Miami Herald’s ‘20 under 40’: Many past winners in the new generation of leaders

Jaret Davis of Greenberg Traurig, left, Erin Knight, of Stonegate Bank, and Cesar Conde of NBCUniversal are some of the past ‘20 Under 40’ contest winners.
Jaret Davis of Greenberg Traurig, left, Erin Knight, of Stonegate Bank, and Cesar Conde of NBCUniversal are some of the past ‘20 Under 40’ contest winners. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The next generation of leaders has shown all the promise the Miami Herald had hoped they would when it identified talented South Florida professionals under the age of 40 who had potential to excel in their industries.

We featured our first group of 20 under 40 in April 2010 and our second group in May 2011. Since then, these leaders have expanded their companies, achieved promotions in their organizations, moved their causes forward and contributed to the entrepreneurial climate in South Florida. Our 20 under 40 winners have made the community a better place to live and work. They continue to influence the business climate by creating jobs, improving our food choices, and motivating others to follow their visions.

One of our superstars, Cesar Conde, who was at the helm of Univision Networks, now has an even greater influence on the media/entertainment world. As president of Univision, Conde grew the company from three to 14 broadcast and cable networks and launched the company’s first English language network, Fusion, a joint venture with Disney’s ABCNews.

After proving himself a powerful force in broadcasting, Conde caught the attention of NBC management who named him executive vice president of the giant media company, NBCUniversal. Conde help leads corporate strategy for NBCUniversal and also oversees NBCUniversal International, which includes managing film and television distribution, cable channels, film and television production, news, and theme parks outside the United States.

Conde, a Miami native, works from a New York office and spends much of his time traveling to help the largest media company in the world become even more strategic and efficient. “I’m looking at how we grow and maximize our portfolio of businesses beyond the United States,” he said. “We are living in fascinating times in the evolution of the media industry.” Conde studies consumption patterns and evolving digital platforms to better steer the company’s U.S. and international growth. He sees opportunity especially in areas such as Asia and Latin America: “I see an increased importance of interconnectivity of the international markets with the U.S.” As an up-and-comer, the lesson he has embraced for success is simple: “The world is changing at a faster pace than we had seen in past generations. Those who are best prepared to adapt will succeed.”

Another of our previous winners, Jaret Davis, is making his mark on the South Florida marketplace as a law firm manager and an attorney for technology companies. Davis, an imposing yet affable figure, blends his legal expertise with his people skills to motivate his colleagues and help clients expand to their potential.

When last profiled, Davis was the hiring partner in Greenberg Traurig’s Miami office. He since has climbed in management to become co-managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Miami office, overseeing 160 lawyers and 200 staff. “It’s a strategic and reactive role,” he said. At the same time, Davis continues to represent promising startups such as Kairos and Wyncode.

“I think we’ve seen a boost in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Miami with tech companies,” Davis said. “I’ve been busy helping those companies with capital raising, [mergers and acquisition] activity, acquiring others to achieve scale.” One of Davis’ big coups was serving as the lead attorney in the $2 billion sale of Terremark Worldwide to Verizon Communications in 2011.

With the desire to turn Miami into more of a high-tech hub, Davis also co-founded and served as general counsel to the Technology Foundation of the Americas, which spearheaded the 2014 eMerge Americas global technology conference in Miami. Now, Davis looks to move up in firm management while still building his corporate practice and being a leader in the community: “I want to continue to play a role in this exciting era in Miami’s history.”

Miami banker Erin Knight expresses the same enthusiasm for the opportunities that the local marketplace provides her. When Knight was profiled as an emerging leader in 2011, she held the title of senior vice president of Stonegate Bank. Seeing her management skills, the bank promoted her to market president for Miami-Dade, a position that requires managing the balance sheet and working closely with commercial lenders.

Knight still has her own portfolio of corporate clients but her new position includes hiring and overseeing staff and employing strategy to help the bank strengthen its presence in Miami-Dade County. Under her leadership, Stonegate Bank opened its second Miami-Dade branch, this one in Doral. Knight’s careful selection of the right local team has led to its profitability.“I love that the bank is a size that can accommodate lot of clients needs, but still has the feeling of a community bank,” Knight said. Within the bank, Knight also has become president of the Stonegate Charitable Foundation, implementing a program to award scholarships to students in the five Florida counties where it has bank locations.

Outside the bank, Knight has proved herself a leader, too. In 2013, she started a Lean In Circle, a concept introduced nationally by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, to empower Miami businesswomen to share insight and reach their career goals. About 70 women attend monthly programs. “It’s rewarding to see the women are so engaged,” she said.

Our group of 40 up-and-comers also includes food entrepreneurs like John Kunkel and Abe Ng, who continue to build restaurant companies that are winning industry awards. It also includes Saif Ishoof and Germaine Smith-Baugh, who have empowered children and adults in South Florida’s urban communities through new educational programs and community centers. And, it includes an impressive group of healthcare, transportation and tech entrepreneurs who are bringing attention, innovation, and jobs to the South Florida marketplace.

Going forward, these young leaders likely will continue to excel in their professions and inspire and lead others. As banker Erin Knight said: “It’s fantastic to work in a community where you can see the impact you are making.”

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