February 20, 2018

Trendsetters: Trade & Transportation

Mike Vogel | 12/1/2007

[Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

Pedro “Pete” Pizarro

Telefonica USA
CEO, Miami

High school sport: Baseball

Missing: Softball, which he has played throughout his adulthood but not much in the last 18 months because of time constraints.

Languages: English, Spanish, conversational Portuguese
Education: INSEAD University Graduate School of Management senior executive program, Fontainebleau, France, 2003; Northwestern University, MBA, 1992; University of Miami, bachelor’s, accounting and finance, 1983
Well-traveled: Pizarro has worked in nearly every country in Latin America but primarily Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. In addition to spending half his time traveling for work, Pizarro was selected to take a U.S. Department of Defense tour of military operations in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

Telefonica USA provides global telecom and IT service to U.S. multinationals operating in the Americas and Europe. It also serves the small and medium-size business market in the United States and Puerto Rico and is building in a new mass market area, the international communication needs of Hispanic immigrants in the United States.

A Cuba native whose family moved to Los Angeles when he was a baby and to Miami when he was 10, Pizarro attended Miami Dade College and the University of Miami before becoming an auditor with what’s now KPMG. Since then, for a variety of employers, he has worked as an executive or CFO on turnarounds and expansions in fields as diverse as retail, groceries and IT.

As chairman of the Beacon Council, the Miami-based economic development organization, Pizarro wants to see the council’s $1-million marketing budget — dwarfed by economic development marketing spending in Houston ($40 million) and Atlanta ($23 million) — rise to $2.25 million through private sponsorships and matching government funding.

He also looks forward to a new strategic planning study of the area’s future. “I have a thing I always say, ‘You can’t fight market forces,’ ” he says. “You have to figure out what your competitive advantages are, which is what we are doing now.” He’s optimistic that Miami can reap the benefits of foreign investment and the city’s attributes as a base for Latin companies expanding into the United States. Says Pizarro, “All the arrows are pointing in the right direction.”

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