity, geographic expertise or language skills. In fact a short story may best illustrate the point:

You will note that the partners in this firm are both graduates of the global MBA program at Thunderbird. Like many T-birds we have often tapped into the resource that is Thunderbird, and its global network, to make the necessary connections, build key relationships, open doors and staff our businesses for success. Hiring T-birds certainly has its advantages given the diverse talent of its student body but, as with any business, there are few substitutes for real world experience coupled with a feel for universal business truths (growth and profitability). Back to the story…

I once hired a recent T-bird as a marketing coordinator in our Latin American division. Within two weeks of his being hired we were in Buenos Aires for a two day strategic planning session with our entire South American distributor network. His head was literally spinning as he soaked up the ambiance and the realization that he was “living the T-bird experience” so quickly. This soon led him to demonstrate his “textbook” T-bird knowledge. “You know, it’s important to get to know these Latin Americans personally before you focus only on business”, he said with the wisdom of the classroom and two weeks on the job. “True”, I replied. “However, if you can’t demonstrate very quickly that you can add value, and help them move their business forward and be a success, they will still ask about your family and be happy to socialize with you, but they will not invest more than that in the relationship.”

Just as our new marketing coordinator learned a valuable lesson, so too will we remember that global business never rests…and neither will we when it comes to this blog site.


An International Plan For Tough Times

As I follow the news, concerning the current down market and economy, I am reminded of difficult times in the past. I was the vice president of an international division of a Fortune 500 company during the 80’s.

During those years, many companies, certainly ours, were so concerned about the domestic slow-down that little or no attention was paid to maintaining or growing international business. It was difficult to get the attention of top management and even more difficult to get the needed personnel and financial resources to succeed. Also, there was an attempt to limit overseas travel to manage expenses. What a dumb idea.

In my opinion, anyone having responsibilities for international business  is about to face the same challenges now, or in the immediate future. Is anyone concerned about what we all are about to face?

In order to continue to grow a business in a down economy, two things are critical. They are both simple, but often ignored. Firstly, the plan must identify, then focus, on the most critical success factors for the new situation. Secondly, everyone needs to know exactly what to do and only concentrate on what is important. Sound simple? Are you or your company thinking about this? Do you do these things now?

Often plans tend to be more top down then bottom up. Many companies focus on sales targets and financial numbers, not paying enough attention to what managers and individuals must do to accomplish those objectives.

We were able to develop a planning process that forced everyone involved to only focus on the most important and critical objectives and tasks. The new plan was completed in weeks and was not difficult to manage, implement and revise on the fly. The plans were successful.

I have since used this process both, in many multi-national companies and in my own international consulting business. Does anyone see the difficulty we are most likely to face and question how they can effectively get the job done. If anyone has any questions on how this works, I would like to try and help.

International Success In A Changing Environment

Success in International markets is becoming more difficult. Much of this is due to the current knowledge levels of both upper and middle management. In the past, people were less vertically specialized. A person would progress from one responsibility or location to another, learning along the way.

Today, most upper management is vertically focused. They may be quite comfortable in one area, such as finance, and less comfortable in the others. In most cases, middle management also does not have a broad base of experience and accountability can be limited.

People tend to act on what they know, not really knowing what they don’t know. All this can contribute to poor decisions based on inaccurate information or incomplete work.

We have found ways to correct these problems helping management work together to make better decisions. This has been successful across the board with a variety of companies, products, locations and is applicable in most business functions. Some of these processes for various functional business areas are described here on The Reilly Company web site. Take a look.

Are you having difficulty understanding what information is needed to make a good decision concerning, perhaps in entering new markets or in how to best sell your products or services?  Do you find the communications difficult or ineffective between both levels of management?

I will be happy to answer any questions. As a result of forty years in international business, I may have some suggestions.